A taste of North Africa

I have so much to write about, and so much is going on, and yet I can’t seem to find the time to just do it. I have a half-dozen, half-written blog posts, waiting patiently to be finished and published. I have 10 times as many photos that I would love to use here. I have stories to tell, red tape catastrophes to recount, food to talk about, vacation dates looming… And yet I just can’t seem to get it all out. So I guess I’ll just pick a theme and go with it, hoping and crossing my fingers that I can just make it all the way through to the end.

A couple of weeks ago, after hearing about it on the internet somewhere, I set out with one of my colleagues during our lunch break to discover the Marché des Enfants Rouges*, a curious little hidden market that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about sooner. Fellow bloggers spoke of a great, locals-only ambiance, the smell of international cuisine wafting through the halls and hand-made, fresh, real Christmas wreaths for sale by the local florist. How could I resist? How did I not know about this already?

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If you could smell what I smell, you’d be really excited. It is fall. I spent the day in the sun, working on my yard and my house, walking around town and looking for warmth. It dropped down to 35 degrees last night, and we still haven’t turned on the heat. We needed to find it elsewhere, and so we started cutting… Carrots freshly picked from our garden (they are really short and funny looking, but very tasty), champignons de Paris*, garlic, onions, beef roast, bacon… Well, everything we needed to make the year’s first boeuf bourguignon*.

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Indian summer

Well, the boeuf bourgignon will have to wait. It was 28° this weekend in the North of France, which meant everything we had planned (stew and home improvement) for this weekend would be postponed, and that we would be hitting the open road hard in search of the perfect, sunny corner of beach that was not too packed, not too loud, not too rocky. I’m not sure that we actually found it, but in our to total refusal to set foot in Deauville or Trouville where the crowds would certainly be atrocious, I think we did pretty good.

Our first stop was Pont-Audemer, which is not actually near the ocean but nestled among forests and along the Risle river, which leads to the sea. It was adorable and tiny, which meant that after a quick lunch and thirty minutes of walking, we had about seen it all and decided to continue our promenade. Continue reading

One of the best things about living in Normandy

I moved to Normandy in December of 2010, despite friends, family members and colleagues giving me that “you’re moving where?” face, warning me about the length of my commute and just plain asking, “why?”

After five years in Paris, I needed a change. J also was in desperate need of leaving the city. I love Paris. More than any other city I’ve ever been to, or lived in. Which is why leaving it was the best thing I ever did. Rather than stay too long, reaching the point where I got bitter and fully stopped recognizing the beauty of the city, I chose to move exactly one hour away. A new house, a new region, a new department and a new lease on life.

Since the move, not once have I regretted it. I am in love with my house, which is slowly and steadily becoming ours. Rooms are being decorated, wall paper stripped off, new coats of paint brightening up our living space and making this place seem a little more like home. I have a garden, and my new favorite past-time is tending to it. I live amongst rolling green hills and countryside, in a little town of about 6,000 people that has everything I need: several grocery stores, a butcher, a cheese shop, several bakeries, banks, jewelry stores, boutiques, etc. I am 35 minutes from a major city, Rouen, and one hour from Paris, where I travel five days a week to go to work. It’s a perfect balance. Continue reading