Author

Chris O'Brien

  • The ski season in France may be gutted, but I still can’t stop thinking about a trip to the mountains. Maybe the forced separation has made me even a bit more obsessed. I had a chance to speak with some local tourism officials during a two-day conference last week to get the scoop on regions I have yet to visit. Those destinations now on my list include La Clusaz, a ski resort village in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It’s nestled in the corner near the Swiss and Italian borders, and just to the west of the more renowned Mont Blanc.…

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  • My list of places to visit in France after the pandemic has been getting longer each week. But the Gouffre de Padirac in the Lot Department still remains near the top. Plunging 103 meters underground, this chasm features a series of wild geological formations that are the result of a subterranean river gradually sculpting its limestone surroundings. Visitors can descend by an elevator and a series of steps and then wander the labyrinth by foot and by guided boat. The visit features the Salle du Grand Dôme, a 94-meter chamber big enough to fit the Notre Dame Cathedral.

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  • My first experience doing any type of foreign correspondent work began on this day 6 years ago and under the grimmest of circumstances. Our family had moved to France five months earlier from California, and I had quit my job at the Los Angeles Times. Landing in France without much of a professional plan or any personal connections, I continued to do some freelance work for the Times that fall, writing mostly features. The shooting at Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, represented something else entirely. As a newcomer to France, I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo, and during the…

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  • France’s Louis Pasteur may have played a key role in fostering the science of vaccinations, but these days his compatriots rank among the world’s most fervent anti-vaxxers. With Covid-19 vaccines starting to be approved, the French government faces a monumental challenge convincing enough French to get vaccinated to develop the necessary herd immunity. Failing to do so could not only slow a domestic economic recovery, but the country could find itself isolated if other nations refuse to allow travel to and from France. Such a scenario would be devastating for the nation’s tourism industry which is already limping after 9…

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  • The French Parliament has taken the first steps toward approving a law that would ban discrimination based on a person’s accent. Violations could be punished by a maximum of 3 years in prison and a fine up to €45,000. This will no doubt bring a sense of justice to the large number of people in France who speak with regional accents but often feel a sense of disdain in a country dominated culturally, politically, and economically by Paris. According to Ouest-France, an IFOP poll in January 2020 found that 16% of French people claimed to have been the victims of discrimination…

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  • On a late July morning, my wife and I walked down the street from our apartment in Toulouse to the Prefecture for our French citizenship appointments. The 5-minute trip took us past rows of the familiar brick façades that give our adopted home its nickname, La Ville Rose (Pink City), before arriving at the Prefecture. My wife’s meeting came first, and then 90 minutes later it was my turn. I sat across the desk from a middle-aged woman whose casual dress and warm demeanor helped put me at ease. A large plexiglass screen separated us, and I did my best…

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  • The appointment of Jean Castex as France’s new prime minister by President Emmanuel Macron this summer launched a flurry of political analysis by the nation’s chattering classes. But it also left many in the nation’s capital shocked because Castex has a Southern accent. In France, there is officially one right way to speak French and it’s hammered into kids throughout their school years. To deviate from this even in the slightest marks you as a “provincial,” or someone from the provinces, aka, everywhere that is not Paris. France has numerous regional accents, ranging from Brittany in the Northwest to Marseille…

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  • La Boutique Des Vins in Toulouse’s historic Carmes neighborhood is one of the more popular spots for local residents to browse for just the right wine or spirit, maybe even a craft beer. On a quiet Friday evening when store traffic was still sparse, Noémie Cassou-Lalanne arrived in the hopes of convincing customers to reconsider a traditional spirit that might only rarely be on their shopping list. Surrounded by a nook of shelves filled with wine bottles, teas, and chocolate bars, Cassou-Lalanne set up a small table and a silver tray with three bottles of Armagnac from the Pellehaut domaine…

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  • Armagnac producers are betting that cocktails will help the world rediscover France’s oldest eau de vie. Here are some Armagnac cocktail suggestions ranging from classic to complex to inspire your inner bartender: Pellehaut Armagnac Mojito Chris O’Brien Armagnac producers are betting that cocktails will help the world rediscover France’s oldest eau de vie. Here are some Armagnac cocktail suggestions ranging from classic to complex to inspire your inner bartender: Cuisine 8 Armagnac Cocktails Putting A Twist On France’s Oldest Eau De Vie European Print This Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat Rating: 5.0/5 ( 1 voted ) Ingredients 2…

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