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…

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…

Day Hike: Lacs de la Pra

I’m so fresh off this hike that the soreness hasn’t fully hit me yet (“it will,” hiss my vindictive knees and hips in menacing whispers, “it will”), but I wanted to get this post up before the cold really settles into the mountains. The Lacs de la Pra are a smattering of tiny lakes in the Belledonne mountain…

Time Travel: May, 2014 – Slowing Down in Split

I was very unpopular in beautiful Croatia. Despite my best efforts to abide by all spoken and unspoken rules and to be apologetic for my ignorance as I navigated the country’s unpredictable off-season transportation and accommodation logistics, the people I came across were impatient and bitchy with me. I was almost tossed off of long-distance…

11 TAPIF Must-Dos

If you’ve decided to embark on the Teaching Assistant Program in France, chances are you already have the travel bug and an interest in deeply discovering a foreign place instead of skimming its surface like the average tourist. There are lots of ways to take advantage of your resident expatriate status while living abroad and to do…

TAPIF Packing List

Packing for TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) is no easy task. You’re moving to a foreign country, but only for about half a year. How do you minimize cost, maximize efficiency, and still make sure you don’t feel like you’re living out of a suitcase? It’s hard to predict what you’ll regret leaving behind, but…

TAPIF Invasion: 10 Ways to Frappe the Ground Running

It’s that time of year: young anglophones lugging bulging suitcases suddenly appear in airports and train stations all over France, many of them employing a version of the local language that exists only in textbooks (and some of them, if we’re being honest, speaking what can only generously be called franglais). The TAPIF invasion has begun!…

Lavender Quest

Before last weekend, I’d been to Provence several times and never seen a single lavender flower in bloom. The season is easy to miss (generally only running from mid-June to mid-July, plus or minus two weeks on either end, depending on the exact location and the year’s weather), but I thought it would be a shame to have lived so close…

Indiana Jones and the Missing Apostille of Doom

When I submitted my application for the Carte Vitale, the infuriatingly elusive piece of plastic entitling me to the medical benefits for which I already pay taxes, I was told that it would be processed within three weeks. That was more than three months ago. Still, hope flickered last week when I received an envelope emblazoned with “Carte…