First glimpse of Paris
Being back in France after almost three month in the tropics was a shocker. That 39 degree temperature swing actually hurt my face and I had to venture out wearing every layer of t-shirt, sweater and hoodie in my bag to search for an affordable coat. I figured I’d only need it for about a month. Six weeks’ tops. But still, in Paris one has to at least try to look reasonably fashionable so it was good old Zara to the rescue.
The winter in flip-flops had Lyla’s toes curled up inside her old smelly runners like a bird gripping it’s perch so we splurged on a nice pair of trendy boots for her. I offered to cut off the tips of her old shoes to make more toe room but that wasn’t a popular idea (eye roll) with the little fashionista. This kind of shopping would never be a big deal at home where we had exotic possessions like closets and regular paycheques. Now each purchase had to be carefully considered and strategized. Do we really need this? Will it fit in your bag? What can you remove from said bag to make room? Can’t you just wear extra socks? We hadn’t worn socks for months either. We were noticing and appreciating the differences. Continue Reading →
Just another day in the café
How much time should an 11 year old spend in bars? I’m asking for a friend. Is too much unhealthy? Will it warp her for later? Or will she be so sick of the bar scene by then she’ll skip it all together? I can almost picture her when her friends try to sneak into a club underage when they are teenagers “I’ll skip it guys, it’s not that big a deal”. Should she know how to open and pour wine, order beer and ask for the tab in several languages? Should she enjoy quietly sketching the events of the day or doing math problems while her parents chat away the afternoons and evenings in café after café after café? Continue Reading →
Going to Corsica in November is like breaking into a huge shopping centre after hours. Everything you’ve every wanted is there and you get it all to yourself. The small island packs in every possible type of topography in her 180km length. High rugged peaks and the narrow, twisting, heart stopping mountain roads that go with them. Quiet lush green pastures dotted with goats, sheep and terribly skinny cows. At first we thought they were malnourished. They have the hip bones of supermodels lying on their backs. There are charming villages that seem to drip into the sea and oh, the sea. Two hundred and twenty beaches of swimming pool clear water and icing sugar sand…all empty. Except for you.
Sweetest little trailer – “La Roullotte”
After a sweet stay in the northern town of Oleta we moved inland to…how do you say ‘the middle of nowhere’ in Corsican? No kidding, one night we came home in the pitch dark to find our stone walled garden filled with those boney cows I was telling you about. We had to chase them out with our iPhone flashlights. Yeeehaw style! They had busted in the back gate. Perhaps they were tempted by the fresh green shoots of grass that were growing under our shade tree. The one with the red wrought iron swing hanging from it, right beside the old lanterns strung up in the branches to illuminate your dinner party and the French wicker cafe chairs around the red metal table. Are your charming alarm bells ringing yet? Just wait. We had booked a roulette or old wooden gypsy caravan through AirBnB in the idyllic countryside because a) we have a tight budget and it was cheap b) the photos looked too rustic+funky+lovely to believe c) we wanted to experience all aspects of the corsican landscape and lifestyle and d) it was cheap. Continue Reading →
Some of our French dining experiences have been, frankly, a little disappointing, which was a big surprise. Overpriced tough grisly steak, bland runny sauces, wilted veggies. What? We had expected every meal in France to be a joyful cascade of amazing flavours and singing angels but that has not been the case. Surprisingly, the French, some of them at least, seem to have a strange fondness for McDonald’s. I know, it’s weird. So we’ve found that asking for personal recommendations is the best way to find a really good restaurant. Also, it’s best not to frequent dining spots with pictures of the food taped to the front window. Dead giveaway.
Le Blé Noir, Carcassonne
One morning I was sitting in French class concentrating very hard on the lesson (ok, daydreaming about duck confit) when our teacher asked if I had any questions. “Yes, I do” I stammered in my awkward française. “Can you recommend a good restaurant close by for lunch?” She seemed confused. This wasn’t a question about the futur proche or the passé composé. She quickly suggested the chinese place around the corner and tried to get me back on track, just like the teachers in high school. ‘Non, a French restaurant, if you please”. This was not part of the lesson plan. Continue Reading →