Archive for July, 2009

After another long absence, it’s time to update the blog again. As many of you may know, we have decided that it’s time for another change of location, this time to Basel, Switzerland. It’s goodbye to croissants, velibs, Gitanes and dog poop and hello to fondue, trams, yodelling and cows. We have been looking forward to the move for some time now, and we are both excited that it’s finally happening.

The last few weeks have been taken up with all of the administration required to get ready for an international move. I am busy tying up the last loose ends at work, and looking forward to taking the month of August as holiday. The movers have been to inspect the apartment (and concluded what we already knew – that we have a lot of stuff!). The cats have their passports, complete with photographs, although disappointingly not with little paw-prints. Work permits have been applied for and the efficient Swiss administration machine has swung into action.

Aude starts her new job at the beginning of August, so we will travel out to Basel this weekend to get settled into our temporary accommodation. We will arrive just in time to celebrate Swiss National Day, a fitting introduction to our new home.

We have both taken jobs with pharmaceutical companies. For Aude, the work is largely the same as what she was doing in Paris, but for me the role is quite a departure. I will still be working in Finance, but this time I will be sitting on the other side of the fence, as advisee instead of advisor. My responsibilities include all of Asia (except Japan) so I will be spending a lot of time on planes. Still, it brings me back to the original mission of this blog from four years ago – to let friends and family know where I am in the world.

Despite taking August as holiday, there is a lot going on this month. I will be shuttling back-and-forth between Paris and Basel, and Aude’s brother is getting married in the middle of August in the south of France. We have the house to pack, I have vaccinations that need to be updated before I hit Asia again, and doctor / dentist / optometrist appoints to attend to. I intend to squeeze every penny I can out of the French medical system – it seems only fair, given the amount I’ve paid into the system!

September and October look like busy travel months for me, with trips already scheduled to India, Thailand, China, the Philippines and Australia. I have at least one weekend in Asia, so I may try either to visit friends or find a beach where I can relax for a few days. Otherwise, it is a lot of back-and-forth travel between Europe and Asia.

Toy bicycles in a shop window

The local toy shop has decorated its window for the occasion!

Last year, we missed the Tour de France. We were in Paris when the race passed through Canterbury, then in Canterbury when the race passed through Paris. It was ironic, but it meant that we didn’t get to see any of the famous race.

This year, however, the race passed within 100 meters of our apartment, so there was no excuse for not going out and having a look. We met up with Anne-Laure and Neil, who live just down the road, and watched the caravane go by. There weren’t as many people as I expected, so we staked out a good spot and watched the parade go by.

We were listening to the coverage. The riders were taking their time and were still 120km away by the time the caravane went past. So we trundled up to Anne-Laure and Neil’s place to open a nice bottle of rosé and watch the coverage on TV. The rest of the crowds remained in place on the road – two hours of watching nothing! When the riders were about 10km outside of Paris, we headed back downstairs to get a look.

The riders were all together in the peloton – the whole race passed us in 8-10 seconds. Imagine camping out for three hours to catch 8 seconds of action. Great to say that I was there, but not sure I’d rush back to do it again. Cycling is definitely a sport that’s better to watch on TV than up-close and personal!

Tour de France - Police Officers

Police officers block off access to the Quai

Tour de France - Aude in the sun

Aude gets ready to catch the parade

Tour de France - Police Motorcycles

Police motorcycles

Tour de France - Police Motorcycles

Police motorcycles

Tour de France - Crowd

The crowd begins to line the street to watch the caravane pass

Tour de France - LCL Caravane

The first vehicle in the caravane is the LCL rider

Tour de France - LCL Caravane

The LCL lion

Tour de France - Skoda Yeti Caravane

Advertising vehicle for the new Skoda Yeti

Tour de France - Skoda Support Car

The Skoda support car

Tour de France - Haribo Caravane

The Haribo bears coming down the road. No free candy for us, unfortunately.

Tour de France - Haribo Caravane

An army of Haribo cars

Tour de France - Antargaz Caravane

The Antargaz car

Tour de France - Aude

Aude decided to work on her suntan

Tour de France - BBox Caravane

BBox car

Tour de France - PMU Caravane

The PMU cars (PMU is a racing / betting shop)

Tour de France - Ricore Caravane

The Ricore car. Yes, this guy is basically driving a cup of coffee with a spoon sticking out of it.

Tour de France - Press Car

France Info Press car

Tour de France - Panache Caravane

A Panach buggy

Tour de France - Panache Caravane

A rolling Panach four-pack. For me, this was the funniest car that we saw.

Tour de France - Gendarmerie

The first of the Gendarerie Nationale cars

Tour de France - Cochounou Caravane

A 2CV from Cochounou. Sausage, anyone?

Tour de France - Cochounou Caravane

Fact – cute girls sell sausages.

Tour de France - Cochounou Caravane

More sausage-waving

Tour de France - Police Nationale

The Police Nationale out in their new Range Rovers

Tour de France - Caisse Epargne Caravane

The Caisse Epargne truck, complete with cycling giraffe. Of course.

Tour de France - Sapeurs Pompiers

The Sapeurs Pompiers

Neil with camera

Neil gets a good angle

Anne Laure

Anne Laure seems to be enjoying herself


Another happy fan

Tour de France - Peloton

The moment we were all waiting for — the peloton passing at Pont Neuf