032.Entrance of La CiteI get Banksy. And Elena Ferrante. And Daft Punk. And George Sand.

When I started this blog, I wanted needed to write about my observations of French life, the things I had been chronicling in regular emails to my parents since moving here. I started the blog when they died, like so many long-married couples, within weeks of each other. I never intended to sell anything, and I still don’t, other than our AirBnB apartments in the center of town. Hence, I kept the spotlight on France. I don’t show myself or, especially, my family and friends. They might not mind one story or photo but they might mind another, and it’s a line I don’t want to cross. I want to share the humanity of our lives without destroying their privacy. They aren’t online influencers, nor am I. We’re just quiet people, leading quiet lives. To be an open book on the Internet, it’s best to remain an enigma. Unless one is a Kardashian.

149.Entrance Chateau Cité
The château of la Cité (because la Cité is a city with a castle in it). No photos here of Oliver and Lina because I was in the moment with them, enjoying their company and not focusing on getting shots.

That said, I have met in person a number of readers who have passed through our beautiful region. It’s always a delight, because they are so enthusiastic about France. I am amazed at how so many people online are truly wonderful people. No, I must correct that: having traveled around the world and having lived in four countries, I can say unequivocally that the vast majority of people are truly wonderful people. It is not amazing at all that people who read about food, history, antiques and travel would be agreeable. 153.Basilique saint NazaireReaders have shared such funny and heartfelt stories of their own in the comments. They have generously offered advice. And support.

The past week, we have enjoyed the company of Oliver and Lina Gee of the Earful Tower podcast. They are even cuter in person than they sound on the air. I found their podcast from another wonderful blog, French Girl in Seattle. A virtuous circle of francophile references.560.La Cité1We watched them do a live video tour of la Cité, and I was impressed by the amount of research Oliver had done. They are brimming with curiosity and enthusiasm about France. I enjoy it much more than the folks who complain about French quirks, which often aren’t quirks at all. They are either individuals being individual or the storyteller is the one really at fault. When our plumber doesn’t completely tighten something, we see it as a quirk of our plumber (and the Carnivore just goes around tightening everything after the plumber is done) and not of French plumbers. I can’t speak to French red tape, because I haven’t encountered any. My carte de séjour was a breeze, so was the driver’s license, so was enrolling our kid in school. Everyone we have encountered in bureaucracy has been very professional and efficient, except one time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we first bought our house here, we opened a bank account at the post office and set up automatic payments for utilities, etc. We were still living in Belgium at the time. We came back to prepare plans for the renovation (all the contractors were very professional, by the way, no tales of woe to share there), and discovered we had no water. We contacted the water utility and learned it was shut off for lack of payment. We ended up at the post office, where we found out the clerk had a question about something and was afraid to call us long-distance and also claimed he didn’t know our address. If anybody knows addresses it’s the post office. Anyway, the money we had deposited was blocked during this saga, no bills had been paid and the post office (more precisely the clerk who took care of banking in the village post office) hadn’t informed us of anything. We promptly took our money to a different bank (which the post office claimed was impossible, they couldn’t possibly accommodate a withdrawal over €400, but they managed. Again, I don’t consider this a French thing but an inept clerk thing–he undoubtedly wanted to hide his screw-up from his supervisors).Stairs to tower of la citeAnyway, back to Oliver and Lina. I will write about each of them individually (Lina designs her own line of shoes!), but in the meantime, get yourself over to the Earful Tower or to iTunes or Stitcher or Spotify or however you get your podcasts and sign up. They usually are based in Paris, but since they got married this summer (so cute!) they are traveling on a little red scooter (so cute!) in a heart-shaped route around France (so cute!). Carcassonne is the bottom point of the heart, exactly on the line that divides France between east and west.alley in la citeThe Earful Tower is full of stories about French culture, history and language. I love it and usually listen to each episode twice, because they are packed with details.

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34 thoughts on “The Sharing Tightrope

  1. Blogging has been very good to us and we’ve met all sorts of people through them finding the blog and then us. We are a bit more open about than you who we are and who our friends are, but even so, I am conscious not to overstep a self-imposed line of privacy. I’m glad you had fun with Oliver and Lina. Sounds like we really must get them to the Loire Valley sometime 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Last week I went to Montana on a writers’s retreat with seven other women from three countries and diverse ages and backgrounds. We bonded, laughed, cried and lifted one another up. It was one of the best things I’ve experienced.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I listened to the whole podcast, and did not realize until the very end that it was YOU speaking! I had to go back and listen again. Delightful!! Thank you for being so generous on your blog with information, observations and beautiful photos. I look forward to every one of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never knew I was Francophile. Now thanks to your blog, Oliver Gee’s, and a few others I’m learning French on Duolingo, and reading (somewhat)Vogue magazine online in French. I’m so happy to have unlocked and understand a whole new culture. Fascinating. Thank you so much for all that you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know them well – virtually of course – and I always find it amazing and amusing that we all here in this virtual world of well known everything share so many things, thoughts, beauties and mostly, people!!!! The number of times I ‘had to’ agree with writers of all things of places and people I had contact with too, sharing books, feelings, places, impressions – and ONE of the reasons for NOT having a blog myself is that my family (all of them, w/o exception) are fiercely and totally protecting themselves and their privacy – the number of times I have been told by them to swear NOT to get any of them into any of my publications…. Especially on photos. Which is something I always did, although I missed out on a large number of occasions to be funny, interesting, boasting, but mostly just missing out on sharing particularly lovely moments including any of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never had to sign in when I follow my email notification to your blog post. Since I have a wordpress account that is what I use to comment, so I guess I signed in the first time. The Earful Tower podcast requires you to download and use iTunes.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bonjour! First, thank you so much for mentioning French Girl in Seattle in your article. It goes both ways: I am really happy I found your blog a long time ago it seems, and share your stories on a regular basis with my readers. One of the reasons is your ability to observe (and empathize with) the French and their culture without necessarily judging them. So many bloggers choose the other route for the sake of writing an umpteenth story (list?) about life in France heavy on stereotypes and generalizations! 😉 You also make excellent points about the challenges of blogging while keeping your private life – and entourage – private. I have recently shared a bit more of my life online than I normally do because I am planning to relocate to France, as you may know, over the next few months. Overall, the blogging experience and blogging world have brought me so many positive experiences, and so many meaningful connections, not just with readers but also with other bloggers! Currently in Bordeaux, I spent a wonderful day yesterday with another blogger, Jennifer, (An American Mom in Bordeaux.) We finally met in person just over a year ago, and hit it off immediately. We may become best friends if I relocate to Bordeaux next year. So happy you enjoyed Oliver and Lina’s visit (and I know they enjoyed meeting you and Carcassonne as well.) Keep on writing about France, people, and life, Catherine. You do it so well! 🙂 A bientôt, Véronique – French Girl in Seattle

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree it’s a fine line we walk when we go social, for whatever reason, and yet want to fly under the radar in terms of our private lives. Like you, I felt the need to share my observations about life in the wonderful if often frustrating land. I try to be personal yet draw a line about sharing every detail of my life. Thanks for sharing the links!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As a french person living in France, your’s is one of the only one blog I read from english speaking people living in France. For one, you are always honest and objective in your comments on your life in France, never judgemental. And then you have a way to show and describe Carcassonne and your region of South West that sounds like true love. I have never been to Carcassonne but you, you gave me the idea to travel there. I expect to travel one day, not too far in time I hope.
    Thank you for all your pictures and the time you dedicate to your city, to your region.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love that podcast! I cannot wait to listen to the one featuring you! Your blog is one that I save to read when I have time so that I can savor it and go back and read it again and then take the time to look up the history and interesting tid bits of information that you share.

    I always come away having learned something new!

    Liked by 1 person

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