Hiking Tips for Indoor Kids: The Day Backpack

I think a lot of potential hikers get scared away by the GEAR: there’s so much of it, and it’s so expensive, and ads for it often feature impossibly rugged-looking people clinging to cliff faces. Sure, for a long trek that involves camping or climbing, major supplies are essential. But day hikes, or even multi-day hikes with…

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…

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…

Bicycling and Broiling in Burgundy

One of the best things about living an unsettled existence is that you end up with friends who live all over the world and are often similarly unsettled. This means… lots of mutual travel mooching! You crash with them, they crash with you, and everybody has a travel party. A friend I met through TAPIF has returned to…

The Restorative Properties of Fresh(er) Air

I loved living in New York City, but that place can fray the nerves. Overcrowding makes everything, from grocery-shopping to walking down the street, a competition with some of the most intense and aggressive people in the world. I used to go to Trader Joe’s just after it opened so that I only had to wait…

Worst-Kept Secret

The Cinque Terre secret is REALLY out. Not that Cinque Terre doesn’t deserve it – the collection of five tiny towns, clinging to the vertiginous Ligurian coast like pastel-colored barnacles and connected by scenic paths that wind through olive and lemon groves high above the sparkling Mediterranean, is enchanting. But the towns’ charming small size also means…

Day Hike: Rochetaillée and the Gouffre d’Enfer

Venturing out to Saint-Etienne, a small city about 45 minutes south of Lyon, you’ll notice that the beret quotient skyrockets – every third guy seems to be about 65 years old and wearing one. The city is quiet, its horizon dominated by two slag heaps in an enduring reminder of its has-been mining town status. It’s also at the…

Three Hops Above Grenoble: La Bastille, Mont Jalla, and Mont Rachais

Surely one of Earth’s beautiful cries for help, late November in the Rhône-Alpes region was practically balmy by almost-winter standards. Good snow-traumatized New Englander that I am (used to assuming, come winter, that the ground will disappear one day and the temperature will pull an “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” until April), I took full advantage of the weather…

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…