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EL RACO D'EN MIQUEL, PONT DE MOLINS, SPAIN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

We go to Spain to shop about twice a year. It's a southern France thing. Lots of stuff is cheaper in Spain - clay pots, for instance. And cigarettes. Everyone who smokes and has a car capable of making the run buys their cigarettes in Spain. You can also find stuff in Spain that you can't easily find in France - sherry, Hellman's Mayonnaise, and rioja come to mind. So, twice a year...road trip to La Junquera, a paradise of malls, groceries, and liquor stores. And food courts. And Spanish food court food is...yes...food court food.

We all have our own takes on what constitutes a good meal while on the road. For some, Cracker Barrel works just fine. Waffle House, too. (My European friends will just have to imagine what one finds in a Waffle House. I'm not going to try to explain.) Others prize out-of-the-way diners that serve juicy burgers, fresh-cut fries, and homemade cherry pie with hand-dipped ice cream. I admit to being of the latter persuasion. I also admit to havi…
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WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT - JUNE, 2018: AIR CON, DIESEL, SCIENCE

Installing the first window air conditioner in the living room of our little ranch house in New Jersey in the 1960s didn't change our lives very much. The only unit in the house, its benefits didn't reach down the hall and into our bedrooms. We still slept under window fans. We still sweated in our sleep. My wife Cathey, on the other hand, spent her youth in Texas. She went from an air-conditioned house to an air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned playground...well...not exactly. But AC was definitely a fact of life for her. So when the AC in our old Citroen Xantia went on the fritz last summer, it needed to be fixed. No question. Cathey laid down the law. No AC? No marriage.

Have you ever tried to find AC parts for a 20 year-old car? They exist but they are as rare as politicians with callouses. Hence the search began for a new...albeit used...car.

I searched for a diesel-powered vehicle with a manual transmission. Abundant trunk space. Big enough to carry five adults in a…

EN FACE, NARBONNE: RESTAURANT QUICK TAKE

The pedestrian walkway along the Canal de la Robine in Narbonne is not exactly deserted on a rainy Monday afternoon before the tourist season hits full swing, but it comes awfully close. That relative tranquility is compounded by the fact that several of our preferred local restaurants are closed on Mondays. So when we decided to visit the Orange boutique near the cathedral to try (and fail) to sort out a problem with my mobile, our luncheon choices were limited. We decided to stroll along the Quai Victor Hugo, read menus, and see if anything struck our fancy. The winner? En Face.

As usual, we chose the midday formula. As usual, the fare ranged from adequate to surprisingly good. As usual, we ate a three-course meal and drank our fill of house wine for less than 20€ per person. So no real complaints. Not good enough to make our regular rotation but just good enough to return to in a pinch. 

You can read more of my restaurant reviews and food writing HERE.







SOLO WALK TO LES FARGOUSSIERES: RESISTANCE!

I enjoy walking in groups but I also enjoy walking by myself. Setting my own pace. Trying new paths. Getting lost. The sorts of things that you can't do in a group, especially when you are in the lead. So when no one took up my offer to lead a walk the other day, I wasn't disappointed. All spring long, I'd been wanting to see what a walk to Le Fargoussieres would be like. I particularly wanted to check out a memorial to the French resistance that I'd visited a year or so ago on a walk sponsored by the local historical society.

I began on the path to the Croix de Juillet, a walk that our group has taken a time or two in the past. Then I broke off, took the paved road to the hamlet of Les Fargoussieres, visited the memorial, then found me way back to the return path of the Croix de Juillet walk. It all worked well. With the help of my GPS mapper, I didn't get lost. But the route was a few of kilometers longer that I thought that it would be. Shade was scarce as the …

WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT - MAY, 2018: NICOLA, GIULIANI, AND MULVANEY

I've been thinking about starting a YouTube channel as a companion piece to my blog. Nothing fancy. A little political commentary, stabs at humor, tidbits about life in France. And I haven't been able to start it. And I know why. It's Nicola's fault.

Nicola Blakemore lives in Quarante. Cathey and I like her, count her as a friend. But we don't get to see her as often as we'd like. Nicola is an artist who supports herself through her art in a variety of ways. She accepts commissions. She's built a formidable presence on the internet. She gives courses in person and online, posts videos, works Facebook and other social media. It's time consuming work, a full-time job. And as a result of her hard work, Nicola's YouTube channel has 6,000 subscribers and features video after video, from a few seconds to a few minutes long, that often have several thousand views. (Check her channel out HERE. Tell her that I sent you.) Her video that teaches you to paint a…

LE DOLMEN, CEBAZAN: 9.6 KM WALK IN THE WOODS AND THE VINES

Our grey and chilly spring means that it's difficult to decide how to dress for one of our group jaunts. And so it was this past Monday, the last day of April, 2018. Grey and chilly as we headed out on a walk that most of us have taken before, starting in a little parking lot on the north side of Cebazan. Seven of us wore tees or polos, down or fleece, Pants or shorts. Layers of one type or another, certainly. Eventually, the day heated up and so did we.

But it's not about fashion. It's about the exercise and the views. And so, here are the pics. More walks and other observations on French life HERE.