Why Lyon is the Best French City

Paris can kiss my ass. There, I said it. Go ahead and report me to the French Culture Police (actually there probably is some kind of culture regulation office in France, but by the time you file the paperwork complaining about me, I’ll be long gone…ha!) The iconic romance of “The City of Lights” persists, and it’s not undeserved. If…

Budget Beds: Greatest Hits

When you travel a lot, all the beds you’ve slept in start to blend together; even some of the best and worst accommodation experiences become a blur of white sheets. But every once in a while, a place stands out– for its unbelievable location, gorgeous decor, interesting ambiance, or fun extras. Traveling on a limited budget like mine might…

A lectrice…what is that?

The best English translation of my French job title is “adjunct professor,” which seems slightly too fancy, considering my lack of advanced degree. Based on what I hear from other lecteurs and lectrices, the position varies somewhat from university to university but, in a coquille de noix, I’m a teaching member of the English department at a…

I’ll have a breu-nee, please.

One of the funniest things I do on an almost daily basis is pronounce English words with a French accent so that French people will understand me. This most often happens with food: I’m currently sitting in a café waiting for the Ee-reesh Crem (“Irish Cream,”  on the menu) Latté that I clumsily attempted to order with…

The Customer is Always…

This is a crash course in customer service philosophy across cultures. Business 101 in America: the objective is to get your customers to spend money, period. Sometimes this objective is pursued at the cost of employees’ dignity, happiness, and integrity, but, for good or ill, every American knows the mantra, “the customer is always right.” This…

Best Travel Moments, 2015

This post is a reflection on 2015, but the featured image was taken in 2010 at a train station in Granada, Spain. It’s a favorite of mine because it’s the best I’ve been able to capture the feeling I get as I’m about to embark on a trip of any kind. The train door stands…

Art Pilgrimage: Cave of Niaux

By the sound of it, the woman behind me was somehow managing to fall in every single puddle as we hurried after our guide, a physically nimble but socially awkward guy in his late twenties who’d warned us that if we didn’t rush we’d risk an abridged tour. The CO2 in our breath threatened the existence of the very thing…

Two-Day Wander: Toulouse, Niaux Caves, and Carcassonne

As the calendar flips by and I get used to the probability that my geographical future lies outside France, I start to feel a sort of constant, creeping urgency. It’s forced me to focus on more fully exploring France. Ironically, this effort to pull away without regrets makes it harder to pull away at all.  My latest jaunt took me to the southwest, to the…

Not My First OFII Rodeo

I’ve received new visas for each of the periods I’ve worked in France, so I’ve been to OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration) for the “visite médicale” four separate times. I’m a pro at this point and, to OFII’s credit, the process now looks like a well-oiled machine when compared to my other…

Day Hike: Marseille to Cassis Along the Calanques

It’s never been easy for me to say good-bye to summer. A creature of the sun who had the poor luck to grow up in the snowy northeastern United States, I spent my first twenty-three winters hiding inside and eating pastries, one step up from a hibernating bear. I get stir-crazy when the weather gets cold, because…