Blog Archives

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

Any port in Porto

Porto, Portugal

We’re both longtime fans of trains, having traveled extensively throughout Great Britain plus many western European countries, including France of course, using various unlimited passes to see as much of the countryside as we could. We find it so relaxing compared to flying and much less stressful than driving, especially when you can enjoy that afternoon wine and cheese while the landscape goes whizzing by the window. Naturally then, when friends suggested that we visit them in their new home in Portugal, I figured that we would just hop aboard a train and be there in no time. After all, they are just one country down and over a bit. Unfortunately that hop was going to take about 21 hours so we opted for a non-stop 2-hour flight from Carcassonne to the city of Porto, well-known for its port wine. 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 every day to almost every destination on this map wrapped around the Mediterranean Sea. Read the rest of this entry

Set in Sète

The Canal Royal in Sète

The Canal Royal in Sète

The Canal-du-Midi that runs through Carcassonne was built 350 years ago to help connect the Atlantic ocean with the Mediterranean sea. One long river, a second canal, a bay, and an estuary all combine together to link Bordeaux on the west coast with the port city of Sète on the east. You can rent a house boat and glide along at no more than a leisurely 8 kilometers (5 miles) per hour to arrive at the Mediterranean a couple of days later, or spend just one euro and get there in about an hour on the train. Read the rest of this entry

Door to door

Firefighters' calendar

Firefighters’ calendar

We’ve only just started living full-time at our new house but that has not exempted us from encountering a multitude of solicitors at our front door. The first was a roofer who arrived the day after we had signed the closing papers and we, ourselves, were only just looking around our new purchase. He pointed out the plants growing on our roof and showed us a couple of loose tiles at one edge. Like almost all houses here, ours has a ceramic tile roof and once we got a ladder, we quickly remedied the problems he showed us.  After him were 2 painters, a plasterer, another roofer, a psychic, and representatives from a religious group. With Bill’s quick “Sorry, we don’t speak French” comment to those last folks, they left with a smile. Read the rest of this entry


Huge brick cathedral of Albi

Huge brick cathedral of Albi

We had the pleasure of hosting two of Bill’s sisters and one niece on a part of their visit to France and Spain. It was a celebration of Jenny’s passing the first stage of her studies to becoming a sommelier, a specialist in selecting and serving wine, either on its on or pairing it with food. What better place to come than the world’s largest wine producing area to try out those newly-acquired skills? Read the rest of this entry

Buried treasure

Spring bulbs at the floating flower market

Spring bulbs at the floating flower market

With a blog post title like that I wouldn’t blame you for calling out “Arrrr!” with visions of pirates, bottles of rum, and the Flying Dutchman in your head. You’d be right on the money with that last item, and probably not far off with the second since we went to Amsterdam last month but the treasure we went in search of was to bring back here and bury: tulips and other spring bulbs. Read the rest of this entry


French Retirement Dream

A year in Périgord

Tales of a Brit who stopped in Lille on his way to Périgord – and stayed

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France


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 between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

Just another weblog

An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures