Category Archives: Uncategorized

Is it time for the French to become more American?

Storming-Bastilleshops-shut  th

To start off on a positive note, the world knows that the French live to live their lives. Their extended lunches, long vacations, laissez faire attitude toward most all things unless it’s a strong opinion on anything from A to Z. Initially, adapting to life in France is not the easiest in the world especially when you come from a country where anything is possible and everything is open no matter what time of day. On a Sunday, in France, the streets are tranquil, you have to race to the store before noon if you need anything at all and the stores are beyond packed as if armageddon was arriving. The few cafés that are open are packed, which leads me to the question…why are you all closed?

The french government says that they want to preserve family time and give the people a quality life without having to work non-stop as we do, for example, in America. Yet, the French are some of the hardest working people I have seen. They work long hours, work with integrity, and YES they do create World War III if the water temperature in the water cooler is 3 degrees too cold, or heaven forbid they have to go to lunch at 12:05 instead of 12:00 because of a work related telephone call. Yet, they are an incredibly hard working people with superb manners and work ethic. The question of opening stores on Sunday is a touchy one because the majority of places are ALSO closed on Monday (for the most part), and all in all this sounds like such the life. Or is it?

With unemployment at an alarming rate in France, the people really do want to work (yes there are always exceptions). A gentleman was being interviewed on the radio some weeks back and said that he wants to open his business on Sunday. He has employees that want to work on Sunday, he wants to pay his taxes and add to the economy, yet the government tells him he can’t open his store without having to pay a supplementary tax in order to open his shop. There are many, such as myself back in the day, who loved having a day off during the week when the city was calm and I could do my errands without the hustle and bustle of the crazy weekend and then work that following Sunday. Nobody forced me, it was my choice as is most things in life.

With this in question, you have the mentality of 90% of everything being closed for almost 2-hours during the afternoon so the shops can take their lunches. How many people would like to run a few errands when needed during their lunch but cannot because everything is closed? The banks are closed, the post office is closed, even the electric company is closed. Again, it falls back to being able to enjoy your lunch and just slow down a bit but how many realistic workers are going out to a daily 3-course luncheon? As in most countries, a couple employees take their lunch early while the others tend the store, even if you are a small shop, and then when you are back the others go on their lunch and you run the store hence it is always open making revenue and keeping people employed. Pretty simple idea, right? Again, contributing to the economy, more people working, shops are accesible to the public and you STILL get your lunch.

Tradition is tradition and some may argue that it is not a bad thing and nor do I disagree, but I just wonder if we lightened up a bit on these staple traditions to make life more accessible to the world. People who want to work have the opportunity to do so, and I still have the opportunity to get my emergency Chartreuse that is sometimes needed at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday. Nobody is saying that we have to morph into the US mentality of work, work, work and bigger, bigger, bigger, but could we lighten up a bit on things that have been done the same way for a 100 years? Traditions are a wonderful, treasured thing that we do need to uphold yet sometimes we do need to catch up a bit. A bit like the 2nd amendment in the US that was adopted in 1791. Do you still have your bayonette in your kitchen? Liberté de pensée!

IF ONLY I HAD THIS BLOG WHEN I ARRIVED. How to save money in Lyon and where to go to do so.

Living in Europe is not cheap, but what country is? It only took 2 years, but every day I find a new treasure, a new place, a new discovery. I wrote this for people who like a nice savings and need to know where to go for certain things. If you are rolling in the euros and don’t care what things cost then this isn’t the article for you. Here is the list thus far:

Lidl LIDL- Lidl is simply a great place. It is a German company just like Aldi stateside. One doesn’t buy everything at Lidl, hence the reason of this blog. I buy vegetables and fruit when I need to during the week, bio milk and eggs, flour and sugar, pasta, tomato sauce, frozen salmon, chocolates, chicken/pork, but not their meats, yogurts, butter, cheese, Nutella (the Lidl brand), and paprika chips. I also do not buy my spices at Lidl because of lack of flavor unless one week they have a major brand nor do I buy their cereal. The best thing about Lidl are their themed weeks, which I never miss. Next week is ski week for adults, so you can pick up quality items made in Germany at 3/4 the price of a french store. My favourite weeks are Asian, Italian, and baking/kitchen weeks. I can get 2 caddies full of groceries at Lidl for around 60-70€ compared to one caddy full at Franprix for well over 100€.

Franprix-clichyFRANPRIX-This is the go to store in the evening when I need an avocado or am out of a spice. I also buy my cereals there because they have the brands that I like as well as my frozen lunches for work which is the Leader Price brand for under 3€. They are also one of the few places that I can find actual vanilla extract and not the chemical fake kind. Franprix is super expensive, and you can walk out of there with just a small plastic bag of items for well over 20€.

la vie claireLA VIE CLAIRE-This is our Wild Oats or Trader Joes. It is wildly expensive, but for some reason their spices are under 3€ and of course they are Bio with a large selection. I also can find my butternut squash here during the fall.

carrefourplanetCARREFOUR PLANET-This is out in Ecully, which is about a 15 minute drive in the direction of Paris and it is a very dangerous place for me. I rarely leave for under 150€, but the finds are great. The kitchen section is my worst enemy, but since it is like a gigantic Target super store, they have it all. It was one of the only places I found my caddy at a great price when the old one lost its wheel. I pick up odds and ends here like ziploc bags, towels, wash cloths, tools when needed and Qtips. Their clothing section is not bad, though I find Auchan’s clothing section much more modern and more reasonable. Though I recently found a great wallet and scarf here! Food wise, their Bio chipolatas are incredible, which is the closest thing I have found to american morning sausage. They also carry the most delicious indian curry potato chips. They have an international section where you can find a few American items and where I stock up on my american style sugary maple syrup that I grew up on like Mrs. Butterworths. I also love their Mexican section for my fajitas and tacos. Also, their Carrefour brand pina coladas and margaritas are 4€ and quite delicious! I also pick up a wonderful cereal from Canada of muesli and fruits. The funniest part are the employees zooming around on roller blades.

monoprix-lyon-01Monoprix-I don’t even try to step foot in Monoprix because it is the most expensive store in Lyon. I only go there if we are on our way to a party and need to pick up something since it is open rather “late” for what is considered late to the French, which is 8:00. Though I do enjoy their clothing line and when they have what they consider sales, I do pop in and find some nice things. I happen to buy my Pear Absolute for my Avenue’s Bistro pear martini because it is the only place that I have found it in Lyon. Plus, one of the few places besides Carrefour that accepts American Express for my Air France/KLM points!

pharmacieLa Grande Pharmacie-This is the best and most inexpensive place to get your prescriptions, which are mostly reimboursed anyway. I pick up my Sensodyne toothpaste here because I can get a double pack for 6€, as well as hand creams, sunscreen, and my Cavailles body soap when I feel like treating myself!

tatiTATI-Oh Tati, Tati, Tati. This is my guilty pleasure. It is like the Marshalls or TJ Maxx of Lyon and I go there for my kitchen and bathroom items. Their kitchen items are amazing with everything you could imagine and the home section is loaded with fun finds. Occasionally, I can find cool tee shirts and shorts during the summer in their clothing section. Also, they often get major name brands on soaps, toothpastes, and other toiletries, so I stock up and put a few in the cave. You just can’t beat their prices!

babouBABOU-Is like a giant Joannes but cheaper and a bit like Tati but more artsy, crafty, and home items. Usually out in the suburbs.

droquerieDROGUERIE-The droguerie is like a hardware store but with anything you can imagine. Usually quite expensive but just really cool to walk through. Here you will find all those hard to find items that you have looked all over Lyon for the past year. Those old fashioned glass spice jars with the metal clasps, lamp berger with a gazillion oil sents, a cooking mold that is just the size you have needed, or the wooden basket you have wanted to take to the marché.

marcheLES MARCHES-The open air markets at the Croix Rousse are opened Monday-Sunday. The hours of the other open air markets around the city all depend and one needs to check their website if they have one. I enjoy the market, but you have to be careful because they can be expensive depending on what you get even moreso than the grocery store. I once bought fresh green beans and paid almost 7€. You have to know which stand to go to as well because a stand two stands down can be almost a 1€ cheaper for the exact same thing. Of course it is as fresh as it gets and a wonderful experience. I always go to the same chicken guy and get my full chicken with baby potatoes with the juice from all the chickens dripping down onto the potatoes for 10€. I have a lunch, a dinner, and lunch for work the next day.

Le-Printemps-rue-de-la-RepubliquePRINTEMPS-This is our Dillards or Nordstroms and why I will not write much since I just tend to pass by it. Though I do wonder if I had tons of money, would I still spend 250€ on a pair of jeans to say that I bought them at Printemps? Eghhh, not my thing.

britainLITTLE BRITAIN-This is the american or british persons warm fuzzy. You can find all the stuff that you are homesick for, but you will definitely pay the price. So, I go in for an occasional packet of Pop Rocks, Reeses, or Milky Way (which I can’t even eat any more). But at Thanksgiving, they have cranberry sauce and Libby’s pumpkin filling. It’s just a nice place to go when you want to see a little piece of home.

auchanAUCHAN-Where I go to get my gas because the sans plombe 95 is usually 1,53 or more in the city and 1,43 or so at Auchan, plus they have a 24h pump. This is much like the big Carrefour and is massive. I will go inside after filling up to pick up their Kansas pizza (chorizo, red peppers, and mozarella), and lunch items for work. I also like discussing the various meats with the butcher and usually end up walking out with some.

g.detouG. DETOU-A bakers dream. G. Detou is a phenomenal place to get the nonstick baking spray, all the nuts and spices you can dream of and at very reasonable prices.(for France anyway). A small pack of pecans will cost you almost 8€ at Franprix and here you can get a huge bag, with triple the pecans in the bag for 9€. Also, their spices are in giant containers and a fraction of the price of the grocery stores. Their powdered sugar is 2,50€ for a nice size bag as well as carrying the american style brown sugar (the brown sugar in France is very grainy and not moist). They also carry all the oils for cooking that you cannot find anywhere. Just a great, great store and the owners are incredibly kind.

bahadourianBAHADOURIAN-A huge spice store where you can find anything from A-Z spice wise. They have many items from England as well, and the prices are not out of this world. The place to go when you are looking for that hard to find item or spice. Also, a charming selections of tea pots and teas from around the world.

go-sport-lyon-1373701970decathlonDECATHLON AND GO SPORT-Where we go for anything sporty, needs for the bike, or tennis shoes. Decathlon is probably the most reasonable. but Go Sport has some really great deals and good prices.

intersport INTERSPORT-I absolutely detest Intersport because they have the most horrid customer service in the world and super expensive. Did I mention how rude they are?

Magasin Boulanger, electromenager, multimediaBOULANGER-The Best Buy of the area. Madly and ridicoulously expensive, but when you need a new stove or appliance this is where we go unless you drive out to the suburbs to Darty, which is a tad less expensive.

Fnac-lyon-bd-2012FNAC-The record/book/computer store. Much like Boulanger, it is hyper cher and you rarely find me there just because I choose not to pay 25 to 35 bucks for earbuds. Amazon.com anyone?

leroyLEROY MERLIN-Our Home Depot or Lowes. I go there when we go out to IKEA in Saint Priest. It really does remind me of home when I go inside. The smell, the aprons on the workers, just the size of it. Nice customer service as well.

La-CroissanterieLA CROISSANTERIE-The best place to find the most delicious cranberry/pistachio tarte. A Sunday tradition chez nous.

boucherieLA BOUCHERIE-You really need to be careful with the butchers because they tend to be so expensive, but when they have a nice promotion, you can get a good cut of meat. Though, honestly, we have bought meats from the grocery store and then compared them to the butchers and didn’t see much of a difference in quality and taste except that from our wallets. Then again, you just need to find a great butcher that you know has quality meats at a good price. Plus the service is usually pretty impeccable and I love the experience of it all.

boulangerieLA BOULANGERIE-Need I really write anything else? I will say that you will find me here around 5 times a week or so, but it is just a part of life. There is nothing better than going around 5:00 p.m. and spend 1€ and buy a fresh bread (preferably une tradition as it is more crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside) right out of the oven. You nibble on it on the way home and enjoy it with your after work apero. Do I need to mention a fresh croissant on the way to work in the morning? No Wonder or Sara Lee here. Though we do buy Pierre Brunier ou Maître Jean Pierre brioche in the packet for morning toast.

chenavardLE CHENAVARD-I will not go into much about restaurants and cafés because that will be a whole separate blog. This little gem was an accidental find from La Fourchette. They have the most delicious steak we have found in Lyon with to die for house made fries, and a salad with a delicious house made vinaigrette. The owner is fantastic and the barman is super, super nice to us and our friends. Just a really nice place to have a great french experience. Also, love the heating lamps during winter to sit outside.

4034-94694SPECIAL PIZZERIA-A wonderful Sicilian pizzeria, or at least the chef is from Sicily who is a dear friend of ours and who spoils us everytime we are there with her warm smile and delicious cuisine. Especially for this eating area called la rue mercière, where on average the restaurants at this touristic hot spot are just that but “average” and super pricey for tiny portions. The prices at Special are quite reasonable and a quality food. One of the main servers was one of the first people we met here and will be doing an apero at her apartment just this Wendesday. Just another reason to love this fabulous find.

lakrocheLA KROCHE-Super happy hour. Buy 2 for the price of one and there cosmos are the best that I have found in Lyon. I don’t even have to order when I arrive. Can’t beat that.

brocLE BROC BAR-Always packed, great heating lamps in the winter with blankets and the service is friendly.

lachapelleLA CHAPELLE-This started it all in Lyon when I studied here. The owner, Jean Yves, was very patient with the often loud american table in the beginning and very understanding when the margarita glasses were broken. Then when I moved over here, he still greeted me with a warm smile and fills me a nice piscine de rosé all the way to the top. It is where the hippest of the gay men and women go, but I would say it is very mixed crowd because of the gorgeous patio especially during the summer and one of the few places that are open on a Sunday along the river. The service, especially for a gay friendly café has no attitude whatsoever and are very, very friendly. The music can be a bit loud depending on who is bartending, but usually it is just right for that type of cool café. Somehow, I don’t really fit in at my advanced age, but you get to a point where you are handsome at any age and who doesn’t look good wrapped in a fancy scarf? Plus the clientele is from 20-60. France doesn’t really have the ageism thing going on like the US does so it makes it for a comfortable enviornment.

bullBULL CAFE-A wonderful little café in the Croix Rousse, where I live, with a nice outside terrace and 8,40€ pots of wine. WHERE does one find a pot at that price AND with tea light candles on the tables outside at night to match? The service is always kind and polite and the clientele is a fun mixed crowd. Most pots of wine in the city are 12€, which is absurd so when it is 10€ and under, you have found a good place to chat with friends!

Enough about cafés and restaurants as I will create a blog on those treasures at another date. Happy savings and happy shopping! Faites de bons achats et de bonnes économies!

Just walk into your pharmacy and walk out with a needle!

vaccin

North Americans are very use to just going to their doctor and getting the flu vaccine. Some do it, some don’t, it’s all a preference. When moving to a foreign country, you pray to find a doctor that speaks English. This is very, very doable especially in Lyon.

Luckily, I have a great half french/american doctor. We usually speak English, because I do enjoy hearing his mixture of a fine New York accent mixed in with his french one and plus he has a very american mentality of just getting things done right off the bat without a million trips back to the doctors. He does not work on Wednesdays so I then have to see his replacement and with him, I speak nothing but French. He told me to go to the pharmacy and get something against the flu. Perhaps it was my miscomprehension, perhaps it was my stuffed up head, but I expected a zinc treatment, some strong vitamin C, who knows? I go to the pharmacy, and give the lady my paper (though you don’t even need one), she puts it in a bag and wishes me a good day. I leave the pharmacy and before descending into the subway, I thought I would take a pill or whatever he had prescribed to me and much to my surprise I take out a hyperdermic needle with the flu vaccine in it. I went home in shock and my friend says without as much of a blink of an eye, “Yeah, just put in the fridge and take it back to your doctor for injection.” So there sat my needle, next to the red peppers and rosé.

What is interesting is that anyone off the street can just walk into a pharmacy and get the needle with the vaccine. You don’t need a prescription, you just walk in and spend 5€ and take it back to a nurse or your doctor to be injected. I now walk around the city thinking to myself how many woman or men have a virus loaded needle in their purses or murses. I then go home and I open the fridge and just chuckle as I stare at my needle thinking, “Only in France.” Bonne santé!

Just pedal and breathe, pedal and breathe.

I have always enjoyed bikes. It use to be a family tradition when I was a child. I still have visions of my mum leading the way, my brother in front of me and we would just pedal away through Krug Park and Lovers Lane with it’s overlying trees and flowers abloom. As I got older, there were no longer any bikes. I mean who rides a bike in the USA unless you are in Seattle or Denver or any other more “earthy” city that appreciates them and will actually construct a bike lane.

My trek to work is not an easy one, I live on one of the largest hills in the city and I work on another intense hill. So it’s a big hill to work and a big hill back home, but going down is always the nice part. A past coworker was moving out of France last June and graciously donated her bike to me, hat and all. The bike was too small for me, had a flat tire, clicked and clacked, but I thought that I could raise the seat and it will get me from point A to point B and this it does quite well.

I started off slow throughout the summer. Building up my lungs, bulking up my thighs and tackled those hills bit by bit. Lidl had a bike week and I loaded up on biking shorts, gloves, seats, you name it, I was able to get it next to nothing. I had a goal in the beginning of twice a week to work. The gas for the car is astronomically expensive, it cost me 60€ to fill it up and will last about 2 weeks if I am lucky. I don’t have a big car, but it is not the smallest and finding parking for it’s size (Peugeot 208) can be quite the challenge. My biggest factor is just facing french drivers or their lack of driving skills. You really have to be driving here to understand this comment. There are no rules and there are rarely manners, but worse off is that the roads are bumper to bumper during peak hours. The French would rather totally side swipe your car, without hesitation, just so they can get to where they need to be and in the meantime giving you the finger as they have just been guilty of bumping your car and cutting you off. Quel culot!!!

With this said, I can bike home in less time than it would be for me to drive home while fighting traffic and my blood pressure skyrocketing. Now comes to what I like to call the revelation. One crisp automne morning, the moon was full and incredibly bright, I had Bananarama’s Greatest Hits in my ears, a fresh cup of delicious coffee running through my veins, not a soul on the road except the market trucks loading fresh produce into the restos, and the same group of older men having 6:30 a.m. coffee at a side café. I was zooming down the hill at top speed (not crazy of course) and I had the most peaceful feeling come over me that I have not felt in the longest time. I made it down to the riverfront and I stopped my bike and just looked up at Fourvière church with the light shining up onto it, the moon glistening off the river, and simply listened to the quietness of the city.

Then one day after work, at the end of an exhausting day with 5 and 6 year olds and back to back meetings, the one thing that I looked forward to was being back on the bike. It was a bit crazy and I thought, “What is wrong with me?” I zoomed back down the hill, I cruised past all the bumper to bumper cars giving each other the finger and honking incessantly at each other. I did nothing but feel the glorious sun on my face, listen to Whitney sing personally to me, and calmly pedaled home. In the beginning, I dreaded my Montée de la Boucle hill. It is incredibly steep, but today I just tackle it with a smug grin on my face and it completely and utterly energizes me for the martini that awaits me at home.

My message in this blog is that something as silly as a bike taught me such a life lesson. To slow down. I see everything now. I know where the smallest of potholes are in the road, I see something different in a building every day, I discover new roads to explore, I find Life itself. In a world that pushes and pushes us, in a society that just never slows down, I found a way to come full circle and appreciate the small things and the beauty of just being alive. Simply through being on a bike. During this sort of metamorphosis I have since quit smoking after many years of socially doing so, I now get in my car, put on Sade and rarely let anything get to me with the mantra of, “I refuse to get frustrated because you cannot drive.” I even come home and now try not to sweat the small stuff that normally I would create silly issues over. I am on vacation this week and not biking much and just yesterday I was thinking, “I absolutely cannot wait for my 6:15 bike ride on Monday. Me, the city, my bike. We just pedal and breathe. Namaste.

IMG_1286IMG_0760erich

For the gastronomy capital of France, it sure is impossible to find sour cream and crème aigre does not exist.

I was never a cook. I love to eat and I do enjoy to cook, but I do just the basics. When it finally hit me how expensive going out all the time had been turning into, I desperately needed a new hobby. One day, I was watching Julia Child on Youtube and thought to myself, “I have never been great at it, but I am going to improve!” So I went to rule #1 and poured myself a glass of rosé and began my newest indulgence.

I know a delightful american couple that sold most of their belongings stateside and retired to France. They have a stunning apartment in the 6eme and have became like family. There are no words to describe our summer, fall, winter, and automne days of lounging on the balconies, overlooking the treetops and the city discussing life. We also happen to become cooking buddies. Now mind you, she is an exquisite cook and I learn much through our adventures. I now can cook a mean pie crust (the trick is to freeze the butter) and a cooked squash with a maple syrup filling that will make your lips melt!

We trade ideas, recipes, cooking secrets, a bit of Lyon gossip here and there, but most importantly where to find those dreaded ingredients. In France it’s not possible to just have a whipping cream, they have like 1,900 different types. We don’t just have light cream, we have 10% light cream, 30% light cream, 50% light cream and not to mention that then we have the 10% liquid light cream, the 30% liquid light cream, and the 50% liquid light cream. Tracking down powdered cloves requires indepth research, first just to see if it even exists here and then a journey to a huge algerian spice shop in the middle of the city that will tickle the fancy of any baker. Must I even mention trying to find the moist, condensed brown sugar that we have back in the States because here it is sugary and very grainy, but alas through another expat I discovered a “sorta” brown sugar, but of course we then have the darkened molasses version brown sugar or the light version brown sugar. It never ends.

Corn syrup-forget it. Vegetable shortening-forget it. Yes there is Végétaline but it’s really for french fries. Do I need to bring up pumpkin spice? Yes, many of these you can recreate yourself, but this takes time and resources. So one does learn to substitute and make do. Us novice cooks require bloggers, the Internet, cooking friends, and a good brandy or in my case a good chilled glass of Chartreuse to get through this journey of cooking abroad.

Once you have found all your little treasures, garnered much new cooking vocabulary, spent just as much money on ingredients and food as you would have had you went out, you are ready to create something spectacular. Oh but wait, then we must convert cups to grams, ounces to centiliters, fl ounces to milliliters, farenheit to celsius just then to only realize that you don’t own a rolling pin. Back to the store yet once again!

With every new dish comes new knowledge. Some dishes are delicious, others are average, and a few are beyond disasters. Such as the maple crusted pumpking whipped cream cheesecake that took 3 hours to prepare and only to find out that the molasses here, unto which you can only find at the Bio store, is so incredibly thick, strong, and pungent that I needed half of what the recipe called for. Then the brown sugar that I had used was the dark kind, which made the crust even more unedible because it too was laced with molasses, but as any good chef says, “C’est la vie.” Thus I then go back to rule #1 and refill the glass and say, “What can I tackle next?” This is Erich Child saying, “Bon Appétit et Bonne Chance!”IMG_0653IMG_1193IMG_4543IMG_4660IMG_4934IMG_4935IMG_5202IMG_5204IMG_5274IMG_5731IMG_5296IMG_5306IMG_1273IMG_1282IMG_1284IMG_5657IMG_5680    IMG_1279IMG_1281  IMG_1166 IMG_1197

Ode to Seven

A little over 2 years ago, I stumbled onto a quaint little café nestled along the Saône river. In the beginning, I went there because the prices were really great for such a perfect location AND the rosé was Bio. Who could ask for more? After but a matter of weeks, I didn’t even have to order. Whether it was noon, 15h, 21h, the pot just arrived. Though occasionally, I would switch it up depending on the weather. For me, it was more than just a “place to go”, it was a tiny piece of home.

Many might laugh at this concept and find it a bit sad, but this café had a much more special meaning for me. This meaning was Marc and Joy, the owners. Joy is this lovely canadian woman with the most gorgeous red hair one has seen and a smile that lights up a room. We rarely spoke English together, but when we did, it was a bit like home in France. Marc is the man who worked his 15 hour days nonstop and rarely could you not hear that laugh of his filling up the room.

I could be in the worst mood but if I was walking down the sidewalk with the taste of rosé piercing my lips because of my day and I would happen to see Marco outside laughing with a customer or Joy always cleaning something, I knew that everything would be just fine. Ease just came to me. They knew more about my troubles and frustrations about trying to make it in France than anyone. Even though, I knew, that day after day after day, they had to listen to people whine and complain about their lives on a regular basis, they still always listened, offered me advice, and made me laugh. They just always made things better by being who they were.

I could never possibly write all the memories Café Seven has giving me. I met countless upon countless of people there. I never met, but yet knew so well, many of the regulars who went there,  just with our nods of hellos and a smile from across the room. The phenomenal after close soirées where Marc would close the curtains, crank up the music, and new friendships began till the early hours in the morning. Oh yes, the Chartreuse, oh the Chartreuse. Aka Marc’s fault for introducing it to me! For me, the best was simply lighting a cigarette, sitting back with the sun on my face, hearing the laughter of the people who loved being there as much as I did, enjoying the rosé, and seeing Fourvière in the background. There are no words.

Sometimes I felt as if I went there a bit too much. Me always sitting there on my iPad, day after day, pot after pot, yet I never felt like a nuisance or a pain, I felt that it was my special place and I was always welcomed. I was never needy or loud (ok upon occasion), but I was just able to be me…Erich. With this said, the work owning Seven was hard and long, but I hope that the owners both know how much happiness they brought to so many people from all around the world because they encountered what they created as Seven. It was a place where laughter could be heard, tears could be cried if needed, a good coffee could be drank, a great wine could be drank, and everyone just came together to be happy. This was Seven.

A small piece me feels very empty now because Seven is closing. Again, so silly to many, but so important to me. It is one of the reasons that I love my life in France. Special moments and places like Seven. I wish nothing but the absolute best for Marc and Joy, Lord knows they have earned it. I refuse to say goodbye to them because this I will not allow. But I will thank them for the years of memories, of laughter, and of kindness that they have given to my friends and myself. They are like family to me and as Seven now closes its doors, those memories well never close in my heart. Best of luck Marco and Joy, until our next pot together à un autre endroit and adieu mon cher Seven. Tu me manqueras.

Erich

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Driving in France. Early gray hairs???

When I moved to Europe, I was the typical Birkenstock kind of earthy guy that was screaming, “Awww, my tranportation card that will allow me on any bus or subway. No more expensive cars for me.” Four months later, I bought the only automatic Peugeot in Lyon. The public transportation in this city is 2nd to none. It is reliable, when they are not striking or being repaired, and they are very, very clean. The voyage to work was a 20 minute subway ride and a 20 minute bus ride. At the end of the day of being with the little ones, the last thing I wanted was a 40 minute ride with no air conditioning. Plus we go to the countryside, every 2 weeks, so the car was a no brainer.

To get your driver’s license in France is like them taking your first born. This is no easy feat. You MIGHT be the lucky one where you live in one of the states where you can exchange your license, but they are the oddest of oddest states and then you wake up the next day and they have removed your state and then added some other bizarre one like Idaho. Your american license is good for one year as of the date of your residence visa. After that it is you forking out over a 1000€ for an auto school, 20 hours of you driving with some guy on a stick shift and then ATTEMPTING to pass the written test. A test that the majority of french people do not pass the first time because it is so hard. 30 seconds to answer each question and you better know your French as a foreigner. Then if the heavens bless you, you recieve your paper, yes I said paper, license many months later.

This brings me to the point of the blog. Driving in France has no rules but the rules the drivers make up themselves. You put your key in the car, you take a deep breath, and you pray for the best. They go through all this work to pass the test and then it’s each for his own life. Blinkers are nonexistant, speed limits are nonexistent, you are invisible as another car on the road. Yet the worst are motorcycles who absolutely have no rules on the road whatsoever and can cut you off, cause you to slam to the side of the road, scrape the side of your car as they choose not to wait in the line of cars at the light and then just zoom off 50km over the speed limit.

I try daily to get in my car and do my chant as Louise Hays says, “I am not going to get upset today because you can’t drive.” It works 3 out of 5 days but I catch myself being quite the agressive driver because I am becoming jaded at the rudeness of other drivers. Though I do experience kindness here and there. An occasional hand waving because I let them in front of me  or an occasional smile as I am dancing to my tunes at a light. One thing is for sure, on Friday at 3:30 that baby is in the garage ALL weekend and the glorious métro never looked so good even with no air. À plus! IMG_2659IMG_4466IMG_2661