Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Behind the Photos III

1. The photos in this edition were taken between October and December 2009.
2. If you'd like to see previous editions of Behind the Photos, click here.
3. And if you'd like to see future editions, stay tuned... 

sunrise over the luberon, provence

Stunning isn't it? Every time life in France kicks my tuchus and I'm feeling a bit blue, I take a deep breath and go for a walk. Looking around at the scenery, it doesn't take long before I'm in a better mood. I heart The Luberon. 

Sweet, sweet Vicky, I miss her so. This photo was taken within the first couple of weeks of adopting Fifty. She'd wait outside our front door for me to come out and take Fifty on his walk and then she'd come with us. She like mothering him. I think maybe because she had given birth to so many puppies, and didn't get to mother a single one. Now that's a sad thought. Let's move on to something more cheerful... like Christmas! 

This is La Petite Notre Dame at Christmas time. That sad looking tree is pretty much all the Christmas spirit Le Petit Village gets. That, and one sorry excuse for a string of Christmas lights, haphazardly hung across the main street. It's so pathetic it makes Charlie Brown look like a Christmas champ. The LPV needs a Christmas Committee and I think I should crown myself Queen of it. 

The quality of this photo isn't the best but I love it anyway. It's me with two of my best French girlfriends (Honey's Honey is missing, but in fairness, she wasn't in the picture yet); Gregory's childhood sweetheart, The Croupier (her baby is due in November.... it's a girl!) on the left and Candy, Brother-in-Law's ex-girlfriend is in the middle. (Candy and Brother-in-Law were together for five years until he cheated on her with Child Bride. She's ridiculously sweet and Gregory treats her like his little sister, which basically means any guy she dates is teased and tortured. Consequently, she doesn't bring boyfriends around to meet us anymore.)

Parc Fenestre La Bourboule Auvergne
That's me letting my inner child out to play in a park in Auvergne. I can't help it, whenever I come across a playground, I want to play. Luckily there weren't any pesky children about to get in my way. 

New Years Eve 2009... this is the very first photo of us I put on the blog, back when I was reserved and shy about photos (so way before that time I posted the pic of The Husband riding a pink pony). 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Race

The funny thing about living in a teeny tiny place where nothing ever happens is getting overly excited about things that I never would have given two hoots for before. That's me now, the girl who goes loopy-de-loop when she sees the signs for the circus going up, or the bumper cars arriving for the village fête.

The morning after that crazy dinner at Le Petit Bar, we woke up early to a buzzing Le Petit Village (for the record we always wake up early in The LPV; the 12th century church bell behind my house clanging away and an early bird dog ensures that no one ever sleeps past 7AM)... there was going to be a race!

The race explained why there had been fluorescent orange and green arrows spray painted randomly throughout the village streets; they were there to direct the contestants, and more importantly, they were directing them right past my house! I'd be able to sit on my steps and watch my very own Tour de Le Petit Village!

My excitement level reached a new and embarrassing level of dorkdom. In between making cups of tea for my guests and making beds, I'd shout out to the living room, "has it started yet?"


A couple of minutes later... "Now?"


I seemed to be the only one excited.

After only seeing a couple of runners jog past the house who were merely warming up, we gave up on waiting (actually I gave up on waiting because I was the only one who actually was waiting) and walked into the village square for croissants and coffee. Lucky us because we walked smack dab into it.

In order to get to the boulangerie, you had to walk past the start/ finish line where loads of teams of cyclists and runners were milling about (each team was made up of a cyclist and a runner who would compete together... I didn't understand it either). And sometime while we were waiting to place our breakfast pastry order, the race started. We got to play Dodge 'Em as we crossed the street to the bar for our coffees. It felt less than safe.

In typical Le Petit Village fashion it was organized chaos minus the organized part... some of the contestants would start off and look around not sure what direction to go in and then someone would shout at them to follow the arrows, so then they'd look down and barely avoid knocking down a villager out for their morning stroll. It was mass confusion with lots of coming and going and shouting. I still don't know who won. Lots of the teams weren't even wearing matching shirts so we gave up trying to follow who was competing with who after a few of minutes.

But in a weird coincidence (was it a coincidence???), Mr London and his baby brother were wearing matching shirts. They could have been a team (a special team). Maybe next year.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

expat escapades

I read blogs, a lot of blogs. I write a blog, and I read them, it's what I do.
Sometimes I read a post and love it and I want to share it with the world, so I tweet it. And that got me thinking, sure I've told twitter about the post, but what about all of my friends who aren't on twitter (Hi Sandy!), should they miss out on finding out about the post because they don't tweet? No, of course not (but my world would be a whole lot easier if everyone was only a tweet away #justsaying). Then I thought, why not dedicate a whole post to other people's posts that I like? I can do that.

Today is the first Expat Escapades; a series of posts about other expat's posts that I've fancied and thought that you guys might fancy too. (This will probably be weekly, but it might not be exactly weekly; it might be every other week, or every ten days. Who knows. This is my fun, relaxed space. I don't like having to be exact about anything here).

Over on Talking Story Provence, Meredith posted about food trucks in Marseille, or more specifically a mint tea truck. I wouldn't mind a mint tea truck in The LPV. Actually, I should start up a tea truck, only I'd make it an Irish tea truck. All I need is cart to hitch Fifty to, and a massive supply of Barry's Tea, and I'm good to go.

Kristin of Un Homme et Une Femme discovered that Paris doesn't like 50 cent pieces (you have to read it to believe it... it's so freaking French it's ridiculous). This post made Fifty a bit sad by the way. I told him not to take it personally.

Have you ever been to Russia? Well now you can take a trip to Russia with Maybe Too Blonde - A Life in Europe. (Kelly actually lives in Germany but she went to Russia on her jollies.)

My friend Alex (another American living in Germany) from Ifs ands & Butts, has just come back from a week in Ireland. She's hasn't blogged about the whole thing yet, but she has posted about catching fish off the coast of Dingle and having it fried up for her dinner. (Confession: I lived in Ireland for six years and never went to Dingle *insert shocked face*.)

Patricia Parisienne went swimming in the Seine! I didn't know you could do that. It makes me think of swimming in the Hudson (no thanks, I'll pass on the hepatitis), or the Liffey (it's not called the Sniffey Liffey for nothing). But Patricia swam in the Seine and it looks like it was lovely way to escape the city heat.

There was something else Patricia did that was lovely; she discovered Fountainebleu's je ne sais quoi. That's definitely one way the region around Paris definitely has Provence beat, they've got better castles!

Danielle Abroad complied a fantastic list of things to do while in Paris. These are things you do after all of the museum and typical sights (or things you do first if you're an off the beaten path kind of traveler).

Days Like Never Before took a trip to Paris and ended up crashing the red carpet of the Hangover III premiere! Seriously. There's a photo of her with Bradley Cooper and everything. B R A D L E Y   C O O P E R.

And this last one isn't a post, but a blog. American girl Megan recently moved to France after marrying her (former pen pal!) French husband. She's new to blogging so I thought it would be nice if y'all popped on over to her blog, To France With Love, and give her a warm welcome. I know y'all are nice like that.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

behind every good man...

provence rosé wines tampenades
This photo was taken in l'épicerie next to Le Petit Bar.
It doesn't have anything to do with this post,
or Le Petit Bar for that matter,
I just happen to like it

Tell me, does this ever happen to you?

You find a new restaurant that you love, you tell your friends all about how wonderful it is; the service, the food, the ambiance, the value, and then when you finally bring your friends to show off your new find, the restaurant doesn't live up to the hype. This seems to happen to me all of the time, I get excited and I jinx things. This is the story of one of those times...

You know how I've been going on and on lately about how great the all new Le Petit Bar is? Well Big Man had a bit of a hiccup a couple of weeks ago and it was such a typical Le Petit Village hiccup that I knew I just had to tell you about it.

After our trip to Aix, The Londons came back to Le Petit Village for the night and we decided to bring then to Le Petit Bar for dinner. Truthfully we wanted to show it off... Le Petit Bar is a happening place these days (happening for around these parts anyway), the food is good, the babyfoot is fun, and the vibe is chill. Well normally that is. But as any Le Petit Village reader knows... normally, shnormally.

Normally, Le Petit Bar works like this; Big Man tends the bar, his daughter waits on the tables, and his wife does the cooking. It's a system that works well. And it's a system that is put in place for a reason... the reason being that if it's messed with, the merde hits the fan. And of course the night we brought The Londons, the system was messed with... Big Man's wife and daughter had the night off leaving Big Man, and a guy from the village to take care of everything.

Oh the chaos was glorious!

Big Man was trying to cook while a guy who clearly had never waited a table in his life ran around forgetting things. Eventually we gave up and pitched in.

We set our own table and filled our own bread basket. And once Big Man realized that we're pretty much self-reliant, he let Gregory take over...

"Greg! Make the coffee!" He shouted from the kitchen. (Which according to Mr. London ended up being the worst Noisette he'd ever tasted. I'd have to agree with him on this one.)

"Greg! Answer the phone!"

"The toilet paper is under the sink. Pull out a few rolls when you go in there." This one was directed at me.

It was an eventful/ pretty standard night out in Le Petit Village. (S.N.A.F.U.)

We'll definitely be bringing The Londons back to Le Petit Bar, but I'll be making sure Big Man's wife is there first (or that we get put on the payroll).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

les nouvelles

++ We saw the largest snail ever. We're talking like, 'World's Largest Snail' at the County Fair kind of sized. He came out during a rainstorm and I swear he was about half the size of my knuckle and big enough to be a pet. I would have adopted the little guy but 1. Fifty would have been jealous and 2. I'd be scared The Husband would eat it.

++ Not only did we not celebrate the 4th of July, we didn't celebrate the 14th either (Bastille Day). Clearly we are the least patriotic people ever (note to self... become patriotic). However, we did get a glance of fireworks the night before Bastille Day from The London's living room window. Too bad we didn't get ourselves together early enough to get down to the port and watch them #patrioticfail

++ In another epic fail of suckiness, that same Saturday night we decided to go to Magic World, an amusement park all of ten minutes from The London's house... we made it as far as the bar five minutes down the road. We had two beers and went home to bed. Could we be anymore lame? No.

++ I'm not trying to wish away my summer (not at all... my legs aren't tan enough yet) but part of me cannot wait for September because September is when Sons of Anarchy comes back on (I miss you Jax Teller).

{I told you it was big}
++ Last Friday, my internet at my house went out a little after 9:30AM for ten hours! TEN HOURS! And as if that wasn't lousy enough, my hairdryer exploded (not cut out, EXPLODED with sparks). It was a sucky day. But then we went to Martine's for Mojitos so it had a fairytale ending. Mojitos and good company can pretty much cure anything.

++ Since I'm talking about Martine, I'm going to talk about this... are any of y'all (my Texas just came out there) photography fans? If you are, you should check out Martine's husband, George's photography blog, The Wideangle Cafe. And if you happen to be in Provence in August, you should go to George's photography exhibit (for dates and info follow George on twitter). Tell him Sara Louise sent you and you'll get a free glass of wine! (you'll get a free glass of wine anyway)

++ Now back to the internet being out and the exploding hairdryer... as if that wasn't enough dreadfulness for a weekend, on Sunday evening, water stopped flowing out of the taps. Seriously, not a single drop. We checked with our neighbor who confirmed that she too was without water. She went off to investigate while I kept my fingers crossed that the whole village was water-less and not just us (I wasn't being mean, it's just that the more people without water would mean the faster they got the problem fixed). It turned out that some dimwit was digging in his garden with a digger, and not knowing what he was doing, dug into the water pipe. WHAT. A. MORON. Luckily for everyone (especially digger guy because otherwise me and him were going to have words and by words I'm talking about all of the naughty English ones), the water was back on when we woke up Monday. Crisis averted.

++ Remember the green purse I got in les soldes? Well when I bought it, I decided to use it right away. I popped the smaller purse I was carrying inside of it and went on my way happily swinging around my new green handbag. Mrs. London bet that Gregory wouldn't even notice the change and she was right, he didn't.  So the lesson learned is that I can pretty much shop until my heart's content and The Husband will be none the wiser because he doesn't pay attention. Good to know.

++ I had the saddest, most tragic thing happen to me... last Wednesday, RC Toulon (rugby) was playing a fun match against Olympic Marseille (soccer/ football). It was a first half football, second half rugby, all looney match. Mr. London was playing and I had wanted to go, but it was a Wednesday, we had just been down to Toulon the weekend before, and blah, blah, blah, so I decided to stay put. Big mistake. Huge. It turns out that my big ol' crush Marc Lièvremont (who you may remember from my trip to Paris) was the referee for the rugby half of the match (Eric Cantona referreed the football part but honesty, I don't really care about that).

++ My hair is growing out from that horrible haircut. I'd love to be able to say 'growing out nicely' but I'd be lying. Every time I look in the mirror I remind myself never to chop it above the shoulders again. And if any of you ever get even the tiniest inkling that I'm thinking about it, please remind me not to... it's your duty as my blog friends.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Aix: Les Lions + Les Soldes

Some Saturdays ago, we decided to go to Aix-en-Provence. I love going to Aix, but I especially love going to Aix when we're meeting Mr. & Mrs. London. Meeting Mr. & Mrs. London means that Mrs. London and I get to leave Mr. London and The Husband in a pub and then trot off to shops and charming sidewalk cafés for Rosé.

This particular Saturday was a special one; The Lions were playing the Wallabies (Rugby of course... the Lions are a team made up of the best players from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and the Wallabies are the Australian national team), so that was the boys sorted, and les soldes were on (for those that don't know, sales in France only happen twice a year; in the winter, and in the summer, so when they're on, all hell-o-operator breaks loose), so that was us sorted.

Pub O'Sullivan's Aix-en-Provence

It was 11 when we arrived. I had wanted to get there at 10 to have time to peruse the shops before the chaos commenced, but The Husband dragged his feet (this is what he does... if I say I want to leave earlier than planned, he says OK, but then deliberately takes his time getting ready so we end up leaving close to the later time... he can act like he doesn't do this on purpose but I know he does).

When we got there, we found Mr & Mrs London plus Mr. London's baby brother waiting at the fountain outside the pub. The pub said they weren't opening for another twenty minutes. Now the smart thing for the guys to do would have been to find a nearby cafe, have a coffee and wait the twenty minutes, but since that would have been the smart thing, they didn't. Instead they went off in the 32ºC/ 90ºF heat, in search of another pub that would be showing that match and that was opened. Mrs. London and I went off in search of bargains.

Each store was so jammed, and it was so hot that we decided that shopping was a no go. A place in the shade with a chilled glass of pink was a much better option. (However in one of the jam-packed shops, I found an olive green handbag that I just had to have; originally €40 marked down to €12! WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER! So I didn't leave les soldes completely empty handed... that would have been wrong.)

We found the boys in the pub they had originally been waiting outside of. They had walked all around Aix, in the blaring heat, only to come back to where they started. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Now since they are boys, and they're in a pub, watching rugby, you'd think they were drinking beer, right? Not our boys. They were drinking Betty Boops; a champagne, manzana (apple schnapps), watermelon juice and pear juice cocktail... well la-di-da.

We left them to their little umbrella cocktails and went in search of sustenance. And by sustenance I mean tapas. And Rosé. Let's not forget the Rosé. But there was one thing we weren't counting on, finding the tapas and Rosé in the hottest spot in Aix. I swear it was like sitting on the sun.

Tapas Aix-en-Provence

I mean look at that tapas plate... it's glowing red it's so hot! (OK, maybe it's not glowing red because of the heat and instead it's taken on a red hue from the light shining through the red canopy we were sitting under but still, it was hot. Being trapped under that canopy was sheer torture).

Put it this way... it was so hot I couldn't even drink my Rosé. I COULDN'T DRINK MY WINE. That's crazy hot.

Friday, July 19, 2013

je suis un lapin heureux

lavender of Provence

C'est vendredi!

(C'est vendredi means 'it's Friday' and here's a fun fact for you... weekdays aren't capitalized in French. I don't know why, but they aren't. And there you have it.)

First things first, the winner of the book giveaway is Gloria S. Congratulations Gloria!

Second things second... we're looking forward to a wonderful weekend of pretty much doing nothing here at Chez Nous (with the exception of tonight; tonight we're going over to Martine's house for Mojitos... Mojitos at Martine's, it sounds like the name of one of those snazzy CDs they sell at Starbucks). It's one of those weekends where we feel like being lazy, and it's a rare one because for once we can... we're not going anywhere and nobody is coming here! Can you believe it? I can't.

I feel like being so lazy in fact, that I'm wishing it would rain (I have a hard time lazing about if the sun is shining... I'm solar powered), like heavy dark grey skies, buckets of rain pelting the windows, lock your doors and stay inside type of rain. But with a 31°C/ 88°F, 10% chance of rain weather forecast for the weekend, I'm doubting my wish will come true. That's OK though, because weather forecasts like that are made for Rosé, which incidentally are what summer weekends are made for so either way I'm a happy bunny (it really doesn't take much).

And I hope all of you get to be happy bunnies this weekend too.
Bon week-end tout le monde!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

behind the photos II

This is the second installment in my series, behind the photos. These photos were all taken within the first three months of my new life as a Le Petit Villager. As with the first installment, some of these photos may be new to you, some may not.

These two photos always make me smile. They were snapped a couple of weeks after I moved to Le Petit Village by my Aussie friend Gina who was visiting. Even though they were taken over three years ago, they are still a perfect snapshot of us... Gregory doing something silly to try and entertain me, me being bored with it all until I break down laughing because he's just too ridiculous.

The Croupier, her fiance, Honey Jr and me about a week after I moved to Le Petit Village. They were so welcoming and accepting. It was nice to be immediately adopted into a 'family' as soon as I moved over, especially since I had like zero French at the time. On another note... can we talk about how ridiculous Honey Jr looks in this photo... I'm not sure what that face he's pulling is all about but he's still adorable #cutiepatootie.

This is a goat. We found him (I'm guessing it's a him) with that dog behind him, walking down the road together. A goat and a dog, just out for an evening walk. Nothing weird about that at all. It was upon seeing that odd couple out for a stroll that I realized my new home was a bit unusual.

Look at this mostrocity. This romper room disaster of a staircase was in the living room of my first home in The LPV. What would possess someone to do this?! Was it Crack Smoking Day in The LPV?! All you can drink pastis in Le Petit Bar?! Who knows, I painted over all of that right quick. (Incidently, this apartment that we rented is actually owned by Child Bride's Aunt and Uncle. I just felt like throwing that out there.)

A shot of the living room after I painted the walls and staircase. The table was moved in there and set because I was having Papa's Wife and her mother over for Sunday lunch. Our kitchen was a bit too tight for four to dine comfortably so into the living room we went. It was my first time cooking for French women (no pressure) and surprisingly, it didn't go to badly (my secret weapon... making sure their wine glasses are never empty). 

The magic mushroom that turned against me and became the stuff that nightmares are made of. If you haven't read 'The Mushroom Incident', now would be a good time. (I just realized that saying 'magic mushroom' and 'nightmares' in the same sentence makes this sound like something completely different to what it actually was.) 

I took this photo the day after we brought Fifty home (and more importantly, after he was bathed... the dog shelter we got him from was more than a little filthy). It's my favorite puppy picture of him, he looks so small, and you can see that little puppy belly. I miss that little puppy belly. 

P.S. My book giveaway is still open! If you haven't entered, click here for a chance to win!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

un après-midi au petit bar

Every time I write a post about going back to the original Le Petit Village, the same thing goes through my head, "I'm takin' it back to the old school 'Cause I'm an old fool who's so cool". I'm such a dork. (gold star to anyone who can tell me what song that line is from).

So yeah, a couple of Saturdays ago The Husband and I decided to meet our favorite honey farmers for an apéro and lunch in Le Petit Bar. Big Man was serving Aioli (Aioli is a traditional Provençal dish of boiled vegetables, salt cod, and homemade garlic mayonnaise).

And not only were we meeting Honey Jr. and Honey's Honey, but Honey Jr's rarely seen older brother, Honey B was meeting us (Honey B lives in Avignon and does not work in the family business).

Nothing says summer in Provence like pastis and a rickshaw (actually, that's the first time I've ever seen a rickshaw here, it was parked outside l'épicerie and I have no idea what it was doing there, but I do know that I want it).

I learned something new on that Saturday, there is a special type of pastis called, rosé pastis that's served in big goblets with 'piscine' written across them (piscine is the French word for swimming pool). I thought for sure that I would love it, so I ordered one, took a sip and decided that rosé pastis is definitely not for me. Since we operate under the 'waste not, want not' philosophy, The Husband decided to finish it, and not wanting The Husband too feel weird drinking a big goblet of rosé pastis on his own (it's not the manliest of drinks), Honey Jr. ordered one as well (now that's friendship). 

After the Aioli and some nougat ice cream for dessert (we skipped the cheese course... hold up, I just saw a pig fly by my window), Big Man set two bottles and some small glasses down on our table and walked away. 

Lunch isn't lunch in France without a digestif. And a trip to Le Petit Bar isn't a trip to Le Petit Bar without a round of babyfoot (apologies, you are going to be seeing A LOT of these babyfoot photos).

Friday, July 12, 2013

the latest

++ The last time I was in the old Le Petit Village, I noticed this Corsican flag waving in the wind... Child Bride's parents hung it from the top of their apartment building. They aren't from Corsica by the way, they're from Marseille, but as every south of France dweller knows, there are some people here who are obsessed with Corsica. Take Papa and his wife for instance; they go there every year on holiday (and then The Husband and I have to sit through what pretty much looks like the same photo slide show each time), have a Corsican sticker on their car, and have even changed their license plate registration number to Corsica (yet they still need a GPS to navigate around the island). And then there's Brother-in-Law, who has had a large image of a Corsican rebel tattooed across his back (seriously... it's ridiculous). I don't get it. I just don't get it. The whole Corsican thing goes right over my head. Moving on. 

++ Want to know what I did for the 4th? Nothing. A big fat nothing. Well nothing patriotic anyway. See this is what happens... when you live outside of the US, the 4th just kind of creeps up on you because there are no 4th of July decorations at the grocery store, no friends inviting you to BBQs or firework displays at the park, so it just kind of happens. You wake up on the 3rd and go, "uh oh, tomorrow is the 4th and once again I forgot about it." So when I woke up on the 4th I decided that in celebration, we'd take advantage of pizza night (pizza nights are Thursdays these days... or so we thought), order from our local pizza man van, have some beers and watch The Sopranos (in honor of the late, great James Gandolfini, we've been watching The Sopranos from the beginning). Except there was no pizza man, he decided that he's working Mondays now, not Thursdays... AARRGGHH... why can't anyone stick to the mothertrucking program around here?!?!?!

++ But you know what? I don't need no stinkin' pizza van! I've been on a pizza making kick lately (OK, I made two pizzas one night so maybe not a kick per se) and I have to say, making pizza dough with 00 flour instead of regular old flour really makes a difference. The dough is much tastier, much more pizzeria like. 00 flour is the way to go. You heard it here first kids.

++ The derelict building across the street from us (it's a very thin street, about eight feet wide) is being turned into a hotel. Construction began on the 1st of July and is scheduled to continue for the next two years, which we all know will probably be closer to three. So yeah, that's fun. 

++ This has nothing to do with anything that is happening in The LPV at the moment but something reminded me of this and I felt like sharing it with you... back in March a woman in Avignon sent her three year old son to school with a t-shirt that had, 'je suis une bombe' written across the front (I am a bomb) and on the back, the kid's name was written on it, 'Jihad', (seriously, I'm not making this up, she named her kid, Jihad) and 'né le 11 septembre' under his name (born September 11th). So this woman had a son born on September 11th, decided to name him Jihad, and then put a t-shirt on him advertising this and sent him to school. Here's the link to the article [click here], it's in French. This is one of those things that leaves me completely dumbfounded. Talk amongst yourselves.

++ Remember Brother-in-Law's new car, the French Love Bug? Well it's no more. Last weekend it was totalled in an accident with a holidaying camper van. Thank heavens he, Child Bride and La Petite are all OK. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about French Love Bug. RIP French Love Bug.

++ Like French Love Bug, Google Reader has been laid to rest and it did not in fact turn into Blogging Apocalypse which I'm sure many of us thought it would. We're all here, our blogs are still here, you guys are all here. It's like December 21st all over again. 

++ And that is the perfect segue for my question... if you were a Google Reader before, how do you stay up to date now? Me, I've gone the Bloglovin route. I like it. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

guest post: How to Make France Your Home Away From Home

Relocating to a new area is always a challenge. From the expenses incurred during the actual move, to the emotions that come with leaving family and friends behind, a major relocation presents a number of obstacles that few people can handle or are willing to undertake. Move to an entirely different country, and you've upped the ante. Whether you’re in France to study, taking a gap year, or relocated for love, no matter how much research you've done, nothing can prepare you for the new region where you'll be living. You may have even purchased a travel guide or investigated the area using online resources. Though you may feel prepared for your new life and adventure abroad, you won't fully know the lay of the land until you've arrived.

Whether you've lived in different countries or have never left your homeland, you're bound to be anxious and uncomfortable in your new surroundings. By becoming familiar with your new neighborhood and city or town, you'll ease many of your initial fears. Once you get settled into your accommodations, spend a few days getting to know your space. Walk the town, check out shops and restaurants, and locate where the hospitals, emergency services, and libraries are. Still don't know where to begin? Here are a few tips to help you get adjusted to your new setting.

 Meet and Greet

The best way to get accustomed to a new place is to talk to those who already have an intimate knowledge of the neighborhood and city. Chat up your neighbors, especially those within your age group, and ask them the essentials about your location: where the grocery stores and markets are, where you can do laundry, where the closets public transportation stops are, and any safety tips they may have. You may also want to gather extra ideas for getting around, find out where some of their favorite local restaurants, coffee spots, bars, and shops are, and what activities or events are popular in the the town. Connecting with your neighbors is key to maximizing your experience living abroad. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to get in contact with other expats in a number of popular cities and countries.

Take Your New Hood by Foot

Taking a jaunt around your community is a wonderful way to adapt to your new environment. Map out a route, and allocate a couple of days to walk throughout the city and its accompanying areas. Bring a pen and pad to write down any valuable information—cool shops, troublesome areas, affordable places to dine, and solid watering holes. Walking about the city can also lead you to come across some amazing gems, like a funky cafe, a nice spot to watch the sun set, or a shop that sells clothing similar to items you’d fine at any M&S.

Indulge in the Environment

The most significant part of your experience abroad will be getting to know and learning how to feel at home in your new town. Take in all the action: try local foods, engage in activities you couldn't do back at home, watch popular, local sporting events, and take part in anything free that's offered to you. Remember to take pleasure in as much of this new and exciting journey at every twist and bend.
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