How to buy a great, fast charging universal USB car charger

How To Buy A Fast Charging Universal USB Car Charger

How to buy a great, fast charging universal USB car charger

Between your iPhone, your Smartphones, the kids tablets and any other of your devices that need ON-THE-GO charging, a universal USB car charger is a must have. Especially for people like us who rely heavily on the battery draining GPS function of phones and tablets to help them navigate..

Over the last 4 years, I have gone through several car chargers and for the most part they were pretty much all the same. They did the job but they were nothing really special; they either broke apart at the plastic seams, they just stop charging all together for unknown reasons, took forever to charge a device or couldn’t keep our demanding devices charged faster than it was consuming battery life.

Broken car charger- a common problem

Then I came across the ZUS smart car charger which put an end to all of my charging on-the-go woes.  Plus it does something no other car charger can do. It has a special feature which allows it to double as a car finder. More on that in a bit.

Here is a list of everything I love about the ZUS car charger. Even if you don’t buy the ZUS car charger, use this list as a guide for everything you should look for in a great USB car charger and why.

1- Buy a car charger that can charge multiple devices at once

Why fight over who can charge their device in the car?  That little cigarette lighter in your car is more than capable of providing enough juice to charge multiple devices.  The Zus USB car charger comes with 2 ports so you can charge 2 devices at the same time. You could go for a charger with 4 ports but I think that 2 is perfect. Four port car chargers tend to be TOO big and seem to break more easily.

Even if you only have one device, you never know when you’ll need a second port for a friend sitting shotgun with 5 percent battery or your kids tablet that you forgot to charge the night before your long road trip.

2-Buy a charger with (slightly) illuminated  USB ports

buy a car charger with illuminated usb ports

I really like car chargers with ever so slightly illuminated USB ports. Not so much that the light from the car charger is obnoxious or distracting during night driving.

This might seem like a petty thing, but it’s really convenient to be able to find the USB port in the dark without having to turn on the lights in the car which can be disruptive to the driver or to other people who might be sleeping in the car.

The ZUS lights are great because they actually have the perfect amount of illumination. Not too much and not too little.

3-Buy a charger that can charge your devices fast(er)

Buy a car charger with atleast 2 amps of power PER USB port Never buy a car charger that outputs a measly 1 amp of power per port. 1 Amp might have cut it a few years ago but today, that weak output will barely keep your phone charged especially if your running GPS or music apps like Spotify.

Your cars cigarette lighter can put out about 10 amps of juice so take advantage of it’s full capability. (Amps are the current that’s supplied to your device. If Amps were a river, then amps would be how fast that river flows.)
Look for a charger that advertises at least 2 amps per port. To figure out the amps per port of any car charger is simple enough. Just take the total advertised amps and divide it by the number of ports. For example, the ZUS car charger has 4.8 amps output which means it puts out 2.4 amps per each of it’s two USB port.

How fast can ZUS’s 2.4 amps per port charge? 2.4 amps of power can charge two iPhones in about 2 hours vs.. 3 to 4 hours of a lower amp charger. This can mean life or death for your devices.

4- Get a USB car charger built to last

Buy a solid well built USB car charger that won't break unexpectantly

ZUS is the only car charger that meets US Military Standard. It’s all metal, titanium coated and can survive temperatures as high as 100ºC.  There is nothing worse than being in the car with dying devices and suddenly your car charger decides to just die too. Every single one of my car chargers have started to break after several months of use with no warning whatsoever, which I can only assume is because of their poor build quality.

The ZUS charger feels solid in the hands and was built to last. (I tried to pull it apart just to see if it would break and it didn’t).

5- Never lose or forget where you parked your car

Buy a car charger that helps you find your lost car

I live in an area where we don’t have dedicated parking. So everyday, we have to park the car in a new location which can be confusing day after day. I can’t tell you how many times we parked our car and walked away, totally forgetting where we left the car.

The ZUS USB car charger can actually help you find your car.

Whenever you park your car, ZUS will save your car’s location automatically. To find your car, just open the ZUS app (which you can download here)and be guided back to your car like magic.  No need to pin your location on a map before getting out of your car. The ZUS App automatically does it all for you.

It was really easy to pair with my phone. When I first got the ZUS car charger, I just plugged it into  my car cigarette lighter, installed and opened the ZUS App while in my car and it connected everything automatically.

I don’t know of any other USB car charger that has this functionality but it is really nice to have.

Go get one

Now that you know a thing or two about why one charger is better than another, you can shop with confidence.  Or pick up your very own ZUS car charger that doubles as an automatic car locator.

Fabulous French Gift Ideas for Francophiles

15 Fabulous French Gifts For Francophiles Obsessed With France

15 Fancy French Gifts For Your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France

Need to buy a gift for someone who happens to be a Francophile and loves all things French?  Forget cheesy souvenirs, I’ve put together a list of unique French gifts any self-respecting French wannabee would love to receive. All of which, you can easily find and order online or in some cases find locally.

1- An Authentic French Beret

An authentic French beret is a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France

A French beret………What could be more French? You could buy that French loving friend of  yours a run of the mill beret but…..If you want a truly classic French beret made in France the traditional way (mostly by hand) then check out Laulhère.  They’ve been making hats for over 175 years.  Prices vary but usually start at 35 USD.

2- Oyster Knife

A French made oyster knife is a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France A good quality oyster knife to shuck oysters is a great gift for any sophisticated shell-fish loving Francophile. Why?  Because the French love oysters on the half shell. Every year about 80 thousand tonnes of oysters (les huitres – “lay zueetr”) are consumed in France.  Mostly during Christmas and new years.  If you can’t find a store near you that sells an oyster knife, just order a Laguiole oyster knife online. It will set you back about 20 to 40 USD but it’s a gift they will cherish because Laguiole is a French brand well-known for quality knives and cutlery.

3- Real Champagne

Authentic French Champagne is a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with FranceTo put it simply, Champagne is sparkling (bubbly) wine from the Champagne region of France otherwise it is NOT REAL CHAMPAGNE and by law it cannot be called champagne. Instead sparkling wine made outside of the Champagne area must be called by another name. For example sparkling wine made in France but outside of the Champagne region is called Crémant. Other names and countries that produce Champagne like drinks include Prosecco in Italy, Cava in Spain, Sekt in Germany and of course sparkling wine in English speaking countries.

Beyond the world-famous and extemely expensive Dom Pérignon there are quite a few brands to choose from.  Veuve Clicquot, Tattinger, Moët et Chandon, Pommery, Ruinart, Roederer, Mumm, Canard-Duchêne, and Charles Heidsieck. Other French champagnes less known are Bollinger, Legras, Lanson, De Castellane, and Krug to name a few.

BTW, French Champagne and oysters on the half shell are two things that go well together in France. Especially during the Christmas and New Year Holidays.

See also: Can you stomach New Years Eve In True French Style? Weird Foods!

4- A Fancy Slate Cheese BoardA fancy slate cheese board is a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France

Why not offer your cheese loving Francophile friend a very chic slate cheese board with some chalk so they can serve and label cheese at their next diner party. If your local store does not have one, you can pick up a slate cheese board online for about 20 to 25 USD.

5- Cheese Baker For Camembert  and/or Brie

Baked Brie or Camembert Cheese baker is a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France

“A lovely gooey baked Camembert with loads of crusty bread for dipping is always a winner ” Jamie Oliver.

Let your friends re-create the classic French favourite, baked Camembert or baked Brie by giving them a stylish and beautiful cheese baker made to look like an actual cheese round. Make sure you get one big enough to take a standard 8 oz round of Camembert or Brie cheese.

6-Lego Eiffel Tower

A lego Eiffel tower kit is a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France

The Lego Eiffel Tower (~40$) is the perfect gift for all your French Francophile Friends (that’s a mouthful) who like to build things. Dare I say nerds?   Equally great for youngsters interested in France as well.

7-Wooden Crepe Making Tool set

Wooden Crepe tool-set spatuala and rake are a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France The secret to cooking great crepes is having the right tools. A normal spatula just won’t do. Instead, your crepe loving friends should use a wooden crepe making set (20$), which includes a spreader to help spread the batter in your pan to get your crepes super thin and a thin wooden spatula to make it easier to flip and serve without tearing those super thin crepes. Sure you can still make descent crepes without these tools but it’s so much easier with the right tools. I speak from experience.

8- Crepe Pan

Crepe pans are a fabulous French Gift to give your Francophile Friends Obsessed with France Don’t stop at the wooden crepe making tool set. Get your crepe lover a proper crepe pan or an electric one like this Eurolux electric crepe griddle. These truly make a difference in your crepe making production.

9-Fleur De Sel From Guérande

Fleur de Sell is an inexpensive but very classy thing to give to your Francophile Friends Obsessed with FranceWhenever people talk about the BEST salt in the world, Fleur de sel de Guérande usually comes up in the conversation. Collected by hand from the salt marshes of Bretagne in Guérande France. Fleur de sel de Guérande is normally used while cooking and at the table to enhance flavours. You should be able to find it in many well stocked grocery stores North America or online and should set you back 15 to 20 USD.

10- Le Coq Sportif

imageIf you really want to get on the good side of a sporty Francophile then get them  something from the French sports brand “Le Coq Sportif” (LUH- COK-Spor-TEEF) which means “The sporty Rooster”.  You’ll recognize the brand by the rooster logo.

Started back in 1882, Le coq sportif has been around for over 130 years and has become one of the world’s most prestigious brands, renowned for its clothing, footwear and sporting equipment. A little known fact- the founder, émile Camuset invented the sweat suit and sweat pants.

11-Humorous Books About France And French Life

If you know a Francophile who likes to read and has a good sense of humour than consider getting them one of the countless books written about French life such as “A year in the Merde” which means ” A year in the shit.

12- Crème brûlée torch and ramekins

Creme burlee making kit. perfect for your francophile friends

Give your Francophile foody friend the tools they need to re-create Crème brûlée, the classic French desert with a wonderfully crunchy sugar top. The secret to getting that crispy caramelized sugar topping is the blow torch while serving the desert in cute little ramekins just make it look oh so elegant. You would be surprised at just how easy it is to make Crème brûlée. 

13- Raclette Table Top Grill

raclette table top girill is a great gift to give your Francophile friend

When a friend invited our family to their house to “Manger la raclette”- Eat Raclette, I had no idea what to expect. What I learned was when someone in France says they will be serving raclette, they usually mean melted raclette cheese (which you melt yourself) served over various sliced cold meats, potatoes and cornichons. Raclette is a type of cheese, originally from Switzerland and typically used in this meal.

Think Fondue only each person melts their own cheese by placing a slice of raclette cheese on a mini pan which they place under the electric tabletop raclette grill, usually placed in the centre of the table so everyone can melt their own cheese. 

Raclette grills would make a wonderful gift for someone who loves to entertain or wants a fun way to serve family dinners. Having said that, raclette cheese is hard to find outside of France so feel free to substitute with your favourite cheese. I have used Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda and even Parmesan and serve over grilled veggies and potatoes. Watch the video below to see how it’s done.

14-French Inspired Shower Curtain

A shower curtain might seem like a strange gift to give to someone but think about it. Who doesn’t need a Fresh new shower curtain every so often? So the next time you need to buy a gift for someone’s house warming party, instead of getting them a potted plant that will eventually die, look for a French inspired shower curtain.

15-French Lessons

Every Francophile’s dream  is to be able to speak French so why not gift them online French lessons?  Personally, I think online French lessons have come a long way and you can actually learn a lot more than you can from a French text-book. With online French lessons, they’ll be able to watch videos, listen to audio, take self-directed tests. Plus, online French lessons are much more affordable than one on one lessons but almost just as good.

C’est Tout

In reality there are literally thousands of things you could buy for your French loving friends but I hope this list of 15 French gifts for your Francophile Friends inspires you to pick that perfect something that enchants their little French hearts.

5 Must have Road trip beauty products

5 Must Have Road Trip Beauty Products You Didn't Know You Needed

5 Must have Road trip beauty products

Here are 5 beauty products every woman, mother, sister, girlfriend or conscientious guy should consider packing on a road-trip. Because nobody wants to feel or look like crap.

Staying fresh and looking good on a long road trip can get a little tricky since you can’t bring all your beauty products with you and usually don’t have access to running water. The result is you often end up feeling and looking like crap before you even arrive at your final destination. Used together or individually, these 5 products are your saving grace- guaranteed to help you feel fresher and look less haggard from start to finish.

1- Wet wipes: For on-the-go cleaning and instant de-stinkification

Everyone get’s a little funky smelling on a road trip. Unfortunately showers and running water are not always readily available which is why you should ALWAYS pack wet wipes in your bag.

wet wipes just for dudesI’m not talking about regular old baby wipes. They were engineered for babies, make you smell like babies, and usually leave a weird residue on your skin (no thanks).

Instead, pack different types of wipes for different situations. (Yes there is a difference  not only in texture, but smell, strength, ingredients, and packaging.)

I recommend multi-purpose, flushable wet wipes for those general cleanups, face towelettes to clean your makeup and don’t forget to bring some individually wrapped shower wipes for on the go showering which can be a life saver for your private parts.

Multi-purpose wet wipes

Multi-purpose, flushable wet wipes are perfect for anyone travelling in a group or with kids because they can do double duty as toilet paper and a face cleaner to freshening up your pits and private parts. Try Cottonelle flushable travel wipes .

Face wipes

For you ladies who like take care of their face but can’t go through your entire facial routine during your travels, Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes are the answer to your prayers. Sometimes called facial wipes, makeup wipes or cleansing towelettes, they usually contain special ingredients that clean, remove makeup, moisturize and in some cases can even lightly exfoliate like Olay regenerist-micro exfoliating wet cleansing cloths. For more sensitive skin, try Burts bees facial cleansing towelette which comes in different scents like grapefruit and white tea to name a few.

Individually packaged Shower Wipes


When you pack shower wipes, you never have to go without a shower and never have to put up with a car full of stinky people again. Shower wipes are slightly larger, stronger, and usually come individually wrapped like condom packages so they never dry out. Just throw one package in your purse, pocket or in everyone’s bag and voila, no more car full of stinky people. Check out Good wipes and Dude wipes.

2- Three facial sprays to hydrate your face on-the-go

evian-sprayYou don’t have to endure that icky, dehydrated, less than fresh face feeling when travelling if you carry a facial spray with you. Simply spray your favourite face spray and apply your favourite face cream on your damp face to lock in moisture. Then spray intermittently throughout the day when you need a boost.  It gives you a dewy fresh face look and feel.  Depending on your needs, you can find different face sprays with different ingredients which have different effects. Here are three of my favourite face sprays from cheapest to most expensive.


Old school face spray

The most basic face spray is Evian mineral spray water which is PH balanced to match your skins PH levels. “Skin with a balanced pH appears healthier, looks plumper, has a healthy glow, and slows signs of aging”.  It comes in an aerosol spray can similar to hairspray but the mist is super fine. You just cannot get that same effect by a DIY spray bottle. I tried. For convenience, pick up two travel sized TSA-approved 1.7 ounce bottle of Evian from Sephora or buy six 1.7 ounce bottles of Evian facial spray for about $37.00 on Amazon.

Multi tasking facial spray with benefits


Although I do love my Evian mineral facial spray for certain situations, it’s kind of old school and generic compared to some of the newer multi-tasking facial sprays like Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe Herbs And Rosewater which is infused with rosewater, aloe and different herbs. Carrying this around eliminates the need to carrying multiple products. You can even use it in your hair when it’s feeling dry and frizzy. Plus It’s gentle, non-irritating  for all skin types.

Here are 10 benefits and uses of rosewater

  1. Rosewater helps to maintain your skin’s pH balance. (this is important)
  2. It helps fight acne, dermatitis, eczema.
  3. Use rose-water to soften dry skin.
  4. Use rose-water to prevent or reduce eye puffiness.
  5. It also helps to heal scars, cuts and wounds.
  6. Rose water cools the skin.
  7. It helps to tone the skin. It also has anti-bacterial properties.
  8. Rose water can also work as a natural makeup remover
  9. The nourishing and moisturizing properties of rose-water enhance the quality of hair.
  10. Set your makeup. Just spray sparingly over your makeup to set your makeup and give yourself that dewy finish.

High end facial spray Caudalie Beauty Elixer

For all you ladies who like higher end things, the French brand Caudalié has a facial spray called “Eau de Beauté” here in France. In English speaking countries, it’s called “Beauty elixer”. Supposedly inspired by the elixir of youth used by Queen Isabelle of Hungary, this beauty elixer smoothes your features, tightens pores and gives your complexion a burst of radiance. Use this not only for your road-trips but in your daily routine under and over make up to moisturize then set your makeup. Men can even use it as an aftershave. It contains essential grape oils, mint and rosemary oils and more. Plus this smells amazing and leaves your feeling amazing. Pick some up at Sephora and get FREE 2-Day Shipping on All Your Orders! Or put some in your Amazon shopping basket.

3- No more greasy travel hair: Dry Shampoo

dry shampoo to keep you hair fresh on road trips

Dry shampoo is the perfect tool to help combat greasy, flat hair syndrome while travelling. If you are not familiar with dry shampoo let me explain. A dry shampoo, cleans, freshens and get’s rid of that greasy unwashed hair look without the need for water. Once you spray this magic stuff on your hair and scalp, just rub and let the magic begin. Excess oil is absorbed restoring your hair back to that soft light hair feeling you get when you wash your hair. If you like the Sephora brand, then try  Sephora Express dry shampoo ($9). Want to find an inexpensive drugstore brand than try Got2b Rockin’ It Encore Fresh Dry Shampoo ($9) or Dove Dry Shampoo, Invigorating ($5). The only issue is these bottles are not TSA approved and explode so if you want something to take on a plane then try Got2b Powder’ful Volumizing Styling Powder($9). It’s not a spray.

4- Eliminate that foul, sticky breath on-the-go

breath strips - a road trip essentialYou could eat a mint or chew some gum to try and get rid of the inevitable foul sticky breath syndrome that almost always occurs during road-trips but for those who want to take it to the next level or don’t like chewing gum (like me), try Mint strips. These things are potent. No chewing, no sucking on mints involved. You simply pull a strip out from it’s box and place it on your tongue and let it melt and do it’s magic. Probably similar to how you would take acid? You can literally feel all the bacteria melting away.

5- Multi-purpose makeup

Multi tasking makeup
A multi-purpose makeup product for your eyes, lips and cheeks is a travelling girls best friend. Sometimes I just use lipstick for both my cheeks and lips but find it can be greasy so now I use RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek,  It’s versatile, easy to apply an blends beautifully. Plus, it takes up practically no space in your bag.  A sigle pigment, dabbed on various parts of your face works wonders and adds back that radiant glow that you lose while travelling.

So there you have it, five things every woman should pack on her next road trip. But don’t limit this list of luscious lady products to just road trips. Take them on all your adventures by plane or train and incorporate them into your daily life for those days when your on the go around town.

Road Trip Car Sharing

Speaking of road trip, If you’re interested in saving some money, I just discovered a great site called Turo is a peer to peer car sharing site which allows private car-owners to rent out their vehicles via an online interface. I have not tried it yet but it looks promissing.

Halloween In France- 10 things you should know

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween In France But Should

Halloween in France: 10 things you didn't know but should

Despite the anti-sentiment surrounding an American style Halloween and the fact that the concept of Halloween is relatively new to France, it is still somewhat celebrated in small pockets throughout France.  Here are a few things you should know before hand which might make your French Halloween more enjoyable.

1-Halloween is considered an American celebration (and that’s not a compliment)

Halloween is seen as yet another imposition of American culture on French customs and traditions right after McDonald’s and Ketchup. This alone is enough to make many French people turn their patriotic nose up at the idea of celebrating or embracing Halloween.

Ironically,  Halloween actually originates from Europe and is thought to be of Celtic origins. In fact, wearing a costume mumming and going door-to-door on certain holidays has existed since the Middle Ages, only people used to perform short plays in exchange for food or drink instead of asking for Candy.

Related: “Why the French hate Halloween”.

2-Many French people see Halloween as too commercial

Another belief which only adds to the anti Halloween sentiment is the belief that this is purely a commercial celebration used to boost the sales of stores and line the pockets of retail store owners with cash.

I believe that these people just don’t understand what or how Halloween is celebrated. They don’t see it as a community based ritual or a great family friendly event where kids and parents get to have fun dressing up as anything they want- go to parties, eat and laugh together.Halloween in France: French people think Halloween is too commercial

If they did, than perhaps they would embrace Halloween as much as they do Christmas, Mothers day and Valentines day. Holidays which are as commercial as Halloween if not more. In fact, I actually find Halloween less commercial than Christmas in France. But hey that’s just me.

3-Halloween is seen as a threat to existing French traditions

The French are fiercely proud about their customs almost to a snobbish fault. Anything or in this case, any celebration which disrupts or takes away from those traditions are often seen as a threat not a treat.

Since Halloween is not a traditional French holidays having first been introduced to France in the 90’s,  it has the unfortunate luck to occur  right in the middle of an extremely big national holiday. “La Toussaint”, known in English as “All Saints”.

November 1st is the official holiday for All Saints Day. On this day people in France honour the dead by placing flowers on loved ones graves and go to special church events. Banks, stores and businesses are all closed on this day.

But all saints is not just a one day event. Children have two weeks off from school beginning mid October up until the 1st of November. I think many anti-halloweeners in France believe Halloween robs the attention away from this French tradition.

4- Very few children go door-to-door trick-or-treating in France

Don’t load up on bags of candy because you’ll be lucky to get any trick-or-treater knocking on your door in France on Halloween.

We have never received more than 3 groups of children knocking on our door on Halloween. I am told there are towns in France where Halloween has taken off but these are the exception and not the rule.

5-Costumes are typically scary and NEVER cute

Halloween in France: 10 things you did not know but should

Unlike in North America where anything goes when it come to costumes for Halloween in France what few adults and kids you see dressed up will invariably be dressed up in traditionally scary and ghoulish costumes like vampires, ghosts and skeletons.

Costumes of the less scary genre like kitty’s, princesses and ninja turtles are reserved for the carnival festivals in February.  I really find it strange how so many French people have such a negative view on Halloween but then celebrate carnival by dressing up during Carnival. They have festivals, parades and celebrations around carnival. Most schools even have their own mini parade where everyone gets dressed up. Yes Carnival is not seen as commercial as Halloween.

6-Halloween parties are more typical than trick-or-treaters

Halloween in France: 10 things you did not know but should

If you are in France and absolutely want to celebrate Halloween,  here are my thoughts.

Make friends who actually enjoy Halloween. In the 4 plus years we’ve lived in France, we have been lucky enough to have French friends who actually love and celebrate Halloween.

If you are not invited to a Halloween party, throw your own. If you’re not in a position to throw your own than check out local bars, many of which may have Halloween themes and specials.

7- Don’t say trick-or-treat: Instead say this

When a kid comes to the door asking for candy “les bon bons” in France, they don’t say trick or treat.  Instead they ask  you in French if you would like “Candies or a spell” or “Mischief or sweets”.

  • Des bonbons ou un sort ! = Candies or a spell
  • bêtises ou friandises = Mischief or sweets

8- French people can’t pronounce Halloween

There are a few sounds French people have a hard time pronouncing. Similar to How English speakers struggle to make the R and the U sound like in the word “RUE”  It’s not pronounced “ROO”. In French, most French people struggle with the “TH” sound which when said by a French person, usually sounds like the “D” sound. So the word “this” gets pronounced as “dis”.

The second sound French seem to have a hard time pronouncing is the letter “H”. So “Halloween” usually gets pronounced  as “aaa  lo ween”.

9-You can’t find candy corn in France

Halloween in France: Candy corn does not exist in France except at specialty stores ;

If you hate candy corn like I hate it than you’ll be happy to learn that candy corn does NOT exist in France. If you really must buy some, you’ll have to order it online at the “American Market” in France.

10- Go with the flow and find other people who celebrate Halloween in France

Halloween in France: 10 things you did not know but should

Despite all the anti-sentiment and French naysayers, French people who understand just how fun Halloween can be, do in fact celebrate it. You just need to know where and how to find them.

If you have kids, you could ask other parents if they plan on celebrating.  You could just wing it like we did this year and go door to door with your kids. Unfortunately, most people did not answer their door and others had no candy. But we still had fun. My two teenage boys went to a Halloween house party and got dressed up as well.

If you make friends, you could luck out like we do every year and have friends who invite you to their Halloween party or you could organize your own halloween party and invite people.

And last but not least, some bars have special themes around Halloween .

To learn more about the origins of ancient and modern Halloween check out this great video from the history channel.

The weird ways Movie titles are changed for the French market

31 Movie Titles With Weird Or Inappropriate French Translations

The weird ways Movie titles are changed for the French market

Instead of translating all Hollywood movie titles to a French movie title, sometimes they are swapped for another “English movie title”. The results can be weird, funny or inappropriate to English speakers. Here are 31 for you to giggle over. Note the excessive use of the word “SEX” in some titles.

Who’s on first? I’m so confused.

Hey Annie.  Have you seen the American film with Ashton Kutcher called “SEX FRIENDS”?  My friend says this whole phrase in French except for the movie title “Sex Friends” which she says in English.

Sex Friends?

I thought the movie sounded like some third rate porno movie but with Ashton in it, how could it be? In any case, I had not seen the movie nor had I heard of it.

Turns out, I had seen it only it was realeased under a diferent, less “sexual” name in the US.  This happens a lot in France.

How are movie titles changed when they are released in France?

When a movie titles get translated into another language, they can sometimes get lost in translation.

Like the 1990 movie “Home Alone” starring Macaulay Culkin whose title was translated into French as “Mommy I Missed My Plane” ( Maman J’ai Raté L’Avion).

What I find even weirder is when a movie title is translated not into a French title for French speaking people but changed into a different English movie title. You would think all titles would be translated into the local Language wouldn’t you? Well they’re not.

Granted, the re-titled English movie title for the French audience is usually short, simple and tend to repeat the same words. For instance the word SEX, CRAZY, TRIP, VERY, and BAD tend to get used quite often in re-titled movies.

The results can be interesting, weird and sometimes inappropriate for English speakers. But hey you be the judge.

Here are just 31 examples of perfectly good movie titles changed into strange, sometimes inappropriate English movie titles for the French movie market.

You won’t believe how many times the word SEX is used to make a new movie title in France.

Yeah sure there is a lot of sex in some movies but there seems to be a lack of ingenuity in coming up with new “English titles” . The word sex gets used just a little too much in my opinion. Why not just re-title the film to a translated version of the English title?

Below are a few examples of the over use of the word sex in Hollywood movie titles for the French audience.

1- No strings attached = Sex Friends

No strings attached = sex friends movie title for French audience
Here is an example of a title where I think adding the word sex to the new title is warranted. The term “no strings attached” is hard to translate to French so it makes sense to change the English title for French speakers to “Sex Friends”. The French understand the word friends and the word sex.

2- What’s your number = Sex list

What's your number = sex list movie title for French audience
Really? Sex list?  It changes the meaning of the entire movie don’t you think?

3- Cruel Intentions= Sexe Intentions

Cruel Intentions = sex intentions movie title for French audience
All I have to say is sex sells.  But I’m pretty sure they didn’t just have sex in this movie.

4-Fired Up = Sea Sex and Fun

Fired Up = Sea Sex and Fun movie title for French audience

I haven’t watched this movie, but really?  Sea, Sex and Fun?  They couldn’t come up with something better than this?

5- Step Up 2 = Sexy Dance 2

Step Up 2 = Sexy Dance 2 movie title for French audience
Here’s another example where the original title is completely understandable to the French audience. It’s like they just want to add the word “SEX” to every title they can.

6-If these walls could talk 2 = Sex revelations

If these walls could talk 2 = Sex revelations movie title for French audience

Really? Sex revelations?  How did we go from “If these walls could talk 2” to “sex revelations”. It’s as if the person who watched this movie and named it only thought about sex. SHEESH!

7- Made In Dagenham = We Want Sex Equality

Made in dagenham = we want sex equality movie title for French audience

This is not an American Hollywood movie, it’s actually a British comedy about car strikes in East London. There was one reference in the movie where the women hold up a sign that say’s “we want sex equality” but the major gist of the movie is about equal pay.

What’s even funnier is in Germany and Italy it was re-titled to “We Want Sex”. They dropped of the “equality” part.

8- The In Crowd = Sex & Manipulations

The In Crowd= Sex manipulations movie title for French audience

Is “The in crowd” the same movie as “Sex manipulations”?  Yup, you bet it is.

9- Wild Things = Sex Crimes

Wild Things = Sex Crimes movie title for French audience

More sex titles. I already know there is going to be sex in the movie. The title “Wild things” gives me a glimpse into what the film might be about. Whereas the French version of the English title makes me think they are having crimes of sex. Meaning is totally lost.

10- Shortcut to Happiness = Sexy Devil

Shortcut to happiness = sexy devil movie title for French audience

This one isn’t so bad but the original title does give the movie more depth. Sexy devil just makes me think of a sex crazed woman.

11-Not Another Teen Movie =  Sex Academy

Not another teen movie = sex academy movie title for French audience

one of the rare occasions where I think the French version of the title is actually better than the American title.

12- Judicial Indiscretion = Sex Conpiration

Judicial indiscretion = sex conspiration movie title for French audience

Two words? Stupid Title- sex conspiration?

13-Bad Biology = Sex Addict

Bad biology = sex addict movie title for French audience

I’ve never seen this movie either but bad biology vs sex addict can’t be the same movie can they? Yes they are.

14- Love, Honour & Obey = Gangsters, Sex & Karaoke

love, honour & obey = gangsers sex & karaoke movie title for French audience

LOL? gangsters sex and karaoke?

15- Euro Trip = Sex Trip

Euro Trip = Sex Trip movie title for French audience
What pops into your mind when you hear the the word “Sex trip”?  I think of a porn movie but that’s me. What’s strange here is the word “Trip” which is used in the original title is not used even though it is very often used in other cases. (see the next example). As if, they just wanted to change it for the sake of changing it to include the word sex.

16-The Hangover = Very Bad Things

The Hangover = Very Bad Trop movie title for French audience

Despite there being an exact translation for the word “hangover” (gueule de bois”, the movie title was changed to “Very bad trip”. My guess is it was changed to this in order to associate it with a 1998 film called “Very Bad Things”. The two movies are not related however the themes are similar. They are both about a bunch of guys who go to Las Vegas before one of them gets married.

I bet the people who rename these films almost renamed this movie “The Sex Trip”. LOL.

17-Date Night = Crazy Night

Date night movie = crazy night movie title for French audience
The literal translation of date night is “rendez-vous amoureux” yet the title which the French know the film “Date Night” by is “Crazy Night”. Crazy is an English word the French understand well.. Look closely at the next movie title which uses the word crazy also.

** French Canadian movie titles for American movies are often but not always different from French titles.  For example, “date night” in Quebec is called “Méchante soirée” which can mean anything from “wicked night” to “nasty night”.

18- Train Wreck = Crazy Amy

Train Wreck =Crazy Amy movie title for French audience
The English term train wreck translated to French is “catastrophe ferroviaire” but you can’t really say someone’s life is a train wreck in French. Instead, the French movie people decided to call this movie “Crazy Amy”. Crazy is an English word the French understand well.

19-American Hustle = American Bluff

American Hustle = American Bluff movie title for French audience
The essence of the word “Hustle” is difficult to translate and convey not only in French but in most language so it only makes sense that another more understandable and meaningful word would be used for the local market. In France’s case, the movie was renamed to “American Bluff”. Bluf is understood by French people.

Here are some other titles that the movie was translated to in other countries

  • Isreal: “American Dream”
  • Argentina: “American Scandal”
  • Portugal: “American Sting”
  • Cina: “United States Cheat Bureau” LOL
  • Spain: The Great American Swindle
  • Turkey: “Trickster”

In Quebec Canada, a French speaking province, American Hustle is given a French title-Arnaque Américaine which means “American scam”.

20- The other Guys = Very Bad Cops

The other guys = Very bad cops movie title for French audience

First their was “very bad trip” now there is “Very bad cops” which was released in the US as “The other guys”.

21- Youth in Revolt = Be Bad

Youth Revolt = Be Bad movie title for French audience
Very bad trip”, “Very bad cops” and now “Be bad“.  The titles are starting to look a little similar non? ”

22- Get him to the Greek = American Trip

Get him to the Greek = American Trip movie title for French audience

Another English movie title that was changed and uses the word “Trip”, just like the movie “Very bad trip” plus it uses the word “American” like the re-titled movie “American bluff”.

23- All Good Things = Love & Secrets

All good things = love & secrets movie title for French audience

Not so bad right? NO use of the word sex or bad but there is the word Love and secrets in the title.

24- Killers = Kiss & Kill

killers = kiss & kill movie title for French audience

25- Coyote Ugly = Coyote Girls

coyote ugly = coyote girls movie title for French audience

Ok, this makes sense.

26- Pitch Perfect = The Hit Girls

Pitch perfect = hit girls movie title for French audience

Hit is a word the french understand and it usually refers to music or movies. Like that was a hit.

27- Jewish Connection = Holy Rollers

Jewish connection = Holy rollers movie title for French audience

This could have been kept as the “Jewish connection”. The French understand these terms and besides, it bears a similar resemblance to the “French connection” which despite being an American film is known in France. The word connection is the same in French also. While “Holy Rollers”, is not really a term MOST French people know. WHY?

28- Cool Runnings = Rasta Rocket

Cool runnings = Rasta Rockett movie title for French audience

No comment.

29- Knight and Day = Night and Day

Knight and Day = Night and Day movie title for French audience

Look closely, the French version of the American movie “Knight and Day” was changed to “Night and Day”. Which doesn’t really have the same meaning but I understand why it was changed. The word Knight is not really a word French people will understand. Night is.

30- Anger Management = Self Control

Anger management= Self control movie title for French audience

The new title “Self Control” actually works well in my opinion. Good job France!

31- Silver Linings = Happiness Therapy

Silver Linings t= Happiness therapy movie title for French audience

Don't be surprised in French people don't know the meaning of RSVP despite it being a French acronym

Why Don’t The French Know The Meaning of RSVP -A French Acronym?

Don't be surprised if French people don't know the meaning of RSVP despite it being a French acronym

RSVP, it’s what you write on an invitation when you want a response from the invited person. Despite being a French acronym-not an English one, French people rarely if ever use the term let alone understand what it means. Discover why and what you should write on a French invitation instead of the letters RSVP.

My confused French Friends: And the story of the invitation

Let me begin by saying that the friends I refer to in this story are French. This is important because the statements below are based on my personal experiences which may be different than other expats living in France.

‘Annie can you design an invitation for my party?’

My friend asked me to create an invitation for her going away party. Her husband’s company was transferring him to Russia and their enire family was making the move for three years. AMAZING OPPORTUNITY!

I happily agreed and came up with a clever idea to make the invitation look like a post card with 5 red Russian nesting dolls-one for each family member including the cat.

Don't be surprised if French people don't know the meaning of RSVP despite it being a French acronym

I think the invitation turned out super cute!

What the hell does RSVP mean?

As I created the invitation in Photoshop, two of my girlfriends looked over my shoulder giving me feedback when needed.  When the invitation was complete, I typed RSVP at the bottom and that’s when I heard one of my friends say  “qu’est ce que c’est ça?” in a high pitched voice which could mean anything from “what is this?” all the way to  “What the hell is that?”. 

RSVP is a French acronym for “Répondez, S’il Vous Plaît” which means “please reply” or “reply if it pleases you”.

I have friends with a wacky sense of humour so at first I thought they were joking. RSVP is after-all an acronym for a French phrase.  Not to mention the fact that SVP which is one letter shy of RSVP is well known and commonly used by ALL French people in written correspondence so why the hell wouldn’t they know what RSVP means.

It quickly became clear that they weren’t joking and had no idea what RSVP meant. Perhaps it’s a regional thing and people in Paris are more knowledgeable about using RSVP but in my small town in the South of France, not one of my French friends had any clue.

How to ask people to RSVP in France

My two friends agreed that I should write “Réponse avant le 30 Septembre” which means “Respond before the 30th of Septembre” at the bottom of the invitation so that is what I did.

I learned that there are multiple ways to ask someone to RSVP in France.

Here are six different ways you can ask someone to RSVP in French. These are all ones I have personally seen on invitations.An example of how to ask for an RSVP in French on a French invitation

  1. Réponse souhaitée = Response wanted
  2. Réponse souhaitée avant le ((date)) = Response wanted before the ((date))
  3. Merci de me confirmer ta présence= Thank you for confirming our presence
  4. Merci de confirmer ta présence le plus tôt possible en contactant au ((tel)) ou ((date))= Thank you for confirming your presence by calling ((phone number)) or ((email ))
  5. Confirmez votre participation avant le ((date))=  Confirm your participation before the ((date))
  6. “Prière de Répondre” = (Somewhat more formal)  Pray do respond

If you had to choose one, I would choose “réponse souhaitée” which seems to be the most popular thing to write on most invitations.

Why isn’t RSVP commonly used in everyday French anymore?

Like all languages, French has evolved and as a result many French words and phrases are either no longer used in modern French or the meaning has changed. RSVP is one of the many old French words or acronyms in this case which has fallen out of popular use by most French people today.

You can see many examples of old French words in the French Canadian language such as:

  • Bébelle: Bébélle comes from thirteenth century old French meaning”children’s toy”. My aunty in Montreal loves to say “Remasse tes bébélles” (pick up your stuff).
  • Barrer: a word used in both France and Quebec but the meaning has changed in France. When I go home to Quebec, I use the verb “barrer” to ask if the door is locked. “Est-ce que la porte est barré?” But in France, one would say “Fermé à clé.  Barrer is normally used in France to indicate something is blocking something else. The one exception is in Vendeé Poitou France where Barrer is still used by some people in the same way it is used in Quebec to indicate a door is locked. This might be due to the fact that many French Canadians, “Quebecois” can trace their lineage back to Poitou France, including me- 7 generations back. I’m just guessing here so if you know differently than please do share.

Why do English speakers use RSVP?

As it happens, I am writing this on the 28th of September which happens to be the anniversary of William the Conqueror of Normandy’s arrival in England in 1066, and after his victory at the Battle of Hastings, the French language merged with what the British were speaking, Saxon and Old Norse.

RSVP, often written R.S.V.P., made its way onto English birthday cards and wedding invitations beginning later in the 11th century – French was considered high fashion among the elite of the English court, and speaking French showed your elite status.

This affinity for all things French continued in England for several hundred years then travelled across the Atlantic where it became fashionable among high society in the United States- using French words showed refinement.

This trend continued until around the 19th century and from this, RSVP and many other French words and phrases made their way into English and stayed.

10 Reasons We Choose To Travel Europe By Train, Not By Plane!

10 reaons whe chose to travel across Europe by train and not by plane

If you’re considering a visit to Europe and you’re unsure or on the fence about whether you should travel Europe by train or not then you should read this article where I share 10 of the top reasons we chose train travel over the usual plane travel. This article is just one part of a multi-part mini series on the entire process we went through.

10 reasons why travelling across Europe by train is a must at least once in your life.

Sure there are faster, maybe even cheaper or less chaotic ways to travel across Europe, especially as a family of five but lets face it…there is a certain “je ne sais quoi” about train travel.

Putting aside my totally romantic ideas and subjective point of view that train travel is  magical, there were and are other more practical reasons why we chose to spend our 3 week family summer vacation gallivanting across Europe by train v.s. by plane or by car for that matter.

We weighed all the pros and cons, we took into consideration not only what my husband and I wanted to get out of this trip but also the varied tastes and interests of our 3 children who ranged in age from 8 all the way to 19. We also had a budget to contend with.

In the end, we somehow figured it all out. Here are the 10 things that were important enough for us.

1- NO REGRETS: I didn’t want to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity to slow travel across Europe as a family

Train travel: Don't miss an opportunity to take the trip of a lifetime

Given the fact that train travel was something I always wanted to do and the fact that everyone in the family, including our 8 year daughter and our moody 19 year old son were all keen on the idea of train travel,  I knew we had to seize this opportunity. It is after all a rare occasion when the stars and the moon align and all five members of our family agree on an activity to do together.

But it wasn’t just the fact that we all wanted to do a vacation across Europe by train, it was the thought of one day leaving France having never slow travelled across Europe. Why would this leave me full of regret? Well, once we go back to North America, it becomes much more difficult and expensive to fly to Europe and coordinate a family vacation with work and school schedules. I felt, no- I knew if I let this opportunity slip by, there might not be another one like it for a very long time or maybe not ever again.

Lastly, given how easy it is to travel from country to country and city to city by train in Europe, how could I not take advantage of train travel which brings me to the second reason we chose train travel.

2 LOW HANGING FRUIT: It’s easy to visit multiple countries in a single day by train in Europe

europe is relatively small compared to the US. It can fit 2,5 times in side of the USA. Which means travelling across Europe is relatively easy

The proximity of neighbouring countries, the relatively small size of Europe and the fact that trains across Europe are all inter-connected means travelling from country to country is not only easy but also relatively fast.

To give you some perspective,  France is about the same size as Texas and all of Europe can fit into the US about 2,5 times. So travelling from country to country is a bit like travelling from one state to the next state only easier because the trains take you anywhere and everywhere worth while in Europe.

If Cannes in the South of France (which is 1 hour from our residence  ) is your starting point, here are some sample itineraries you could take.

  • Cannes to Zürich Switzerland roughly 800km ( 497 miles) and 10 hours by train.
  • Cannes to Milan, Italy is about 5 hours from our house.
  • Cannes to Barcelona Spain is about 6 hours,
  • And Cannes to Berlin Germany is about 15 hours.

Why wouldn’t you take a multi-city trip via Rail Europe ?

3- Train travel means you get to skip the hellish airport routine

No annoying security checks, no checking bags, no arriving 3 hours early. Just pay for your ticket and go

Think about the process you have to go through when you travel by airplane. Do you look forward to it?  Do you love it?

You not only have to drive to the airport which is most likely an hour or more, you have to also wait in multiple lines, go through customs and check your bags . Not to mention the fact that you normally have to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight departs.

Train travel eliminates a lot of this wasted time. You can even arrive to the train station minutes before the train is about to pull away from the station.

With train travel, you don’t have to worry about bringing water or liquids on the train. Hell, if you wanted to bring a Swiss army knife on the train, that’s ok too. (Blake my husband likes to travel with his).

4- Trains stop where all the action is and not some far away airport

train stations always put you in the middle of all the action so you can hit the grond running. Pictures is the Amsterdam central station and a passing tram

There is nothing worse than booking your cheap(ish) or maybe expensive airfare online, only to discover once you arrive at your vacation destination that you have an hour’s taxi ride to get into the city. Not only does this put a dent in your holiday funds but it’s a huge time suck.

Which brings me to another things I love about train travel- most train stations in Europe are located smack dab in the middle of a city or town, not 67 miles away like the Munich Airport or 68 miles from Barcelona like Girona airport.

This proximity makes it much easier to hit the ground running once you arrive at your holiday destination.

  • When we arrived at the Central station in Amsterdam, we were on a tram 5 minutes later heading towards our first destination.
  • Same deal in Prague, we arrived at the main train station and jumped on the tram and were at our flat that we rented from (((Airbnb))). 
  • In Bremen Germany, we got off the train and found restaurants to eat at within minutes then jumped on a tram directly to the flat we rented, again from Airbnb

If we really wanted, we could have stopped in a city like Amsterdam to have lunch then catch a train to Antwerp Belgium and arrive before dinner time. We thought about but decided against it because everyone loved Amsterdam.

This stuff just isn’t possible with travel by Air.

5- More bang for your buck

Train travel can give you more bang for your buck

Thanks to the internet and the growing number of companies that are willing to hire remote workers, virtual assistants and freelancers, my husband and I have been able to cobble together a modest living which allows us to work from home. The advantage is more time to work on personal endeavours and to be home for the kids but the downside is less money which is why I like to… no I have to make sure we get the most bang for our buck when we travel.

Our Euro rail pass let us get on and off trains all throughout Europe for a fixed price during a fixed period of time much like a monthly bus pass. This meant that we could visit multiple cities starting in the South of France all the way up north to Holland and beyond if we wanted.

Some of the countries we visited on our train pass were Austria, Germany, Holland, The Czech Republic and a quick Jaunt back over the border of Germany into France to visit Strasburg. All within a 3 week period. The same multi trip itinerary by plane would have cost us a lot more and probably would have taken us much longer if you count all the time needed to get back and forth to the airports.

I like to think we got our money’s worth.

6- Train travel is unique and becomes part of the enjoyment of your trip

Train travel can be unique and maybe even the chance of a lifetime for many people

If you’re like us, the bulk of your travel has most likely been by plane (or by car), so taking another vacation by plane is really nothing new. In fact, after a few trips, the whole process of boarding the plane, finding your seat, checking your bags and waiting in the security line can get rather irritating and uneventful.

With train travel, the journey and what you do on the train is actually what sets train travel apart and makes the voyage so special.

You’re not just sitting in your seat there crammed in your seat with your tray table up waiting to get to your destination. It’s hard to explain but to me it almost felt as if I was sitting in my living room relaxing and socializing only the living room was moving really fast and in a few hours I could leave and be in a new country surrounded by people speaking a different language.

But there’s more to it than that, i’m just not able to put it into words. Perhaps it’s just the idea of train travel but being able to move about the train, look out the window and see the world go by makes all the difference in the world and separates train travel from airplane travel.

To be honest, there really was no one thing that made the experience so enjoyable, it’s the experience as a whole.

7- Train travel (with a Euro Rail pass) gives you more flexibility to make and change plans on the fly

freedom to jump on and off trains with a euro rail pass or interail pass

When we set out to travel across Europe by train, we knew we wanted to visit certain cities like Prague and Amsterdam but we also knew we might like to stop in unexpected cities if we had the choice. luckily there is a train pass which lets you do this and you can buy it from the Euro Rail site.  This pass let us jump on and off trains. (I’ll write about it in another post soon).

In short, thanks to our Interail family pass for EU citizens and non EU citizens who are legal residents like us, we were able to travel by the seat of our pants, take unexpected detours to other cities along the way, extend our stay in certain cities and cut other cities short.  For non Eu Residents, you need to get the Eurail pass. There is no official family pass however if you travel together as a group or a family, each adult and youth get 15% off the ticket price and children up to 11 travel for free.

8- The view on trains is way better than on planes

If we wanted, we could get up and enjoy the views from the big windows, walk around and even get a bite to eat on the food wagon

Travelling by train brings new meaning to the saying “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. When your flying 10,000 feet in the air, you get an amazing aerial view of the clouds going by but when you’re travelling by train you see the world, people and how they live go by.

We saw the countryside of Amsterdam, we saw into people’s backyards in Italy and we saw families jumping in a lake in Germany as we crossed over a bridge. You just can’t see any of that on a plane and it really made the trip amazing.

Pictured above, Blake and I are in the food cart staring out the window as we pass somewhere through Germany.

9- No one cares if your seat is back or tray table is up on a train

Trains were sometimes not full so we could sleep anywhere. We also did not have to worry about putting up our trays or our relinced seats like on a plane

One of the things I really hate about car and plane travel is that you’re pretty much restricted to your seat. On a plane you have to put your seat upright for take off and landing. You have to put your tray table up and turn off your electronics too.

On a train, you don’t have to do any of this and you can actually get up and walk around or hang out in the area that connect two train cars together.

The seat configuration on trains are more varied and comfortable. There are seat arrangements that allow you to face each other and others where you share a small cabin. There usually is a dining car where you can grab a bite to eat and drink which is actually really nice.

10- You get to bond as a couple and as a family

We travelled with just back packs which made it easy to just change plans on the fly. No checked bags, no airport security.

Like most people,  I wanted our family to take a vacation together to bond and to getaway from the stresses and rituals of daily routine and to see one another in a different light. One where I’m not stressing out over homework, dishes and life in general. One where the kids didn’t have us parents nagging them to clean their rooms and take care of chores. One where my husband Blake and I could just be ourselves and enjoy each others company and talk about frivolous things like books and life.

According to a survey conducted by Kelton Global, which asked 1,000 parents with kids age 5-17, 97 percent of parents say that their children have gotten to know new things about them while taking family trips. Families tend to be more excited, silly and affectionate while on vacation.

Train compartment on one of the many trains we rode across Europe. You can close the door for complete privacy.

Unlike plane travel,  travelling by train is almost made for bonding in my opinion.

On a train, you are not bound or crammed in your seat like a sardine for hours. You can actually move around if you like. Seating is usually pretty comfortable and roomy or configured in such a way that makes socializing and chatting easy.

Thanks to the seating configuration on trains, we  were able to find some semblance of privacy on most of the trains we travelled on.

On several trains we found cars with empty seats. On other trains we found 4 seats that faced each other and still other trains we had small cabins big enough for 6 people with a door that closed like the photo pictured above.

Knowing we had nothing but time and being more comfortable made the voyage rather relaxing which as it turns out is extremely conducive to bonding. It was the push we needed because if given a choice, many of us are just so busy with our daily lives that we never take the time to bond and be present for those closest to us.

We read, talked, argues, played games, slept, got on each others nerves and just worried about the minutia of boarding our next train and what to see next. I can’t tell you how nice it was to just get away from our everyday life and have those moments on the train.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that spending 3 weeks travelling together in close quarters was a dream full of rainbows and unicorns because it wasn’t. There were still times where we got on each others nerves, or the kids annoyed us or vice versa. But I knew- just as women are able to endure a painful child-birth and go on to remember childbirth as an endearing memory- I knew our train travel would leave us with meaningful, beautiful and unforgettable memories spent together across Europe.

And I was right.

Do I recommend train travel and would I do it again?

Milan train station. One of the many beautiful train stations conveniently located smack dab in the middle of all the action

Now that I’ve actually travelled on a train across Europe for three weeks with 3 kids and a husband, I can honestly say “yes I recommend train travel and I would definitely do it again”.  But…and you knew there was a but, not all aspects of train travel were pleasant and I definitely would have done some things differently had I known about certain things.

But that’s why I’m writing this for you. So you can get some insight and advice, know what to expect and make up your own mind about whether to travel by train, plane or automobile.

Interested in buying a rail pass and travelling Europe by train like we did?  Click here for Rail Europe !

Train Travel In Europe: Beginners Guide, Advice And Opinion


If gallivanting across Europe by train and visiting multiple-European cities toots your horn and you want to learn from someone who’s actually done it then you should read this multi-part mini series about our 3 and 1/2 week family Rail trip across Europe.

I’ll share my thoughts, break out the cost and spill the beans on the good, bad and the ugly side of train travel. Plus, I’ll share helpful tips I wish I had known before we embarked on our 3 week train travel that would have made our lives and our trip a whole lot smoother.


Part 1- 10 Reasons We Choose To Travel Europe By Train, Not By Plane!


After diner drink

The French After Dinner Drink Made of Christmas Trees?

chrismtas tree liqueur

A quick post to share with you what I’ve always known -the French can turn anything into an alcoholic drink. In this post, I share my newest discovery and my thoughts on this latest alcohol concoction.
“Christmas Tree liqueur?”

Voulez-vous un digestif Annie? “Would you like an after dinner drink Annie”?

Here’s a little back story:

My Friend Marie and her husband Xavier invited Blake and I to their house for some home-made paella- which seems to be extremely popular here in the south of France, at least amongst our French friends. It’s popularity here in the south is probably a result of it’s proximity to Spain?

The Paella was excellent by the way.


After dinner but before the coffee, Marie offered us a “digestif” (digestive)- a common practice among our circle of friends here in France.  Only instead of offering me the usual faire of digestives, like port or sherry, she offered me a very special type of liqueur which made me do a double take.

A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, which in theory aids digestion. Some common digestive include the following… (wiki source)

  • Brandy (Cognac, Armagnac, alembic-made)
  • Eaux de vie (fruit brandies, Schnapps, Calvados) Pomace brandy (grappa)
  • Fortified wines (sherry (usually cream sherry), vermouth, port, and madeira)
  • Liqueurs bitter or sweet (drambuie, amari (such as fernet), herbal liqueur, chartreuse, Grand Marnier, Irish Mist, Kahlua, limoncello, Herbs de Majorca, Unicum)
  • Distilled liquors (ouzo, tequila, whisky or akvavit)
  • Liquor cocktails (Black Russian, Rusty Nail, etc.)

Le Vert Sapin – The Green Fir

After diner drinkThe label on the bottle handed to me had 4 cute little trees which immediately made me think of Christmas trees.

The label read “Le vert sapin” which means the “green Fir”.  And as you know, some Christmas trees are of the fir variety.

The Christmas tree visual along with the word “sapin” made me giggle.

“I was  about to drink a christmas tree as my after diner drink. “oh boy”. FYI, Christmas tree in French is “Sapin de Noel” which literally means “Christmas Fir tree” which is what you and I would simply call in english a “Christmas Tree” without the Fir part.

What does green Fir liqueur taste like?

In a word, this interesting after dinner drink, which is actually made from young pine needles was very sweet and tasted, in a word, Piney?

I didn’t hate it but I didn’t exactly love it either.  Although I really wanted to love it.

How to drink it

According to the vert sapin site.  This liqueurs is best drank as an after-dinner drink served cold or over ice. Its 40° so you can keep it in the freezer. You can also drink this after dinner liqueur hot with hot water and sugar. Or use it in cocktails, for cooking or use a splash of it to sweeten your Absinthe.

Where to find or buy this after dinner drink?

Fir liquor is nothing new. It was invented over 100 years ago by a Frenchman named Armand Guy who wanted to make a local liqueur. The Alps have lots of pine trees and fir trees so I suppose it made sense to turn them into an alcoholic beverage.

These days pine liqueurs and spirits are quite popular, mainly in the Alps which is where “Le Vert Sapin” distilliary has been located for over 4 generations being passed down from father to son.

Don’t count on finding this Fir liqueur at your local grocery store in North America. It’s more of a novelty drink found in swanky bars and off the beaten path places. But if you do happen to find a place that serves it. Definitely give it a try.

If you can’t wait and absolutely must have some now, you can order some at The master of malt store online. 

Online gambling in France: Is it legal

How To Legally Gamble Online While In France!

Online gambling in France, is it legal

In France you can enjoy all kinds of gambling from casino- style card games and slots, sports betting and betting on horse racing. In fact, the French have a long history with gambling.

  • In the 1500’s, the French were the first to add the Queen to the deck of cards.
  • In the 17th century, the French mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the roulette wheel, which later led to the introduction of the popular game of roulette.
  • The game 21, “vingt-et-un” is thought to have originated in French casinos around 1700 A.D. and migrated to the United States around the 1800’s.
  • Even Blackjack is thought to have originated from a French card game called “chemin de fer” which translates to “railroad”.
  • In 1997, the gambling age was lowered from 21 to 18.
  • In 1988, slot machines became legal after previously being banned.

Today most forms of gambling are legal but the French gambling industry is strictly regulated.

As of 2015, there are about 188 casinos in and around France. In an attempt to stop gambling from becoming an addiction, the Justice Ministry only allows gambling at specific times and in specific places.

However, when we look at online gambling in France, it’s a completely different story.

In March of 2009, France proposed new laws to regulate and tax Internet gambling. “Rather than banning 25,000 websites, licenses were given out to online gambling sites who respected public and social order. These new gambling laws have come under criticism as the new law only allows sports betting and betting on horse races, with all other traditional casino games still being illegal.

In June 2010, the government implemented significant changes to the national gambling laws again to allow for both the regulation and taxation of foreign-based internet casino, online poker, bingo and sports betting sites. Prior to this, only national companies were given permission to operate gambling sites online, with Francaise des Jeux and the PMU being market leaders.

France has since issued dozens of licences to offshore gambling companies, so that their services can become available for French players.

Players in France feeling frustrated -unable to access their online gambling and poker accounts.

However, due to the fact that French law doesn’t allow unlicensed online bookmakers and poker rooms or any kind of online casino, many players in France have been left feeling frustrated- unable to access their online gambling and poker accounts. Furthermore, the punitive tax regime adopted by the government has proved to be very detrimental to poker operators. Players are required to pay 2% on all cash game pots, with sports betting attracting a 7.5% tax on each bet placed and horse racing bets attracting an 8% levy. In addition, 33% corporate income tax is also payable.

Some players have managed to find ways to bypass the legislation:

  • Using a foreign postal address
  • Hiding their IP address
  • Using third parties to make deposits for them
  • Changing their IP address- a tactic that is often used by British holidaymakers who still want to access their UK accounts while visiting France.

Can I play online bingo in France?

The French online bingo industry is still very much in its infancy, although the recently modified laws have helped to facilitate its growth. To take advantage of the legislation changes, online bingo operators in France have introduced some French variants, which have proved to be very popular with the local population. If we look onside the UK online bingo industry we can see the potential – very popular and busy. Many small operators operate and take a nice piece  in the market share. One very popular online bingo sites is lucky Touch Bingo which emphasise the brits in the name. Two of the most popular online bingo sites in France are Maria Bingo and Bet365 Bingo.

Lucky Touch Bingo

What happens if a player tries to bet on an unlicensed site?

If you try to access an unlicensed site while in France you’ll probably find one of the following things will happen:

  1. You’ll be unable to access the site
  2. You’ll see a message advising you that you’re not allowed to join the particular site.
  3. You’ll be directed to the French equivalent, if available.
  4. You may be able to register if you use a UK address. Most UK bookies will allow you to register and won’t acknowledge your location, although most operators to take steps to identify your location once you have registered.

How can an operator verify my location?

When you sign up with an unlicensed bookmaker, three piece of information can be used to identify your location.

  • Your IP address
  • Your registered home address.
  • The address registered on your credit card

You’ll also receive an email asking you to prove that you’re in the UK, with some operators choosing to suspend your account if you can’t do so, with others giving you a period of up to two weeks in which to provide proof of address. You’ll also be asked for a reason for using a French IP address.

Is it possible to disguise your location?

It is possible to get around the IP address check by changing your IP address to mask your PC’s location. Some players have also discovered a way to obtain a postal address in the UK, and use various forms of secure payment methods, including pre-payment options to avoid giving details of their French bank accounts.

In spite of the restrictions placed on the online gambling industry in France, it still manages to show signs of modest growth.

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