France Journals

Getting All Gallic

Best of IgoUgo

A travel journal to France by TianjinPaul

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On Strike ... Again

Best Of IgoUgo

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I am sitting in Liverpool John Lennon airport writing this journal entry on my Blackberry. I am waiting for my Easyjet flight back to Nice. I am bored and a little angry. The delay has nothing to do with Easyjet or Liverpool John Lennon. Everything on the British end of things is working metronomically. The delay is caused by problems in France. As it is 22 degrees and sunny in Nice, it is nothing to do with the weather. Sadly, the problem is a very French one: the air traffic control workers are on strike. I fly from Nice quite often. However, I fly nowhere near often enough for this to be the fourth time I have suffered from strikes in the space of a year. My catalogue of woe goes someth...Read More

Le Tabac

Best Of IgoUgo

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I will start this entry with something of a confessional statement. I like to gamble. Actually, perhaps I need to clarify that for fear of sounding as though I have some form of degenerative problem and am gripped by addiction. I like to have the odd little flutter on the football at the weekend. I will put a few Euros on various games across Europe. It is not as though I am involved in any high stakes poker games. Because of this, I love one particular French institution, Le Tabac."What on earth is a Tabac?" I hear you cry. A Tabac is a fantastic blend of all things wonderful. You can get a nice cup of coffee, so it is part cafe. You can get a beer, so it is part bar. And, you can bet on ...Read More

Crossing the Culinary Border

Best Of IgoUgo

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Nice is the closest major French city to the Italian border – it takes just 45 minutes to reach the Italian frontier town of Ventimiglia by train. Until 1860, Nice also used to be an Italian dominion and was not actually part of France at all. All this works to ensure that there is plenty of Italian influence in the city. This is particularly true in the food. You are more likely to find pizza and pasta based dishes than you are traditional French staples. In my first few months in Nice, I very much enjoyed the local cuisine (I still do). The Italian ambience that seeps into much of Nice had me under the impression that I was enjoying authentically Italian fare. However, I was actually lab...Read More

A Trip to Paris

Best Of IgoUgo

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It is a cliche perpetuated by British US sitcoms that the French are rude and unfriendly. Not only are the majority of them very nice, but they also do not eat frogs too often or smell of garlic. My life in Nice has taught me all of these p¿gy things. I very much like living in France and find the French to be wonderfully friendly. However, there is one situation in which I find the stereotype - at least the part about being rude and unfriendly to be true - visiting Paris for business.At least once per quarter, for a meeting at head-office. This means that I am forced to rise at a ridiculously early hour and catch a 6h30 flight from Nice to Paris Orly, which lands at around 8h00. I then ha...Read More

La Poste

Best Of IgoUgo

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I have lived in China and Turkey, both of which are countries that thrive on pointless bureaucracy and inordinate amounts of forms to fill out in order to complete the most basic of tasks. Getting my visa renewed in China was one of the most laborious and soul searching experiences I have ever undertaken. Similarly, getting my resident card in Turkey felt as though it would kill me. It actually worked well in motivating me to cease being a Turkish resident and to move somewhere else. I never imagined things would be the same in France. I was, at least to a certain extent, wrong.The first hint I had that France would offer similar, albeit much diluted, problems to China and Turkey came when...Read More

A Riviera Reaction

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I have lived in some countries that can get very cold. Chief amongst these was Mongolia, where temperatures can got up to 50 degrees below zero. I also lived in north of China and Korea where there are often deep blankets of snow for large parts of the year. Therefore, I never really have any big problems dealing with a dose of the white stuff. In fact, in Mongolia I regularly used to commute when the mercury had fallen 40 degrees below zero . In China, the river in the centre of Tianjin (the city in which I lived) would freeze in November and thaw in March. I would often go for a stroll or even a bike ride along it.However, in recent years, I have moved to slightly warmer climes. The sout...Read More