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-   -   Beautiful Nimes (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/beautiful-nimes-1672334/)

StCirq Jan 4th, 2020 09:32 AM

Double-glazed windows make a world of difference. We installed them 2 years ago and get a huge reduction in our taxes for having done so -Thank you, France. We did a complete insulation project from the roof on down when we first moved here, unfortunately before the government started offering deals for doing so, but we are insulated down to the inch. Even so, if you live in a centuries-old stone house embedded in the cliffs like ours, way, way out in the countryside, exposed to all the elements, you're going to have to deal with some of the obvious consequences of that. The damp, especially in the past couple of years, is daunting. We are a lot warmer with the double-glazed windows, though. We still burn an insane amount of firewood every winter, though - easily 6 stŤres - but it's a lot cheaper than electricity. And fires do help to quell the damp. We did have to pay for a diversionary cement pathway down the hill in back of our house to keep water from accumulating in our garage. Otherwise, ourgaragewould have been flooded. This was at our own expense, maybe 600 euros. Not bad, considering all the rain we've had in recent weeks - the garage is dry.

And we've become accustomed to going out and coming home to a cold house. You learn to live within the restrictions of your environment. We come home, it's cold, we go out and get wood, start a fire. It's more complicated than pushing a button or flicking a switch, but it's what we do and we're happy with it. I even have this silly notion that it keeps us young, because we have to move around a lot to make simple things happen, and we have to be adaptable to many different temperatures, and we have to bend and sway to get logs on the fire and keep them burning.

cheska, we are watching with horror the TV coverage of the situation in Australia. As I think I've told you, my DH lived for 4 years in Melbourne and has significant ties to that country - it seems like the Apocalypse. Hope all your friends are safe.

rhon Jan 4th, 2020 11:16 AM

Cheska, the smoke here in Canberra is awful again today, brought in by the wind change, from the fires on the coast. It was Canberra's hottest day yesterday at 44. It is just a disaster of immense proportions for the lovely regions that have been impacted. But the Aussie spirit shines through.

I check in each day to see what you have been doing. It is interesting to see a different perspective. This is more than a holiday. We travel for ten weeks which amazes people when we tell them, but it is still a holiday. Because we want to be able to keep visiting France for a few more years, we have to keep an eye on our budget. At the moment we come every two years, but as we are getting older, we may make it an annual trip to squeeze in a few more, especially as P will eventually, sooner rather than later, not feel comfortable driving on the opposite side of the road. So I keep track of our spending - food, fuel, admissions, meals out - mainly to know where we are, but also to compare it to previous trips. It also helps to be able to show people how we can afford to do what we do.

P is very keen to spend some time in France over winter, but we would be selective where we went. We get cold where we live, but not for weeks on end.

Enjoy your trip away. Glad all is well with your family.

cheska15 Jan 5th, 2020 12:38 AM

StCirq The measures you have taken are the same ones we have in our house in Canberra. On a cold winters day we can turn off our heating because our house faces north and gets the winter sun. Keeping a wood fire going does keep you fit.
We visit Melbourne often because we have family there, and every two or three years the Adelaide family meet up with the Melbourne branch for Christmas. It is a very big event as I come from a family of nine children. I am starting to lose count with all the great nieces and nephew. I think it is now up to 45.


Coquelicot We too like to eat out, however we have cooked normal meals because the products are fabulous. What I have noticed on travel forums is that regulars like people to have done some research before asking a question. I tend to over research which drives my husband mad. This makes it easier to make an informed decision. While I will take on board the advice of others,the ultimate decision is ours. We all travel differently and that’s the important part.

Funnily enough I received more negative comments from people at home than I have received on this forum. The amount of people who asked if our daughter approved was staggering, and many people our age have questioned whether there will be any inheritance left for our daughter. We haven’t worked as hard as we have done to leave everything to our daughter and she wouldn’t want it anyway. We did have to have the discussion if anything happens, and make sure our wills are up to date. We don’t discuss finances with our daughter anyway. Last year we traveled with my sister and brother in law, and my niece and our daughter sent a funny text saying that as they both had power of attorney they were selling up everything. My brother in law sent a quick text back asking them not to sell our beds as we would need them for when we would have to live with them on our return. Funnily enough we didn’t get a response. It did give us a good laugh though.

rhon this will probably be our last trip overseas. We have travelled much more than I thought we would since my husband retired 10 years ago. Life changes very quickly and we decided to have a last hurrah as it was always something we wanted to do. We have been away 14 weeks and it has gone so quickly. The reasons a lot of Aussies come for such a long time varies, the time it takes to get here, the flight etc.

I must admit the only contentious issue for us is driving. I’m trying really hard not to get so nervous.

YankyGal Jan 6th, 2020 01:49 AM

Hi cheska- itís been awhile since Iíve commented so just wanted to say how much I continue to enjoy your updates (typically via email every morning.) And to commiserate: the inheritance comments are mind-boggling to me. My brother recently said something to me along the lines of ďyou know, if you didnít travel so much, youíd be able to retire sooner.Ē It didnít deserve a response so I didnít say anything, but I did think about how much less fulfilling my life would be right now without the travels! Not to mention the fact that my current job affords me plenty of travel - and my retired husband joins me on a couple trips a year. I have no complaints.

Anyway, carry on! I admire your ability to balance the practical with the dream & just have fun. Iím sure youíll become more comfortable with driving with more practice- but I totally get it.

StCirq Jan 6th, 2020 04:57 AM

cheska, I think your travelogue has been one of the most enriching ones ever to show up on Fodors. I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Driving? You're not human if you don't get freaked out of your mind traveling on French roads with macho French guys who think that life is a race.

TDudette Jan 6th, 2020 07:02 AM

What St. Cirq wrote. Please keep it coming, cheska!

lrice Jan 6th, 2020 07:56 AM

Yes I agree with fellow Fodorites! While I LOVE reading trip reports that highlight tourist sights and tips (they are soooo helpful), truly settling in a destination and being able to live life is such a treat and one that most wonít be able to experience. Itís lovely to see the detail through your eyes.

willowjane Did you write a trip report on your time in St. Remy?

cheska15 Jan 6th, 2020 11:29 AM

Thank you all for your kind words. When I began researching I couldn’t find any information about the day to day living in France. Everyone on expat forums paint this rosy picture that living in France is so wonderful, and they think mentioning anything that can be seen as a criticism is disrespectful and people should go back to where they come from. We hear that said a lot in Australia.
France is a stunningly beautiful country, and we are living every minute. However, like any country it has some issues, and hopefully I’ve written something that if others do what we are doing it might give them some idea of reality.

On the bus from Nimes to Perpignan we had the best entertainment over bus seats. Yep bus seats. People basically sat where they wanted despite all reservations having a numbered seat. People were refusing to move to their allocated seats. At first the driver spoke quietly and politely to those who wouldn’t move. Then everyone got a bit more agitated, people standing in the aisle with baggage, looking at their tickets, looking at the seat numbers, and them basically refusing to move anywhere. In the end the bus driver got off the bus had a cigarette and left everyone to sort it out themselves. When he returned he gave us a big smile, a shrug of the shoulders started the bus, and everyone sat in whatever seat they could, and off we went 15 mins late. Luckily our seats were right behind the driver.

KayF Jan 6th, 2020 09:19 PM

I am very late seeing this but have loved what I've read so far. Will spend some time reading more to catch up. We emptied our house in 2006 and rented it out (in Melbourne) to go and live in the UK. We said if we can't find work we'll travel, then go home after a year. Within 3 weeks my husband had a job and we stayed in the UK nearly five years. Some of it was really hard but mostly I'd say one of the best things we've ever done.

Thanks for sharing your adventure!
Kay

cheska15 Jan 8th, 2020 09:06 PM

My intention was not to post about our trip to Spain as I thought it isn’t part of France, however I would like to share the fabulous day we had yesterday as there is a French connection.

We are travelling with an Aussie we met through the Aussies in France FB group and on Monday afternoon she was visiting Sagrada Familia. As she was unclear where it was, we walked her to the magnificent church. We decided to stop for a glass of cava and stumbled on a little place called K.serol. They were very welcoming, and we started talking to the owner Patrice who is French from Brittany. We had a very enjoyable hour talking to him. So enjoyable we returned yesterday for lunch.

On arrival it was the whole shaking hands with Patrice and the staff. The chef has a brother in Sydney, and we felt like we were meeting relatives.

The lunch menu of three choices of tapas size meals dessert and a glass of wine for €11.90 and mine was €13.90 because I had lamb cutlets. We selected salad with feta and pomegranate salad, pasta with Gorgonzola, crumbed shark, sushi, 4 lamb cutlets. The food was fabulous, and I really loved the salad. I have had pomegranate in cous cous before, but mixed with the feta and salad was fabulous. Another simple recipe that I can make at home.

We ended up spending nearly 3 hrs here drinking some very good white and red Spanish wine, and Patrice was very happy to chat to us about the differences between Spain, and France, and life in general.

We had one of those fabulous days that was unexpected, and unplanned, and happen when you are not in a hurry.
As we have visited Barcelona previously, we don’t have any things we must see. Also the weather is perfect, and we are enjoying walking around. Monday’s total distance was 19ks, and 10 ks yesterday. A perfect day in this great city

TDudette Jan 9th, 2020 03:39 AM

Continued bravas, cheska15. A meal of tapas was always plenty for me.

Adelaidean Jan 9th, 2020 11:36 AM

Ha, cheska, “My intention was not to post about our trip to Spain as I thought it isn’t part of France”........you do know we need our daily update, don’t you?


Our update....Smoke is awful today, windows all shut, but it has seeped inside. A bit of rain forecast, fingers crossed. Our beautiful Kangaroo Island has been decimated.


geetika Jan 9th, 2020 04:28 PM

Yes cheska, we need our daily update, regardless of where you are. And thanks so much for the tip about kserol, sounds like a delightful little place. Weíll be in Barcelona in May and will most certainly plan a lunch there after visiting the Sagrada Familia. Will most certainly raise a toast to our resident Aussies in France...🥂

cheska15 Jan 11th, 2020 10:53 AM

After three nights in Barcelona we took the train to Zaragoza. The scenery was completely different to other places in Spain. Green countryside after leaving Barcelona and then rolling hills that looked limes sand dunes with small vegetation. Very desolate and beautiful in its own way. The train station is 3 ks outside of town and we had a friendly taxi driver who was happy to point out various sites along the way. We were concerned that we may have been getting the scenic tour, however at €8 for a fare with luggage it seemed pretty good.

As we didn’t arrive to 2.30 we headed straight out for tapas. We are travelling with still the same Aussie and it’s working out ok. We had good tapas and wine for €9 and then went for cake, cava and coffee, that was €6 for two. Spain is so cheap.

This morning we visited the Basilica and there were no photos were allowed. An amazing place.. Next stop was Aljaferia Palace. I love the ceilings in the Palace although my husband is reluctant to do them at home. We then stopped for lunch and included a glass of Cava for me and red wine for my husband in recognition for people we know, and those we don’t, who have been fighting bushfires for weeks with no respite. Hopefully they will all be able to have a break now that conditions have eased a bit.

Zaragoza is a very clean city with wide streets, and a wonderful buzz. We are staying at Vincci Hotel Zaragoza and the cost for four nights in a very large room with a balcony is €337. Today’s costs have been € 43 for food and alcohol. One of those days where you drink more alcohol than you usually do. However, when in Spain .......

joannyc Jan 11th, 2020 03:58 PM

Not too far from Zaragoza is the Monasterio de Piedra with its gorgeous park and waterfalls. About a 1 hr 15 min drive or 2 hr bus ride.

Here are my photos of Zaragoza followed by the Monasterio and park:

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...gway1jZGcxVzlR

There is a good food hall in Zaragoza, Puerta Cinegia Gastronomica. I had lunch there 2 days.

Also, had a good dinner at Tragantua in Plaza Santa Marta.

lrice Jan 11th, 2020 04:16 PM

cheska15 I missed how you got from Nimes to Barcelona.

cheska15 Jan 11th, 2020 09:15 PM

Irice we were supposed to go by train from Nimes to Barcelona. However, due to the train strike we travelled by bus. We stopped overnight in Perpignan and then bus to Barcelona. The strikes in France are having an impact on travel. It is ok for us though because we have flexibility. Feel for the people that don’t. We are returning to Barcelona on Tuesday, staying overnight, and our return train to Nimes is on a guaranteed train service. The guaranteed service to Barcelona wasn’t an option though as I think the train was fully booked, and wouldn’t let us book seats. We will get a refund on the tickets as we booked in early November.

cheska15 Jan 13th, 2020 09:14 PM

A freezing foggy day in Zaragoza today. Temp was -2 and heavy fog most of the day, and we felt right at home. The Aussie from Townsville we are travelling with is not at home in this weather. I was wearing six layers of clothes ( 3 of them were merino) and still noticed the cold. Back to Barcelona today and then Nimes on Wednesday. We have enjoyed our time here, and Zaragoza is a lovely city. There are apartment blocks everywhere and in our walking saw only one house. The great thing about this is that some apartment blocks have fabulous views across from the castle, Bascilica, and parks. Im not sure if these apartments are more expensive, as they look the same as others.

This visit has convinced me even more, that if you are going to spend a winter in Europe, you have to select the area that suits you best. My husband would be very unhappy if we had selected a place with little sunshine in winter.


joannyc Jan 13th, 2020 11:53 PM

Well, you're welcome.

TDudette Jan 14th, 2020 05:52 AM

Are you getting a sleeper car for your trip back to Nimes, cheska15?



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