Blog Archives

Year 3 begins

The fortress in Carcassonne

Although we tend to use March 1 as the starting date for our new life in France, the government here considers February 20 the date since that’s when our initial visa began. Americans can enter the country for up to 90 days on their airline ticket alone, but for those of us who didn’t buy a round-trip flight, you have to do a bit more work. During that initial grace period you must schedule a medical appointment with the immigration office who will then stamp your visa as valid for an additional 9 months. At the end of your first year you can trade in the visa for a residency card that must then be renewed annually using essentially the same documentation required to come here in the first place. Basically you must prove that you won’t be a burden to the taxpayers in that you have sufficient income, health insurance, housing, etc. to take care of yourself. This week we again succeeded in doing that so we have brand new residency cards. Read the rest of this entry

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Living in France—the book

Cover of the booklet

Although probably not a bestseller, there is a publication from the Ministry of the Interior of France that anyone who is thinking of moving here will probably want on their electronic bookshelf. The price is certainly right—free—and it contains lots of practical information about preparing for the move and then what to do once you’ve arrived in your new country. Just as important, Living in France also addresses the key values represented in the Republic’s motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This is followed by, “These are not simply abstract concepts: these values have concrete effects on day-to-day life by means of the rights and obligations of citizens and residents.” These benefits apply to the French themselves, to those of us living here, and even to visitors. Read the rest of this entry

Some like it hot

Red peppers labeled “hot” for sale at the market

When someone comes to dinner at our house, one of Bill’s favorite questions to them is “Do you like pepper?” as he stands nearby with the fresh pepper grinder in hand, ready to blacken their plate. We both like spicy foods (well, some slightly more than others) and back in Atlanta we frequently visited a Mexican restaurant that knew the true meaning of caliente. (Yes, Spanish speakers, I know that means hot temperature rather than spicy, but I’ll get there in a minute.) When we arrived in France and went to the market we were pleased to see an entire display devoted just to spices. After we loaded our backpacks with fresh fruits and vegetables, some grown as close as the farms that surround Carcassonne, others elsewhere in France or just to our south in Spain, we wandered over to this colorful array anticipating finding all of the exotic powders we were used to. Sure enough there was cinnamon, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, and at least 2 dozen more including of course, herbes de Provence. But what about chili powder, pepper flakes, serrano, chipotle, or anything marked “HOT!” ? Read the rest of this entry

Take the last train to London

London’s St. Pancras train station awaited us

On most days of the week it’s possible to take one train from the south of France all the way through to London, arriving in time to join the after-theater crowd for a late dinner. It starts in Marseille, so from Carcassonne you have to take one other train to catch the 3:15 PM Eurostar departure, and that’s exactly what we did last month. We are close enough to walk to the airport here from where we could fly directly to London, but we love the train. It’s relaxing, you can show up at the station a few minutes ahead rather than hours before departure, you depart from and arrive in the center of town, and leisurely drinks, snacks, and meals can be enjoyed with plenty of leg room while listening to music, reading a book, or just gazing out the window as the landscape glides by. Read the rest of this entry

Check→in

Making coins the medieval way

If there’s one thing that you learn when you move overseas, it’s to be prepared. Whether it’s a government agency, a utility, or a private business you are meeting with, it always makes sense to take an original and at least one copy of any document that any of these officials have asked from you before. To open a bank account we anticipated the need for our passports and proof of address but a marriage certificate and tax forms weren’t at the top of our list. Luckily both were at the bottom of the file folder that we take to every appointment so it was easy enough to produce those. To cancel our prepaid renters’ insurance, we needed a handwritten statement swearing that we no longer lived at that address, but at least we could write that out on the spot (with a lot of guidance from the woman who helped us). What we weren’t prepared for was receiving a refund check for the remaining insurance that we weren’t going to use. How were we going to deal with that? Read the rest of this entry

Vitamin PP?

Vitamins in milk

Vitamins in milk

Here’s a photo of the back of the milk carton that’s sitting in our refrigerator. While I’d certainly heard of vitamin D and maybe B1 and B6, I’m not so sure about B9. If taking B5 makes you look like that, give me two helpings please. But vitamin PP? That’s definitely a new one for me. But then, living in another country means that almost every day you learn something new, so it’s fun to see by the time you go to bed each night what you now know that you didn’t when you got up this morning. Read the rest of this entry

What a deal

All part of the 1 euro rail network

All part of the 1 euro rail network

Earlier this month I wrote about a day trip that we had taken over to the Mediterranean seaport of Sète. Since we both enjoy train travel, half the fun of that trip was the journey itself, even if it did start at 6:45 AM. The reward for that early start, besides getting to spend even more time in a pretty town, was that the round trip transportation only cost 2 euros per person. For comparison purposes, when we stop at a sidewalk café for a coffee or a glass of wine, the total bill is around 3 euros, so we’re not talking about a lot of money for that one-hour trip along the coast. To our delight, we discovered that the regional trains (TER) of our part of France offer 1 euro tickets https://www.train1euro.fr/ every day to almost every destination on this map wrapped around the Mediterranean Sea. Read the rest of this entry

Renestance

French Lifestyle Dream

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to Hauts-de-France

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

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An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures