Rail workers strike started today in France

While air traffic controllers ended their strike today morning in France, rail workers started their own. Employees of the French railway network (SNCF) announced a walkout that will last from Wednesday, June 12, 19:00 CET to Friday, June 14, 08:00 CET. Rail traffic will be partially disrupted on the network during the strike, with only 40% of the internal lines circulating on Thursday. It’s expected that half of trains to Switzerland and one-third of the trains to Italy will operate as normal. The Eurostar linking Paris and London, the Thalys to Amsterdam and Brussels and Alléo trains to Germany will provide a normal service.

The rail workers are protesting against proposed reform of the railway system: the government is planning to divide the endebted SNCF into three divisions, which rail employees say would lead to the collapse of the railway system.
150, 000 people are employed by SNCF in France, a country in which 15,000 trains circulate every day.

Source:  Euro News

Expat Blog – An Interview

Kim Defforge is a lifelong francophile and former French teacher, with a passion for all things French. Having moved from the U.S. to the French Riviera, she now enjoys writing about French culture, food, wine, events, and the simple beauty of a Mediterranean sunset…proving that dreams really can come true!


Why did you choose to move to Nice?

Actually, I had intended to live in Montpellier, but my husband’s family is in Cannes, so he wanted to return to the Cote d’Azur area. It turned out to be a great choice – Nice is a lively, beautiful city.

How was the moving process?

It was somewhat frantic: we sold our U.S. condo (unexpectedly in two days), sold our cars and other items and shipped the rest of our belongings and furniture from the U.S. to France in a 40 cubic foot cargo container. We were in the midst of totally renovating an apartment in Nice at the time, so had to store our boxes and furniture in the middle of the living room, leaving only a small perimeter to walk around. We had to shower at the beach, until the bathroom was completed…thankfully, it was summer. Getting everything done and being physically settled in took about 6 months.

Did you face difficulties to adapt to your host country?

Not really – I had lived and worked in Paris for a short time years ago and was a French teacher in the U.S. I also spent summers near Montpellier, and therefore, I kept abreast of French culture and am very comfortable being in France. I did, however, have to go to driving school to obtain a French driver’s license, a challenging and expensive process, plus deal with the infamous French bureaucracy for my long-stay visa.
What surprised you the most in Nice?

Although Nice is the 5th largest city in France, I was surprised at how relatively small the city center actually is; also, the aggressive driving, especially the scooters. Could you please share with us something you like about Nice and something you don’t like? I like the view of the Mediterranean sea, especially while sitting at one of the beach restaurants. I don’t like the rocky beaches in Nice and prefer silky, soft sand between my toes for an enjoyable walk along the surf.

A common belief about Nice which wasn’t right?

People usually come to the South of France for the warm, sunny weather; however, there can be, surprisingly, frequent periods of rain.

What do you miss the most from the US, your home country?

An authentic Mexican meal, like I enjoyed at On The Border restaurant and the level of client service found in the U.S.

What does a typical day as an expat in Nice look like?

There is so much to do here! It could be simply enjoying a walk on the Promenade des Anglais, shopping at an open market, taking in the sea view over a cup of coffee, meeting friends for lunch at a beachfront restaurant, and perhaps, attending one of the area’s many museums or international clubs’ events. Voilà!

Which advice would you give to people wishing to settle in Nice?

Take your time to decide if being in a large city is really where you want to live before investing in property and do your homework about what to expect, such as laws and taxes.

When and why did you start your blog, 24/7 in France?

Although I had written a few freelance articles in 2008, I started my blog in March of 2012, as a way to share current news, travel information, and amusing stories about living on the French Riviera, for locals and tourists.

You are also a writer and you release a book on your journey to France: why did you choose to write on your expatriation experience?

Solitary Desire-One Woman’s Journey to France is the true story of my personal journey and the life events that weave an emotional tapestry: from adolescent imagination to adult life situations, with the twists and turns that led me to pursue my life dream of living in France.

What are your projects for the future?

Although I miss my family in the U.S., I feel that I am where I am meant to be and have no plans to live anywhere else. Future project ideas include writing more books, launching special travel opportunities for tourists, and hosting a writer’s retreat.

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Immersed in Impressionism

I recently traveled to Les Baux de Provence – specifically to see this year’s multimedia show,  “Carrières de Lumières.”  Located in the heart of Les Alpilles, this “Voyage around the Mediterranean” light and sound show was projected onto ~45 meter high walls and onto the flooring inside the limestone quarries – dug out to extract the stone needed to build the Château and the village of Les Baux.  I was totally surrounded with mostly impressionist portraits and accompanying music, as well as some Fauvism and contemporary works of art.

There were two shows, with continual repeats:

  • Main Impressionist show, “Monet, Renoir..Chagall Voyages en Méditerranée” (about 36 minutes)
  • “Dream” – a fascinating voyage through the elements and their diversity: space, the ocean, and mother nature. (2 minutes)

You could stay and watch as long as you wanted, although the temperatures were chilly inside the quarry. This presentation runs every day from 9h30-19h00 until September 30th, and then October 1st to January 5, 2014 from 10h00-18h00; Les Baux is 15 km from Arles, 25 km from Avignon, and 70 km from Aix-en-Provence.

The images and music were absolutely mesmerizing and so beautiful – I was moved to tears!

Book Launch Press Release

Description:How To cover

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E-book Price:  $4.99 USD

More information HERE

A Jet-Set B&B near Nice

Frank Sinatra, Aristotle and Jackie Onassis, Maria Callas, Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, Jane Mansfield, Maurice Chevalier, Anita Ekberg, Glenn Ford, Charles Aznavour, and Johnny Hallyday – to name just some of the rich and famous that frequented the house that was owned by singer and songwriter, Georges Ulmer and his wife, Betty.   Purchased in 1952 and for more than twenty years, the Ulmers hosted and entertained jet-setters on the large, sunny terrace of their home-cum-restaurant/night club, “Chez Georges Ulmer.”  Betty took care of the restaurant, while George sang and played guitar on the terrace for guests; reportedly Frank Sinatra occasionally sang there too.

After the death of her husband in 1989, Betty decided to sell the house in 2002, and for the past 11 years, thanks to owners Catherine and Patrick Bouvet, this renovated, lovely stone villa has been operating as a successful and charming B&B, named “Les Terrasses du Soleil.”  I recently had the honor to spend time on the terrace with Catherine, re-living the bygone days of this historical place, imagining myself dining and dancing there as well.

The uniqueness of this Chambre d’Hôte/B&B is not only it’s jet-set past, but also the beautiful views from the grand terrace, and the homemade and varied breakfast specialties created by Catherine (yogurt, jams, unique pancakes, just to name a few).  There are two bedrooms and two suites in this three-story hidden treasure, situated near Nice in the medieval village of Haut-de-Cagnes-sur-Mer.  This beautiful B&B is charming and has a warm, welcoming ambiance for year-round accommodation, except when closed from November 1st to December 20th.

“PIGALLE” – Composed in 1946 and sung by Georges Ulmer (video link)

Chambres d'hôtes Les Terrasses du Soleil                                    Photos credit: Terrasses du Soleil website

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terrasse

Brasserie in Nice

I recently dined at Brasserie Alberti, located on the corner of rue Alberti and rue de l’Hotel des Postes  in Nice.  This used to be the Alsacienne restaurant that is well known for its sauerkraut garnished with a variety of sausages, ham, and potatoes.

Since the weather was cooler than normal, it was the perfect evening for this meal!  I ordered the “Choucroute Tradition” and a “une pression (beer on tap) Grimbergen Ambre”.  It was delicious, as usual – although this time, the chef added a lot more “baies de Genièvre” (juniper berries), which were easy enough to pick out.

Overall, it was a deliciously hearty, hot, and heartwarming meal!

(Of course, they have a wide variety of menu selections for those who don’t care for sauerkraut)

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Interior
biere
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Pont du Gard – A Special Light Show

The Pont du Gard is a 2,000 year old aqueduct, located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France (near Montpellier).  Each summer it is lit up with video, light, flame and fireworks during a popular evening sound-and-light show called “Les Féeries du Pont’’ (Fairies of the Bridge).

This year’s show is called Ulysses in Wonderland. It will be presented four times in June, on Friday and Saturday evenings: June 7, 8, 14 and 15, 2013. Showtime is 10:30 p.m or at dusk. But definitely arrive early as there are some “animations” before the main event, probably starting around 7 p.m.

The Pont du Gard site will be open all day, as usual, but separate tickets are required. Seating will be on the right bank of the river so if you arrive on the left bank, you must be in by 9:30 pm in order to cross the bridge; the gates to the Pont du Gard park will close at 9:30. Bring cushions, chairs and blankets or you’ll be sitting on the ground; the shops on site also sell seats if you forget. My best advice is sit as close to the bridge itself as possible.  ”And don’t forget to bring also warm wears,” my contact at the Pont du Gard sweetly tells me.

Tickets for the Les Féeries show range from €14 to €20. You can buy them online here or at the Pont du Gard box office at any time. They’re also available at FNAC, Virgin, Carrefour, Cultura and France Billet. Children under six are free and group rates are available (for group rates call 04 66 37 51 10). If you have an annual pass to the Pont du Gard, you get a discount. Parking is free.

To contact the Pont du Gard directly: contact@pontdugard.fr or 04 66 37 50 99….and yes, they speak English.

WATCH AMAZING FIREWORKS VIDEO HERE

Reblogged from “The Provence Post”

Mediterranean Whale Watching

whale

If you are looking for something different to do, here’s an outing that fits the bill:

“Every Sunday, Decouverte du Vivant offers Naturalist Discovery Cruises aboard the boat La Croix du Sud V. During the nine-hour voyage you’re likely to see striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, pilot hales, sperm whales and the second largest animal on the planet, the fin whale.  You can also expect to encounter seabirds, sunfish, loggerhead turtles, bluefin tuna, bonito and swordfish.

The season opens June 9 and runs through October 20, 2013. Cruises depart from Sanary sur Mer in the Var at 9:30 am and return at 6 pm. Prices are 55€ (under 13), 66€ (students and teens), 78€ (adult) and on demand for groups. ”  For more info or to reserve, click here or call 06-10-57-17-11 or email to: info@decouverteduvivant.fr

Credit:  The Provence Post