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Day trip to Narbonne

Canal de la Robine to the Mediterranean

Before we settled on Carcassonne as our new hometown, we made of list of other French cities that seemed to match our tally of criteria. We were looking for a market town that also had grocery stores we could visit when the market wasn’t open and a population of around 50,000 people. A train station was a must-have as was a river, canal or seaside to walk along. That initial list had 16 entries, a few of which had a check mark beside every requirement. One of those is just a 30-minute train ride east towards the Mediterranean Sea: Narbonne. Read the rest of this entry

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Blanket of what ?

Bubbly bottles of blanquette

Sometimes I mishear things. It’s not that I’m going deaf; it’s more about concentrating on every single word that someone is saying in French which opens up multiple opportunities for misunderstandings. Last Saturday at the market we saw a friend who asked us what we were doing that evening because she was fixing a blanquette de veau (veal in cream sauce) and would love us to join her and several neighbors for dinner. We were definitely not going to turn down a wonderful chance like that especially when it meant we’d get to spend some time with people we hadn’t see in a while. On the walk home, Bill and I discussed what wines we should take and we settled on some bottles of Blanquette de Limoux. After all, if dinner was going to be a blanquette why not accompany it with a few glasses of blanquette? Read the rest of this entry

Football, fresh fruits, flowers and fêtes

The fountain filled with fruit and vegetables

We’d have to try pretty hard to be bored around here, especially on weekends. On Saturdays, even if we don’t really need any fresh fruits and vegetables we still walk to the market just because it’s such an entertaining event. It’s colorful, lively, convivial and we always run into people that we know who want to stop for a chat over a coffee or a glass of wine at one of the many sidewalk cafés that surround the square where the market is held. The marble fountain there, completed in 1771, is typically filled with cascading falls but during last week’s Fresh Attitude festival the water was replaced by many of the fruits and vegetables normally on sale at the booths that jam the square. But that isn’t the only colorful spot in town. Read the rest of this entry

Chocolate bunnies, eggs, bells, and fish

Chocolate fest poster from the city’s website

Carcassonne has many shops that sell just one product: chocolate, and we’ve been to most of them. Naturally we’ve had to sample the goods at each location in the interest of being able to recommend to visitors where they should go. Since we’re still in that decision-making process, we returned to some of these boutiques for a second opinion. As you might expect at this time of year, the window displays all featured what we typically think of as treats at Easter: colorful eggs, long-eared bunnies, plus cute chicks and hens. But what about those bells and fish? Read the rest of this entry

Comfort food

Plate of the day

Plate of the day

One morning last week I happened to look out the kitchen window just as a couple of our neighbors from the end of the street were passing by. They were clearly on the way to the market, rolling cart in tow, but stopped long enough for a quick chat. Francis told me that they were going to buy the ingredients for a choucroute that his wife, Isabelle, always made at this time of year. That word sounded familiar and it only took a minute to pull out an ad that we had saved from our favorite bistrot promoting their 10 euro/dollar plate of the day: Choucroute-charcutière. Read the rest of this entry

Winter blooms

Traditional winter blooms at the base of the war memorial

Traditional winter blooms at the base of the war memorial

Former Carcassonne residents Tracy and Alan, whose “An Italian Point of View” blog we follow (link in the right column), told us that although the streets here might seem deserted if the weather is bad, as soon as the sun comes out, so do the people. That was definitely the case last weekend when the city seemed to come alive after being cooped up for several days running. Read the rest of this entry

Close to home

Onions by the 5 kilogram sack

Onions by the 5 kilogram sack

Although I grew up in a city in Virginia with twice the population of Carcassonne, we still weren’t that far from the farms that produced a lot of the food we ate. Leisurely Sunday afternoon drives would take us out into the country where our parents could buy vegetables that had been picked that morning and we could have them for dinner that night. I remember as a child being overwhelmed by the huge burlap sacks holding 50 pounds (23 kilograms) of peanuts, standing taller than I did at the time. Recently, although our backpacks weren’t quite that heavy (but felt that way), we did bring back from the market a woven bag of 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of onions. At a cost of only 1.49 euros for that entire sack, it was hard to pass up. 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