Last year during the lockdowns when we were supposed to stay home or at least not venture far away, it was easy to get that “boxed in” feeling. Luckily our house has a courtyard where we could be outdoors whenever we wanted and right in our own neighborhood there are shops of all kinds so getting in supplies wasn’t much of a problem. One of our favorite wine stores, however, is more than the 1 kilometer distance that we were asked to stay within and while we could go further for any “essential” purchases (yes, this is France so wine fell into that category) we didn’t want to push our luck. An email from that very store changed everything. While at the time they were unable to have tastings they could offer free delivery so that you could enjoy tastings at home, and that’s exactly what we did. It not only enticed us to try a variety of different wines from the 700 winegrowers in their cooperative, but also their range of everyday wines in boxes.
While it might not have the magnificence of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, those same kinds of underground boiling waters that put on a regular spectacle several times daily in Wyoming do so here as well. In the town of Vals-les-Bains, south of Lyon, La Source Intermittente erupts every 6 hours and might qualify for a must-see list, according to a survey commissioned by airline company Icelandair. They had the survey company OnePoll compile a Top 20 list of places that people wanted to visit on a vacation once it was safe to travel after Covid. While the 2000 participants had a wide range of destinations, there was definitely some agreement. Most felt that they were ready for adventure after spending more than a year doing nothing and were only now realizing the importance of getting away. They wanted to take spectacular photos, visit another country, and number 14 on the list, see a geyser. That made me curious about how many of the other 19 desires could be met in France.
Our goal has been to be very positive in our writing and our outlook on life through the years and we have managed very well. This is not to say that everything works out perfectly every time but it does work out in the end as you will read.
I bought my first e-bike just over two years ago from our local bike shop that carries many different brands of bikes. They are very helpful and have a great service department with wonderful people. I have to admit that I did not do any research in advance and saw a German built bike with a German motor on the website and purchased it with only a short test ride. This store also has an adjoining rental shop where they told me to go and try different bikes to find what I wanted and the cost of the first three rentals would be deducted from the price of any bike I purchased. Did I take them up on their offer? Well I did not and I paid for my mistake as it was a lemon. I should have done more research online before spending a lot of money and time with the bike in the shop. In less than two years my bike was in the shop for four (4) motor replacements. Each time I would be riding and the computer on the bike would flash up a warning “Waiting for drive”. Sometimes I could just power off and on the bike and everything would be back to normal for 20-30 kilometers. Other times it required removing the battery and resetting the computer and all would be fine for a few days or not. The company had extended the warranty from two to three years due to all the problems they were having with different motor failures and these were well documented in the complaint forums. My local dealer was very kind and gave me a free loaner bike to use while mine was being serviced and shipped back to Germany twice. It was helpful to try the different bikes but I did not like any of them so I knew some others to drop off my shopping list. Continue reading “Riding a Moustache”
About 8 years ago, when we were still living in the US, I went to a dermatologist to have 3 spots on my face looked at. The doctor said that she could easily remove them with a dab of liquid nitrogen but that they would eventually return requiring a repeat of the procedure. True to her word, the spots quickly disappeared and also as she advised they did come back so it was time to see a specialist here in France. We’d already been to the dentist and to our general practitioner and we knew that we’d have to see him again to get a referral since you need that other than for a gynecologist, pediatrician, ophthalmologist, or dentist. Armed with the doctor’s letter we walked two blocks to the next group of medical offices to get an appointment.Continue reading “Seeing a dermatologist”
It would be more accurate to add the words “in French” to this post’s title since the prize really goes to The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child. It was the companion to her public television series of the same name that ran for several seasons in the 1960s. Many of the recipes seemed way too complicated for me but she was so entertaining it was hard not to tune in every week. When we made the move here 3 years ago, almost everything we owned got left behind, including that book but we did bring the one cookbook that both of us owned when we combined households decades ago: Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. I felt confident that should we grow tired of exotic sounding foods like soupe à l’oignon, coq au vin, or tarte tatin (as if we would) then having a tried-and-true version of beef stew, fried chicken, or apple pie handy would be all the comfort we’d need. There’s only one problem; these recipes were written for an American audience and we don’t live there anymore, so it was time for a change.Continue reading “My first French cookbook”
In the October blog post Universal health care, I wrote about how everyone in France must have health insurance. We had received our Carte Vitale, the ID card to show that we are part of the French healthcare system, that we present at the doctor’s office, hospital, laboratory, pharmacy, etc. Coverage is generally 70 percent of the cost of the procedure leaving the patient to pay the remaining 30 percent out of pocket or to buy a private top-up insurance policy that costs between 50 and 100 euros per month per person. Coverage for dental, vision, and hearing problems will increase to 100 percent within 2 years. Anyone who has a long term disease such as cancer or diabetes is already covered at 100 percent as are people who are unable to afford additional insurance. We’ve now signed up for assurance maladie complémentaire more commonly called a mutuelle.Continue reading “It’s mutual, I’m sure”
You probably remember when Julie Andrews as the title character nanny in the film Mary Poppins was trying to get her two charges, Jane and Michael, to clean their room. To introduce the song she begins with “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun” and then the orchestra starts up and you soon hear her sing “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”. When you move to another country where they don’t speak your native language it’s important to learn what the local people are saying for a variety of reasons. Once you get past the survival level where you can at least get food and shelter then you can start fitting in with your new neighbors and having fun. But of course, language isn’t the only challenge since there are cultural differences, new rules to learn, and administrative procedures to follow for everything from buying a train ticket to seeing a doctor. Thanks to an online course sponsored by the French government’s Ministry of Higher Learning, you can combine all of those tasks in one place.Continue reading “A spoonful of sugar”