Day Hike: Tournon-sur-Rhône Loop

The first thing I saw when I got off the train in Tain was green-and-beige-patterned hillside, vineyards under blue May skies. “Drink ya later,” I thought, and walked into town. I passed store fronts selling the same grapes in red wine form and crossed a bridge into Tournon-sur-Rhône, another pretty little town dominated by a historic…

The 10 Worst Things About Living in France

Sometimes, when you’re not ready to say good-bye to a place, it can help to dredge up all the things you don’t like about living there. As I start having my French “lasts”– last tartelette aux pommes, last drink with a dear friend, last visit to my favorite part of the park, last, last, last, I’ve also started…

chablis

The 10 Best Things About Living in France

I’m leaving France at the end of this month after almost three years living and working here. My work contract is up and I’m ready for something new, but I can’t help feeling melancholy about leaving. Getting ready to say “au revoir” has me reflecting on what I’ll dearly miss about France…and what I really, really won’t.…

Gliding Over Mountains and Glaciers in Chamonix

The New England mountains I grew up with, gentle, rounded peaks covered in trees and boulders, bear no resemblance to the ubiquitous pointy cartoon version. The only real contender is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. At 6,288 feet (1,917 meters), its rocky heights are cloaked in snow for much of the year, but even its silhouette is…

bilingualism

Parlez-you Franglais?

One of the coolest things about living abroad in a country where they don’t speak your native language is what starts to happen to your brain. It used to feel like I might never lose the intermediary mental translation, that time-consuming stopover to convert all French input into English and English output into French. But…

french cafes

Best Coffee Shops in Lyon

There’s a big difference between what we think of as a “coffee shop” in the United States and the traditional French café, which is more of a multi-purpose refreshment center. The French café has sidewalk tables and a dim interior, serves meals at certain hours and beer, wine, and absolutely terrible coffee the rest of the time,…

pizza italy

How to Travel Alone

A friend of mine once all but recoiled when I told her that, when she came to visit me, she should feel free to explore on her own while I was at work. She was annoyed that I’d even suggested it, and told me there wasn’t anything she felt comfortable doing by herself. Another friend recently insisted…

solo hiking

Pros and Cons of Traveling Alone

PROS YOU decide…everything. Want to stay an extra three days somewhere because you really like the effing delicious pastry you had at that café and want to eat it at least five more times? Done. Want to stay in a hostel that requires hauling your bag up a mountain because it sounds kind of rugged and…

annecy lake

Day Trip: Annecy

There’s nothing like the serenity and breathtaking beauty of the Annecy lakeside. Beyond its tranquil, bright-blue water and craggy green hills stand heart-pounding mountains, regal and chilly in the not-so-distance. Coots dot the lake, their dark plumage like ink stains on glass; up close, the water is so clear that you can see their gray feet…