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StCirq Oct 25th, 2019 09:37 AM

God yes! box wines are just fine. You absolutely do not have to have the fiddle-dee-do of the maker and the tiny little village in the middle or nowhere or the photo of the pretty little grape vine or any of the other nonsense to have a good glass of wine. It's amazing what the wine hype stuff has wrought. I have a big laugh when people spend mucho dollars going to Montepulciano or Bordeaux vineyards with big names -- it's all nothing but grapes. Wish I'd cashed in on the hype.

I watch people who think they are wine experts and despite all their pretensions I'm not sure they could distinguish between a glass of my laundry water and a glass of Ch teauYourBehind 2005. It was a good year, 2005. I'm savvy enough to know that.

TDudette Oct 25th, 2019 10:14 AM

LOL, StC. In the very way back when, I took a wine-tasting class. Teacher was a vintner and he said "Drink what you like!" We did have lectures about the most well--known types. What teacher said was the best, tasted terrible to me.

OTOH, DH and I were lucky enough to enjoy a real tasting dinner and it was amazing.

Modern technology has changed things, yes? Screw caps, boxes, faux corks, etc. I like wine to be cool so usually ask for ice with my red wine order!

What's next, cheska15?

kerouac Oct 25th, 2019 10:57 AM

Visiting my E. Leclerc supermarket last week, I was amazed to see that they were selling one brand of wine for 1.75 a bottle. Out of curiosity, I bought a bottle. I considered it to be a very small risk because the top supermarket chains in the country cannot afford to sell complete crap on special. And I was truly amazed by the quality. Obviously not a great wine but very smooth and fruity, totally drinkable, and I was also surprised that the bottle had a real cork in it. While screw top bottles are extremely rare in France, quite a few cheap wines use synthetic corks, even for things like Beaujolais Nouveau. I bought another bottle today because they still had a little bit left. (This is the sort of thing that comes in one palette and when it's gone, you never see it again.)

Anyway, I always think of the numerous people who constantly write on forums that in France you can actually find drinkable wine for only 6 or 7 euros, as though that were amazing.

cheska15 Oct 25th, 2019 11:11 AM

As the trains to Montpellier and Marseille are very few due to the floods that hit the south of France earlier in the week we decided to take a bus trip to Sommiers today. I had heard different views on the place, and importantly had no expectations.

The bus 141 from Nimes was a 55 minute drive through lovely green countryside and very clean and neat villages. The buses are such a wonderful way to travel as they are very clean and look new.

After being confused about the way into town we eventually headed in the right direction and went into the tourist office. The staff there are the best staff we have come across. It did help that the woman spoke excellent English. More importantly the two women were so helpful and seemed so happy that we were visiting.

A bathroom and coffee break were desperately required and we found a Boulangerie that had both in the main square. We then had 20 minutes to shop before they closed for lunch after noticing a few interesting items on the way to the Boulangerie. Isn’t it amazing how quickly you can shop if you have to. We had an a friend with us today who couldn’t decide what top to buy. I advised her of my motto when in doubt by both, and she did.

We then walked up to the Chateau Sommiers, and although closed, you have a great view of this gorgeous little town. We then walked along the river and ate at L’Esplande. It’s not a five star place, but the service was very friendly, food ok, and a lovely outlook. Cost for 3 €54. We then walked around the town some more and even though most of the shops were closed we all agreed that it was a gorgeous town with friendly people. I think there is a definite advantage going to a town out of season. The town apparently has a fantastic market on Saturday’s.

If you are looking for bathroom facilities there is one opposite where you arrive at the bus station These were not able to be used due to the state of cleanliness.

All in all another fantastic day trip and I would recommend a visit. We are never in a hurry visiting anywhere, but if you are, then a coffee stop for an hour or two would be plenty of time. We love the long lunch, and if we miss something we’ll we can always return

cheska15 Oct 29th, 2019 09:00 AM

When deciding on where to live in France the no 1 priority was having access to a squash cour for my husband. He plays masters squash in Australia, and is also competing in the World Masters Squash in Poland August 2020, so maintaining his level was very important.
Last week he went to the courts to see what the process was to register here. They don’t have a competition like Aus where he plays in a team every week. He had to put his name down and they would spread the word about having a hit each week. On Monday he received a text inviting him for a hit today. Once he played other people invited him to join them playing twice a week. He is very happy about it all.

He was also feeling lucky today because when he entered the Free Shop to purchase a SIM card it was so easy and he was out in ten minutes All is required is an IBAN number. Now we have a French phone number.

We feel we are really living in the community now these types of things have come together, especially as I walked around the town by self and spoke a few words of French and was understood. Celebrated the milestones by having a good lunch at W Tapas and Wine bar. Good food in a lovely park like setting. The desserts were especially good. I had fish served with eggplant and red capsicum, a little to creamy so I scrapped it off. My husband had a hamburger, and didn’t realise it had foie gras included. While it was not to his liking, there was nothing wrong with it. Desserts was citron mousse served in a glass with cream, coconut, and broken biscuits. The creme brûlée was beautiful and light with a hint of orange.
Total was €63 including 4 glasses of wine. We didn’t mind as we have been eating at home the last couple of days.

Oh and did I say the weather is absolutely stunning. Beautiful blue sky, soft sunshine, no wind and 21 degrees (Celsius).
After the horrific storms last week that caused significant damage to the Marseille- Barcelona train line it is lovely to have the sun. Apparently the line may be repaired by November 4.
All in all today has been a pretty normal day. Still loving it here.

StCirq Oct 29th, 2019 11:20 AM

cheska15, I mentioned this yesterday on the What's For Dinner thread, but a "health food" (bio) store has just opened up in the nearest town to us. It's a chain with 150 stores all over France (each independently owned) called Les Comptoirs de la Bio. We were absolutely bowled over by the quality of the products, and much to our surprise many of the prices were about the same or lower than in our Intermarché, Lidl, and Aldi. The store is incredibly light, airy, and roomy, everything beautifully arranged, all the products incredibly fresh (very little meat, though, and no fish). You might want to see if there's one near you. They even have a free coffee bar with free cookies and pain d'épices. We've been joking that we may start going there for breakfast! Much as we love going to our local markets and frequenting our local vendors, it might be more pleasant for us to shop here in winter time, especially when it's cold and rainy. Their wines and other alcoholic beverages were more expensive than we are used to, though.

Weather was downright balmy here today as well. A couple more days like this and then the forecast is for rain and storms.

I"m impressed you found a place for your husband to play squash. Who knew?

cheska15 Oct 29th, 2019 11:40 AM

Originally Posted by StCirq (Post 17008093)
I"mb impressed you found a place for your husband to play squash. Who knew?

He wouldn’t have agreed to visiting for 12 months if he couldn’t play squash. I’m sure you have heard the saying use it or lose it. He feels at his age that if he had a year off it would be too hard to get back into the game. Also the trip isn’t all about me ha ha.
I will look for the stores you mentioned. Thanks for the tip.

Adelaidean Oct 29th, 2019 12:16 PM

How lovely, Cheska, that feeling of getting settled and feeling comfortable in your community must be reassuring. The dynamics so different if you’re just passing through.

StCirq Oct 29th, 2019 01:47 PM

If you're serious about grilling, also look into buying a real grill. They're not expensive (can even be ordered on line from My husband loves to grill and bought a very sturdy, serviceable grill with a smoker for about 150 euros, maybe less. We use it all the time.

cheska15 Oct 29th, 2019 09:42 PM

We have purchased a bbq and use that when we cook at home. When we leave here we will either leave it here or give to a charity shop. For €129 it has been worth it.

TDudette Oct 30th, 2019 02:59 PM

Continued bravas!

Great that your DH found a squash game so quickly, and you are feeling comfortable as well.

May Mother Nature get more agreeable soon.

cheska15 Oct 31st, 2019 01:41 PM

Our wonderful landlord continually emails us to let us know what events are on. Tonight being Halloween the Les Halles (markets) were having an event. People were encouraged to dress up. You could buy a first glass of wine for 5 euros and then each refill was €4. You could purchase any tapas plate for €5. An added bonus was a brass instrument band. What I love about these events is there is no excess drinking or unruly behaviour. Everyone is just having a good time. Now if we had markets like that where we live perhaps we would buy more.

As tomorrow is a public holiday in France the shops will be closed. However a lot did not re-open after lunch. In fact only the odd cafe were open after 4.00pm. Luckily we are going to Lyon tomorrow, so haven’t had to shop. Before coming to France we entered into TripIt all the public holidays, and we get a reminder two days, and then one day before. This gives us the option of shopping for food or eating out.

we are really looking forward to our visit to Lyon even though it will be cold and rainy

rhon Oct 31st, 2019 07:53 PM

Sounds as though you are settling in nicely. We have been lucky a few times during our trips to come across a local fete, and they are fun. I follow some blogs, a couple from ex-pat Australians, and they describe these events like this which happen in their local community and they always sound wonderful.
I would be interested to know how you found your accommodation in Nimes. Even after this short time, you are going to be sad to leave. I will think of you in the heat of Canberra at Christmas where we will be dog sitting.

cheska15 Nov 1st, 2019 01:32 PM

rhon we are very happy with our accommodation in Nimes. As we are staying in Nimes for six months there were certain criteria that had to be met.
1 Outside space
2 Quiet
3 ease of getting to train station
4 transport into city centre.
5 space inside if possible.
Our mazet (little house ) is 60 sq metres on a huge block in a residential area 3ks from the city centre There is a bus stop 400m away and a great Boulangerie at 500m ( opens at 6.00am).

The house is long and there is one large bedroom, kitchen, dinning area and lounge. Bathroom is a good size with washing machine. We knew before arrival that the shower was a hand held one, so a few days after arrival we went to the hardware store and purchased a suction shower holder.
The fridge is what we would call a bar fridge. That suits us, but it wouldn’t suit others. Our only issue is the place seems cold. Everything feels damp. Not sure whether we should leave the reverse cycle on for a couple of days, or what to do.

As part of the visa requirement we had to provide evidence of accommodation for 12 months. This can be either what we have, hotel accommodation, or you can stay with someone. We payed one months rent in November 2018 to secure the booking. We also figured that if something went wrong we could afford to loose that amount. We wouldn’t have been happy if we did lose that amount, and that would have been worse case scenario. I found the place on VRBO and as the add said long term rentals welcome, I contacted the owner, and we agreed on €650 per month plus electricity and water. We were happy with that.
it was quite difficult deciding on a budget for accommodation for the year, as I couldn’t find out what was reasonable. We did not want to get into a normal rental agreement, as tenancy issues in France can be tricky. A few weeks before we arrive the owner informed us he is renovating the mazet in March so we will leave then, and that suits us too. We feel that we have landed on our feet, as the owner is a lovely young guy who offers to takes us shopping, or anything else that we need. We haven’t had to take him up on the offer yet. Who knows in winter though.

Here we are in Lyon in a small hotel room and at $210 (Aussie) a night and instead of coffee cups, there are cardboard cups. I will ask for proper cups when I go downstairs. I know I’m being a princess lol.

rhon Nov 1st, 2019 01:58 PM

That sounds great. 650 euro a month sounds good. Only having experience of holiday rentals, I have no idea what a general rental per week or month would be. Looking at links others provide to their holiday accommodation, we think we do pretty well to average out at 300 euro a week for our gites. But we stay in smaller places. We have sometimes only had a small fridge and you do cope. We also find a lot of rentals are tiled, not carpeted, for obvious reasons- easier to clean with no stained carpets. That does make them seem colder. Because of the times we travel we are usually there when it is cold for a few weeks.
Have fun in Lyon.

StCirq Nov 1st, 2019 03:22 PM

cheska15, your local hardware store (Bricomarché, Monsieur Brico, Brico Depot... or just a quincaillerie) should carry any number of charcoal products you can use to combat the damp, which is very common in old French houses.

cheska15 Nov 1st, 2019 10:38 PM

StCirq. Thanks. How do you use these products. The house isn’t old, and was probably built in the 1960’s

cheska15 Nov 1st, 2019 11:32 PM

Have looked it up and will buy some when we get back to Nimes.

StCirq Nov 2nd, 2019 02:41 AM

Well, it depends on which charcoal products you buy. There are bags of sort of charcoal chips that you can place in damp spots, there are charcoal "logs," and there are powders (don't recommend them - they are messy). There are also a variety of anti-moissisure sprays you can buy. IME, most of these are pretty effective. You do want to deal with the problem, because if you don't you'll get mold, which can lead to allergies and spoil the house structure, and then the owner is facing new "isolation" issues. We had to start from the attic down and re-insulate the whole house (built sometime around 1860, but the original structure has been here since the 14th century), and we still have to use charbon/anti-moissisure products. Actually, if your landlord is willing, I'd mention the problem to him and have him bring in a specialist to spray the whole place - it will serve him well in the long run and save him considerable expense if he attacks the problem now. Good luck.

kerouac Nov 2nd, 2019 03:54 AM

Rubson is the main brand of anti humidity products.

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