Au revoir l’automne

With balmy temperatures followed by windy tempests I have come down with a lovely angina. The joys of Autumn in France; they love a good extreme climate here in Reims. Around this time of year we can lose or gain ten degrees in the space of a week.

Not so good for the immune system! So instead of a nice relaxing weekend eating good food and drinking luscious red wine I spent the weekend asleep on various belle-famille’s couches. After drinking no wine due to antibiotics and tasting not very much due to a very blocked nose! C’est la vie…

However I did get the chance earlier in the week to photograph the last vestiges of Autumn before she is clutched from my grasp by the cold hands of Winter.

Voilà !


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Lille – Capital of the North


Lille has the fourth-largest metropolitan area behind Paris, Lyon and Marseille, with an urban population over one million. It lies very close to the Franco-Belgian border, and it attracts students to it’s many universities from all over Europe. The atmosphere of Lille is the furthest I’ve encountered  from a typical French city so far and that’s no bad thing! It felt a little more like Amsterdam in it’s ambiance, it’s shops, architecture and demography; throw in a tram and a canal and you’re good to go. But of course no one wants another Amsterdam, every great city is great because there shouldn’t be another like it. It’s the same for Lille, and while I didn’t spend enough time there to really get a feel for the place I would venture to say it’s one of my favourite places that I’ve visited so far in France. What can I say I’m a sucker for a big, bustling city. It didn’t feel as safe as other places I’ve visited but that’s one of the disadvantages of a big city anywhere in the world.

The light was just stunning on La Mairie around sunset, I don’t know if it’s the colour of the stone in France or the light but it’s really spectacular at dusk (visit the Pantheon in Paris at sunset after a sunny day and you will understand). Continue reading

April Showers, Humidity, Wind and Grumpiness at 50km/h

It’s April. Nearly the end of April in fact. I am living in France. Correction: North of France.

So I wasn’t expecting sub-saharan-tropical-amazonian-australian type weather. But a little better than this.

10°C | °F Mon Tue Wed Thu
Chance of Rain Chance of Rain Chance of Rain Chance of Rain
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: S at 34 km/h
Humidity: 66%

This post is not about the weather per se. More about my changing ways.

Last night, the French boy and I were out on an aimless Sunday drive.

I made this exact comment “I really hope the weather is better this week, it has been horrible recently.” He agreed and then smiled and very pleased with himself said “you are getting very French.”

I was perturbed: “No I most certainly am not.”

He then went on to say he has never heard me complain about the weather before. Which, looking back is true. I really, really, don’t like the rain but I have (or used to have, merde) a very Irish attitude to the weather – sure lads just get out in it! The weather is always pretty rubbish in Ireland so you just have to get over it and put on twenty layers, bring an umbrella and get your shit done. However, all over France about a month ago, it was 20-25 degrees celsius and I really loved it. More than I’ve ever loved the sun before. You seduced me France, with your wily hot sunshine ways. But it was just a game of seduction, you were just teasing you sexy gallic country you! I know your true heart now! It was a marketing ploy you sneaky mother- Now, it’s nearly May and the sky is grey, cloudy, miserable looking and it likes to spit crappy humid rain on my head.

Worst of all, he also said for other things I’m getting a bit grumpy and short-tempered (I have definitely started expelling air through the three holes in my face more often) and in a nutshell, becoming more French. For those at home who thought I was pretty grumpy to begin with, France seems to be making me quite worse.

On a positive note, all that rain is making Reims green! And I do love me some greenery!

Hi little fella!