Category Archives: traveling with children

Visiting the Médiathèque (MAM) in Béziers


This is a new blog about the Languedoc, and about Béziers in particular! It’s written by my teenage ESL students in Béziers. Their goal is to share everything they love to do around the region with English speaking tourists. What a neat idea! I’m so proud of them. Check it out, and if you have a minute, let them know what you think of what they’re doing. It’s a challenge to do it in English, but they’re motivated!

B- ezier(s)

Practical Information about the Médiathèque:

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the Médiathèque opens at 10:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m.  On Sundays, it is open from 2-6.  On Mondays and Thursdays, the Médiathèque is closed.  It has ten sections on three floors.  The inscription fee is 18€ for a year, but free if you’re under 25, and you need a card if you want to borrow.   Since it’s a public library, you can always go there to read or watch movies, etc. for free.  There are computers and activities for children and teenagers.  The address is 1, Place du 14 juillet 34500 Béziers.  The phone number is 04 99 41 05 50, and you can access their website by clicking here.

MISS J, 12 years old

Would you like to improve your French at the mediatheque ?

Like lots of different languages such as German, Spanish…

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Coming home for lunch, and living life in a different way


I’ve been meaning to write more, but we’re still figuring out our new life here in France, and all of this marketing, cooking, and eating takes up a lot of time!  For the last week I have been wanting to write about something that is so foreign to most American families, and something that was unknown to us for the 14 years we lived as a family in St. Louis.  It’s something as simple as getting the family together for a main meal lunch, homemade with love, (almost) every single day of the week (except for the occasional lunch out on weekends, of course!).

As I’ve written before, the kids come home for lunch almost every day.  We pick them up from school at 11:45, and return them there at 1:45. We have started having them stay at school for lunch one day a week so that they can socialize with friends, and we can have one whole day just to do what we want… and most of the time that means working without interruption.  However,  yesterday  the kids stayed at school, and we went out for sushi and to see the new Woody Allen movie (in English!).  They enjoyed eating freshly made paëlla and tomme noire cheese for the first time, and we enjoyed a day together.

It’s lovely to share the midday meal as a family, and to hear about what everyone did during the morning hours, but that’s only one part of the pleasure of spending a few hours at home in the middle of the day.  Very often, when we arrive at home with the kids,  after bringing the freshly purchased baguette to the table, they’ll go and lie down on their beds or on the sofa and read a book while we’re finishing up making lunch.  This down time seems to do wonders for them.  By the time we sit down to have lunch, it’s usually about 12:30, and everyone is all smiles.  We’ve usually finished eating by about 1:15, which still leaves them about twenty minutes to play.  That’s what they do, they play.  We don’t have them work on homework to try and get ahead, or multi-task in any way.  They play, and they’re happy.

Now if I were back in the US reading this, wondering if I’d ever be able to move my family to France and make a drastic life change… I would wonder how it’s possible to find time to shop, cook, pick up the kids, and have a two hour family time every day at noon, while still trying to earn a living.  I would assume that the person who had written this was independently wealthy, and didn’t have to work.  Let me assure you that this is not the case with us, not at all.  We happen to be very fortunate to be able to work from home, but it wasn’t always this way.  Until the end of May 2013, we ran the rat race every single day.

It has taken a lot of planning and hard work to get to where we are, and there’s still a lot of hard work involved on a daily basis and we’re having to really focus on working as a team to make it work, but this is a choice that we consciously have made in order to improve our quality of life.  We are living simply, and finding such liberation in the absence of stress.  Well, not a complete absence of stress… I’ve just noticed the time and realized I have to go and pick up the kids for lunch, and I don’t want to be late!  I welcome your comments, reaction, and comments.  À bientôt!

Le Camion Pizza


IMG_0782

I said there is nothing better than Goûter in the Trunk, but then I thought about the Camion Pizza.  The original Food Truck.

Steps we’ve been taking to get ready to move to France ASAP


Step 1

The first thing we had to do back in the fall of ’11 was to really decide once and for all that this is what we want to do, and that this is the best decision for our family.  My husband and I have just hit the big 4-0, and we have two small children, as well as one who is now 21.  We lived in Béziers, France back in 98-99, right after getting married.  When we came back to St. Louis, it was mainly to allow me to finish my Master’s in French.  At the time, it seemed like it would be so easy to pick up and go back whenever we felt like it.  13 years later…….  In a perfect world, we will move back to the south of France this summer (2012).

Step 2

Time to tell the family about our big move.  My husband is French, and his whole family lives in France.  Telling them was a piece of cake, and they were thrilled!  My whole family is in Louisiana.  To them, St. Louis is already too far away.  This proved to be a bit more difficult, but six months later, Mom & Dad gave us their support (whew!).

Step 3

Tell the family, but not the kids just yet.  It was really hard keeping such a big secret, but for job security it was necessary.  We finally decided to tell the kids (they were ecstatic), and of course the news spread like wildfire.  Lots and lots of questions were aimed in our direction, and we still don’t have all of the answers.

Step 4

Right after Christmas, we decided it was time to get busy!  Spring was on the way, and we had a house to get ready to put on the market.  It took one solid month to go through every single item in the house while getting ready for the moving sale of the century (not really).  We had our sale in mid-February, and we sold everything we do not plan to bring to France, with just a few exceptions.  We’ll still need a 20′ container, though.

Step 5

With the moving sale accomplished, it was time to get the house ready to put on the market.  With the help of an awesome real estate agent, we found out exactly what we needed to do to make this house sell.  Without going into all of the details, I can tell you that it was the hardest job we have ever embarked upon.  Ever.  Working day and night, we got the house market-ready in 6-7 weeks.

Step 6

Two open houses, about 10 showings, one contract that fell through, two home inspections…. lots of stress.  Still playing the waiting game.  Had to lower the price on our house today in hopes of getting some more showings.

Step 7

Lots of administrative things to do.  Working on finalizing French nationality for the children (and for me), enrolling the kids in school both in France and in St. Louis (just in case), reserving a 20′ container for the move, making lists of what to do when the time comes to move.  It’s pretty difficult, because most of what we need to do cannot actually be done until our house sells and we’re certain of the move.

Step 8

This is not really “step 8”, it’s been a constant since we decided to move:  Looking for work in France.  We’re fortunate in that my husband is French, so it will be easy for me to get a “carte de séjour” until my French nationality has been finalized.  Here in the US, I’m a French teacher.  I’m exploring many avenues to make money while in France, all the while keeping my schedule free enough to accomodate a school schedule that’s less than friendly to mothers who work full-time.

I’m sure I’ve skipped out on many of the details, and I may need to further edit this post, but I wanted to get it out there.  This whole year, I’ve scoured the Internet for people like us, making the big move.  It’s hard to find information, so if you have questions for someone who’s going through the transition right now, feel free to ask me questions 🙂

Traveling to France with small children? Pas de problème!


It’s almost scary how much I’ve heard (or overheard) people saying that they’re not going to travel this summer. Why? It’s not because of the economy or because they’re afraid of terrorist attacks.  They aren’t going to travel because their kids are too small.  While I haven’t given advice where advice is not requested, I did think about it a good bit. We’ve always traveled with our kids, and though the flight to France or 12 hour drive to Louisiana may not be the MOST fun we’ve ever had, the reward has been enjoying our summer travels to places near and far even if we do have little ones.  In this post I’m going to focus on traveling with kids in France.  We all know that France is the world’s #1 tourist destination, but what usually comes to mind are the museums, fine restaurants, wine tours, etc.  In a nutshell… We think of grown-up stuff. When traveling in France with little kids, you may be amazed at how much there is for them to do.  It’s just that before you have kids you don’t pay as much attention to what’s going on for the younger set.  I’ve been digging around in my pictures looking for shots of our kids having a blast in France.  Sometimes you’ll see we’re in Paris, other times in the south.

www.bateaux-mouches.fr
Having fun on the Seine

You can go directly to their website @ www.bateauxmouches.fr for pricing and schedules.  The ride doesn’t last too long, and if you choose to go on the cruise on a day when it’s nice out you can sit outside on the deck as we were in this picture.  The cruise along the Seine gives you really nice views of practically all of the important monuments in Paris.  In the summer, you have to wait until it’s pretty late if you want to see the monuments illuminated… which might be a challenge if you have really small kids with you. Here’s my baby having so much fun on the carousel in the Champs de Mars park, Eiffel Tower.  I wish I could remember how old this carousel is.  Let’s just say it’s VERY old and old-fashioned.  What I mean is, there’s a guy who stands in the middle and hand cranks the thing so it will turn!  Only in Paris!  There’s so much fun stuff to do in the Champs de Mars.  You’ve got this great park with swings, jungle gyms, this carousel, a sand box.  There’s also, on the other side of the park, an area where the kids can ride donkeys, ride in little go-carts, watch a Marionnette show.  Here are some pics from the Champs de Mars:

By the way, these swings go REALLLLLY high!   So much fun, but make sure you strap ’em in real good!  They also have swings like these in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is over in the Latin Quarter.  Another really neat place for people of all ages.  Here are some pictures taken over there:

Guignol! 

There are plenty of marionnette theaters all over Paris, but for some reason I really like this one in the Jardin du Luxembourg. So much fun. The old man comes out with his bell in hand and starts ringing it when it’s puppet show time. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t speak French (but of course, it helps if you do!) because the show will entertain both your kids AND you regardless. There’s probably no better way to have a truly Parisian experience, right along with REAL French parents and their kids, than at the marionnettes.

This is one of the most beloved activities of our kids at the Jardin du Luxembourg.  You rent one of these little sailboats, especially fun on a moderately windy day, and you play to your heart’s content.  There’s just a small fee, but you’re good for a solid hour of seeing your sailboat fly across the basin and running to catch up with it.  If you go on a day with no wind… you may have to wait awhile for your boat to get to the other side but it’s still so much fun.

Who knew there were so many donkeys in Paris?  As at the Champs de Mars, your little one can take a donkey ride at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

What kid doesn’t like trains?  In France, a great option with the little ones is to board the fastest train in the world (on rails) and head down for le Midi (the south) where you’re sure to have nice, warm weather and you’ll meet some of the sweetest, most kid loving people on the planet!

When most people think of the south of France, they think of “The Riviera”… La Côte d’Azur.   Yes, it’s quite lovely!  BUT if you’re on a budget and want to really get to know the south of France, where there are  more French people and less tourists, head on over to the Languedoc region.  It’s just as beautiful, it’s less crowded, and it’s cheaper!

You’ll be hard pressed in Paris to find an outdoor swimming pool where you can relax, but in the South, finding a pool is no problem!
Dans les vignesNow here’s something just as much fun for Maman et Papa as for the kids.  Go and take a walk through the vineyards.  They’re everywhere, literally.  Along the way, maybe you’ll run into a little “dégustation de vin”… WINE TASTING!!  Did you know that the Languedoc produces the largest quantity of table wine in France??  And if you’re on foot or if you have a bike, you don’t even have to worry about driving!  Yeah… Watch out if you’ve been to a dégustation and then have to drive while you’re in France.  They’ll stop you and you’ll get a DUI.  It’s gotten really strict.  Just don’t do it!

EscargotOur kids love to gather up as many escargot as possible, get them a little wet, then have races to see which one is fastest!

Cigale

La cigale, the so-called symbol of the South of France.  You’ll find them depicted everywhere, on tableclothes, in ceramic form, just everywhere.  If you’re really lucky you’ll find one coming out of it’s shell, just being born.  It’s a real privilege!

"Bullfight"... Provençal style!

Bullfighting is really big in the south of France in the summertime, but it’s not exactly something you want to go see with your kids…..a liitle too much blood.  In Provence, you can go with your kids to see a provençal style “bullfight” where the guys taunt the bull but nobody gets hurt.  You can see the guy jumping over the wall here in this picture.  It’s pretty exciting, no matter your age.

……..to be continued…….