Category Archives: Blogging

Happy New Year for 2021

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“The best laid plans of mice and men …” John Burns never said a truer word!

We started the year with lots of travel plans and the first was a trip to Crete in March to break the winter blues. Covid 19 at that time was still a minor issue, although we did wear masks in the airport. After three most enjoyable days at a home exchange in Chania, we moved to Agios Nikolaos, by which time bars, restaurants and cultural venues had closed. Even though we were in an apartment, it wasn’t much fun. After visiting a 3500-year-old olive tree, there wasn’t much left to do and lockdown was about to start in France.


We took the next flight out of Heraklion, getting up at 4 am to do so! We wore masks for the whole trip and arrived back in Blois just two hours after lockdown, did some food shopping and holed up for the next 55 days! Lockdown eased on 11th May and we were no longer restricted to essential shopping and physical activity for one hour within a 1 km radius of our home. We also no longer needed to fill out a form when we did go out. After two weeks, on the 15th June, all restrictions were lifted and we started making holiday plans!

In the meantime, my daughter and her Dutch fiancé, who live in New York, had had to cancel their wedding plans in northern Italy in May while my son and his American girlfriend decided to get married on a ski slope in Vermont in the presence of only two other people! We watched the wedding on Skype but unfortunately there was no sound. We then had a virtual aperitif drinking the same champagne that my son bought on his last trip to France in November when we met his fiancé. We are delighted to welcome her into the family. Since then, the newlyweds have bought a house in Boston while my daughter and her fiancé have tentatively set September 2021 as a wedding date.

Cycling in the Jura

Holiday-wise, Germany seemed the safest as their Covid figures were very low (compared with France, Italy and Spain!) and we knew that we could count on outdoor eating venues and strict observance of hygiene protocols. We chose to avoid hotels and B&Bs and only stay in holiday flats with balconies or gardens, having breakfast and dinner at home. Our top priority was cycling and enjoying Germany’s many beautiful towns and villages. On June 26th, we started our 3-week journey in the Jura mountains in the east of France, discovering an area we didn’t know and which has an impressive number of bike paths.

Lake Constance

Next stop was Austria, from which we were able to visit Gallen with its famous baroque library over the border in Switzerland and cycle along Lake Constance. We followed the good weather as we always do and went back to the beautiful Bavarian mediaeval town of Bamberg, then Nuremberg, before spending four absolutely perfect days on the Forggensee. We had been there before, in our pre-e-bike days. This time we were able to appreciate the absolutely stunning scenery without straining our knees.

The Forggensee

We started heading back to France via the Neckar with some wonderful rides along the Kocher-Jagst Radweg near Heilbronn. Our last stop was the Black Forest. The scenery is beautiful and we had a breath-taking view from our balcony, but the cycling is a disaster! We arrived home on 17th July after driving 3380 K and cycling 773 K!

After we got back, we had a visit from my son who needed a new working US visa for his new job. The story is a bit complicated, but the upshot was that he left Boston wearing a mask (after getting a negative Covid test) and did not take it off until he got in his hire car at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. He then came straight to Blois, only doing a same-day return trip to Paris to go to his Embassy appointment. He needed another test in Blois before returning to Boston. It was lovely to see him for a few days.

Château de Chaumont

Otherwise, we have kept ourselves occupied and feel grateful every day for having a large house and garden that we love. While we could, we cycled as much as possible exploring many new areas and making the most of our annual pass to Château de Chaumont.

Our back garden view when dining outdoors

I have continued to work part-time, mainly as a sworn translator (I only just broke even on my holiday rental studio in Blois, which was supposed to supplement my terrible retirement pension), and my husband Jean Michel has completed various projects including two cold frames, two raised vegetable beds and two staircases for the garage and wood shed. There is still another one to go in the barn. We gardened extensively during the warmer months, growing a lot of plants from seed and increasing our collection of drought-resistant perennials. It made up for being so restricted in our movements. I also blogged every day on, especially during the different lockdown periods. It has helped me to stay connected with the outside world.

We did manage another 5-day cycling holiday in September in the Nièvre, based in La Charité-sur-Loire (near Sancerre). The Covid figures were low at the time and we could still count on outdoor eating at lunchtime. It was a welcome break. When we got home, we bought a garden heater so we could continue to enjoy eating outside throughout October. We went back into lockdown on 30th October for a month, followed by a 2-week easing period when non-essential shops opened again under extreme pressure from the public in the warm-up to Christmas.

Cycling along the Nièvre

What I have missed and continue to miss most are my children and friends. I haven’t seen my daughter since November 2019 when we shopped for her wedding dress. I occasionally go walking with a friend and we briefly met up with other friends in December in a park. During Christmas and New Year, which we naturally spent alone, eating home-made foie gras and drinking vouvray wine, we spent a lot of time reading our travel diaries aloud and looking at the corresponding digital photos. We FaceTimed with all the children and their partners on Christmas Day, which cheered us up no end. They are all doing well despite Covid.

If you’ve been tracking the Covid situation in France, you will know that we are not out of the woods. We have a large and somewhat reticent population to vaccinate and we are not in the immediate target group. We have another two months of cold, stay-at-home weather in front of us, then we’ll be able to go back to our outdoor occupations. By then we might be eligible for vaccination. In the meantime, we are exercising maximum precaution, only going to shop once a week at the local market and supermarket and, occasionally, the plant nursery. We buy everything else over the Internet. I continue to make our bread and yoghurts.

The Loire River near our house

Our hopes for 2021 are to see our children again, including Jean Michel’s two sons who live in France, celebrate my daughter’s wedding wherever it may be, visit my son and daughter and partners in Boston and New York and find a safe venue for our annual cycling holiday.

I would like to wish everyone a happier 2021, full of hope, inner strength and new horizons! Thank you for reading  my very sporadic blog!

Happy New Year 2019

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This is my absolute last chance to write my New Year post and wish you all a wonderful 2019, as tomorrow is the first day of February. I have an exciting year ahead – I am going to retire on 30th June (although I shall keep up my certified translations for a few more years). Retirement will, I hope, give me more time to blog.

The view from our rental in Senglea

Travel continued to play a big role in our lives this year, with our first trip away in February, to the island of Malta, where we stayed in a flat called Marine View in Senglea with a most stunning view both day and night. There were many interesting places to visit and the weather was wonderful, but Cyprus, where we went last year, remains my favourite Mediterranean island.

Château de Chambord in the snow

A snowfall on our return provided the occasion for my most stunning photo yet of Château de Chambord which remains high on the list of our cycling destinations in summer and a great place to walk in the winter.

The bridge between La Rochelle and Ile de Ré

In April we went to La Rochelle for a long week-end and had a truly unforgettable experience at Christopher Coutanceau’s 2-star Michelin restaurant followed by lots of cycling on nearby Ile-de-Ré. It’s a very busy and lively town and it’s a great place to shop in comfort (especially for a non-shopper like myself). There’s lots of activity at night along the waterfront which made a bit of a change from the Loire in winter.

The main square of Krakov

We spent the whole of June in Germany and Poland, on our power-assisted bikes clocking up 800 kilometers for 16 days’ cycling. As ever, Germany was a pure delight. It is just so geared to cyclists with all its bike paths and rest-stops and I adore the colourful half-timbered houses in all the little towns and villages!


Poland, however, was another story. Although the major cities such as Poznan, Gdansk, Warsaw, Krakow and Wraclow have an amazing network of bike paths, as soon as you get out of the built-up area, you have to take either the main road or go on mountain-bike trails for 20-year-olds in top form. One unforgettable ride through a very sandy forest had me preferring the bitumen and traffic! There are practically no pretty villages which was a great disappointment. The only exception was Gdansk which we really loved. We had an apartment outside the town and were able to cycle happily up and down the coast through the seaside vilalges as well as into the city with its beautiful baroque façades.

Miltenberg on the Main

After two weeks in Poland, we were relieved to get back to Germany and follow the Main River! Poland, despite its drawbacks, is a country on the rise economically and that was obvious everywhere we went. It was difficult to have much contact with the locals though, as they were not very welcoming on the whole.

Stunning azulejos in Porto

Our week’s holiday in autumn this year took us to Porto with Ryan Air (never again!) from the nearby city of Tours. We enjoyed the first three days in Porto, by which time we had exhausted its possibilities, including a rather hair-raising bike ride along the coast. For the next three days, we took day trains (about one-hour each way) to the very interesting historical towns of Guimaraes, Aveiro and Braga. Poland may be on the way up, but Portugal is definitely going in the opposite direction. It’s very sad to see.

A favourite view of Blois when cycling along the Loire

On the home front, we continued to cycle throughout July, August and September nearly every day, often in the evenings for a picnic on weekdays thanks to the long twilight and the amazing weather. We are now up to 5000 kms since we bought our power bikes in May 2017.

Winter walk along the Loire on a rare sunny day

The winter, so far, has been cold and rainy. I’ve been forcing myself to go for an hour’s walk every two days but it’s not very attractive. We have a yearly pass to Château de Chenonceau though which makes a welcome change.

Jean Michel kept on with the renovations at the studio flat in Blois most of the year and it is now ready for holiday accommodation on I amused myself with some of the decorative features but my brilliant ideas always turned out to be more time-consuming than expected. As it is in a very old building, Jean Michel had to face up to a lot of challenges as well.

Château de Chenonceau from the walking path on the other side

This coming year, especially once I have retired, we went to do more home exchanges as well. And in case anyone is wondering – we still follow the 5:2 diet twice a week and are in very good health! I miss my blog and hope that retirement really will bring me the time and energy I need to write more often! In the meantime, I would like to wish everyone a very happy and fulfilling 2019 and maybe see you over at!

Happy New Year 2018

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It’s nearly mid-January and I have only just found the time to write this new year post. Even though we have up until the end of January in France to do so, it’s still better to wish people a happy new year within the first week of the month. But lack of time is the story of my life at the present. Working full-time as a freelance technical and legal translator (I am now certified with the courts as well), looking after a large house and garden, cycling in the warmer months and hiking in the winter seem to take up  most of my time.

Jean Michel with his sons on the left and my son and daughter on the right

After a delightful Christmas with all our children – my son from Boston, my daughter from New York and Jean-Michel’s sons from Brest and  Limoges – in addition to my brother,wife and three sons, from Sydney, we welcomed in the New Year in front of a blazing fire, with warm thoughts for all our family and friends.

The cathedral in Angoulême

Travel-wise, 2017 was not quite as exciting as 2016 when we spent three months away altogether. However, we had a welcome short break and change of scenery in Angoulême at the beginning of February, followed by a most enjoyable week in Cyprus at the end of March with warm days and blue skies. We particularly liked the northern, Turkish part of the island with its wonderful painted monasteries.

Kykkos Monastery in northern Cyprus

We came home to spring, always the best time of the year in the Loire Valley. In April we had a fun day in a vintage car traffic jam in Blois with our friends Susan and Simon who take visitors on tours of the Loire Valley in their 1953 Citroën Traction Avant. I checked out family photos of my baptism so we could dress the part.

Jean Michel and I dressed for the part

The end of April took us to the Médoc (a four-hour drive south) for another long weekend where we combined cycling with wine-tasting and a breath of sea air. Living in the centre of France means that we are well-placed for this type of excursion.

With our power bikes on the banks of the Loire

In May, we finally made the decision to invest in electrically-powered bikes for two reasons – to save our ageing knees and to free us from restrictions related to the lie of the land. Our plan was to go to Romania in June, a country we have avoided up until then due to its very hilly countryside. We were not disappointed. Jean Michel applied his usual thoroughness to choosing the right bikes for our needs and we can now go quite effortlessly up amazingly steep hills. In fact, I’m more worried going down but our disk brakes are reassuring.

Said to be the oldest grape vine in the world – in Maribor, Slovenia

So, on 1st June, we left Blois with our bikes on the back of the car for a holiday that took us to Lake Iseo in the north of Italy, Maribor in Slovenia, where we tested our ability to scale new heights on our bikes, Eger in Hungary where we nearly got washed away in a freak flood, then Sighisoara in Romania, home of Dracula and sister city to Blois, which we used as centre to visit the fortified churches of Viscri and Biertan.

Sighisoara, home of Dracula and sister city of Blois

Suceava was the next port of call from which we cycled to many very beautiful painted churches, reminding us of our visit to Northern Cyprus. In Marmures, we stayed with a Romanian family where the head of the house spoke French and we learnt a lot about this still very backward part of the country with its beautiful wooden churches and friendly people.

The wonderful town of Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic

We then started on the road back to France, via Levoca in Hungary, then the absolutely enchanting village of Czesky Krumlov in Czech Republic where our hotel had a garden overlooking the castle, the perfect place for a picnic in the evening twilight after a hard day’s riding. We then stayed in Slavonice before crossing into Germany and discovering Burghausen with its marvellous hillside castle. It was good to be back in a country where I could at least read the signs!

Sigmaringen on the Danube in Germany, near its source

To end our journey, we decided to return to our beloved Danube using the little village of Herbertingen as our base. Taking the train and cycling, we went as far as the source of the Danube at Donaueschingen.

View of Lake Iseo from the top of the hill

By the 28th June the weather was starting to deteriorate so we changed our initial plan to spend a couple of days in the Black Forest and went to Orta San Giulio in Italy instead where rain and shine alternated enough to let us ride around Lake Orta and up to the sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso, at an altitude of 700 metres! Once again, our power bikes proved their worth. We arrived home via Lyon on 2nd July, having been in eight coutries and covered 5,000 kilometers.

The church of Souvigny on one of our local bike rides

In July Jean Michel went walking in the Jura Mountains for 9 days with his sons while I stayed home and worked, looking forward to my retirement in June 2020 more than ever! I did discover a bike route into Blois that avoids the main road though. We then cycled as much as we could during the weekend and evenings until the weather turned too cold.

The blue mosque in Istanbul

September took us for a week to Istanbul which we loved. We rented an apartment just next to Galacta Tower which proved to be the perfect location. It had a quiet little balcony and small garden which provided well-earned rest after a day out in the busy streets of Istanbul. We often set out quite early to visit the sites to avoid the crowds.

Our wisteria in spring

On the home front, our automatic watering system is up and running but we don’t quite have a mini Giverny as initially planned, mainly due to our clayey soil, but we are learning as we go.

View from the garden of our new rental apartment in the historical part of Blois

Renovation of the studio flat I bought last year is making progress at last and should be ready for holiday accommodation this summer. We plan to offer an 18th century decorative experience with all modern conveniences. It is ideally located in the most historical part of Blois known as Puits Chatel and even has a little shared garden.

Typical house in the historical quarter of Blois near the rental apartment

I’m still keeping up with my daily photo on Loire Daily Photo even though Aussie in France is vitually at a standstill but I hope to be able to post more in the future, especially when I retire!

Happy New Year for 2017

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And there you go – another year has just flipped by. Admittedly, we did spend a whole three months travelling – first to Australia and India in the winter, then to Italy, Austria and Germany on a cycling holiday in the summer, especially the Romantic Road, and finally New York and Boston in the autumn. As usual we are starting the year in front of the fire at Closerie Falaiseau but with below zero temperatures outside.

The iconic photo in front of the Taj Mahal
The iconic photo in front of the Taj Mahal

Jean Michel is halfway through installing an automatic watering system so we can create a mini-Giverny. However, everything is taking longer than it should and the cold weather has come too soon. The back garden is full of clay which makes digging trenches deep enough to stop the pipes freezing is a complicated busines. We’re hoping it will be ready to go by spring.

The current state of the garden while the watering installation is in progress.
The current state of the garden while the watering installation is in progress.

I have just bought a studio flat in the historical quarter of Blois to rent as holiday accommodation to overseas visitors. It’s wonderfully situated and there is even access to a little garden to relax in after an exhausting day visiting the Loire Valley châteaux. Another project to keep us busy!

The view from the shared garden of the studio flat in Blois
The view from the shared garden of the studio flat in Blois

Our travel plans this year are a week in Cyprus in the spring (any suggestions about accommodation and places to see are very welcome), our usual month’s cycling in June (the destination will depend on the weather) and hopefully a week in Istanbul in the autumn (provided things have quietened down by then and our home exchange still exists).

Giant holly bush in Molineuf
Giant holly bush in Molineuf during one of our walks

The world situation is not very inspiring at the present but we believe the best remedy is to remain positive and enjoy life to the fullest. We are lucky enough to live in a beautiful region that is a constant source of discovery by bike or on foot.

Crossing the Loire with our bikes to go to Chambord
Crossing the Loire with our bikes to go to Chambord

On the professional front, as well as being a sworn translator for the Blois Tribunal de Grande Instance, I am now an expect sworn translator for the Orléans Court of Appeal. I’m still freelancing as a legal and technical translator full time, with another two and a half years to go before retirement. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to leave me much time to do much apart from cycling, gardening and travelling which explains why I don’t blog a lot these days.

Standing in front of the Appeal Court of Orléans before being sworn in
Standing in front of the Appeal Court of Orléans before being sworn in as an expert translator

My second blog, Loire Daily Photo, gets a bit more attention because it only takes about 10 minutes a day to post a photo and a short text in French and English. It also continues to get me out and about on days when I might tend to stay inside too much.

Homemade foie gras and champagne in front of the 400-year old fireplace
Homemade foie gras and champagne in front of the 400-year old fireplace

We are continuing our intermittent fasting twice a week and it is very much a part of our normal routine. With our homemade foie gras on the menu every evening from Christmas to New Year, our fast days brought welcome respite! We certainly feel it helps our general state of health.

We have definitely shelved our “little house” project and have received our demolition permit. Now we just have to move every thing out of it that we have been storing since we bought Closerie Falaiseau. But the second barn needs to be fixed up first :). A lot of things will be going to the next garage sale.


In the meantime, I’d like to wish all my readers a very happy and fulfilling 2017. Thank you for following me and sharing through your comments.

Five Years of Blogging

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I missed my 5th anniversary of blogging! My first post was published on 11th October 2011 just before my son went to live in Australia. He helped me set it up and regularly comes to the rescue when I have a problem. He also hosts me. I started my second blog, Blois Daily Photo (now Loire Daily Photo) in July 2013 in anticipation of moving to Blois. When I first started blogging, I posted nearly every day. I had a lot to say!


I then started posting every second day with regular features such as Monday’s Photo of the Week and Wednesday’s Blogger Round-Up where I featured 3 posts I had read during the week that I wanted to share. These days I don’t seem to have time to read many other blogs at all.

In fact, since we moved to Blois two years ago, I seem to have little time and energy to do much blogging apart from Loire Daily Photo. I still occasionally write a Friday’s French post (two this month!) and am currently trying to write a series on Secret Blois (two so far – it seems to be my magic number). During our cycling holidays, however, I have more inspiration and time and usually manage to give a fairly full  report.

Two contrasting skyscrapers - the new One World Trade Center and one of the "wedding cake" skyscrapers from the 1930s
Two contrasting skyscrapers – the new One World Trade Center and one of the “wedding cake” skyscrapers from the 1930s

I would like to write more about our trip to New York and to Boston in September to see my son and daughter but after a full day’s translation I don’t seem to have much energy left!

My basic interests remain the same but have taken on different dimensions. Reading is still my favourite activity but not something I blog about very often. I like to read ALL the works of a given author plus a couple of biographies and my Kindle usually makes that possible. I am currently working my way through the Victorian novels and am now onto the lessor known writers such as Wilkie Collins and Elisabeth Gaskell.

The iconic photo in front of the Taj Mahal
The iconic photo in front of the Taj Mahal

Travelling is at the top of the list too and we’ve certainly done a lot this year – a total of twelve weeks in Australia, the Golden Triangle in India including the Taj Mahal, cycling in Italy and Germany, especially along the Romantic Road, and New York & Boston, not to mention a few short trips. And, believe it or not, I have nothing else in the pipeline at the moment, for the first time that I can remember! I need a break from holidays. And we are up to 13 home exchanges in 4 years which isn’t bad going.

Next comes cycling but unfortunately it stops from about mid-October until March. Mushroom picking usually takes over but there has been so little rain this year but there are no mushrooms. We’re hoping that next week’s expected Indian summer will have them popping up all over the place.

Wisteria on our house in Blois
Wisteria on our house in Blois

I love gardening but I have discovered it is almost as humbling as being a parent – so much to learn and those plants have a mind of their own! One year the petunias run riot and the next year they get leggy. The clematis that bloomed beautifully one summer sulk the next. Fortunately we seem to have mastered the wisteria, the roses, the hollyhocks and the raspberries which is more than we can say for the bignomias and the lettuces!

We still enjoy wine-tasting but have a tendency to stick to our favourites, particularly the local Loire Valley wines and our favourite chianti, especially in front of the fireplace!

Homemade foie gras and vouvray to see the New Year in before the fire
Homemade foie gras and vouvray to see the New Year in before the fire

I love taking photographs with my iPhone 5S because it’s a great way to remember places and people and makes me look at things in a different way. I wouldn’t call it a hobby though because I know nothing about lenses and photographic techniques and I usually just take photos because something catches my eye. My iPhone isn’t very good at night or when there isn’t much light but the rest of the time, it’s perfect for my purposes.

But back to blogging. My most popular post remains “The Best Area to Stay in Paris” with about 3,000 clicks a month. Next, a long way behind, are “Friday’s French – biche, chevreuil & deer“, “Ten Top Châteaux in the Loire“, “The Oldest House in Paris” and “Visit the Loire without a Car Based in Blois“.

Chenonceau, undoubtedly the most beautiful of all the châteaux
Chenonceau, undoubtedly the most beautiful of all the châteaux

Over one quarter of my readers live in Australia, followed by France and the US, each about 1/5, then the UK, Canada, Singapore, Germany, India, Italy and Malaysia. The last 1/5 is made of up a surprising 90 countries which means that people from about 100 countries read Aussie in France.

The thing I like best about blogging are the wonderful friends I’ve made among my readers, people whom I would never have been in contact with otherwise. Some comment regularly, others from time to time, while some write to me personally. Others have become close friends. I love to feel connected in such a unique way. So I think I shall keep blogging for a few more years yet …

Happy New Year 2016 – Bonne année à tous !

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It’s New Year’s Eve and there are just the two of us, in front of our fireplace. We’re not having anything complicated to celebrate the New Year. I once spent all day making a special dish that took forever and I didn’t think it was worth the trouble so we’re mainly having Christmas leftovers (unfortunately, we’ve finished our homemade foie gras). We’re having champagne though.

Christmas leftovers in front of the fire
Christmas leftovers in front of the fire

I ask Jean Michel if he remembers his resolutions for 2015 and he just looks at me. “I have the bits of paper I wrote them on”, I say. So we have a look. Out of Jean Michel’s six resolutions, only one has come to fruition, but it’s the most important: “finding a better balance after retirement”. The last is also taking shape at the moment, namely improving his English. As we’re off to Australia for a month in mid-February, it’s more than important – it’s essential.

I then take a look at my five and burst out laughing. My score is even worse.

The first was to average 10,000 steps a day. I check it out on my iPhone app – 5,500. I try and console myself that for someone who spends a lot of the day in front of a computer, it isn’t too bad.

The second was to make a video for each Friday’s French post. Well, that’s a laugh! I don’t even write a Friday’s French post every week. I’m lucky if I write one a month though I wrote two recently in the same week J.

Number 3 was to sign up for Italian lessons. Yes, well, that didn’t get very far! January didn’t seem the ideal time to start because the class was already well underway and in September we went away for a month’s holiday. I might wait until I retire!

My fourth resolution was to help Jean Michel improve his English but he was far too busy all summer to be learning another language. However, now that he’s started listening to Michel Thomas again, I’m being very supportive.

Number 5 was to stop complaining and look on the positive side of life. I’m not sure about this one so I ask Jean Michel and Black Cat. They seem to think that I am positive on the whole and don’t complain most of the time so I guess that I can see it’s been mostly achieved.

Spring in our little wood - one of the bright sides of life
Spring in our little wood – one of the bright sides of life

So now I’m wondering what resolutions I can put on the agenda this year and, do you know, I can’t think of any so I thought I might make a quick review of the year instead.

The most important thing is Jean Michel’s adjustment to retirement. I’d love to join him but I still have another 3 years and 4 months to go unless I suddenly strike it rich which doesn’t seem likely.

Bird watching from our wonderful window
Bird watching from our wonderful window

After all Jean Michel’s hard work, we now have a wonderful kitchen window that looks out onto our little wood and gives us endless pleasure, especially bird watching now that we have outwitted the neighbour’s cat.

I don’t miss my life in Paris even remotely though I do miss my friends. I have been there only four times since we moved at the end of October 2014.

View from the window of thecrêperie during our most recent visit to Chambord on boxing day
View from the window of thecrêperie during our most recent visit to Chambord on boxing day

We try to make the most of living (almost) in the country and among some of the most beautiful châteaux in the world. Chambord remains our favourite because you can go there any time for a walk, a bike ride, an ice-cream or a crêpe. We have taken full advantage of all the cycling possibilities offered to us.

I don’t blog a lot any more as you may realise. My readership went from 12,000 views a month in December 2014 up to 18,000 in May 2016 then down to 10,000 in December 2015. I lost a few subscribers in December but I quite understand that my reflections on bird feeding and walking in Blois are not nearly as exciting to most people as living in the Palais Royal! My “star” post is still “The Best Area to Stay in Paris”.


My other blog, Loire Daily Photo, dropped from 1200 in December 2014 to 1,100  in December 2015 after climbing to 1,600 in May. I wonder what was going on in May last year? However, despite the small audience, having a daily photo blog makes me much more aware of my surroundings and more interested in local history.

I don’t feel I have quite found my rhythm yet, but I can feel it coming.

Our New Year mistletoe
Our New Year mistletoe

In any case, I’d like to wish all my readers a wonderful 2016 and thank you for stopping by.

Weekly Blogger Round-Up; Ice Skating on the Eiffel Tower – Blogger Highlights 2014 – French Holidays and Traditions

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I missed last week’s blogger round-up from lack of organisation and general post-move sluggishness but this week I have three great posts to share with you. First, Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris takes us ice skating on the Eiffel Tower and I’m very jealous not to be there myself! Next Anda from Travel Notes and Beyond has published her blogger highlights for 2014 (including my tips and tricks for cycling in Germany) so you’ll have lots of new blogs to discover, from stunning photos of Yellowstone National Park to surreal places you never knew existed. And to finish off, our gifted storyteller Margo Lestz from The Curious Rambler has just published a book on French holidays and traditions, month by month. Enjoy!

Ice skating on the Eiffel Tower! One of the coolest experiences in Paris

by Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris, an American by birth, Swiss by marriage, resident of Paris with a Navigo Pass for the metro that she feels compelled to use

out_and_about_eiffel_tower_skatingOne of the coolest winter activities has returned to Paris — ice skating on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower! In between your camel spins and double Axels, warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or sip a glass of champagne while admiring the view of the Champ de Mars and the golden dome of Les Invalides. For an extra special evening, time your visit to coincide with the twinkling of the Eiffel Tower’s lights. This magical sight happens every hour on the hour, for five minutes.

If you’re in shape, take the stairs to the first floor 57 meters (187 feet) above the city of Paris. Admission to the rink and the use of skates is included in the 5 euro ticket price. Otherwise, you can take the elevator to the second floor and walk back down to the first floor. Read more

Travel Blogger Round-Up: Highlights for 2014

by Anda from Travel Notes & Beyond, the Opinionated Travelogue of a Photo Maniac, is a Romanian-born citizen of Southern California who has never missed the opportunity to travel.

rhein_radweg_2_mapHello everyone and welcome to my 2014 Travel Blogger Round-Up. Another year has passed in tumultuous and competitive world of travel blogging. While there are thousands of wonderful posts out there that stimulate your curiosity and spur your desire to travel, I’ll introduce you to some that have caught my eye in 2014. Read more

French Holidays & Traditions

curious_rambler_new_bookby Margo Lestz from The Curious Rambler, who lives in Nice, France where she likes to bask in the sunshine, study the French language and blog

If you are intrigued by French culture and curious about the history behind French traditions, this book is for you. In it, you’ll find a selection of short stories, written in a lively style, which often reveal little-known, but always fascinating facts about French customs. If you have ever wondered how French Easter eggs are delivered, or why the French walk around with paper fish taped to their backs on the 1st of April, you can find the answers to these questions plus much more in this book. Read more

Weekly Blogger Round-Up: Interview with Aussie in France – The Greek Island of Anafiotika – Spending Christmas in Europe

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All my posts are a little late at the moment but here is my Weekly Blogger Round-Up starting with an interview by Anda from Travel Notes & Beyond our Eastern Europe expert with yours truly! Next the ever dynamic Jo from Frugal First Class Travel takes us to a Greek Island in the foothills of the Acropolis called Anofitika.  To finish off Carolyn from Holidays to Europe has lots of suggestions for spending Christmas in Europe. Enjoy!

Interview with Rosemary Kneipp from “Aussie in France”

by Anda from Travel Notes & Beyond, the Opinionated Travelogue of a Photo Maniac, is a Romanian-born citizen of Southern California who has never missed the opportunity to travel

travel_notes_blois_with_boatThis week I am starting a new series of interviews with some of my favorite bloggers on the Internet. This is not a new concept, but I am following in the footsteps of other bloggers ahead of me who came up with this bright idea. I believe these interviews are a helpful tool in getting to know each other better and establishing new relationships with like-minded people.

I wanted to start this series with someone who served as my inspiration for my own travel blog, Rosemary Kneipp, the creator/writer/photographer of Aussie in France. Read more


by Jo Karnaghan from Frugal First Class Travel, an Australian who loves to travel – especially in Europe – and who has gradually learned how to have a First Class trip on an economy budget, without missing out on anything!

frugal_anafiotikaWhen I visited Athens recently I was disappointed that I didn’t have time to fit in a visit to the Greek Islands.  I’d sailed in the Cycladic Islands many years ago and had fond memories of those glorious blue and white houses festooned with bright bougainvillea and geraniums.  Then upon studying my guidebook (you can pick up a copy via the link) I discovered Anafiotika, a little slice of the Greek Islands right in the heart of Athens….

How to find Anafiotika

Anafiotika is on the north eastern slopes of the Acropolis, not far from Monastiraki and the Plaka.  Having said that, it is much easier to find from the main thoroughfare of Dionysiou Areopagitou.  Turn right at Thrasyllou (just past the Tourist Information centre) and just keep walking. Read more

Experiencing a White Christmas in Europe

by Carolyn from Holidays to Europe, an Australian based business passionate about sharing their European travel expertise and helping travellers to experience the holiday in Europe they have always dreamed of

holidays2europe_german-christmas-marketMany Australians dream of one day experiencing a white Christmas and there’s no better place to do so than in Europe.  As well as its famous Christmas markets, the snowy scenes and festive atmosphere make a European Christmas something really special. With long-practised traditions and traditional festive foods to enjoy, Christmas in Europe is very different to Christmas in Australia. Read more

Weekly Blogger Round-Up: Chocolate Fashion Show in Paris – Writing and Reading Suggestions for November

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I haven’t been reading many blogs this week with the move but I’m sure you”ll get a kick out of Mary Kay’s chocolate fashion show on Out and About in Paris – not exactly what we saw at Château Villesavin! And Margo Lestz is back in Nice with lots of writing and reading suggestions for November on The Curious Rambler. Enjoy!

Chocolate Fashion Show at the 20th Annual Salon du Chocolat in Paris!

by Mary Kay from Out and About in Paris, an American by birth, Swiss by marriage, resident of Paris with a Navigo Pass for the metro that she feels compelled to use

out-about_paris_chocolate_showFrench fashion doesn’t get much sweeter than the fabulous creations seen gracing the runway during the 20th annual Salon du Chocolat in Paris last week. The inaugural gala featured a retrospective collection of 60 mouth-watering designs worn by French television stars, singers, athletes and models.

I spotted quite a few of my favorite gowns from previous years: a mythological looking garment with diaphanous wings, a dress with four white doves enclosed in a delicate chocolatey flounce at the back and a Hindu goddess style costume with an ornate headdress. Read more

November News: Happy Halloween

by Margo Lestz from The Curious Rambler, who lives in Nice, France where she likes to bask in the sunshine, study the French language and blog

curious_rambler_halloweenI’m finally back to Nice after travelling for two months. I have basically been on the go since April and now, I just want to stay home. Travelling is nice, but sometimes it’s just good to get home and stay there for a while. So I am planning to stay home all winter long (or at least for a while) and write.

Because November is for writing!
All across the world, writers dedicate November to their craft. There are several organizations that help to keep those fingers tapping away at the keyboard. If you are interested, check out the following: Read more

Weekly Blogger Round-Up – the Liebster Bloggers Award

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This week’s blogger round-up is going to be a little different. Paula McInerney from Contented Traveller, whom I have featured several times in this blog, has nominated me for the Liebster Bloggers Award. It’s a little different from the other awards in that it is designed to encourage fellow travel bloggers, particularly those with a smaller audience,  and to introduce them to other readers, which is also the aim of the round-up.

The word “liebster” has several definitions including kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued and welcome which are all very positive and encouraging.


How the Liebster award works

After answering Paula’s 7 questions (the original number seems to be 11, but I’m happy to downscale), I will then nominate 7 other travel bloggers for the award, all of whom I have already quoted here. I will then ask them 7 questions which they will answer in a post. They will display the Liesbster award on their site, nominate the bloggers that they wish to promote and ask them 7 or whatever of their own questions. Et ainsi de suite.

Paula’s questions and my responses for the Liebster Award

I’d just like to say thank you to Paula over at Contented Traveller for thinking of me. I love being part of the extended blogger community and I really like the idea of the Liebster Award.

  1. What made you decide to take up this wonderful gig of travel writing?

My son and I were talking one evening just before he went to Australia and I mentioned the book I’ve always wanted to write about my life in France. He suggested a blog (I don’t think I had even read one at that point), set it up for me and that was the start of a wonderful adventure.

  1. What has been the biggest eye opener in this endeavor

This is a hard one to answer. Maybe the immensity of the blogosphere. There are so many different and wonderful blogs to discover, each with their own focus.

  1. When you read other travel blogs what is the first thing you look at?

The photos I guess, but the text is important too. As we like to go off the beaten track, I’m not really interested in a description of a monument, for example, but rather the story behind the visit.

  1. What is one piece of advice that you can share with people that are thinking of trying to get into travel blogging?

Start small and take it one post at a time. Write about subjects you care about. It’s also useful to check out blogs about blogging and learn how to improve readership, for example.

  1. How do you explain to your friends what you do?

As I live in France, most of my friends are French and not many in my age group are into blogging. All my blogger friends, whom I’ve made through the blog, are English speakers!

  1. How do you balance social media and writing?

I currently write four posts a week: on Mondays, I select the photos that have had the most success during the week on Instagam, Tuesdays I write a “real post”, Wednesdays I publish my weekly blogger round-up featuring 3 other blogs and then Fridays are devoted to my ponderings on the French language with Friday’s French. I usually write them up in the evening, along with my Blois Daily Photo photos and look after social media in the morning before I start work (I’m a freelance translator) then at various times during the day.

7. How do you publicise how wonderful your blog is?

I don’t know about publicising how wonderful my blog is but I share it on Facebook and Twitter. My experience is that one day you accidentally write a very popular post, such as Five Places to Lunch near the Louvre or The Best Area to Stay in Paris and suddenly your readership increases.

Now it’s my turn to nominate 7 other bloggers

Travel Notes & Beyond

Lou Messugo

Riviera Grapevine

Chasing the Donkey

La Petite Presse

A House in France

Gigi’s French Window – this one is a little bit different because Jill was nominated by someone else almost at the same time but I would still like to mention her.

And here are the questions I’d like them to anwer

  1. When you started your blog, what did you set out to do?
  2. Do you think you are meeting your objective? Has it changed along the way?
  3. How would you classify your blog?
  4. Do you ever wonder whether you should keep it up or throw in the towel? If you do and still keep writing, what stimulates you to do so?
  5. Do you have a writing schedule?
  6. Have you met any of your readers apart from your friends?
  7. What is the best thing about blogging? And the worst?

Congratulations to you all and good luck with your blog!

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