Blog Archives

Holiday? Let’s have a fête!

The covered market parking lot filled with people, food, and drink

Rumor has it that the French have a whole lot more time off from work than Americans do. It is true that many full time employees here receive 5 weeks of vacation each year while we know folks back in the “old country” who struggle to ration out their 2 weeks, combining them with weekends or other holidays to stretch the break a little longer. With annual trips to Europe, often to France, Bill and I were lucky to have had employers with much more liberal leave policies. But what about nationwide holidays known as public or bank holidays or in the US, federal holidays? In America there are 10 with an 11th day added every 4 years for Inauguration Day. In France it’s 11 and if any of those fall on a weekend, too bad, it’s not moved to the closest Friday or Monday so employees don’t get the day off. Last Thursday we celebrated one of those jours fériés that wasn’t on a weekend with 2 festivals; one in the lower town where we live and the other in the upper Medieval walled city that overlooks us. Read the rest of this entry

Bonus day in Provence

Castle ruins at Les Baux de Provence

In keeping with last Sunday’s “accidental” theme, the bonus for us was discovering that our friends from northeastern France were on vacation in the vicinity of Avignon at the same time that we were there. They had a car and suggested that we spend the day with them exploring parts of Provence only half an hour or so south of the city. Their itinerary included the market town of St. Rémy de Provence and one of the gems included in the Most Beautiful Villages of France collection, Les Baux de Provence. This was all new territory for us but the day began at some place quite familiar when they picked us up at the train station. Read the rest of this entry

Dijon in 2 days

Maille mustard founded in 1747

If you thought of mustard when you read today’s blog post title, you have good reason. It was the ancient Romans who originally brought the seeds to France, leading to kings enjoying it on their dinner tables as early as the 13th century. In 1777 businessmen Maurice Gris (Grey) and August Poupon, in their original factory that still exists today in Dijon are credited with creating and popularizing the condiment. Another well-known brand, Maille, also has its shop in town proudly proclaiming “Founded in 1747”. You might know this area for that hearty stew, bœuf bourguignon, and that bold red Burgundy wine that goes so well with this dish. On our way to northern France we stopped off for a couple of days to see what else the region had to offer. Read the rest of this entry

What did we buy?

Charcoal or spinach?

With the luxury of an open-air farmers’ market three days a week being about a 15-minute walk from our front door, our refrigerator is typically full of a variety of fruits and vegetables that we’ll use within the next few days. Occasionally we’ll be following a recipe that either asks for something that isn’t in season or specifies a frozen ingredient. That was the case when Bill was making a quiche Florentine and the cookbook author recommended chopped spinach from the grocer’s freezer section. We could have picked up some beautiful dark green leaves at the market but then that would have involved guessing about how much to buy, then chopping and cooking it. The ready-to-go version seemed to make much more sense until we opened the package and out poured what appeared to me to be green charcoal briquettes. Bill’s impression was a little more “earthy” since they reminded him of “road apples”, especially after the horse had consumed large quantities of fresh grass.What did we buy? Read the rest of this entry

Ugly potatoes

An ad for “ugly” potatoes & apples

Food is always a topic of conversation, especially in a country that is world famous for its cuisine. We can walk to the open air market on the main square in town 3 days a week and have our pick from fruits and vegetables grown locally or from Spain only 2 hours south. If we need something from further afield or perhaps an item that isn’t in season in this hemisphere, there are plenty of supermarkets that we can easily get to on foot or by a short bus ride that offer products from around the world. We get their weekly advertisements either through the mailbox or online so that we can see at a glance what’s being featured. It was one of those ads that caught my eye when I saw a word that I recognized “moche” but never expected to see mentioned along with food: ugly. Read the rest of this entry

Serendipitous Strasbourg

Half-timbered buildings in La Petite France

We went to Strasbourg with the primary goal of seeing the Christmas market and if you read last Sunday’s blog post you will know that we succeeded far beyond our expectations. Not only did this “Capital of Christmas” have one market to commemorate the original one from 1570, there were 10 other sites around town, all celebrating the season. I’d read that the European Parliament chose to meet in Strasbourg because after the end of WWII it was seen as a symbol of reconciliation so important to this new Union. In the process of shopping our way around through the various encampments of vendors in wooden huts in locations around the city we also got to see monuments and other popular sites of the European mecca. Read the rest of this entry

On the border of Christmas markets

Welcome to the Christmas markets of Strasbourg

When we moved to France in 2016 it was the year of our 30th anniversary. Well before we knew that we’d be living overseas we came up with a variety of possibilities for celebrating that happy occasion. We’d had lots of fun on cruises so a transatlantic crossing, sailing from California to Hawaii, Greek Island hopping, and a big friends and family reunion cruise all made it to the list. Since we had rented European castles together with friends a few times, having a big Downton Abbey style party somewhere in the countryside with friends from both sides of the Atlantic sounded great. So did rail trips, especially if they took us to wine destinations like Bordeaux or Cognac where we had not yet been. What about combining cruising and the train with a trip on the Rhine river, returning on the tracks running beside it? If we waited until December we could fly over for the Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets) in Germany and  les marchés de Noël in France. So many choices. Read the rest of this entry

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to northern 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

Just another WordPress.com weblog

An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures