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…

It’s Complicated

“It” being my relationship with social media. How liberating it would be to delete my digital self! The potentially horrifying future ramifications of shady data collection policies aside, social media platforms are also an exhausting time-suck that can make the most confident individual question whether he or she measures up to family, friends, and the most distant…

When shit goes down and you’re not there

I spent most of my life before 2008 in the Boston area, hating the New York Yankees and shoveling snow, but have since lived there only intermittently. I miss the baseball. I don’t miss the winters. While a New York City resident in 2013, I received a text message one morning that made my blood run cold: “is your family…

How I Ran Away to France, the Third Time

After I participated in the Teaching Assistantship Program in France for the second time, I didn’t want to leave Europe. I loved working and living there, and decided that if I could get another job offer abroad I would take it. The only position I could target that I felt fit my experience and French language level (in which…

Fatal Phonemes and Emphasis Disasters

The ability to imitate an accent without making mistakes is rare, even among people who are paid boatloads of money to do it. Only a near-superhuman can avoid falling into sticky phoneme and stress traps unique to their linguistic background. For some language-nerd schadenfreude, here are a few recent endearing slip-ups I’ve come across while trashy tv-watching (mostly native Anglophones trying to…

Lyon and Shopping… for Those Who Hate Shopping

In general, I find shopping to be about as fun as going to the dentist. It’s boring, tedious, uncomfortable, and expensive. That’s why it took me a while to discover that I actually liked shopping in Lyon, that the city is full of lovely little shops run by talented designers and artists hoping to sell…

Day Hike: Aix-les-Bains Gare SNCF to Belvédère du Mont Revard

Step 1: Get from the Aix-les-Bains train station to Mouxy. You’ll want to end up at the intersection of Route de l’Église and Route du Revard. Step 2: You will see a small shopping center (pharmacy, bakery, etc.) across the street from a church. Look for the set of yellow signs, and follow the one that…

Losing the Trail in France

Walking is a national pastime in France. After a big Sunday lunch, families often go on late afternoon strolls together around their neighborhoods or along part of one of the hiking paths that vein the country. Many of the hiking paths pinball through residential areas and skirt private property, a fact that has complicated almost…

Day Trip: Chambery

Chambery. The name begs to be mispronounced by the Anglophone tongue in three or four different and equally disastrous ways. Fellow Anglophones, it’s sort of like this: “shom – beh – hree” – soft and grand.  A little city embedded in the pre-Alpine, glacial lake-filled edge of eastern France, Chambery is the capital of Savoie,…

Sunday at the Saône Markets

On a clear blue-and-yellow morning, there are few things more satisfying than a stroll through the art, book, and food markets along the Saône. The art market, on the west side of the river, displays everything from jewelry to sculpture and paintings, some of it a bit scary but most of it impressive. Though the art…