One of the unexpected benefits of traveling around this time of year is the abundance of local Christmas fairs that run in many towns, big or small throughout the entire month of December. The fairs we’ve seen so far consisted of dozens of food vendors and hundreds of twinkly light. In Bayonne we drank vin chaud (hot, spiced wine) with nutella-filled crepes; in St-Jean-de-Luz it was vin chaud and mini churros; but it’s the Toulouse Christmas fair cuisine will be forever etched in our memories: juicy sausage in a fresh baguette smothered in caramelized onions paired with the cheesiest mashed potatoes we’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring, washed down with a glass of vin chaud, washed down with a cold German beer.
Pictures of Toulouse Christmas cheer:
When in Bassac, its been really nice to relax at the house which is now brimming with Christmas cheer. In the evenings we’ve been sitting in the front room underneath the twinkly lights, sipping apéritifs, playing backgammon and listening to Christmas music – a variety of great French artists like Tino Rossi and Django Reinhardt and of course, timeless Christmas classics like Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You and Lauryn Hill’s The Little Drummer Boy.
We were recently turned on to a popular French cocktail called a Kir (pronounced “keer”) which is several parts dry white wine or champagne with smaller part Creme de Cassis (a blackcurrent liquor). In warmer weather it could serve as a refreshing happy hour cocktail, but around the holiday season, it’s a festive treat for day or night (depending on your state of unemployment, retirement or on-the-clock boldness).
This year, we’ll be spending my birthday and Christmas in Paris!! I’ve never been there before but I imagine that it will be EXACTLY like this.
We’re heading up to Paris tomorrow afternoon via train out of Angoulême which is 30 minutes east of Bassac. Our first destination was not recommended in a travel guide – it’s the American Hospital in Paris where I have a few doctors appointments. Trying to track down an English speaking specialist has been a challenging experience – the first challenge trying to figure out how to make a local call . . .followed by the barrier of english speaking doctors without an english speaking staff. My french is shaky enough when I try to order coffee so the thought of attempting a medical conversation over the phone seemed particularly daunting, if not totally impossible.
It was a relief when I came across the American Hospital in Paris. I was really interested to learn that it was created in 1906 by members of the American community in Paris who wished to create a hospital which would provide American expats with medical care in their own language, regardless of their financial means. It should be an experience and I’m happy to report back about it in case it could be helpful to other travelers in a similar situation.
As for the rest of the week, Adam found a great little airbnb apartment in Montmartre, situated in the northern end of Paris. We have no set plans and lots of time together to explore, what a delightful proposition!
After Christmas, we head to Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague and Switzerland where we’ll have the great pleasure of running around with this lovable cast of characters.
Upon our return to France, we will be picking up a very special lady at the Paris airport who will be returning with us to Bassac for a long visit!
I’m leaving my computer behind so we won’t get to updating the blog until we return in a few weeks.
OODLES OF LOVE and HAPPY HOLIDAYS (Joyeuses Fêtes)!!
Molly & Adam