La Vie en France #15: Some Thoughts on Diet and Exercise from Across the Pond

The large amount of battlefield remains that can still be seen is one feature that makes the Meuse-Argonne and Verdun battlefields special relative to more manicured battlefields such as the Somme, Ypres and Normandy.  However, in order to take advantage of that fact visitors: 1) need to know where those locations are and 2) need to be in good physical health to explore them.  Point 1, above, can be solved through research and contacts.  Point 2, above, can only be solved through exercise and preparation. Continue reading →

La Vie en France #14: Taking Stock of the First two Months–Part 2

Continuing from the last post…   Re-connecting with Old Friends…     Making New Friends…     Getting out of one’s Comfort Zone… Trying new restaurants, like L’authentique Bar Resto in Azannes and La Sicilia in Doulcon Learning to drive to Stenay for shopping (12km) rather than Verdun (32 km.) Researching and visiting NEW portions of the battlefield for clients Finding other local “treasures” such as the 11th Century church at Mont-devant-Sassey and the Citadelle de Montmédy Learning to Skype (for a 53-year old man) Continue reading →

La Vie en France #13: Taking Stock of the First two Months–Part 1

The Webmaster finds it hard to believe that he has been in France for 60 days already.  That’s effectively one-third of his “sabbatical” over here.  Time to take stock of his experience to date: Battlefield Tours Randal has led five battlefield tours for a total of 24 days; or 40% of the days he has lived in France.  Overall, he has enjoyed bringing Americans closer to the battlefields of WW1.  Here are a few excerpts from participants:   “I would not be here if it Continue reading →

La Vie en France #12: Through the Years, Im Laufe der Jahre, A traverse les annees

The Webmaster has met many new friends through his website and Facebook group over the last few years.  Yet many people do not know that he has been coming to the Meuse-Argonne regularly since 1994.  In fact, he held his 50th birthday party at the Hôtel du Commerce in Aubrèville in 2013, where he has been a regular guest since 1997.  Here is a partial selection of photographs from his June 2013 birthday slide show.   1994  Deutsches Erinnerungskommittee Argonnerwald–Irma Tunnel         Continue reading →

La Vie en France #11: The Beloved Brocante (Flea Market)

  From around May to September one sees countless signs for brocantes when travelling the battlefields.  These are town-wide flea markets / garage sales; although the Webmaster believes that many non-resident vendors also buy table space.   Each town seems to have one scheduled during the spring / summer; and the dates seem to be selected carefully so that a town does not infringe on its immediate neighbor towns.  Sunday appears to be the most popular day for the brocante.   For the rural French, Continue reading →

La Vie en France #10: Finding Suitable Places for Ladies to Pee

War-Time German Postcard:  Caption Reads “A Height Record for the Air Ship Service”   After completing his first two tours with female clients, the Webmaster is again reminded that hiking the battlefields of rural France is much easier for men than for women.  Men can simply walk behind a bush or tree to urinate.  Anatomically speaking, the same is true–but a bit more complicated–for women.  However, American women tend to see this as an option of last resort.  Thus, from a male point of view, Continue reading →

La Vie en France #9: Cheap Gas, Sundays and Creative Solutions

“When in Rome do as the Romans do,” goes the popular phrase.  Said differently, when travelling abroad one can’t expect everything to be done as it is in one’s home country.  That is definitely true when travelling from suburban USA to rural France.  Here are a few examples:     Gas Prices and Finding Cheap Gas Gas is expensive in Europe:  Right now the cheapest diesel is about €1.30 per liter.  €1.30 x 3.78 liters per gallon x $1.13 exchange rate = $5.55 per gallon! Continue reading →

La Vie en France #8: It Takes a Team Part 2–Language Lessons

    The Webmaster has just returned from tracking down a difficult “Then and Now” photo with extreme gratitude for his language tutor, Alexis P. Miller!  After fifteen months of language lessons, 2x per week more or less, the Webmaster can at least express himself and explain what he is doing:  Even if he doesn’t understand everything that others say.   On today’s search the Webmaster thought it best to ask a farm family before driving off into their field in search of the site of an airplane crash landing.  He Continue reading →

La Vie en France #7: Welcome to the Punch Bowl

La Vie en France #6 proved to be quite popular, as there seems to be a good bit of interest in seeing where the Webmaster is living during his six months in France.  Le Vie en France #7 shows a panoramic view of the “Punch Bowl” encircling Doulcon.  It is taken from a hillside along the D164 perhaps a kilometer West of Doulcon.     Western portion of the punch bowl.     Eastern portion showing Doulcon and Dun-sur-Meuse.  The church on the Hillside at Continue reading →

La Vie en France #6: An Evening Walk in Doulcon

Situated in the Department of the Meuse and the Region of Lorraine, Doulcon has  a population of around 430 inhabitants.  As travelers to the region know, this is not a wealthy port city along the coast.  Rather, Doulcon is situated in the heart of farming country; and its houses and streets reflect the increasing difficulties of farming–even in the heart of France with all its farm subsidies.  Luckily, the region also attracts thousands of tourists a year:  Tourists, such as the Dutch, who love the natural beauty Continue reading →