Blog Archives

Walk this way

The tour starts here

Ah, the sacrifices we make for our friends and family. First, we moved to the south of France just so that they would have an excuse to visit Europe. Once we got settled here in Carcassonne we had to check out all of the various things there are to see and do in our new hometown. Restaurants seemed like a natural starting point, so we’ve been visiting a new one every week with friends, Sally and Larry, so that we could make recommendations. After more than a year, we were only scratching the surface of activities so we’ve stepped up our efforts. We took a half-day walking tour of the lower part of town that still retains part of its walls from the 1200’s. We figured that hearing the history while looking at 17th century buildings would be interesting. Did I mention that we were drinking wine and eating chocolate while on this tour? Read the rest of this entry

Secret road trip

Sally helps owner Patrick tally up our wine purchases

We don’t have a car and I can honestly say that after having had a driver’s license for nearly 50 years, and an automobile to go with it for most of that time, I don’t miss it at all. That probably goes double for Bill who’s typically been the one behind the wheel. The costs alone including substantial monthly lease or purchase payments, license fees, insurance, fuel, and upkeep are enough to make us grateful that we no longer have to budget for any of that. Add in the hassles of navigating narrow Medieval streets laid out 800 years ago, trying to avoid solid stone buildings inches from you on one side of the street and rearview mirrors sticking out from parked cars on the other plus attempting to squeeze into a pocket-sized parking spot, should you be lucky enough to find that, and the advantage of being on foot becomes even more apparent. Having said all of that, the instant that a friend with wheels invites us on a day trip outside of the city, we’re on it! Read the rest of this entry

Wine high school, our sophomore year

A lycée (high school) devoted to agriculture, including wine making

About this time a year ago, we had lived in France for only three weeks when an announcement on the city’s website regarding an event for that weekend caught our eye—Wine Fair! We knew that we had moved to the world’s largest grape-growing area but we didn’t realize that there was a high school devoted to the craft just a few minutes’ walk from the house. With the promise of 30 wines, 6 beers, and 2 ciders, we just had to go…for a taste, of course. Read the rest of this entry

Did you say rum tasting?

Ready to taste the rum

Ready to taste the rum

When you live in the middle of what we think of as “wine country” it’s not surprising that there are at least a dozen shops in town devoted to that one product. Every supermarket has aisles and aisles of bottles and boxes of wine and even the tiniest inner-city convenience store devotes a full floor-to-ceiling area to red, white, rosé, and sparkling. With that in mind, it surprised us to hear our favorite wine shop owner invite us to attend a rum tasting that she was hosting later in the month. Read the rest of this entry

Not like I recall

A very fit and trim Père Noêl

A very fit and trim Père Noêl

This time of year was always fun growing up because lots of Christmas catalogs would arrive and you could spend hours sorting through all the latest toys, games, and all the other items you never knew you wanted. As an adult in our fantasy land called France, it’s really no different except that the amusements that now catch our eye are likely to be centered around food and drink but it’s still fun to peruse all of these catalogues de Noël looking for everything we didn’t know existed, seems unusual, or we just don’t recall ever having seen before. Read the rest of this entry

And they named it….

Can you see the Pyrenees?

Can you see the Pyrenees?

It’s not at all uncommon, especially in rural areas, for houses to have a plaque above the front door with a name; not of the owners but of the house. Examples we’ve seen include “Long Weekend”, “Good Times”, and “My Dream”. We were invited for lunch to a small village outside of Carcassonne with precise directions and the reassurance of “If you get lost just ask for the Tile House; everyone knows where it is”. We arrived without incident to discover that our hosts lived in a former tile factory, hence the name. With that inspiration, it’s time to name our new place and we think we’ll call it “Modération”. Read the rest of this entry

What goes around…

Wine festival poster from the city's website

Wine festival poster from the city’s website

We’ve only lived in France for 7 months and already we’re returning here to an annual event. How’s that possible? Once we had decided that Carcassonne was going to be our new hometown, we had to find a place to live. Thanks to Bill’s Internet searching skills and to the generosity of our landlords, that part was easy, although they insisted that we visit the property in-person before they would accept our rental deposit. Darn, that meant that we would have to fly over from Atlanta to France to cement the deal. I wondered at the time if there might be some kind of festival going on since we had been following the city’s website for quite a while and noticed that every weekend there seemed to be a party. How about the 2-day Fête du Vin wine festival? Read the rest of this entry


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