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Marseille or Bust!

The Way the Oldfield's travel South........

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The Last Metro – The Last 23 Steps

To find our way home – from Paris to our apartment in Montmorency, we must take any number of metros to Gare du Nord, where we get the PINK Train (as Olivia calls it) to the Enghien-les-Bains station – walk up the 23 steps to street level,  and head down the tiny lane,  of the tiny village,  to “home”.

Tonight, we took “The Last Metro” and  climbed the last 23 steps as this is our LAST night in PARIS.

Cover of "The Last Metro (Criterion Colle...

Cover of The Last Metro (Criterion Collection)

It’s already cool, the leaves are beginning to fall and I can’t believe a new season is around the corner already ………..

“To everything there is a time, a  season, a purpose under heaven ” —————–

It has been an incredible ride – and more  is  to  come – but now in the South…………..

NOTHING makes me happier, than to walk that LAST WALK down the lane to our apartment knowing MY KIDS walked it too; to remember the happiness on their faces when they looked at certain works of art; to know the sheets and the coat hangers were lovingly brought to us by my FL friend Amy, to know that the new friends we’ve made here in Paris, and at The American Church in Paris, will be with us the rest of our lives, to know that we, at our ages, could actually DO THIS, with everything that moving and working in a foreign  city entailed.

Here are a few memories of some of the best days of my life with my husband, and my family in the City of Lights that I am grateful beyond grateful to have had this opportunity…………………….


Gare du Nord, Paris Panoramamontage

Gare du Nord, Paris Panoramamontage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Station Gare du Nord, ligne 5 du métro de Pari...

Station Gare du Nord, ligne 5 du métro de Paris, France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Search is OVER!!!!

We found a little cottage of our dreams in Cassis, 15.5 miles from Marseille. It is where we have wanted to live for over 40 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank God it’s the South of France, because Apartment Hunting Sucks Big-time

Here is what you do when you have no place to live.  You gather up as much stuff as you can possibly carry on your back and pull behind you on wheels, and carry the rest in your one remaining free hand.  Then you arrive at your train station like that, (climbing countless stairs as the escalators don’t work mostly) and now you are traveling via metro  or bus until you find the first overnight inn, drop your things, go out and follow up on the leads you’ve been given, come back, receive calls where agency says, “Oh sorry, we can’t show you the apartment at 3pm as the owner still isn’t back from vacation yet”,  pack up all your stuff and move to the next place you will research, going by train with all the above luggage. Sometimes, you must just splurge and take a taxi when the marathon walking becomes too much.  In between this, you are figuring out different train schedules, making reservations for a 2nd or 3rd night stay somewhere, reading French rental catalogs, trying to find these places on your very worn map, figuring out how the metro works because it’s not like Paris  &  realizing you just lost 3 euros as the metro ticket you thought would get you through the turnstile has a “secret way of passage” which you did not know, so your time has expired.  Then you also must constantly ask directions to the next agency/B&B/apartment or, by this time, a toilet, because you’ve finished your liter of water, walking in the hot sun.  When you discover , (EUREKA!)  that your inn will take your luggage for a week, you will go back to Paris to pack up the apartment, clean the apartment thoroughly, and move the entire rest of your stuff in the heavy suitcases and boxes, this time in a CAR.   Then you drive to your new home in the South of France , hoping that you actually have a place to PUT all your belongings now, including the ones the INN has been holding for you or you will be sleeping in your car.  (Where?  I don’t know, because it will be full of luggage).

We’re not at the “driving to the South of France” yet in a car.  We are at the 2nd stage, where we have dropped all the suitcases we had and now have only a backpack on us to the next village to see if the apartment we strongly desire, actually will come to fruition.

Oh, did I mention that it’s Marseille that is our base and where David will be teaching? It’s very hot now and it’s like “Miami without the air conditioning” I call it.  While doing all of the above trekking about,  you must come back to your “inn” or hotel, or B&B and shower a couple of times a day.  Sticky hot.  We are also traveling out from Marseille by train to a port town known as CASSIS.  Incredibly beautiful.  It would be a dream if we could actually live here.

Oh,and to Vicki and Sharon, here are fun

art places for you:

La Maison de chant – dedicated to any vocal arts fans – Odile founded and managed it

(We stayed at Odile and Michel’s B&B one night in Marseille.  A WEALTH of Marseille special places.

La Meson – Home (in spanish) a small concert room for jazz and flamenco 500 m from apt.  Tram 2 – stop Nat’l or Reformes

La Maison de chant – dedicated to any vocal arts fans – Odile founded and managed it

La Meson – Home (in spanish) a small concert room for jazz and flamenco 500 m from apt.  Tram 2 – stop Nat’l or Reformes

Dock des Suds – Main place of big Marseilles musical evenings – In Oct the Fiesta des Suds

Tram 2 – Terminus Euromediterranee Arenc

La Friche Belle de Mai – The waste manufactory in La Belle de Mai district – in the old tobaccos manufactory an alternative cultural project wich became an int’l and official pattern

bus 49 – arret rue Jobin

Haven’t even hit the local artists…………..just wait till you see local artist fare…..ooohh la la

This – is Cassis:

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OBSERVATIONS and I should have just STAYED in the ROOM

It’s a cool crisp morning at Gare de Lyon on the 22nd of August and the sun is streaming in across the station and trains that have just arrived from Milan and Zürich.  We’re waiting for our  train to come in  from Marseille.   It won’t leave until 11:04 – it’s only 10:30 now. Fun wait.  Never can get tired of watching a million people pass you by,

It’s so colorful, the people, their clothes, their suitcases, their hair, – their DOGS.  Love it.

Some people walk with a sense of purpose, others with a tired and “I’d like to be on my train now” amble, others talking on their phones,  lots of little tiny children, lots of mommies, lots of skinny people, lots of suitcases, and the pigeons. I can’t wait to get on board the train so I can start knitting.  David went to find an ATM. I went to the pharmacy and drooled.  J’adore un pharmacie, I bought some wipes and checked out some of the lotions and facecreams and all of the brands. They’re lovely and they’re expensive, and they’re worth it.   I have two contacts in my eyes,  for a change, so I can see really well. But I can’t read a damn thing.

We had a really nice dinner last night in the apartment in Montmorency. I had stir fried chicken with tiny little diced sautéed vegetables of celery, shallots, carrots, garlic that I had cut up some weeks before and they were all frozen so it was really easy to just plop them in the pan – and then served some rice with it from Picard, it was quite tasty and it was served with fresh bread and some butter and mustard.  I like to dip my bread in the mustard they have here.  It’s very spicy and good – sometimes it’s Maille and other times it’s whatever I can find at Auchun.

There’s an older couple passing by me – all dressed in red, red sweater for him , and red and white fisherman’s shirt which is neat, and they look SO cute!!  Oh! here comes David, back from the ATM.


My poor knees are really creaking and cracking today – bone on bone – Oh I hope I don’t have to have a knee replacement soon. Ofcourse if I have it here, I might get a spa treatment out of it, and all kinds of therapy that’s included as you know,  so there’s an advantage to having it here, rather than the states, because it would be cheaper – whole lot cheaper and I would be given all these spa treatments that they order – can you believe it?   Well, once my walking starts in earnest again here in France, they will improve greatly.  All that driving in the States didn’t do me one bit of good.  I just feel SO OUT OF SHAPE NOW!!!!!

So, we’re on the TGV, it’s fast, that’s for sure and I’m getting some knitting done (when I ‘m not on THIS).

Before we know it………….

Welcome to PROVENCE, my friends!!!   (3 hours from Paris – not bad that fast train!)


Well, we had a scare. David’s backpack was missing – he thought he left it down at the check -in desk, but NO, then we thought is it in the Taxi? As we were talking to the Taxi driver about taking us to Cassis tomorrow……..we called the Taxi driver – no answer – we called again and again, no answer.  Finally, he answered and he said he would look – and he opened the trunk, and there in the back was David’s backpack!!  All fine and good.  He’s far away now, so he’s going to bring it back to us in 2 hours.

God is good, God is good.

Well, should have just STAYED In the room.

Tried to get on hotel WIFI and it sucked.  Walked to McDonalds instead and in asking directions of the nice French lady, was immediately accosted by her big white dog –

who would NOT get out of my skirt!!

Then, none of the credit cards would work at McDonalds (they’re not hooked up to

American CC’s)** and finally paid cash.  The water spilled onto the tray because they didn’t have tops on them and the water was too full.  He replaced the tray and I took the new tray and immediately hit some plexi-glass holding biscuits when all the fries went flying in the air and tumbled to the floor.

Then we sat outside for ambience (yes, even at McDonalds) and realized that this particular McDonalds was next to a helicopter pad, so this must be a new way of getting service fast.   It was loud.


I’m thinking…..”What the HECK??”

I need to go back to my room.

**credit cards didn’t work cause we were back in the states.  When we arrived back in France – they saw a charge go through for train tkts.  It looked suspicious so they cut off our cards . It’s okay, we only went a day without food. HA


Things I realize – since returning from the States:


1.  I could have made a small FORTUNE if I had brought SCHOOL SUPPLIES back from Walmart

(They have increased by 25% in France and they were tres cher to begin with!!!!)

2.  My peanut butter is nowhere to be found

3.   The cushy toilet paper is found

4.  I’ve come back to a furnished apartment where I have just ONE of everything, not 3 or 5 and it’s a fact I have a whole lot less (than I ever have in my life) and like it a lot

5.    It helps not to have a basement

6.    The only thing REMOTELY like living in France in the United States – is NORDSTROMS, where clerks  are NICE, look you in the EYE,  offer assistance, smile and one is surrounded by superb quality

7.   My husband  really must have missed speaking FRENCH as he just now, spoke, entirely in French, to a woman who totally spoke English at our residency apartment in Marseille.  He really missed speaking French obviously!!!   🙂

8.     I miss my grandchildren and children

OH!  I found the peanut butter!!!(Thank you TOM & JOY) you made my day!  🙂

           me and Iris in my kitchen

The Little Plane that thought He Could

At some 35,000 feet up from the earth a lot of planes were flying.  But not ours.

Arriving the usual 2 hours early to avoid TSA hassles and mobs of people, I was in for one of those

airline moments that was far from a “moment” and thought this is what happens when you pray to God to make you a more PATIENT BEING.


Our little (big) plane decided to flash a warning light as 257 souls sat on the tarmac –  # 2 to take off,  when that light goes off in the cockpit – so we return to the gate.

60 minutes + goes by.

We’re “good to go” the Captain announces and the 257 clap loudly.

Now we’re number 5 to take off and guess what?  ANOTHER light comes on.

Back to the gate.  More mechanics.  More waiting. Another 60 minutes.

And voilà!  It’s fixed.  But the wonderful male flight attendant made an announcement to the effect, that everyone must return to their seats and fasten their seat belts in case we really did take off this time.

I had to laugh.

We arrive in Philadelphia and jump out of our seats,  because,  no doubt everyone’s bum is numb.

And guess what?     The JETWAY is broken!!!  So add to that – another 30 minutes of standing in the aisles  while they FIX it!

Gosh I hope this airline gets it’s act together before they merge.

WHERE AM I ??!!!??? Hello?

OKAY, I’m in Saint Louis for an extended French Vacation. Yes, we get more than 2 weeks, even as a PART-TIME employee in Paris.   It’s beautiful.

Since here, we’ve done not much but take care of the little “Cape Cod house” we own and I have to say – it’s a bit much. All that yard (who NEEDS this much yard/garden?)….all that upkeep inside and outside ……….whew……..I really miss my simple apartment living with no upkeep, no lawn to mow, no huge amount of maintenance. AND – as much as I miss my incredible grands – (I have the most incredible grands and KIDS) –

and enjoy every single moment of every single day that I am blessed with their fun and presence……………
France !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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