Obtaining Medical Care While on Séjour

This post is part of a series about planning a 2-3 month séjour in France. You might also enjoy Summer Camps in France, School Séjours and Monthly Vacation Rentals.

pharmacie

 

Medical issues to take care of before you go on séjour:

  • Contact your insurance company and review your benefits information with regard to out-of-network or out-of-country expenses.
  • You might consider Travel/Medical/Evacuation Insurance. SquareMouth.com does a good job comparing quotes and coverage from various companies.
  • See your family doctor(s): 1) Get a check up and a clean bill of health 2) Obtain copies of your children’s vaccine/medical records 3) Get extensions/advances on all prescriptions and 4) Write down any critical medical issues on a piece of paper and keep them in your wallet. If your child has allergies, it might be a good idea to translate those and keep them handy.

If you need health care in France:

  • Pharmacies – Pharmacists in France are able to diagnose and treat some illnesses. If you need further medical care, they can call someone for you. If the pharmacy is closed, they will usually post a sign indicating a nearby open pharmacy.
  • Hospitals and doctors – It may give you peace of mind to identify the closest hospital and doctor’s office to your séjour home. You will need to pay your bill out-of-pocket and then contact your insurance company for potential reimbursement. Costs aren’t nearly as high as they are here in the US.
  • SOS Médecins – This organization is made up of on-call doctors who will come to your home, apartment or hotel room. Although it sounds extraordinarily expensive, it is not. Dial 3624

Emergency medical care:

  • SAMU – for an ambulance or emergency medical care. Dial 15
  • Les Pompiers – fire fighters, can also provide medical assistance. Dial 18
  • EU-Wide Emergency number – Dial 112

Links I Love

Wanna move to France? Or just find a few blogs to follow? Here are some links I love…

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Learning the French Language:

The News in Slow French

About French

French Today

 

Favorite Books on French Culture:

French or Foe?: Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France

Savoir-Flair: 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French

 

How to move to France:

Excuse My French – Consultants who deal with your bureaucratic nightmares

Laurence Raybois – Consultant and author of “Chez Moi: The Foreigner’s Guide to buying a Home in France.”

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Travel bloggers:

Prêt-a-voyager – and especially, her Blog lover’s guide to France

Lost in Cheeeland

Girls Gide to Paris

Leah Travels

The Voyageur

Hither and Thither

Context Travel

Kinfolk

 

Lifestyle bloggers:

Cup of Jo

Elephantine

The Londoner

A House in the Hills

 

 

Food bloggers:

Food 52

Smitten Kitchen

David Lebovitz

i am a food blog

Paprika (my favorite app for organizing recipes and planning meals)

 

Family Favorites in Lake Annecy, France

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We’re back from France! This year we spent six weeks in a small village on the east side of Lake Annecy. And even though it rained way too much, we still managed to catch some sun and enjoy life on the water. There is so much to do in the area – we think of this region as summer camp for the whole family!  Here are some of our favorite activities and places.

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General overview

The city of Annecy is in the Haute-Savoie region of France. Fly into Geneva and drive 35 minutes south. Other beautiful places in the region: Lyon (1 hour 45 mins), Chamonix and the Mount Blanc Tunnel (1 hour 10 mins) and Cervinia, Italy (3 hours).

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Water activities

  • Favorite paid beach: Moon Plage. (Soft sand, beds with umbrellas and table service. Kids will love the “epic” water slide.
  • Favorite free beach: La Brune in Veyrier-du-lac
  • Water skiing and wave boarding: Jean-Louis Fountaine in Talloires
  • Boat rentals are everywhere and easy to find (paddle boats, SUPs, kayaks, row boats, sail boats)

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waterskiing, Lake Annecy

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Land activities

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Biking, Lake Annecy

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In the air

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Paragliding over Lake Annecy

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Favorite summer camps

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tennis camp, annecy, france

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Restaurants

  • Sapaudia- Annecy (la vieille ville)- Order the La Salade Méditerranéenne and the Café Gourmand.
  • Le Pichet - Annecy (la vieille ville) – Order the Tartiflette and Salad Verte.
  • Café des Ducs – Annecy (la vieille ville) – For breakfast: Croissant, espresso, fresh orange juice. Perfect.
  • Pauvert Traiteur – Annecy (la vieille ville) – Absolutely everything you need for the perfect picnic.
  • Moko Plage – Annecy-le-Vieux – Perfect scallops and a good kids menu (fish with tagliatelle).
  • La Trinquette – Annecy-le-Vieux – Good pizza and reasonably priced daily specials. Fun scene; busy with locals during lunch and on weekends.
  • Cafe de la Place – Menthon St. Bernard – Tremendous value and lively local scene, especially at lunch.

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le pichet annecy france

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Shopping

  • Centre Commercial Courier – Indoor mall with FNAC, Zara, H&M, etc.
  • Espace Foot – Soccer store
  • Eclectik – She has a terrible facebook page and no website – but trust me, this is a great little store. My absolute favorite vintage shop in Annecy. I always find something here!

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eclektik shop, annecy, France

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Lodging

  • Last year we stayed in this small apartment in the Old Town. It’s right smack dab in the middle of all the action – you can walk to restaurants, shops, markets, and the lake.  We loved the location and the apartment was clean and well-maintained. But we could’ve used an extra room and some more natural light.
  • This year we rented a family home in the village of Veyrier-du-Lac. The view from the terrace is absolutely stunning and the village is nice and not as touristy as others in the area. If there is a downside to this location (and I’m reaching here), it’s that we needed to use our car a bit more.  But overall, I loved this location and would stay there again in a heartbeat.

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home in veyreir-du-lac, france

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Want to know more about Annecy? Contact me!

10 French-speaking summer camps in France

There are so many incredible summer camp options in France. I’ve listed a few of them below, just to give you an idea of what’s out there. If you’re looking for something specific, here’s how to research summer camps in France. And if you need more personalized help, don’t hesitate to contact me!

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Paris
Biarritz and Cote Basque
Provence
Haute Savoie

 

 

Lake Annecy’s Best Beaches

Lake Annecy's Best Beaches

Being a travel blogger is hard work. This week I spent many hours visiting and “researching” all the beaches around Annecy, just so that I could provide you with this information. Many difficult decisions were made and documented. Which sand is softer? Which wine list more extensive? Which toilets less disgusting?

Without further ado…

The Best Beach in Annecy:

Moon Plage Privée at L’Impérial: Yes, it’s the most expensive at 15€ per adult, but wow! This is what affordable luxury is all about: cushioned deck chairs, umbrellas, soft sand and tanned waiters bringing you chilled wine. Meanwhile, the kids are swimming in the lake or squealing their way down the “epic” slide.

Runner up:

Plage de L’impérial: If you don’t want to shell out the Moon Plage premium, go here. It’s essentially the same beach, minus all the luxuries. Instead of cushioned deck chairs, you spread out on the grass. Instead of chilled rose, you drink bottled water. You still pay to get in (4€ per adult, 2.50€ per child), but the toilets are western-style and clean. There’s a decent restaurant and again, the huge slide is “epic.”

The others in/near Annecy:

Plage des Marquisats – Free beach – fairly small – sand and grass – snacks available for purchase – near bike path. Disgusting bathrooms; hold your nose or go swimming.

Plage D’Albigny in Annecy-le-Vieux. Free entry – sand and grass – more options for shade here than at Marquisats – restaurants nearby (across the street) – near bike path. They have those self-cleaning, stainless steel toilet chambers which completely freak me out.

The best on the east side of the lake:

Plage de la Brune: This is “our beach” but we aren’t biased! It’s not only free, but it’s clean and beautiful. There are two small bays of sand, lots of grass and a happening picnic scene on the weekend. There’s also a kiddie pool and a few restaurants in striking distance.

The others on the east side:

Talloires – Pay on entry (2.30€ per adult). Gorgeous bay with smooth, clean waters. Diving board and slide. A decent restaurant.

Menthon St. Bernard – Pay on entry (2.30€ per adult). The restaurant here is decent. The kiddie pool and the shallow end of the lake are clean and nice. But the deeper end of the lake near the diving board seemed to collect dead bugs (?). I know! weird, right? Not a good vibe.

 

Water Taxi

waiting for our taxi

The traffic to-and-from Annecy was starting to bum me out, particularly on the weekend. But then we discovered the Veyrier Express – a speed boat turned water taxi that shuttles to-and-from Annecy several times per day. Suddenly, the commute is the best part of the day!

Roule ma poule

We rented some bikes and toured around Annecy this afternoon. Huge success. HUGE. Meaning: we didn’t crash into anyone and the girls decided they want to move here. Highly recommend this bike company: Roul’ Ma Poule.

p.s. Apparently, Roule ma Poule does not actually mean “roll my chicken.” Although I stand by my original translation. In fact, it’s an expression – something similar to let’s go!  Like: On y va! or Allons-y!  French friends, correct me please!

getting to know the neighborhood

I LOVE our summer rental! I think the owners are new to VRBO so I want to give them HUGE props. The house is even better than advertised. And when we arrived, the kitchen was fully stocked with bread, cheese, fruit and… wait for it…. a chilled bottle of rosé! Are you kidding me?!

The village is super cute and has all the essentials. There is a grocery store called “8h a 8h” – except it’s only open until noon on Sundays, opens at late on Mondays and closes early on Wednesdays. And in August, vacation hours apply. Honestly people, rename your store.

8 French Resources in Seattle

French Resources in Seattle

1. Best group classes for adults: Alliance Française

2. Favorite tutor for adults: Danick Jawer

3. Museum tours (in French) for children: Atelier D’Ichere

4. Our favorite French immersion school: FISW

5. Absolutely amazing experience: Canoe Island French Camp

6. French cooking classes: Paris Eastside

7. Drink your way through wine school: Le Caviste

8. French property rentals: French Homestyle

 

 

Apps for Organizing Travel

If you know me, you know that I love organize – almost as much as I love to travel! I have three favorite apps to share with you today. Each offer web and mobile access so that you can access the information from anywhere.

 

Tripit

Pros: After you set up an account, Tripit manages itself. When your email inbox receives a confirmation from an airline or hotel, Tripit recognizes this and automatically imports them to your Tripit Itineraries.

Cons: Tripit only recognizes reservations from places like airlines and hotels. When I travel, I also want to keep track of emails from VRBO, ski school instructors, summer camp operators, restaurant recommendations, etc.

Evernote

Pros: Evernote is like a journal filled with sticky notes –and because it’s online, you can organize everything in a way that makes sense for you. I usually create a new notebook for each trip, adding clips of anything and everything I’ve found online: articles, recommendations, emails, maps, etc.  Here’s an Evernote travel tutorial.

Cons: Data uploads and syncing availability is limited unless you upgrade to a Premium Account (appox $40 per year).

Dropbox

Pros: If Evernote is my personal journal, then Dropbox is my work filing cabinet. All my important papers are here. When my computer died last year, I didn’t panic, even for a minute. Everything was in dropbox, so I lost nothing. You can also share folders with co-works or family members.

Cons: If you use dropbox all the time, you will probably need to upgrade to a Pro Account (approx. $10 per month).

My Seattle Favorites

I cannot believe I’ve lived here for almost ten years! Time flies when you’re having babies. I put together this list for friends and family who come to visit. It’s certainly not a comprehensive travel guide to the city – just a list of our go-to places and activities.

Favorite weekends…
On the water…
Kid approved
Restaurants, downtown
Restaurants, other neighborhoods
For margaritas on a gorgeous day…
See what’s playing

Tennis in Annecy, France

Only 58 days until our next family séjour to France! I’ve been busy researching summer camp options, which got me thinking – shouldn’t there be summer camps for adults?

And low and behold, look what I found: A summer Tennis Camp for Adults! Unfortunately, between my lousy French and my even lousier tennis game, I might not be able to swing it (ha!). But surely I could find a willing instructor at one of these clubs….

Tennis Menthon 

  • Camps for kids: 1/2 day sailing, 1/2 day tennis
  • Adult private and group lessons available

Tennis Club Annecy le Viex

  • Camps for kids: both 1/2 and full day
  • Evening courses for adults
  • Private lessons available.
  • Well-reviewed café serves lunch (reservations recommended).

Annecy Tennis

  • The girls attended camp here last year and it was great!
  • Café serves lunch
  • Gorgeous beach across the street
  • Camps for kids and evening adult lessons

Tennis Club Veyrier-du-lac

  • Looks like 2 courts for rental/community use.
  • Ask about a private instructor at the Offices de Tourisme

 

roland garros

 

How to Buy French Train Tickets Online

train

It’s pretty straight-forward, but follow these steps to secure e-tickets and avoid unnecessary fees.

  1. Go to http://www.sncf.com/en/passengers
  2. When you’ve chosen the routes you want, you will be asked to select a country from the drop down menu. Select FRANCE. (If you select USA, you will not be able to purchase an e-ticket and will consequently pay admin and postage fees.)
  3. Select E-TICKET PURCHASE.
  4. Buy online using your credit card.
  5. Print out your ticket.

There are 4 types of train services in France (all are available at SNCF):

  • TGV
  • IDTGV (discounted TGV with limited routes. You can choose between Quiet Cars and Social Cars.)
  • OUIGO (discounted TGV with limited routes)
  • Intercités (intercity)

p.s. The picture above is of my girls on a Czech train from Prague to Prerov.

My Aspen Favorites

Restaurants:
Family Fun:
Girl’s guide for the non-skier:
  • A day at the spa. Travel + Leisure named Reméde Spa one of the best spas in the world. Signature Facial is $175 and includes access to the oxygen lounge, steam caves, cold plunges, hot tubs, fitness center, and confluence waterfall (whatever that is).
  • Walk, browse, shop Downtown Aspen. Pick up some jeans here, a new bag there and check out the art galleries.
  • Definitely take a yoga class at O2 Aspen.
  • I could spend hours at Explore Booksellers.

Paris Transportation – Links

Airport Transfers:
Metro/Bus:
  • Paris by Train is a helpful website. Learn how/where to buy a single ticket, a book of 10, a weekly pass or a monthly pass.
Train tickets for travel within France:
Taxis:
  • G7 has an English speaking website and telephone line.
So much fun! (but bring your own helmet)

Intro to summer skiing in Europe

snow sun

Busy planning next summer! Dan plans to SkiThe12, so I’m researching summer ski resorts in Europe. Leaning towards Cervinia, Italy. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

The highest and largest summer ski area in Europe is Zermatt-Cervinia, otherwise known as Klein Matterhorn.

Cervinia, Italy has a bustling aprés-ski atmosphere when the Italians come in from Turin and Milan on the weekends. Valtournenche, a neighboring village, is quieter. Both have lift access and links to Zermatt (greatly increasing km of piste). For accommodation information in Cervinia or Valtournenche go here. Travel times to Cervinia:

  • 1.5 hours by car from Turin, Italy
  • 2.0 hours by car from Milan, Italy
  • 2.5 hours by car from Geneva, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland is a village at the foot of the Matterhorn. They guarantee 21 km of snowy slopes and claim to be very family friendly. The Matterhorn Museum is said to be great. For accommodation information in Zermatt go here. Travel times to Zermatt:

  • 1.5 hours by car from Sion, Switzerland
  • 3 hours by car from Geneva, Switzerland
  • 3.5 hours by car from Milan, Italy

* Zermatt is car-free; you must park in Tasche and take a shuttle train into the Matterhorn village center.

Chip & Pin Credit Cards

You might think that the U.S. is on the cutting edge of technology, but when it comes to credit cards it most certainly is NOT. The rest of the world uses something called an EMV card. Instead of a magnetic strip, EMV cards have an embedded chip that is both safer and easier to use.

If you stay in the major touristy areas, your card will work fine. But if you are planning to spend 2-3 months in a small village, you may run into some problems:

  • Automated kiosks cannot process your card. This includes tollbooths and parking lots. If you don’t have a EMV card, you will need to pay cash.
  • You cannot “pay at the pump.” You can’t pay-at-the-pump with an American credit card. Someone has to be working there who is willing and able to “swipe” your card. Keep in mind that French gas stations aren’t staffed 24-7 like they are in the U.S. I found I needed to plan my gas purchases in advance. Once I was so desperate for gas that I had to ask a perfect stranger to buy gas for me with their credit card and then I gave them cash in return.
  • Some merchants don’t have a swipe machine. Particularly if their business does not put them in touch with “tourists.” For example, I once needed to buy two new tires for my leased car, but the company only accepted EMV cards or cash. Unfortunately, there was a limit to how much cash I could withdraw on any given day, so I had to come back 3 days in a row to make payments.
  • Some merchants have a swipe machine, but have never used it before. You might have to (kindly) show them how to use it. If you are in grocery store, this transaction will likely involve manager approval.

Andrews FCUHow to get an EMV credit card

American credit card companies are slowly starting to offer EMV credit cards that also eliminate foreign transaction fees – but most only offer these cards to their Corporate Clients.

At time of publication, there is only one U.S. based institution that offers EMV card to personal account holders: Andrews Credit Union offers a Globe Trek Visa card.  For information, go to www.AndrewsFCU.org.

Note:

If you decide not forgo the EMV card, just remember to carry cash with you at all times!

To be a horse (in France)

Sophia

On the way to equestrian camp today, the girls were talking about how much fun it would be – to be a horse.

Sophia said: “I would love to be my horse, Speedy. I would play with my other horse friends all day. And my people friends could ride me and brush me and braid my hair.”

Sasha said: “If I was a horse I would never live on a farm because everyone would get on your back and make you do things you didn’t want to do, like walk in circles. I would run in the fields and climb mountains and kick things. I would be free!”

God I love them.

sasha stands on a horse

mmmm… fondue

mmm. fondue

Some of us LOVED this cheese fondue and the gorgeous wine that accompanied it.

Some of us did not.

my mama

le pichet - Annecy

summer camp, week 2

heading to camp

I’m so freaking proud of Sasha. There were 100+ boys at her soccer camp, and she was the ONLY girl. Not only did she hold her own on the pitch, she ran circles around many of them. Way to go Sasha! You are brave and I am SO proud of you!

sasha ballon

Sophia went to Hip Hop Dance Camp and had the time of her life. Below is the photo taken after their performance.

hip hop soph

My Prague Favorites

My Prague Favorites

Don’t miss The Prague Castle!
  • Take the 22 Tram up the hill and get off at Pražky hrad. Check out St. Vitus Cathedral (and the Mucha stained glass inside!), the castle grounds and any exhibitions currently on. Meander your way down the hill; there are many nice streets with cafes, shopping and art galleries.
Some of my favorite walking tours:
  • Jewish Quarter
  • Old Town Square
  • Charles Bridge
  • Petrin Hill (especially with kids!)
Restaurants, pubs and cafés:
Drinks/jazz/live music: