La Vie en France #23: You’ve got to Have Faith

  Like Number 22, La Vie en France #23 is also for those readers who think about taking a crazy step off a cliff; and moving out into a new direction in their lives.   The previous blogpost described how momentum builds as one starts to take steps toward one’s dreams.  At some point, one has to quit dreaming and take that great leap of faith.  However, taking that step can be daunting.  The Webmaster has worked in finance all his life; and the general Continue reading →

La Vie en France #22: With Little Steps Momentum Builds

  This blogpost is for those readers who think about taking a crazy step off a cliff, like the Webmaster took.  He quit his job as a highly-paid bond analyst in NYC in order to spend six months as a freelance tour guide on the American battlefields of France.   Looking back over the multi-year preparation for this new venture, the Webmaster can see clearly that it was hundreds of little steps; and with each little step the momentum started to build.  Like many readers Continue reading →

La Vie en France #21: “The Bug” and a Twist on “A Pirate Looks at Forty”

Today is 1 November, 2017.  The Webmaster’s six-month stay in France ends in two weeks.  One would think he should be longing to go home.  However, that is only partially true; as part of his heart always stays here on the Meuse-Argonne battlefield of France.  He has been bitten by “the bug.”  In his case, it started on his third battlefield tour in 1994, when he participated in his first work weekend with the Deutsches Erinnerungskommittee Argonnerwald.  Since then, he has been drawn to the Continue reading →

La Vie en France #20: A Look at Rural French Towns Along the Battlefield

Part 1:  What’s in a Town? This look at towns began with one of the Webmaster’s first tour clients; who as a town planner was interested in their water sources, including the historical lavoir or wash house.  Starting from there, the Webmaster began to see other common features too.  Regardless of size, almost every French town in the sector has the following items: Mairie (Town Hall)–If the town is large enough it is usually a combined Mairie/École.) War Memorial Church Salle de Fête  (Party Hall)–Regardless Continue reading →

La Vie en France #19: French Roundabouts–Please let me go Round Again

Few American drivers are used to roundabouts in the United States.  Driving through them, especially on crowded, urban streets, can be a bit daunting for new arrivals.  That said, the roundabouts do work in France; and the Webmaster has learned to prefer them over long traffic lights during his stay.  Hopefully, the comments below will reduce drivers’ stress levels a bit.         Roundabout Basics in France: The basic rule is quite simple:  Vehicles already in the roundabout usually have priority (i.e. right-of-way) Continue reading →

La Vie en France #18: Thoughts After four Months in France

Part 1–Thoughts on the big Adventure Many readers are not aware that the Webmaster quit his job as a financial analyst in March 2017 in order to live in France as a freelance tour guide to the American and Verdun battlefields of WW1.  He is doing this from 15 May to 15 November, 2017.  This is a follow up to his blogposts, “Taking Stock of the First Two Months–Part 1” and “Taking Stock of the First Two Months–Part 2” that appeared in mid July.   Continue reading →

La Vie en France #17: Le Brouillard (the Fog)

The advent of cooler weather brings with it “le brouillard.”  In the morning and evening it can make driving on those lovely narrow French backroads a bit more challenging; but it also adds a certain atmosphere–especially for those touring the battlefields.  The good news is that it generally burns off by 10h00 or 10h30. Also, for those just learning French seeing the word itself is very menacing:  The oui blends together; The double ll becomes a Y sound; and the final d is silent because Continue reading →

La Vie en France #16: Building Bridges–Looking at the Past and Looking Toward the Future

  In a small way, the Webmaster recently helped explain parts of the Great War to the general public.  A German historian and friend, Markus Klauer, asked him to review the English text on a series of sign boards to be posted on the newly-created trail “Chemins Franco-Allemands” on the Mort Homme (i.e. Verdun) battlefield.  This was just to add another set of eyes to check the translation.     The sign boards were posted and the dedication of the sign boards was set for Continue reading →

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 →