Blog Post Index

A Year in the Life

In some ways it seems like only a minute has passed since we left France. And in some ways it seems like forever. Since landing in the United States, we have visited family in North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan. We went on a cross-country trip that included The...

European Vacation

My sister and her family decided to spend Spring Break in France this year. I was overjoyed to spend a little over a week with them on their vacation. Neal, however, opted out. For one thing, he has had his fill of travel over the past year, and we are getting ready...

Repatriation

It’s decision-making time in Toulouse. Before starting this adventure we agreed to evaluate our situation after one year and decide if our move to France would go beyond a one year sabbatical. I won’t tease you; we’ve decided to return to the U.S. It...

What France Does Better

Le Pain Bread When we first arrived in France, we had a couple of baguettes, and were slightly confused. Bread is not just bread in France, it is a phenomenon – a way of life. And honestly our first experience was a little lackluster. Then we figured out the secret –...

What America Does Better

My wife is a Francophile. She loves French people, French cities, French food, and pretty much anything else found within the boundaries of France. Six months of living in France have done little to cure her. I on the other hand am more skeptical. I’m skeptical...

On the Road Again

It seemed like we had been on the road for weeks – oh wait we had been! Tours, Caen, Dinan, Saint-Martin-de-Re, Bordeaux, Carcosonne… And now off again?? Bien sûr! Friends emailed us to say they were visiting Paris and would love to meet up. So I came up with the...

Wine, Women and Song

“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”

Galileo Galilei

Squeeze the juice from some grapes, throw in a handful of yeast, stick it in a barrel for a couple of weeks and voilà – wine.  That process has been refined over thousands of years into an art form. Hemingway put it thus; “Wine is one of the most civilized

Automne Voyage

We decided to storm the beaches in Normandy while les infants were back in school. From the looks of them, some of our fellow vacationers may have actually stormed the beaches in Normandy. I’m not complaining, we love rubbing shoulders with senior travelers....

The Canal du Midi

The Canal du Midi (canal of the south) is an impressive feat by any measure. This man-made canal runs for 150 miles from Toulouse to the Mediterranean. It is 620′ above sea level at its highest point and one must pass through 65 locks (aquatic elevators) to...

Albi…yet another belle ville in France

Diane and I took a spur of the moment trip to Albi on Wednesday. A quick overnighter just 50 miles northeast of home. Even by European standards, Albi is an old city. People have been living here for 5,000 years. Romans, christian mystics, world wars, Albi has seen it...

Why are the french afraid of air conditioning?

Something a little different this time – I wrote a guest post this week for Oui In France, the blog of a very funny American woman living the expat life in France with her french husband and adorable little dog. Check out her blog and more of my continuous...

Chez Nous – Home Sweet Home in Toulouse

We’ve found a (mostly) perfect Toulousain apartment and are getting used to our new neighborhood, new french friends and new french customs. We started our apartment search hoping that stories of guarantors (someone promising to pay your rent if you don’t)...

When in Spain

You might recall from our last post that our new apartment won’t be ready for us until June 16th. What better way to kill two weeks than traveling? We will spend some time in Spain. We will go there on a train. First stop: Barcelona Barcelona is an architectural...

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and Boats and a lot of walking)

We are on the train to Toulouse, finally. Since the end of March we’ve been living out of suitcases and in constant preparation for the next leg in our journey. Toulouse will be our home for the next year or two or… The transition from traveling tourist to...

D-Day

The time has finally come. Two years of planning, saving and preparing have brought us full-circle back to NYC. On April 25th at 2:00 PM we begin our invasion of France. We won’t exactly be storming the beaches but we will be arriving by boat. We rendezvous with...

French pronunciation – Quoi?

We have arrived in… Michigan. Not exactly a straight line from New York to Toulouse. There was a gap between the end of our lease in NYC and our date of embarkation. So we find ourselves in limbo and in my sister’s basement. My dear wife remains a good sport while...

Voilà! – French Visa Part 3

March 18th was a crisp spring day and we kept to the sunny side of the street with the wind at our backs and the French consulate in our sights. Along the way, Diane tried to overcome my natural pessimism with positive visualizations – “Just imaging walking in...

First Contact – French Visa Part 2

First Contact – Continued… We returned to the consulate on Wednesday morning (precisely between 9:00 and 10:00) holding our documents proudly over our heads! We expected nothing less than to be carried around the waiting room on the shoulders of the other...

First Contact – French Visa Part 1

We had our first brush with French bureaucracy today. We did not come away unscathed. Our French Visa appointments were at 9:30 and 10:00, which put us on the train during rush hour. Standing 4 rows of bodies back from the platform as an already packed 6 train pulls...

Scrapbooking French Visa Applications

We’ve settled comfortably into a new routine. The biggest adjustment has been not going to work. For a very long time we’ve both known exactly what to expect from the next day, month, year, even decade. That kind of certainty comes heavily spiced with...

Parlez-Vous? Expats learning french

They say children’s brains are like sponges. They don’t say that about anyone over the age of 40 and we now understand why, we’re learning French. Our sponges have become blocks of granite and we’re trying to carve grooves in them with soft #2...

And the Winner Is…

On the way home from our journey, Rhonda and I prepared a presentation to show Neal that had each city’s pros, cons, pictures, and our summaries. It was interesting to compare our pre-trip impression with post-trip. Before we went to Bordeaux, what we liked most...

Au Revoir Lyon, Au Revoir France…For Now

Well it is with mixed feelings that we say au revoir to Lyon and to France, as today is our last day. We have covered a lot of ground, and learned much about French culture, language, and certainly the food. I can’t wait to get back to my sweet husband, and I...

Enchanté Lyon

The train ride from Montpellier to Lyon was the most beautiful one yet. The train whizzed past rolling hills, rocky outcrops, vineyards, mist settled in the valley floors, and pastures of sheep (no I am not making this up). And of course, tiny villages were perched on...

Hustle and Bustle in Montpellier

This morning we hopped on the stylish tramway toward downtown to get a little breakfast and then on to our bus tour. Our destination was Place de la Comédie, Montpellier’s central square. It was swarming with people who were eating, snapping photos, and begging...

Au Revoir Toulouse, Bonjour Montpellier

One last cafe and buttery brioche for breakfast down a little cobble-stone street around the corner from our plaza. We have thoroughly enjoyed the city of Toulouse and the people who were warm, charming, engaging, and just downright delightful. At a market yesterday,...

Toulouse, I think we are falling in love

Today started with a chevre bacon quiche and cafe au lait. Can I just say…what a way to get the day started! (Oh let me back up a bit…it actually started with my doing yoga and Rhonda running. I skipped forward right to the delicious part.) The charming...

On To Toulouse

The SNCF train carried us away from Bordeaux, and about 2 hours later we landed in Toulouse. During the ride, the tracks took us past the Canal du Midi, a calming waterway winding through the French countryside. Occasionally we would see boats drifting along, on which...

Bordeaux Day Deux

Since we knew where we were going (theoretically), we started the second day walking up the Rue Sainte-Catherine.  Looking for a traditional French breakfast this morning, we landed at a cafe with pain rustique and pâtisseries, and opted for croissants and cafe au...

Bordeaux Day 1

We landed in Bordeaux yesterday evening – exhausted, jet lagged, and a little overwhelmed with the whole journey. After a little food, a glass of wine, and a good night’s sleep we were ready to explore the city. Well…nearly ready. Not completely on...

Day of Departure – New York to France

Well, the day of departure is finally upon us! We have organized clothes, shoes, toiletries, camera equipment, and maps. We are worn out and looking forward to 8 hours of plane rest. The itineraries, the maps, locations of markets, tours, train tickets are all printed...