L’heure D’hiver – Winter Time Hours In France

Winter got here before official winter time this year. L’heure d’hiver (winter time/hours) began on the last Sunday of October (when the clocks go back an hour) but the cold weather got here the day before. The clock-changing charade is a complete pain. It began in France in 1975 as a fuel saving measure during … Read more

Autumn in Creuse

October is autumn in Creuse, our part of central France. September is still summer, and November is when winter starts, generally very enthusiastically on the first day, so that give us just the thirty-one days of mists and mellow fruitfulness. The fruitfulness is a little less fruitful than in the last couple of years. There … Read more

Enter The Rentrée – The Return To School In France

The strictly legislated summer sales finished a few days ago so all the grandes surfaces (large supermarkets) are now fully geared up for the rentreé – the return to school. Mind you, it’s still called la rentrée even if it’s your first time there. It is big, big business. From maternelle upwards, parents are issued … Read more

Exams In France

It’s the exam season. All three of my children have either had or are having tests, orals or exams of various sorts at school. First up, ten-year-old Ruadhrí. He’s in CM2, the final year of primary school, and he has recently sat his évaluations nationales (national evaluations). The tests were taken between the 21st and … Read more

Swallows In France

Our swallows are finally here. They kept us waiting until the 1st of May this year, much later than normal. We were beginning to wonder if they were going to turn up at all. Swallows have been known to arrive in Limousin as early as the 21st of January (in 1991 and 2002), but usually … Read more

April, A Time Of Traditions

Every country has its strange traditions, and France is no exception. April kicks off with the best of the lot. The first of day of the month is the day of poissons d’avril (April fish). The idea is to sneakily stick fish on people’s backs without them noticing. Not real fish, of course, but paper … Read more

France Springs Into Life

I love March. Rural France suddenly springs into life again as the temperatures rise. Here in Creuse we normally have long winters that last from early November until well into March. However, this year we swapped long for intense. The four weeks of le grand froid, the big freeze, were painful with temperatures down to … Read more

Education in France

I’m about to start on a tour of several of France’s universities with my daughter Caitlín. She’s in her last year of lycée and will be taking her baccalaureat in the summer and moving on to third level education. But what and where. She has eventually plumped for informatique (computer science) as the subject so … Read more

France Powers into 2012

As well as being eternally associated with croissants, wine, frogs’ legs and berets, say “France” and a lot of people immediately think “nuclear energy”. And rightly so. France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity, to the tune of 3 billion euros worth each year, as well as providing 75% of its own power … Read more

Christmas Multi-Cultural Confusion

Expat Christmases are always culturally confused. This year will be our sixth Noël in France, and, as usual, for us it will be a mish-mash of English, Irish and French traditions. The English element comes from myself and husband Chris, who lived in various parts of the UK until 1992. The Irish ingredients stem from … Read more