Blog Archives

Mellow in St. Malo

St. Malo from the sea

We can easily get by train from our part of the south of France to the Normandy coast several times a day but the ferry from there to the Channel Islands only goes once a day outside of the summer season. Since we can choose when to travel, we leave July and August to the families who can only travel together when schools are on vacation. That meant arriving in the port city of St. Malo after the boat had departed for the day but it gave us an opportunity to overnight in a city we’d only seen for a few hours as a side excursion on one our our previous visits to Brittany. Read the rest of this entry

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Channeling the islands

St. Aubins bay from the hotel

As close as 14 miles (22 km) off the French coast of Normandy is Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. Every year in October and November they hold a 6-week long food festival called the Tennerfest where restaurants across the 2 big islands offer fixed-price menus starting at 10 Pounds Sterling. The celebration takes its title from the nickname of a 10 pound note, called a “tenner”, although other dining options up to £20 are also available. This allows even Michelin starred establishments to offer lunch or dinner to everyone at reasonable prices. With the coast only a train ride away where a ferry awaited to take us on that short sea crossing, we eagerly hopped aboard to sample Jersey Royal potatoes, Guernsey butter, and local crab and lobster. Read the rest of this entry

The French (Vietnamese) connection

Our local Vietnamese restaurant

There’s a Vietnamese restaurant a short walk from our house. About a block from there is the family-run Saveur d’Asie, an Asian food market. Out of about 300 restaurants in Carcassonne, at least 6 of them are listed  as vietnamiens in the phone directory where you can also find a Franco-Vietnamese cultural association and a travel agency that specializes in trips to Asia. Considering how many neighbors here have made that part of the world as one of their vacation destinations, that agency must be pretty busy. So what is this French Connection? Read the rest of this entry

How to saddle Oxford

Oxford’s Trout Inn

We’d been to Oxford several times before, but never with a guide. Friends Sue and Michael invited us to spend a couple of days with them seeing the sites that we had not already visited. Fresh from our time in Sheffield we happily donned our hiking boots instead of our Saddle Oxfords, and set out to see more of the town. Fish and water became the theme as we set off out of town along the river on a clear day that quickly turned rainy.  To escape the weather we dashed in to the Perch pub for a fireside beer before continuing on along the canal to our ultimate goal, the Trout Inn. More beer and a delicious early dinner followed. Read the rest of this entry

On the cutting edge in Sheffield

Ordering a beer with Pete at the Sheffield Tap

Whether it’s kitchen, pocket, or hunting knives, scissors, razors, or even letter openers, if it’s sharp, it has probably been made in Sheffield, England since at least the 14th century. The local football team is nicknamed The Blades. There are restaurants that keep with that naming tradition including Cutlers, Silversmiths, Cross Scythes, and Steel Foundry. There’s even a Grindstone Pub. There are at least 2 dozen breweries in town such as Steel City, On the Edge, and Toolmakers. Thanks to our friends Gaynor and Pete, who were the reason we went to this north-central English city, we got to sample real ale all over town. Read the rest of this entry

Eat this, not that

Nut trees by the canal

I was going to save this blog post until later in the year, closer to Christmas, with an appropriate title, something like “Chestnuts roasting”. We were walking home along the Canal-du-Midi and noticed all of these nuts on the ground. Gravity had been our friend because the shells had broken open when they hit the sidewalk and spilled their prizes before us: chestnuts. We knew that’s what they were because they had that familiar deep glossy brown shine that we had seen roasting in huge flat pans at food festivals all over Europe in the fall. The French word for brown is marron, which is typically the same word they use for these treats.   Eagerly we picked up as many as we could see, dropped them into our ever-present backpacks and took them home for cooking. Bill dutifully scored each nut individually to keep them from exploding when heated, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and placed them in the oven until the smell alone said that they were ready. Then he tasted one…. Read the rest of this entry

Day trip to Nîmes

The arena of Nîmes

Writing this blog is a lot of fun because it gives us a chance to share our experiences and perhaps help others who are considering a move to France. We have an extra boost when someone who reads our posts gets in touch to say that they will be in town and could we all get together for a drink or a meal. Often people are passing through Carcassonne so it’s easy to meet at the main square and then settle in at one of the many cafés there. This summer Anne and Eliot were staying along the Mediterranean’s Côte d’Azur (you know—Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez, to name drop a few) and asked about meeting up somewhere between our home and theirs. A quick check of the map confirmed that we’d be spending the day in Nîmes. Read the rest of this entry

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