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Why you're screwed if you lose your prescription eyeglasses in France

Why You’re Screwed If You Lose Your Prescription Eyeglasses In France

Why your totally screwed if you lose or break your prescription eyeglasses in France

If you rely heavily on your prescription eyeglasses to see the world than losing or breaking them is an annoyance which you can fix rather easily and quickly if you live near a prescription eyeglass retailer like Lenscrafters. Not so easy in France. Discover why you’re totally screwed if you lose your prescription eyeglasses in France, plus learn what you should do if you lose or break them followed by a few of my most useful tips for travelling with prescription glasses.

Although this article is written for people travelling to or living in France, most of the tips and advice can be used for any trip you take.

Murphy’s Law: Stuff Happens

Things don’t always work the same way abroad as they do at home. Most people forget or ignore this simple truth until doomsday is upon them. That’s why it’s important to fight procrastination and think ahead especially when it come to your vision and travelling.

Scenario: Imagine strolling along the Champs-Élysées and some clueless tourist bumps into you knocking your prescription eyeglasses off your face which fall to the ground, break and shatter beyond repair. Even if you’re not completely blind without your glasses, it’s still stressful to be sight-seeing someplace or driving with blurry vision.

What to do? Assuming you speak the local language good enough to get by (a must in most of France), you need to somehow make your way back to your hotel or flat all squinty eyed, call an eye doctor and set an appointment to get new eyeglass prescriptions.

Right about now, you’re regretting not bringing an extra pair of glasses with you but you think “what’s the worst that could happen?. I lose a few hours of my life during the the eye checkup but I’ll have my fancy new French eyeglasses in a week or less.”

WRONG, You’re totally screwed because time is not your friend mon ami.

Why your screwed if you don’t have a backup pair of prescription eyeglasses with you in France.

It can take 6 months to 1 full year to get an eye doctor appointment

I know it’s hard to believe but it can take three to six months to get an eye doctor appointment and in some areas of France it can take up to a year to get a rendez-vous.

We were living in the South of France when my son broke his last backup pair of prescription eyeglasses. No biggy, I thought. I’ll just call up an eye doctor and make an appointment.

I called over a dozen eye doctors (ophtalmologiste or ophtalmo is what they are called in French) in our area and every single one of them gave me the same depressing response.

Désolé madame, pas de rendez-vous avant 6 mois.
(I am sorry madam, no appointments available before six months).

One particular doctor blew my mind when she said some eye doctors had a years waiting list to get an appointment while others (presumably the ones with no receptionist), don’t even bother answering the phones everyday because they are too busy with their existing patient load. MIND BLOWN!!

**I have heard but can’t confirm that some areas of France like Paris have a shorter waiting list.**  

7 Things You Should Know If You Are Travelling To France With Prescription Eyeglasses

I felt so stupid not knowing in advance about how impossible it was to get an eye doctor appointment but in my defence, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know which is why I’m here to tell you how things work in France.

Here are 7 of my best precautionary tips and sound advice. Forewarned is forearmed.

1) Bring an extra pair of glasses with you just in case!

My absolute best advice and easiest thing you should do is simply bring an extra pair of eyeglasses with you. Even better, bring 2 extra pairs. I always order 4 pairs of glasses for my son who is pretty rough on his glasses.

He is blind as a bat without his prescription glasses so it’s important he always has back-up pairs on hand.

2) Bring your prescription with you and you can walk into an eyeglass retailer to get your prescription filled.

If you can’t or don’t want to bother bringing an extra pair of glasses with you then I recommend you bring your official eyeglass prescription which you can then use to get glasses at one of the thousands of retail optician stores across France who will gladly fill your eyeglass prescription.

If you don’t lose your glasses no harm no foul but if you do lose your glasses, you’ll be glad you had your prescription with you because you won’t have to go long without your glasses or wait months to get an eye doctor appointment.

Opticians (Called “les opticiens” in French ) are not eye doctors and are not optometrists and cannot perform eye exams or treat vision problems. They can only fit and sell eyeglasses using your existing eyeglass prescription.

Bring your eyeglasses prescription with you and buy glasses whle travellingThings to note about buying eyeglasses from an optician in France

  1. Make sure your prescription is less than 3 years old otherwise by law the optician cannot fill your eyeglass prescription.
  2. Glasses can be extremely expensive to buy at an optician. There are huge markups on glasses in France as much as 250 percent.  Lenses can run you anywhere from 50 to 250 euros depending on if you get progressives lenses or other upgrades like ant-reflective,  anti-scratch or other coatings. Frames can cost between 50 to 500 euros depending on the brand you get.
    You will most likely spend about 200 on the low-end to 600 on the high-end in total.

3) Know your prescription and save hundreds of dollars by buying your spectacles online

For those of you who don’t have an updated prescription (less than 3 years old) or don’t have a backup pair of glasses, but you know your prescription because you wrote it down or have a photocopy of it you are in luck. Although you won’t be able buy your glasses at an optician’s office, you can order your glasses online at HUGE COST SAVINGS!

Don’t worry, it’s totally safe. I’ve’ been buying my son’s eyeglasses online for over 8 years and I have never ever had a problem.

To give you an example of the cost savings, I usually buy 4 pairs of glasses for my son for under 100 dollars with shipping. Shipping usually takes about 7 to 14 days depending on where I am. I have no idea how they do it but the quality of the glasses seem to be just as good as glasses I buy from local retailers.

Here are the details you need to know about your prescription if you buy prescription glasses online

Measure your PD so you can order glasses onlineWhether you have your prescription in hand or you have it written somewhere here are the things you need to know in order to buy your glasses online.

a) Naturally you must know the strength of your prescription for your left and right eye.
b) You must also know your pupillary distance (abbreviated as “PD”). This measures the distance between the center of your pupils in millimetres.
  • Doctors sometimes do not include this information on your prescription so be sure you ask for it.
  • You could try to measure it yourself in which case you measure from the center of one pupil to the other to get the distance in millimetres.
  • PD is generally between 55 and 65 for adults.
c) You should also have a front facing photo which you will upload and use to try on your glasses virtually.

I love this feature. It’s the next best thing to being there and physically trying on glasses. If you are worried about them not looking great on your face, get several pairs just in case.

try your prescription eyeglasss online virtually before you buy them

Where to buy eyeglasses online?

Just Google “buy glasses online” to find hundreds of sites willing to sell you glasses. If you are a bargain hunter like me, take a look at Groupon coupons first. They usually have online coupons where you can get an additional 10 to 25 percent savings off your order or free shipping. These additional discounts can usually only be had by going through the Groupon website vs going directly to the eyeglasses website.

Here are a few eyeglass sites I found through Groupon :

Eye Buy Direct

EyeGlasses.com

39DollarGlasses.com

GlassesSPOT.com sells higher end brand name glasses at a discount. Brands like RayBan, Burberry, Carrera and more. They even have Dolce & Gabbana!!!!!!

Armed Forces Eyewear is interesting because they offer exclusive pricing for US military, veterans, law enforcement, firefighters & their families as much as 50% off retail.

4) Bring a pair of prescription sunglasses to use as backup and to get a new prescriptionBring an extra pair of glasses with you just in case you lose your glasses while travelling

Your prescription sunglasses not only protect your eyes from the suns strong UV rays while sightseeing during your travels but can also serve as a backup pair. You might look a little silly at night but it’s better than nothing right?

A little known fact is you can get new glasses made from any prescription glasses (in France). All you have to do is walk into an optician’s office who will measure your prescription using the lenses from your existing glasses and make a new pair. Voila!

I believe you have to be over 16 to do this though.

5) Bring a hard shell eyeglasses case to protect your glasses from getting crushed

Take precautionary measures with your extra back up pair of glasses or when you’re not using your glasses to prevent your glasses from getting crushed in your nah or luggage by bringing a hard shell case for your eyeglasses.

always bring a hardcase to hold your glasses when travelling

6) Bring a clean eyeglass cloth and cleaning solution

You’re not supposed to clean your glasses with the bottom of your t-shirt because it is most likely filled with tiny dust and dirt particles that can leave tiny scratches on your lenses.

Instead try to clean your lenses with warm water and soap. If you are out and about, bring a dedicated cloth like one of those microfiber cloths otherwise clean cotton works just as well. Just make sure you don’t wipe your glasses when the lenses are dry. If water is not an option, use a cleaning solution.

7) Bring a small eyeglass repair kid

The last thing you want is for a screw to come loose or worse fall out leaving you with only one working arm forcing you to use nerd tape to hold your glasses together.

I really like the repair kits that have a bunch of extra little screws just in case you actually do lose a screw.

Bring an eyeglass repair kit

Better safe than sorry

I still think the best solution is to bring an extra pair of glasses with you as back up. If you end up not needing them no big deal but if you do end up breaking or losing your glasses, you’ll feel so smart and relieved that you did because not being able to see clearly for any amount of time whether on vacation or not is just plain stressful and annoying.

Saint Patricks day in france

Where And How To Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day In France

saint Patricks day in france

St Patrick’s Day is nowhere near as popular in France as it is in the US and Canada. In most regions of France it isn’t really noticed let alone celebrated- unless of course you know where to go. Whether you want to find a pub to drink a pint of Guinness beer or listen to some Irish tunes and do the Irish jig, here are a few places you can go to celebrate this iconic day in France.

How to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in France

When I was a kid, if you didn’t wear something green on Saint Patrick’s day, the other kids would pinch you. It wasn’t much of a celebration but I was aware of the day and that’s just what we did.

As I got older, I still put on something green for St. Patrick day but I also added drinking beer at local bars and pubs with friends to my repertoire of Irish festivities. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t of Irish descent, you just did it to hang with your friends. Chances are if you’re reading this,  you might have had a similar experience.

When I moved to France, simply finding an Irish pub with the Irish spirit was a challenge but a good time can still be had if you look in the right places.

Saint Patrick’s Day in France

If you find yourself in a smallish French town or a less touristy part of France on March 17, the day will pass without anyone batting an eye. Most French people will walk around clueless to the fact that it’s St Patrick’s day. **GASP**

You won’t find corned beef stocked up at the supermarket or 4 leaf clovers decorated here and there. And if you see anyone wearing green on this day, it will be purely coincidental.

If however you head over to one of the bigger cities or cities which attract more tourists, your options to celebrate will multiply a thousand fold. Here are a few cities throughout France where you can have a pint and embrace the Irish spirit with other Irish loving lads and lasses in France.

See also: Why the French hate Halloween

Rennes

If you want a more authentic Irish ambiance, well as much as you can get in France, than head over to Brittany to a city called Rennes. Rennes is pretty festive throughout the year but it really comes alive around rue Saint-Michel, aka “rue de la soif” where you will find a number of bars all waiting for you to celebrate St Patrick’s with them. Coincidentally “rue de la soif” translates to “street of the thirsty”

Address : rue Saint-Michel, 35000, Rennes.

Places to celebrate celebrate St. Patrick’s day in Paris

If you want hordes of pub options for St Patrick’s day than you’ll have to head over to the tourist Mecca of the world- Paris, where you will find heaps of things to do in comparison to other towns and cities in France.

Culture

Before you go pub hopping, check out the Irish cultural centre of Paris. On their site you’ll find a calendar of events which you can use to find all sorts of cultural things to do not only for Saint Patrick’s day but all year round. Art exhibitions, concerts, dancers and more.

There are a tonne of Irish pubs in Paris to choose from. Here are a few worth a visit.

Le Coolin, Paris

Kitty O’Shea’s Le Pub Irlandais, Paris

Connolly’s Corner, Paris

Corcoran’s Paris

Guiness Tavern du côté de Chatelet, O `Sullivan à Montmartre, Taverne de Cluny in the 5th arrondissement, Celtic Corner Pub in the 15th arrondissement, Obrien’s near the Eiffel Tower, Shannon Pub, The pure malt and I could go on.

Irish Pubs in other cities throughout FranceWhere to celebrate St Patricks Day in France

If you’re not in Paris on St Patty’s or can’t travel that far, all is not lost. You an still find a few Irish pub in towns across France. It’s a good excuse to explore other regions of France if you haven’t already done so.

Antibes

The Hop Store Irish Pub

Bordeaux

The Connemara, Le Molly Malone’s, The Blarney Stone, The Frog & Rosbif

Lille

L’After Hours, Tir Na Nog

Lorient

The Galway Inn, Le Tonneau de Bière

Lyon

The Smoking dog, Kelly’s Irish pub, The Antidote Pub

The Sherlock Holmes, Le Connemara, Frog & Rosbif

Marseille

O’Brady’s on avenue de Mazargues, The Shamrock

Montpellier

Fitzpatrick’s

Nantes

Brady’s Irish Pub

Toulon

Le Shannon Pub56

Toulouse

London Town, Le Mulligans, De Danu

Find an Irish pub near you in France

If you won’t be near any of the larger cities listed above, you can do your own search and find a pub nearer to your location using an internet search engine. I can’t guarantee big crowds and you may be disappointing by the lack of Irish spirit but it’s worth a try and better than nothing.

Try typing these search terms in the search engine.

  • “un pub Irlandais + name of your French town”
  • “ou fêter St Patricks + name of your french town”

Go to Disneyland Paris and Disney Village for St Patrick’s Day

celebrate saint patrick's day in France at Disneyland Paris

As cheesy as it sounds, you could go to Disneyland Paris on the 17th of March to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day. There are usually Irish dancers, a meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie in Irish costumes, musicians, free make-up, fireworks and loads of other things to get you in the mood. The is also decked out in Green.

Go and celebrate

Just because you’re in France doesn’t mean you have to forgo other traditions or holidays you are used to celebrating. Don’t let some Francophile snob shame you for wanting to either.

I’ve heard too many people say “you’re in France, you should just do “FRENCH” things.” Bull crap! That’s just too narrow-minded for my taste. There are French people that celebrate other customs and it’s all right if you do too. Besides, it’s fun to see how other cultures celebrate something you’re used to celebrating a certain way.

Oh yes, and you can proudly wear green on this day too. I always have my green blazer handy for St Patty’s day.

saint patricks day green jacket

10 Reasons To Go To Disneyland Paris Even If You Are A Hater!

10 Reasons to go to Disneyland paris: Even if you are a hater

I’m not really into Disneyland. The price alone is enough to make me choke but then you add in the super long lines, back to back people, princesses, pirates and rides that make you throw up…a veritable laundry list of reason NOT TO GO. So why go then? Specifically, why go to Disneyland Paris?  Here are MY 10 reasons why you SHOULD GO, even if you think you will hate it!

No Disneyland for me

Before I had kids, I swore up and down that I would never ever take my future children to Disneyland; despite the fact that I begged my own father to take me to Disneyland as a child. – Oh how quickly we forget.

My Disneyland abstinence lasted several years until my two sons turned five and six. I still remember the look on their faces when we arrived. It was like they had won the lotto.  As I watched them gush with raw unadulterated joy, any and all my reservations and aversions towards taking them to Disneyland melted away. My pocket book felt differently.

History Repeats Itself: Old Habits Die Hard

A decade later I have a third child, a little girl. (yeees so happy)

When my daughter turned 5, we were living in France and it never occurred to me that she might also want to go to Disneyland until one day she just did. I think some of her classmates at school went to Disneyland and told all the kids at school how amazing it was. So once again I am faced with the pressure to take not just my daughter but my sons to Disneyland. I resisted for a while but it is hard to resist my daughters pleas and my then teenage boys seemed to want to go just as much as my daughter.

This time I didn’t have such an averse feeling towards taking the kids to Disneyland. Maybe it was because it was Disneyland Paris? Maybe because we didn’t make it an annual thing? Who knows. In any case, I kept an open mind- here are the 10 things that turned me from a semi-hater to semi-lover of Disneyland Paris.

By the way, if you are planning to go, you should buy your tickets to Disneyland Paris online and save yourself the headache and time of waiting in the long lines with antsy children. With that said, here are my 10 reasons why you should go to Disneyland Paris…

10 Reasons To Go To Disneyland Paris

Even If You Think You Will Hate It

1-It will Make Your Kids Super Duper Happy

Let’s face it, your kids are going to love it. A day of eating junk food, seeing cartoon characters come to life, riding fun rides and seeing cool shows. What kid would NOT like it?

2- Would You Not Go See The Eiffel Tower?

Disneyland Paris is more popular than the Eiffel tower

Would you want someone to tell you that you can’t see or visit the Eiffel tower? Didn’t think so.

In 2010, Disneyland Paris received over 15 million visitors, surpassing the Eiffel Tower as the most popular tourist attraction in Paris?  It is also the fourth most visited theme park in the world.

So in essence, if you don’t go to Disneyland Paris, it would be like not going to see the Eiffel tower.

At least that is how your kids might feel.

3- The Rides

If you enjoy theme parks and rides, Disneyland Paris has a lot of them. From age appropriate rides for little toddlers to the scariest of roller coasters. Here are just a handful of some popular ones:

  • Space Mountain 2: An updated version of the old ride.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror:
  • It’s A Small World
  • Phantom Manor
  • Star Tours
  • Big Thunder Mountain

4- Jump To The Head Of The Line: The Fast Pass

If one of the reasons you don’t want to go to Disneyland Paris is because of the long lines, there is a solution.

You can always take advantage of the FREE FastPass system. A fast pass allows you to bypass the long line.

All you have to do is find the fastpass distribution area near the entrance of the ride you want to get on. Swipe your park admission ticket at one of the machines and receive a free faspass ticket with a designated time. When you return at that designated time,  you will bypass the bulk of the queue. (only good for certain popular rides and some restrictions apply- of course)

5-VIP FASTPASS!

If you have some money to burn, you could get the VIP fastpass which is like the Fast Pass I mentioned above on steroids.

A VIP fastpass ticket will grant you unlimited FASTPASS use. (some restrictions apply)

All you have to do is book a room or suite at one of the following hotels: Disneyland Hotel Castle Club, Hotel New York’s Empire State Club, a suite at the Newport Bay Club or Sequoia Lodge. 

Then use the fast pass all day at any ride that accepts the fast pass.

6- Fun French Exposure + bargaining chip

If you’re kids are worried about visiting a foreign country or whining about the trip then taking the kids to Disneyland is a sneaky way to get the kids excited about a trip that they might otherwise not be so keen on taking.

7- It’s familiar but foreign

The over all look and feel and many of the rides are similar to the Disneyland in the US but there is a definite French Flair to it.

For instance, the ride announcement will be in French and english and a few other languages.

There are food carts selling fun treats unique to France like Crepes.

8- You will be able to communicate

If you don’t speak French, you will still be able to communicate relatively easy.

There are menus, maps and even signs written in French AND English. Many of the park cast members also speak English because they are recruited from all over Europe and the world.

9-It’s smaller and very doable in a day

One of the things I hated about Disneyland in the US is it was huge. Overwhelmingly huge.

Disneyland Paris is smaller, slightly more manageable and doable in a day with some planning.

10-What’s the harm in it or Why The Hell NOT?

Why not go to Disneyland Paris? Sure it’s cheesy. Sure it’s not really culturally “classy” but if you have kids who are dying to go or even a grown up kid who wants to go, they will worship the ground you walk on if you take them to Disneyland Paris.

What’s the harm it it anyways?

I know part of my own resistance had a lot to do with how other people POO POO the idea of going to Disneyland Paris when you are in Paris.

“You went to France and visited Disneyland Paris???????”

PFFFT!   As if going to Disneyland will lower your social status or make you less classy.

Stop caring about what other people will think.

The worst that could happen is you waste some time and money while your kids, your friends or spouse have the time of their lives.

Who knows you might have a great time too or at least enjoy watching your kids have a great time.

Conclusion

If you have a week  or more in Paris and have kids or people who you are travelling with that want to go, I say GO For IT.

Go check out these personal accounts from other people who actually went to Disneyland Paris and see what they thought about the park.

Disneyland Paris with Kids – A Disney Park with a French Accent – TravelMamas.com

To Europe With Kids: Euro Disneyland

Une Suprise Magique

p.s. The best times to visit Disneyland Paris is on weekdays outside public holidays and school vacations.

Mothers day in France and around the world

Was It Mothers Day? Not In France! Mothers Day Dates Around The World

Mothers day in France and around the world

When is mothers day? The second Sunday of May? The fourth Sunday of May? The last Sunday of May? Are you sure Mother’s Day is even in May? Surprise, mothers day is celebrated on all those days depending on what part of the world you ask.

My First Mothers Day In France (OR IS IT?)

What day is mothers day celebrated around the world?  

It’s the second Sunday of May, 2012, My First Mother’s Day In France!

Or so I thought.

We had been in France about 7 months and I was looking forward to my first Mother’s Day.

It’s the day I get to rest and not feel guilty. If I want to lay in bed all day, I can lay in bed all day. I don’t have to clean or cook if I don’t want too. My husband and children pamper me a little more than usual and give me special gifts to show me how much they appreciate me.

My hopes were dashed the Friday before Mother’s Day.

First Red Flag:

One of the sweetest things a mommy can expect is a hand crafted gift from your kids that they crafted at school. A plant, a card, a drawing. Something, anything. So on the Friday before mothers day, I was curious what Catherine was going to make for me at school. Boy was I disappointed when My daughter came home empty handed on the Friday before mother’s day.

“O.K., maybe kids just don’t make handmade cards and crafts at school to give to their mothers?”.

Second Red Flag:

I noticed that flower shops didn’t look any busier than normal. No special  mother’s day bouquet’s. No signs saying “Happy Mother’s Day” and no frantic men buying last minute roses for their mom’s and wives. OKAAAAY! What the heck do French people give their mom’s?

Third Red Flag:

No restaurants were open on Sunday offering special mother’s day meals. Sheesh, could it be that French people expect their moms to cook on this special day?

That’s when I thought “Maybe mother’s day isn’t even celebrated in France!”

We decided to celebrate mothers day on that second Sunday of May despite it not being celebrated in France.

The day past and I didn’t give mothers day another thought until 2 weeks later when the florist shops were bustling, and ads for local restaurants promoted specials for mothers day. Last but not least, I got the biggest and best surprise from my daughter.

I was standing in the kitchen preparing Catherine an after school snack called le goûterwhen Blake returned home with Catherine.

“Maman, J’ai une surprise pour toi!” ((Mommy, I have a surprise for you))

Mother's Day Date In France: Celebrated on the Last Sunday In May

In Catherine’s left hand, she held a plant made of paper which she had made at school and in her right hand she held hand made card.

The card had the words “Bonne Fête Maman” written out in her preschool handwriting.

this is from Mothers Day 26, mai 2013

Mothers Day in France the USA is on the 2nd Sunday of May. In France it is on the Last Sunday of May.

Duh, Mothers Day Is Not Celebrated On The Same Day.

Suddenly I realized that the French celebrated mothers day on a different day than Americans and Canadians.

I still wasn’t sure if this was really mothers day or another French holiday so I consulted the source of all knowledge – the internet and I discovered that fact, Mother’s day falls on the last Sunday of May rather than the second Sunday of May like in the US and Canada. 
( unless it coincides with Pentecost day in France, then Mother’s Day is moved to the first Sunday of June). Confusing isn’t it?

Now after having lived in France for several years,  I can say that mother’s day is celebrated almost exactly as it is celebrated in the US and Canada.

Kid’s make crafts and cards for their mom’s at school to bring home. Husbands cook and do chores. The kids are hopefully extra sweet to mom. Restaurants that are usually closed for mothers day are open and they are filled with men taking their mother’s and wives out for a meal and pampering.

It’s every bit as commercialized too.

Mothers Day Dates Around The World

Mothers Day Map of Dates Around the world

Chart created at http://chartsbin.com/

It turns out that France isn’t the only country that celebrates mothers day on a different day. Mother’s Day dates vary around the world.

Mothers Day Is Celebrated on 26 Different Dates Around The World

Mother's day is celebrated on over 26 different dates around the world

Apart from the 60 or so countries that do not celebrate mothers day, the rest of the world celebrates mothers day on 26 different dates.

Most fall in May but many countries celebrate in totally different months altogether like Thailand on 12th of August, Indonesia 22nd of December and Russia on the last Sunday in November.

The UK and Ireland celebrate mothers day on the fourth Sunday of Lent and they call it Mothering Day.

In total, out of 196 of the world’s countries, almost 150 countries celebrate some form of mothers day on over 26 different dates. (more or less).

The Most Celebrated: Second Sunday of the Month

The most popular day which mothers day is celebrated is on the second Sunday of May. About 69 countries or 35% of the worlds countries celebrate on this day including….

Canada, U.S., South Africa, New Zealand, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and even China.

I was told by two different people from India that the concept of celebrating on the 2nd Sunday of may is slowly catching on but some Hindu people celebrate mothers in a festival called Durga Puja which is a ten day celebration in October.

Below is a chart I put together showing the different dates and that the world celebrates mothers day on.

mothers-day-excel

Conclusion

When travelling to other countries or living abroad like we are, you should always take note of local holidays and customs. It’s fun to take part in the local festivities.

Regardless of the date or country where mothers day is celebrated, the spirit of mothers day is celebrated in much the same way around the world.

It is the one day out of the year where you get to shower your moms with love, special gifts, cards and more all so you can show how much you appreciate your mommy.

As for us. We celebrate both mothers day. The first one on the second Sunday of May (like the US and Canada) and the second one on the last Sunday of May (the day it’s celebrated in France).

Question:  If you were living abroad or in France like us, which date would you celebrate mothers day on?

Victory in Europe Day France

Victory In Europe Day: Another French Holiday I Didn’t Know Existed

Victory in Europe Day how France celebrates

Even after 3 years in France, I still forget or get confused about the various holidays and customs in France. One day it’s life as usual and the next day I’m locked out of the grocery store because it’s yet another holiday. Like the time my sons told me they had a 5 day weekend starting the 8th of May because it was victory in Europe Day.

The French wiki explains all of the French holidays. I discovered that  the 8th of May is a public holiday in France.

( A public holiday in France is called a jour Férié).  On these “Jour Férié, banks are closed, most super markets are closed or close early. There is no school, the buses and trains run on a holiday schedule.  Basically not much goes on in France on a jour Férié.

 

Germans surrendor in Reim France marking the end of world war two

Victory In Europe Day

The 8th of  May 1945 is an important holiday to many European countries because it marks the official end of the second World War and the end of Nazi Germany.

It is called Victory in Europe Day, also known as VE day. In French it is referred to as “fête de la victoire”  (pronounced FET DUH LA VEEK-Twahr) or just “Victoire du 8 Mai”

In Germany, the holiday is known as Liberation Day. Germans celebrate liberation from the Nazi government and Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

Churchill waves to crawds on the day he broadcast that the war with Germany had been won on 8th of may 1945

How Is Victory Day In Europe Celebrated?

Many of the allied countries celebrate with parades and special ceremonies to commemorate lost soldiers and victims of the holocaust.

Some countries like France have made it a public holiday for businesses, schools, banks, grocery stores. (* Our local grocery store was open until noon on this day). There were also many French flags flying high and lining the streets.

There is a special celebration in Paris on the Champs-Elysees attended by Veterans and the French President complete with  military parade and a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldiers which lies directly beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

What Is Our Family Doing On Victory Day In Europe?

victory in Europe day in France

In La Garde France where we live, the church bells rang on and off all day long but for the most part, the town was very very quiet except for a memorial speech that lasted for less than an hour. Stores are closed or close early and there is no school.

  • My sons had friends over to play video games.
  • My husband Blake and our daughter Catherine went on a Bike ride with our friend Gabriel and his son.
  • I worked and wrote this article and cooked diner as usual with no special fanfare and neither did any of our friends.
  • We watched a movie and went to bed.

Conclusion

When you travel or live in other countries, look up any upcoming holidays.

For one thing, it’s fun to participate in the celebrations and customs but also because you don’t want to be unprepared or caught in a situation where you don’t have access to things you need like public transportation or grocery stores and food.

We once ran out of food in our house but all the stores were closed because it was a public holiday. Fun times.

Top French Stereotypes and Cliches infographic

Top French StereotypesTrue Or False?

Top French Stereotypes and Cliches infographic

French women are hot and dress well but have hairy armpits and stink. French men wear berets, striped shirts are rude, romantic and good lovers. Sound confusing? Let’s get to the bottom of these absurd and contradictory French stereotypes and clichés. I decided to get to the bottom of the more well known French stereotypes and Clichés to confirm or dispel them one by one by examining each one and breaking them down. ..

Top 10 French Stereotypes: As Viewed From The Rest Of The World.

I am sure you’ve heard at least one or two stereotypes about the French but do you really believe they are true?  And here’s another thing. For those of you who have never been to France or met a TRUE FRENCH PERSON IN THE FLESH, where did you learn about these silly stereotypes?

We may never know but I think we can thank the media, fashion magazines and Hollywood movies in part for totally messing with our minds and giving us ridiculously conflicting images about the French.  So to help better inform the world, I decided to clear the air. 

1- French People Wear Berets:

False

Top French Stereotypes Do French-beret-striped-shirt

If you think that you will see gaggles of French men wearing the iconic French beret than you must also think that most Americans wear cowboy boots or fanny packs (fanny is a bad word in British English).

Sure a small percentage of French people really do wear berets but in all my time spent living in France, (over 5 years) I have seen less than a handful of beret wearing French folks. Wearing a beret with a striped shirt, well that is even more rare.

Berets are for the elderly and fashion conscience women in Paris.

A beret wearing French person is so rare that when I do see someone wearing a beret, I feel inclined to photograph them like some rare breed of animal.  (see photos above). At the Berlin Zoo in Germany, I saw a woman who looked to be about 60 + wearing a white beret AND of all things a striped shirt. (very rare to see these combos together). I followed her around like a deranged stalker until I was able to discreetly take the above picture while she was peacefully looking at the swans. YES, she was French because I eves dropped on her conversations and heard her speaking French.

I also once saw an elderly man well into his 70’s walking a Chihuahua wearing a black beret in Hyeres France. (pictured above).

Other than that, I’ve only really seen a few women in Paris wearing berets but they were usually dressed to kill looking like the typical French image many people have of French women which is another rare occurrence in and of itself.

2- French Woman all dress well:

False

The stereotype that all French women dress like super models straight out of vogue magazine is just ludicrous.

We live in a small town near the Mediterranean sea and  people here dress pretty much the same way they did back in the US and Canada with one small caveat.

The French do wear lot’s of scarves. They tend to wear nicer shoes and their everyday attire tends to be slightly dressier and pulled together  but nothing even close to the images we see in the media or in fashion magazine.

Now if you go to Paris, you’re definitely going to see dressier people but all of of France does NOT dress like a Parisian. Just like people from Boise Idaho don’t dress like they are from Greenwich Village New York. .

3- French Women Never Shave:

False

I’m sure there are women who don’t shave in France but why people think all French women don’t shave is beyond me.This weird generalization is just not true. There are no more women in France that don’t shave than there are in the U.S., Canada, Australia or any other country that believes in shaving.

I have known more women in Santa Cruz California who did not shave than I do in France. I know zero women in France who do not shave.. I know it’s zero because I asked my French friends point blank and they were almost insulted when I posed the question.

4- French People Smell Bad:

False

HUH? French people are just like you and me. They practice hygiene and take baths or showers at least once a day. True at one point in time eons ago during the middle ages they didn’t bath daily but neither did the English and a bunch of other countries too.

5- French People Wear Striped shirts:

False

The idea that hordes of French people wear striped shirts is another stereotype that people have latched onto and perpetuated over time. Sure you see people wearing this iconic French shirt once in a while however it’s not as popular as it once was.

The striped shirt is actually called the Breton shirt as we know it today. It was the official uniform for the French navy seamen in Brittany following the 1858 Act of France. Originally, there were 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories. Some people say that the distinctive block pattern and stripes made the sailors easier to spot in the water if they ever fell overboard.

coco channel wearing one of her famous striped shirts that made the style popular and haut couture

In 1917, Coco Channel changed the fashion industry and immortalized the striped shirt when she introduced the design in her nautical collection to the fashion world. Soon after the famous French striped sailor design became associated with haute fashion and beautiful women like Brigit Bardot and Audrey Hepburn were seen wearing striped shirts.

Ever since, the striped shirt comes in and out of fashion and has become the epitome of Paris style. Very few people even make the connection between French sailors and striped shirts any more but now you know.

6- French People Walk Around Holding Baguettes:

True

Big towns, little towns, remote towns. They all have boulangeries and probably more than one. I literally cannot go more than a few blocks in our town without seeing a few boulangeries.

It’s not uncommon to see people before work and after work lining up to get fresh baguettes and holding them under their arms or in their bags walking around.

Baguettes are addicting and if you live in France you will also adopt this way of eating and living.

7- The French Smoke A lot:

True

I have seen off duty bus drivers in France smoking inside the bus. I have sat next to people in restaurants while their cigarette smoke was visibly floating in my five year old daughters face. I have passed gaggles of people standing outside of the bank smoking cigarettes before they go back to their desks. I have ……….

well you get the picture right?

There are a few laws in place that restrict smoking in some places but basically France is where the U.S. was 10 years ago in terms of smoking. For the moment a lot of French people do smoke but I think, hope in a few years less and less people will smoke in France.

8- French People Drink A lot Of Wine:

True

Wine is super cheap in France. When I say cheap, I don’t mean in quality I mean in price.

You can buy a good bottle of wine in France for 2 to 10 euros which is roughly 2.60 to 13 US or Canadian dollars. Sure you can buy more expensive wine when you need to but you don’t have to. Some bottled waters cost more than bottles of wine, it’s just unreal.

At lunch you will most definitely see people sipping on a glass of wine NOT BEER. When you go to a French persons house, they always offer wine especially with diner. Wine is a big part of French culture so yes, thankfully this stereotype is true.

Having said that, some people don’t drink wine in France but the scales are definitely tipped in the other direction.

9- The French Eat Escargot and Frog Legs:

True, kind of!

This is one of those fuzzy areas because not everyone eats escargot and frog legs in France.

Yes you can get it in restaurants and it is certainly more common in France than in say the U.S. or Canada but it’s not an everyday food. We usually find it in French restaurants but to be honest It’s just not an everyday food item. You can find frog legs and escargot at many open markets and supermarkets in France. At our supermarket, they even sell frozen bags of escargot. MMMMM. But these two French delicacies are usually reserved for special occasions like a big diner party or a holiday meal.

10- The French are Snobby & Rude:

False.

Of all my French friends, some are kind, some are funny, some are serious but none of them are rude. So why and how this stereotype started, I can only guess.

So here it goes. I think that this stereotype started because many tourists only come in contact with French people in certain environments. In a restaurant with a busy French waiter who wants to only take your order. At the airport, in banks. But this is not how most French people act in everyday life.

It would be like saying all Americans are rude because the postal worker who is American was rude to you.

Bonus: 11- The French Eat A Lot Of Cheese:

True

Top French Stereotypes French eat loads of cheese

Yes French people do eat a lot of cheese. Usually the cheese section in supermarkets is huge. When we go to the home of our French friends they usually offer us cheese.

Cheese is practically institutionalized in the schools.

Top Stereotypes About The French: My daughters menu at schools which clearly shows all the cheeses she eats.

Cheese is such a big part o French life and culture that even at the preschool level eating cheese and lots of it is reinforced.

For example, above is a photo of my daughters pre-school menu. Notice how many times cheese is served per week. (3 to4 times per week. When cheese is not served, yoghurt is served in it’s place.

They don’t serve garden variety cheese either, they serve the type of cheese you would associate with adults at a cocktail party like Brie, Camembert, Emmental, Compté, Mimolette, Gouda and a bunch more that you have probably never heard of. Cheddar is NEVER served at the schools and I have yet to see a hamburger served at my daughters school.

Conclusion

Stereotypes can be funny for sure but they can also be damaging and hurtful too.  Whatever you’ve heard about the French or for any other nationality, I hope you will take it with a grain of salt because many are just  not true or extremely exaggerated.

Please feel free to use the infographic I created at the top of this post and share it on Facebook too. It helps drive traffic to this site.

finding a doctor in france

Finding A Doctor In France: A Guide For Sick Travellers or Foreigners Living In France

finding a doctor in france

You’re in France and you feel ill.  Maybe you ate a bad escargot or maybe you caught a nasty bug. You need to see a doctor. What do you do?

Sick and Confused In France

When we first arrived in France, the challenge and newness of figuring out how to navigate our new lives was exciting and fun.

Then my husband got sick. “Bed ridden, antibiotic needing sick” and it wasn’t fun any more…

We had so many questions!

  • Do we go to a hospital?
  • Do we call a doctor and make an appointment or just walk in?
  • How do we find a doctor?

We eventually figured it all out but we had to do it the hard way.

With that in mind, here are several ways to deal with sick people while travelling in France. 

*Note this is not a guide for medical emergencies or about how to use your medical insurance in France. It’s simply how to find a doctor for non emergency cases where you are sick.

Start At The Pharmacist, Not The Doctor

Go see a pharmacist instead of a doctor

Unless you’re bleeding from your eyeballs or mortally wounded, you may want to start at the pharmacist / chemist.

Going to a pharmacist will be quicker, cheaper and easier than trying to find a doctor and making an appointment because “les Pharmacie” seem to be everywhere in France.

Just look for the green signs that say <<Pharmacie>> . Sometimes the signs are blinking green crosses like in the photo above.

Are Pharmacists/ chemists qualified?

Yes, Pharmacists in France have years of extensive training on par with many doctors. They are qualified to diagnose and give out general medical advice beyond what a pharmacist in the US or Canada is qualified to do.

For example, pharmacists can diagnose mushroom poisoning and even help you identify if those wild Mushrooms you picked in the forest are poisonous or not.

Finding A Doctor In France: Here Are 5 Options

If you have something more serious or if the pharmacist can’t diagnose you than by all means go see a doctor.

Here are five ways you might want to try based on your level of comfort and access. 

1- Concierge: If you are staying in a hotel, you could just ask the concierge for recommended doctors.

But what if you don’t have access to a concierge? (We don’t. We live in a house. )

2- Tourism Office: Find the nearest tourist office and ask them for a list of doctors.

3- Ask someone: Ask a neighbour, a pharmacist or even a stranger as you are walking down the street. You can even try asking small shop owners along the road. People are more helpful than you realize.

4-Embassy: Call your nearest embassy or check their website to see if they have a list of doctors. (sometimes they have them listed by ability to speak English but not always).

5-  The Yellow Pages: Finally, you could do what a lot of French people do which is probably the best way to find a doctor.

Consult the Yellow pages called “Pages Jaunes”.

How To Find A Doctor Quickly Using The Yellow Pages ( Pages Jaunes)

Go To: http://www.pagesjaunes.fr

Enter what you are looking for.

Find doctor in france using the yellow pages page jaunes

First, enter “Médecin” = (doctor) in the field labeled “Quo, qui?”  (who, whot.)

Second, enter the name of the French City where you want to find a doctor. Even better, enter your starting address to get a list of doctors closest to that address.

In my screenshot above, I entered 100 rue Doumet, La Garde.  Don’t forget to check mark the box labeled “Recherche à proximité” which means search for the nearest address.

Hit the search button and your next screen will ask you what type of doctor you want.

Enter The Type of Doctor You Need

Choose the type of doctor you want. For a general practitioner choosemedecins generalistes

If you want a general practitioner than select “medecins generalistes”.

If you want another type, just choose from the list and hit the search button again.

Locate a few doctors on the map.

Locate the doctor nearest you by clicking on them

Next, you’ll get a map of all the doctors near your address. Just click on one and a box will pop up with the doctors address. Click on the details button to get the doctors phone number.

How To Make An Appointment

Waiting Room at doctors office in France

Waiting Room at doctors Office

The doctor’s clinic is called “le cabinet” not « les cabinets » which means the toilets.

If you speak a little French, go ahead and call the doctors and see if you can set an appointment.

If you don’t speak French, you may want to walk to the doctors office and try to set one. It’s easier to communicate in person if you are not fluent in French.

Not all doctors take appointments

Believe it or not, we’ve seen 3 different doctors in France and none of them require an appointment.

We just walk in, sometimes we ring a bell and someone lets us in. Then we sit down in the waiting room and wait for someone to come in and ask “who is next?”.

When it is your turn, you just go on in to see the doctor. .

Waiting Room at doctors office in France

Patiently waiting at doctors office in france

How Much Will It Cost

In general and at the time of this writing (2013), A General Practitioners consultation fee is around 23€. Many doctors accept credit cards but…. not all do.

Gynecologists can charge up to 60€.

Getting A Prescription Filled

If the doctor gives you a prescription for some medication, just take it to any pharmacist / chemist (as explained above).

Essential French Vocabulary

Catherine getting a shot by the doctor in France

Ow, a shot so Catherine can go to school in France

According to our doctor, as part of a doctors medical training, they have to take some medical classes in English but.. please don’t expect them to speak fluently.

Another option is to use Google translate to translate your symptoms. Write them down or print them out and hand them to the doctor.  You would be surprised how many times my husband has done this for different situations.

Here are some general terms for you to know.

  • Doctor: un médecin–> [uhn med-sanne]
  • Medecine: médicament—> [may-dee-ca-mon])
  • Sick: malade –> [ma-lad]
  • Pharmacist / Chemist : Une pharmacie –> [oon farm-assee]
  • It hurts here: J’ai très mal ici –> [zhay tray mall eesee]
  • We need to find a doctor urgently. Nous avons besoin de voir un médecin au plus vite. C’est urgent.
  • I need to make an appointment with the docter: Je voudrais prendre un rendez-vous avec le médecin.

Conclusion

Getting sick in France or anywhere while travelling is always going to be a little stressful. Try to do a little research before you go on how to find a doctor in the country you are visiting because you just never know..

Good luck and stay healthy.

Question: Have you ever been sick while travelling or living abroad? Leave your comments below. 

Fwhats preschool in france like?

French Preschool in France: What’s It Like?

what's preschool in France like?

Are you curious about what preschool is like in France? Do you plan on spending some time in France and wonder if French preschool is right for your child? Here is a peak into what school is like for my daughter and my thoughts.

Update 2016- I wrote this post during the first 2 years we were in France. My daughter was 4 and 5 back then and a lot has changed. She is now 9 going on 10 years old and she has been in the French school system for five years. She is also no longer in public school. We moved to Montpellier and decided to give private school a try which I will write about soon.

First, general info about preschool in France

first-day-of-school in La Garde for catherine. She sat down and started colouring
Preschool in France is called école maternelle. Pronounced [ay-kole ma-terre-nel]

Unlike U.S. and Canada, preschool is fully sponsored from the age of 3 to 6 years old. (it’s free). Preschool is not mandatory but most parents do send their kids to preschool from about 3 onward especially if they work.

There are three levels of pre-school.

-pre-school, small sections =  école maternelle, la petite section – (3 to 4 years olds)

-pre-school, middle section= école maternelle, la moyenne section -( 4 to 5 year olds)

-pre-school, big or high sectionécole maternelle, la grande section – (5 to 6 years old)

Our daughter attended moyenne (middle section) in Marseille and la grande section in a town called La Garde. After pIreschool she was promoted to CP which is the first official year of primary school. It’s comparable to Kindergarten in North America.

How Long Is A Preschool Day / Week?

Pre-school students generally start at 8:30 in the morning until 4:20 in the afternoon.

Kids go to school everyday EXCEPT Wednesday. (update: As of 2015, primary school kids now have a half day on Wednesdays. They usually finish up just before lunch at 11:30 is)

On the surface, this may sound long but there are several things to consider here.

1-If you are a working parent in France, you would have to put your kids in before and after school care. Having a longer day at school means that many parents don’t have to send their kids to after school care or they can minimize the amount of after school care needed.

2-Kids used to have Wednesday off but now have a half day of school which gives kids a little break from their regular school hours and routine.

3- Lunch is about one and a half to two hours long and the kids have several breaks throughout the day to play and run around.

Preschool Lunch: The makings of future foodies

Lunch is served a la cantine in France

The French Take Food Seriously

One thing to note is the French take their lunch time very seriously. People in France generally eat slower, they eat smaller portions and take longer breaks for lunch. They also enjoy GOOD FOOD. This slower and eat better food culture can bee seen at the preschool level.

Longer Lunches

Up to two hours for lunch break which is eaten at “La Cantine” (cafateria).

The first 45 minutes to an hour is spent eating and the rest playing with friends in the yard.

Not all kids eat at La Cantine.

Many parents pick their kids up at lunch time and then return them back to school at the end of 2 hours. The longer lunch break makes it possible for parents to drive to pick up the kids with plenty of time to eat together.

Meals cost about 3,50 to 4,25 depending on the preschool and you usually pay a month in advance for your child’s meals. Some parent pay less. It just depends on your income.

What is “La Cantine” Like?

At the 2 schools my daughter attended, the kids sit at a round table with real plates and utensils. No Styrofoam or plastic utensils.

The cantinière (lunch ladies) come around and places napkins around the children’s necks before serving the kids food  like you would at home: family style.

Serve Food Family Style Just Like At Home.

Each lunch lady, has several huge serving platters and bowls from which she serves each child. There are usually 5 different food items that each child gets not including bread. (see menu below).

The food looks surprisingly appetizing, like something made with love at home, probably because much of the food is prepared on site and served family style.

What Type of Food Do Kids Eat?

French preschool lunch menu.

Above is a sample menu from the school my daughter attended her first year in French preschool. Notice the different columns for the five food groups.

NO PROCESSED FOODS OR JUNK FOOD:

Kids taste buds are cultivated from a young age in France. No dumb down kiddie food served. Catherine get’s a big dose of French food that would have many adults drooling  with envy.

She also has eaten some things at school that might send some people running for the hills like the time she had duck pate and another time she had baby octopus salad.

What’s on the menu?

Things like mussels, octopus, beets, grated carrots, fish, blue cheese, chicken paté and more. All things a north American would not expect their kids to eat. Maybe not even in the UK either.

Every preschool meal has 5 items for lunch: 

1- One a starter: such as grated carrots in a vinaigrette

2- One main plate: Such as lamb or Rake (fish) curry

3- One Side: such as green beans or polenta

4- One cheese or dairy product: Usually cheese but sometimes yoghurt

5- Desert: such as fresh fruit  or fruits with sweet syrup.

Plus a Pastry: One bread option

Surprise “NO MILK”

You might be surprised to learn that milk is not served a la Cantine. Instead, children are given water to drink. Not juice, not coke, not milk but water.

CHEESE PLEEZE

The emphasis is put on the cheese column of the menu rather than serving milk. There are over 350 cheese types and it seems like the schools want all the kids to try as many as possible.

I’ve counted over 25 different cheeses that rotate on the kids menus. A few, i’ve tried myself and have put hair on my chest.

Typical Preschool Class work

3 ring binder that comes home every couple of months full of Catherine's work

Every few months, a 3 ringed binder comes home with Catherine filled with all of her work.

I really like this method because rather than sending the kids home everyday with random papers, I get to flip through her work in an organized fashion and see the progression of her work.

I do notice an emphasis on hand writing practice. Something that is sorely missing from many schools in the U.S. This could be why so many

French people have beautiful handwriting.

Lot’s of Snails: Escargot

Lately I’ve noticed a theme. Certain things are very prominent in the French culture and subsequently in Catherine’s school work like owls, hedgehogs, crepes and as of late, lots of snails. –>> ESCARGOT. 

Here area few photos of the 3 ring binder with the snail work she has been doing.

SPELLING: They learn to spell “escargot”

Learning to spell escargot

 

Body parts: They learn the body parts of a snail

Identifying the body parts of a snail

 

Word Recognition: They learn to point out the word escargot in a sea of words

word recognition: finding the word escargot

 

Counting: They learn to count snails

counting snails in french preschool. fun fun fun

There were more, but I think you get the point.

Snails At Home

This affinity towards snails transcends to her life at home now too. Catherine looks for snails in her free time. Here’s a picture of her holding one in her hands.

weather permitting, she plays with escargot in her free time.

Catherine likes to draw snails in her free time too. Here is another random snail drawing. Very elaborate if you ask me.

Even in her free time, she draws escargot, snails

General Questions

What if my child does not speak French?

Kids learn so quickly just by interacting. You are pretty much guaranteed that your child will be speaking french almost fluently by the  end of one school year.

I personally know 4 other families who sent their kids to French preschool without speaking one word of French. At the end of the school year, all of their kids were speaking and communicating in French.

What if I want to home-school my child?

I understand that some parents prefer to home school their kids. I considered it myself.

However, If one of your goals is for your child to become bilingual and to pick up the little nuances of local culture and you have limited time in France, than preschool is an easy, fast and fun way to expose them.

They learn organically from playing with other children.

Catherine often comes home from school and teaches us something new about French culture that we had no idea existed.

She is very proud of those moments.

Lastly, you can always supplement preschool with your own home schooling curriculum or you can take your child out of preschool all together if things don’t work out.

Conclusion: Is preschool right for your child?

catherine teachers from 2011 in Marseille

I can’t answer whether or not sending your child to French preschool in France is right for you and your child.

I can tell you that my daughter loves school.

Any and all hesitations, doubts and concerns I had about sending her to preschool in France are long gone now.

I truly feel I made the right choice.

Catherine has made many friends and so have my husband and I through the parents of Catherine’s friends.

If  for one moment I did not think she was benefiting, thriving or enjoying herself, I would take her out in a flash.

Coming Soon

What’s it like to go to High School and Middle School In France.

Pictured below, all three of our kids sitting on the bench outside of Catherine’s first day of preschool.first-day-of-school in La Garde for catherine. we all went to pick her up after school.

 

ski-europe- cheap unheard of ski places in europe

5 Cheap European Ski Destinations You Have Probably Never Heard Of

If you are looking for a winter vacation spot to ski, why not look to Europe?

Is it because you think it is too expensive?

Skiing in Europe is cheaper than you think.

In fact, some of the most affordable skiing spots in the world can be found In Europe. You just have to know where to look.

5_ski_europe

5 cheap European ski destinations you probably haven’t heard of.

Let’s first get a base cost for how much skiing can cost for a single 6 day ski passes for one adult in the US and Canada

  • At whistler in Brittish Columbia Canada = 460 Dollars
  • At Vail Colorado US =700
  • Sugarloaf in Main USA = 460

Pretty pricy right? That’s not including food, extra people, transportation. That’s just a ski lift for 6 days. Ouch!

Now let’s look at some of the more affordable European ski spots in Europe

1- France

Méribel-france

France is probably the most famous and the most expensive place to ski in Europe but not as expensive as you think. .

You’ve heard of the Alps right?  Méribel is a an affordable ski resort that lies in the very centre of the Three Valleys. It’s not only affordable, It’s also one of  Frances most popular and most attractive ski resorts.

It has a modern lift system that virtually eliminates queuing up.

This resort is perfect for all skiing abilities and would be a great place to take your family.

2- Livigno, Italy

Livigno-Italy

Bring an extra bag because Livigno is a duty free zone.

Livigno is located fairly close to the Swiss border and has excellent skiing for both intermediate skiers, advanced skiers and even snowboarders to.

Livigno has many attractions but one of the biggest ones is its amazing terrain park which has huge pro-sized jumps as well as rails and kickers.  Have fun all you dare devils.

6 day ski pass: £161, $255

3- Borovets, Bulgaria

Borovets-Bulgaria

Borovets is one of the oldest and biggest resorts and is supposed to be one of the largest Alpine resorts in the country. It’s been completely modernized so no rickety chair lifts or decrepit run down areas can be found.

The ski resort is perfect for most beginners and intermediates. For those that enjoy after ski activities, the town is lively with bars that are cheap and cheerful

6 day ski pass: £129, $204 (including skis and poles)

4- Russia- Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana

Russia-Sochi

People ski in Russia. Who knew?

There is a town called Sochi in Russia about two hours from the country’s most famous ski centre Krasnaya Polyana and just 45 minutes from the Black Sea.

If you haven’t heard of Sochi, you soon will because Sochi will host the country’s first Winter Olympics in 2014 sochi2014.com. The ski centre Krasnaya Polyana is still pretty un-modernized but changing rapidly in preparation for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

No prices posted but it’s less than $200 for passes.

5- Romania- Brasov

Romania--Brasov

Poiana-Brasov is the most popular resort in Romania. It’s small and very well suited for beginners or families. If you’ve never tried night skiing, here’s your chance because the floodlights light up the runs. After skiing and after dark the bars offer cheap food and drink in a cheerful atmosphere.

6 day lift pass: £87, $138

Summary

The next time you are planning a ski trip, look towards Europe. Not only will you get an awesome and affordable ski vacation but you’ll get an international one at that.

Heaven or Hell? A Day At The Beach In The South Of France With Kids (Photo Essay)

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet

You know that expression “ A Day At The Beach? ” It implies that something is easy or simple right?

We spent a day at the with our kids at a beach in Le Pradet in the South of France in the Winter. It should have been fun and easy but it wasn’t. To me that day at the  beach symbolizes what Life abroad can be like. Living in France isn’t going to magically make your children agreeable or enthusiastic about the same things you are enthusiastic about no matter how great you think it is. You just have to roll with the punches and move on.

Here is what we saw at our day at the beach.

We saw a boy on a unicycle playing the guitar and  we walked,  talked and took in the scenery.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet walking

We wore our galoshes.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet galoshes

We saw the tinyest Yacht Club ever

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Club Nautique

It was cold and windy but we enjoyed the sounds of the Mediterranean Sea.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet looking towards Toulon

We looked around.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet looking around

We walked around

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet walking around

We wished we had Sea Kayaks.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet sea kayaking

But then the Moody Teenager emerged

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet grumpy kids

He did not like the day at the beach in the south of France

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet grumpy kids

So we decided to go home.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Garonne bus stop

The air was thick with tension as we waited for the bus.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet Garonne bus stop

But we made it home and the grumpy teenager was happy again.

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet sidewalk

That was “A day at the beach in the south of France” in the winter with our kids!

A day at the beach in the south of france: Le Pradet winter with kids

There is a lesson to be learned when travelling with other people

Things are not always black and white when you travel with other people.  “A DAY AT THE BEACH” is not always the proverbial “DAY AT THE BEACH”.
If the kids aren’t into it,  if the kids would rather be somewhere else doing something else…it can ruin an otherwise lovely time and a day at the beach can turn into a day in hell.

This was a true story:

In all fairness, my son Kieran isn’t always grumpy, I just wanted to make a point!  And In case you are wondering where we were, the beach is called “Plage De La Garonne” in a town called Le Pradet.  It’s a beautiful small beach town here in the south of France just five minutes on bike from where we live.  A great place to spend time or spend a year or more on your next career break or family sabbatical.
Here is a link to the office of tourism in Le pradet.

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