Le pain, rapidement!

France is the most-visited country in the world. We have these impressions of its jaunty parapluie-lined beaches, the castle-lined hilltops and its status as a gastronomic Mecca, overflowing with wine. But what does it mean to be French? It isn’t all about sitting at cafés, reading Le Monde, smoking cigarettes and baffling the Americans with a diet…

Lofty over the Loire

“The… how do you say… sensation? It is ok?” Sebastien asked us in his charming French accent as we cruised lightly over the Loire Valley in his four-seater airplane. We nodded enthusiastically – yes, all good! In the split second that followed the horizon fell away to somewhere behind my back, the clouds shot up in…

Gainful employment is overrated

I’m gainfully employed. I might have my ‘termination of contract’ letter sitting in my inbox, but let’s ignore that. I’m gainfully employed and it is stressing me out. Big time. I have a head cold, which I think is due to the fact that I’m American and my body failed to realise that I wasn’t…

Perdu in Fontainebleau

Last Thursday we had a Chevillon-residents outing to the Jazz au Theatre festival in Fontainebleau. We got all gussied up, swung by the theatre to grab tickets, went out for some charming French food (er, wandered around town and finally settled on mediocre pizza since it was the only place open at 6.30 pm –…

In photos: 72 hours in Paris

On Thursday it happened: I melded into my kitchen table, cross-eye’d and atrophying from my lack of activity. I could no longer see the forest for the tree (ferns). Luckily the next day it was off to Paris for a weekend getaway with the girls from work! Most of the girls had never been to Paris before, though…

Dinner with Carl Larsson

Last week I moved to a tiny village in France to focus on drinking wine, eating baguettes and – oh yeah – writing. But I didn’t move to just smalltownville-anywhere in France, I have taken up residence in an artist colony in Grez-sur-Loing, which was once home to Carl Larsson (Midwinter Sacrifice; many paintings depicting life in the…

A scientist in an artist colony

People are LOOKING at me. Like real, actual eye contact!  Many – most even – are greeting me!  Where am I?! Apparently not in Scandinavia anymore, where eye-contact and any verbal communication between strangers is reserved only for people who are crazy, drunk or foreign. Here are some impressions of the first twenty four hours in…

Write it up. Or just write it down.

Last weekend I got into the nitty-gritty of packing up my apartment. I dove headfirst into two of the most daunting crevices of my two-bedroom flat: the bathroom shelves and those two boxes labelled ‘important papers.’ A riveting game of keep or toss? After the warm up round of THREE HOURS going through boxes of half…

What I learned from having my computer stolen in Honduras

In February 2014 I was on the backpacker island of Utila in Honduras for a month of diving and, well, blowing off some steam after finishing up my PhD.  As a newly minted doctor I couldn’t entirely leave work behind – a big grant application was due just days before I was ticketed to fly…

Area woman eaten by whale while hiking.

A week alone in the Norwegian wilderness. This is a short chronicle covering the fears and perils that come with being a solo, female hiker in the nether-regions of Scandinavia (gasp!) Will I be eaten by a terrestrial Kraken? Swallowed by a hungry Maelstrom? Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion! What brings me to address the dire…

The Californian Channel Islands: A day on Santa Cruz Island

One of the joys of being a houseguest with my sister and brother-in-law in California is that they become temporary tourists during my visit. But they aren’t just aimless wandering tourists – they have the perfect balance of in-the-know and bright-eye’d-enthusiasm. They have only lived in LA for a couple of years, and with minimal days off…