La Vie en France #43: Podcast Explores Cultural Differences Between France and USA Above is a link to the second “Battles of the First World War Podcast” that the Webmaster has done with Mike Cunha. Together with cross-cultural trainer and author Carol Kieffer, the three participants spend about an hour talking about a wide range of cultural differences between France and the U.S.A. The goal of this podcast is to give potential first-time (or second- or third-time) travelers to France a more pleasant experience, because they will have some idea of what to expect. Together, the three Continue reading →

La Vie en France #42: Overcome Fear and Start Planning Your Trip Today

    The Webmaster and his wife just returned from a week in Normandy where a local organization, Association Soldat Mickael Burik, organized a commemoration for American soldiers killed near Mortain, France during WW2.  His wife’s uncle was a fighter pilot shot down on 9 August 1944.  Over the last two years, the Association identified more than 5,000 soldiers killed in a 20km (12 mile) radius.  It researched 1,500 fallen soldiers, finding 1,800 related family members and sending 800 emails.  It received dozens of responses, Continue reading →

La Vie en France #41: Où puis-je apprendre le français aux États-Unis? (Where can I learn French in the USA?)

  This Webmaster and Tour Guide has long advocated that visitors to the American battlefields have some knowledge of the local language and culture before they begin their tour.  Being able to read the many French monuments and markers, the basics of the restaurant menu, etc. allows participants to have a more comfortable and rewarding tour.  Also, locals are often very forthcoming with tips and information; if one can communicate with them.  Luckily, there are a plethora of language-learning options available to today’s battlefield pilgrim. Continue reading →

La Vie en France #40: Building Bridges Across the Atlantic

  Watching international relationships build as Americans travel abroad is one of the great pleasures the Webmaster receives from maintaining this website and the very active Facebook Group.  A few weeks ago the Webmaster added a feature article to his website:  “When an American Woman Rediscovers the History of a Small Village in the Meuse.”  It tells the story of Laurie Button, her “adopted” 5th Division Doughboy, Walter “Wave” Miguel, and the moving commemoration ceremony the town of Louppy-sur-Loison held on Saturday, 10 November, Continue reading →

La Vie en France #39: What Comes Next? Serendipity and the New York Travel Show

Regular readers know the “La Vie en France” blog posts talk about the Webmaster’s cultural experiences in France and/or the process that led to his sabbatical to pursue his passion as a freelance tour guide for the AEF battlefields on the Western Front.  This post covers the latter topic.  Specifically, what direction should the Webmaster’s next career take?  His first career was as a financial analyst; but in the world of finance one only gets re-hired at age 55 if one was “the best thing Continue reading →

La Vie en France #38: “Where Words Leave Off, Music Begins”

    This quote by German poet Heinrich Heine seems appropriate as my final days in Lorraine, France wind down in 2018 and that melancholy feeling (of leaving France) begins to set in.  During the last two years I have had the great experience of being able to live in France for eight months as freelance tour guide!  I plan to continue offering tours in 2019; but I have to balance my tour plans with the realistic need to find a real job again too.  Continue reading →

La Vie en France #37: The Beauty and the Sorrow of the Armistice Centennial

As 11 November 2018–the Centennial of the Armistice–approaches, I find myself having very mixed feelings.  One hundred years ago the combined economic and military might of the Allied powers finally put an end to more than fours years of fighting an industrialized war–the likes of which had never been experienced before.  Certainly, for those soldiers that day was a wonderful day–once they got used to the deafening silence.  This “beauty” of the Armistice is reflected in these carefully staged photos of 5th Division soldiers near Continue reading →

La Vie en France #36: Telling the AEF Meuse-Argonne Story

    On a recon trip before the Western Front Association USA Branch 2007 tour I penned the following forward:   25 February, 2007 Hotel du Commerce, Aubreville It’s 23h30 and I cannot fall asleep.  The countless sites, roads, experiences of the past two days run through my mind. This area of France has been calling me since my first visits in the early 1990s, yet how do I tell the story of American participation in 1918? I reenact, but I’ve never experienced the terror Continue reading →

La Vie en France #35: Laundry Day–When You’ve run out of Clean Clothes

    So what does one do when one runs out of clean clothes on a vacation to the battlefields?  The answer can vary widely.  There is the “old wash socks and underwear in the sink trick.”  They can then air dry in the hotel room, using the radiator on cooler days.  If one is staying in a small hotel or B&B, one can ask the host / hostess politely if they could do a load.  Of course, one should pay them for their efforts!  Continue reading →

La Vie en France #34: Boureuilles: Jump-off Line for the 28th and 35th Divisions

  What a difference a year makes!  Last year, the Webmaster rented a gite in “The Punchbowl” of Doulcon for six months.  Doulcon was liberated by the 5th Division on 3 November, 1918–quite late in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  This year the Webmaster is renting the “Gite les Rosiers” in Boureuilles.  This gite is basically on the 28th and 35th Division jump-off line of 26 September–just a few kilometers south of Varennes-en-Argonne.  Said another way, the front-line of 26 Sept. ran east-west from Vauquois Hill (about Continue reading →