Planes, trains and hot air balloons! A carousel in Provins.

Last year, on a visit to the medieval village of Provins I was delighted by this beautiful little carousel: Sadly, no one was riding the horses or jumping into the hot air balloon basket. The music wasn’t playing and the carousel guardian slouched in his seat, puffing cigarette smoke into the hot afternoon air. The…

L’Hostellerie aux Vieux Remparts

Last summer, Monsieur and I enjoyed a lovely weekend with my Belle-Mère. Somewhat of a culture vulture, she took us to visit a medieval village called Provins. We parked up, bought our entry tickets for the village (yes, unless you lived there, you had to pay to visit) and hopped on one of those funny little white…

Bicycle in Arles

Cycling in London freaks me out – too much badly-behaved traffic for my liking. But this bike fills me with daydreams of cycling through French fields, with a baguette, a ripe brie and a bottle of something chilled and chablis-like in my basket. I have a red and white gingham picnic cloth, the sun shines, there are…

Salmon en Croute – French style

If there’s one thing destined to fill me with frissons of gastronomic excitement, it’s the way the French present their food. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s in a market or a supermarket or a bakery window, the presentation of food is creative and often so decorative that you might think twice about ruining the artistry…

Parlez-vous anglais?

Last summer, Monsieur took me to visit his family hometown in Brittany. We stayed with an aunt and uncle in a charming, old family home, with a view of the sea and the pink and blue hues of hydrangeas visible in all directions. The town was villagey, small, Breton in the truest of fashions, but not averse…

Certa, Paris – Where It’s Colder on the Inside

Paris on 27th December last was cold. Bitterly cold. It was so horribly cold that I figured Jack Frost was out and about, only this time on on steroids. In spite of coats and scarves and gloves with thermal lining it was too cold to venture across town in search of an evening meal; on this, Monsieur and I were agreed. Any sort…

Desperate for Desperados

Almost everyone I know has a tequila story which invariably involves one or all of the following: bouncing off walls, falling off furniture, early-onset dementia (a.k.a. can’t remember getting home) or a clanger of a hangover. In my twenties I had one particular run-in with tequila that ensured I would not go back for more for over a…

A Gallery of Sand in Giverny

Even as a child, I didn’t have much patience for sand castles. ‘What’s the point?’ I wondered, ‘in spending painstaking hours building crenellations, filling moats and adorning walls with shells, when all the effort would only be destroyed by (a) someone’s careless foot, (b) a galumphing dog off its lead or (c) the incoming tide?’…

Epiphany

One of the most enriching aspects of being half of a Franco-Kiwi partnership is the opportunity to always have more to learn about the other culture. Monsieur definitely understands how dull his life was before meeting his wife and witnessing her Jekyll-and-Hyde behaviour during All Blacks games. Inspired by my passion for men in black, my dear, sweet husband now knows all…

Boo to queues at Eurostar

In the pre-Christmas rush to reach loved ones, we’re not having a lot of success here in the UK. A bit of snow has sent everything into chaos – flights have been cancelled or delayed, roads closed, warnings to stay at home issued, and trains stranded mid-line. The snow has also caused Eurostar to restrict…

Eurostar? Euro-BAH-humbug!!

Monsieur and I are certainly having some pre-Christmas issues. First, we couldn’t make it to celebrate early Christmas with my parents because of the snow over the weekend. Conditions were too hazardous to drive. But wait, says Epic, let’s take the train! What train? All those going along our desired route were either cancelled or…