Thursday, October 9, 2008

Visit to toulouse & back to baking

Plase du Capitole in Toulouse

On Wednesday we had an appointment with our banker Séverine. She works for Credit Agricole in Toulouse and was our first meeting with her. We opened our checking account back in June, via email and regular mail. She has handled 3 wire transfers into the account and 2 wire transfers out of the account (to buy our car and to pay first 3 months rent). All via email, so easy. I just emailed her and told her how much to transfer and where and it was done and the fee....$0. I'm telling you I heard nightmares about dealing with french banks, but this was nothing but a pleasure. We have had trouble with our bank in california since we have been here, they cancelled my debit card because of the activity in europe..hello, I went into the branch and told them to note on my account that we would be living in france for 1 year and that there would be loads of activity. Still, they cancelled my card. argh! They charged me $30.00 to wire transfer money to france and each month our rent payment for our house gets wired into our account and we are charged $10.00, certainly not paying for the service!

So, instead of driving the 1 1/2 or so hours down to toulouse, we decided to take the train. It would be easier since we wouldn't have to navigate the city in the car and find parking. We boarded our train at 8:52 am and arrived on-time at 10:22 am. Then we took the metro 2 stops. We had about an hour to kill, so we stopped and had a café and walked around. It was freezing...but only to us, everyone else had maybe a light jacket on, but I was all bundled up. Crazy Californians.

our gare in Villefranche

Our meeting with Séverine lasted about 1 hour. She gave us our checkbook, debit card and pin number for on-line banking and pin-number for debit card. The bank also handles car insurance and that was all set up and ready to go as well. It will cost us 18 euros a month to insure the car. crazy. The bank also handles mortgages and business loans and we met the manager who "loves" california, although she has never been there. It was a great experience.

Our train didn't leave toulouse until 4:30 so we decided to go shopping. Bruce really wanted some art supplies and we found this amazing store called Midica the store has 5 levels. Everything from hardware, appliances, bedding, kitchen, art supplies, frames, etc...  I spent most the time in the kitchen floor and bought some measuring spoons, measuring cups and a tarte pan. Time to get back to baking. Bruce was amazed with the quality of art supplies there and came home with paper, pastels, conte, charcoal, erasers, pencils, fix and some other goodies. He is going to focus on drawing right now and then move to painting.  We also saw some amazing shoes, I love the shoes different from Los Angeles...but I was good and didn't buy any.

We spent a good hour at a café having lunch and more coffee and just hanging out. I love it here, they don't try and get you to leave so someone else can have your table. It's yours until you are ready to go.

We caught the train and arrived home around 6:30. Long day for us and for the dogs, but we all did ok. We can't wait to go back for the day and see more of Toulouse, it's such a lovely city.

Yesterday I decided to bake a tarte in my new pan. On Tuesday we were at the bike shop and we were searching for some commuter bikes for us. I don't want to ride my Lemond to the villages to hang out. We were standing there and I saw this little yellow bike and it looked perfect and I test road it and it was perfect. We put a basket on the front for me and after paying 200 euros we left with my new little bike. I needed some groceries for my tarte so I decided to ride my bike into Villefranche, which is about 35 minutes each way from our house. I put all the goods  into my basket and headed home.

me leaving on my new bike

Here is a picture of my pear/apple tarte. I was so excited to try the "pre-made" crust that I have heard so much about.  I have never not made my own crust, it was so much easier just plop it into the tarte pan.   All I can say is that it's amazing, so good, so buttery, so flaky.  The only problem is our oven isn't very fast, so it took a bit longer to cook.

ingredients for tarte

my first tarte in france

I also made salad nicoise for dinner. We had this salad when we were at B&B's for dinner in the states and it was so good we decided to have it. It's so easy to make and so good for you. Add some wine and good bread and you are good to go.

my first salad nicoise in france

It was another great day today and I'm happy to be baking again. I hadn't baked anything since we left our house and moved into the temporary apartment as I had packed all my baking supplies away. The smell of apples/pears is filled the air here in the house...wish you could have smelled it or better yet, been here to taste it.

(If you want to see the pictures larger, just double click on them.  We are getting faster speed on our internet but until then i can only post small pictures)


Barbara said...

Hi !
Things are coming along really nicely ;)
I think that even though your bank is way out from where you live, it sounds worth it. Although, that is a bummers for your debit card from your CA bank.

When I moved over here, I just closed the few accounts I did have. I said that I would just start over once over here.

Congrats for your yummy pie ! I think that with fresh veggies & fruits in the marché, you will be cooking some nice dishes.

La Belette Rouge said...

I love your life. Tolousse, a cafe', a train through the French Countryside, a homemade tarte and salad nicoise. Yep, I sit in L.A. reading your lovely blog and am a bit green with envy. This all sounds so ideallic. Hooray, you!!!

La Framéricaine said...

I'm actually delighted to hear how close you are to Toulouse since, I think I told you, we have two great friends from California who have been living, working, raising two little girls, and doing art there for the past 6 years. I already told them about you two and hope that you will get to meet them sooner than later.

Your bike is beautiful!


Our Juicy Life said...

barbara - the banking experience was wonderful, very different than i expected and better than i was getting in the us.

i might have found a cooking class and am excited about that..would love to learn how to make some new dishes.

Our Juicy Life said...

LBR - ah, we are having a great time. It still feels like vacation though, since we have only been here 1 week it's all still new a fresh, but I think after a month, maybe 2 it will sink in that we are here for a year.

we are going to look at a couple properties next week in our favorite village St. Antonin, just to look....who knows!

Our Juicy Life said...

LF - yes we would love to get more information about your friends in Toulouse...either an introduction by email or something.

I love my little's perfect for my rides into the village.

Randal Graves said...

Quite a disparity between banking experiences. 30 bucks for a few keystrokes, sign me up for that hourly rate.

It's yours until you are ready to go.

Such a simple thing that would be much appreciated. Accommodate your customers, they might just come back!

Man, does that tarte look good.

Very cool, all that you guys have going on, are seeing, doing.

Betty C. said...

Your tarte does look nice. I'm glad you've discovered the joys of ready-made pie crusts -- they are so much better here than in the States.

Loulou said...

Ah, the joys of the pre-made, buttery, flaky French crust! You will find yourself making tarts galore! :)
Isn't Toulouse spectacular? One of my favorite cities.

Juan said...
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