Catégorie : In English

Studying in France: what you need to know

After studying in various countries, i found out that if some  prepare you well for your year there, others let you do most of the work yourself.  In France, we are not very helpful with our exchange students, sad fact … Campus France already tries to discourage people from coming (and trust me, they do all they can) but once you have passed them, don’t think this is over 😉 So if you have survived that, here are some useful tips to help you settle in France.
Before you arrive : In addition to the obvious identity papers, don’t forget to bring with you a birth certificate, you will need it later.

Campagne de Sampigny, France

  • Finding an appartment : The university should offer you student lodging at The CROUS residencies for a low rate. However if you feel like looking by yourself, there are much better solutions available for the same price. The CROUS offers you a small room with a bathroom ( no toilet seat in ours) and a shared kitchen ( no microwave, no oven, a small fridge in each room, no freezer). This kitchen is shared with the whole floor and is often dirty because the others don’t bother cleaning after themselves ; in some residencies, it also has opening hours which mean you can’t cook late at night. So if you are willing to do some digging,  try to avoid those.

Cathédrale de Reims, France

  • Insurance : The university should affiliate you to the LMDE  (the student insurance) for the length of your stay. Don’t believe that because you have paid, you are all set : you will need to provide the LMDE with a whole lot of documents before you can actually get the card (and be reimbursed in case of problem). Without that card, you are still insured but have to pay for everything and will be reimbursed later by the insurance (hope  you are not in a hurry 😉

Rambouillet, France

To get the card, you need to bring to the LMDE the following documents:
– a copy of your birth certificate ( told you you should bring it!)
– a copy of your school certificate ( certificat de scolarité)
– a proof you paid for the insurance (attestation de paiement)
– a RIB ( a paper with your bank and account number that you get from your bank so you can be reimbursed)

Port de st Malo, France

Don’t forget to put your name on your mailbox  so you don’t fail treceive your documents !
  • Opening a bank account: in the paragraph before, we talked about this paper you need from your bank to be reimbursed. It has to be from a french bank because the insurance doesn’t transfer money to international bank accounts . For that too, you will need a birth certificate 😉

Grenoble, France

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Pagosa Springs, Ski resort

Hello everyone,

I have finally convinced my travel partner to contribute to the blog and this is his first article entirely written in English  (!) about his ski trips in spring in North America. Out of our #Take12trips Challenge, this is his April trip.


In order to experience some of the best spring skiing in North America, one must travel to the town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This gem of a city is nestled in the southwestern corner of the state, just a 45 min. drive from New Mexico. The charm of the southwestern united states isn’t lost in Pagosa and reminds one of scenes from  spaghetti western film; updated with a modern tinge. A single road connects all of Pagosa, allowing residents and tourists alike to easily navigate the town. As the name would suggest, Pagosa Springs is home to marvellously relaxing hot springs and boasts itself as home to the deepest geothermal hot springs in the world. The pools accessible to the general public however, are maximum 3 ft deep and vary in temperature from 90F-115F. Nothing is better than a relaxing soak after a day of mountain activities which are no scarcity in the area. Continue reading

Cefalu: le plaisir de s’allonger sur la plage en février


Nous avons pris le train depuis Palerme pour rejoindre Cefalu, petite ville portuaire située à environ 1 heure de route de la capitale sicilienne. Nous sommes arrivés sur la plage à l’heure du déjeuner et avons profité de quelques moments de repos au soleil. Il n’y avait personne d’autre: en février,  il fait visiblement encore trop froid pour les Siciliens!IMG_1039

We caught a train from Palermo to Cefalu, a small city on the sea one hour away. We reached the beach around noon and enjoyed a quiet rest in the sun. There was nobody else, it’s too cold for the Sicilians! Continue reading

Série banlieue parisienne n°2: Antony

Pour coller à ma devise que Voyager, ce n’est pas forcément partir loin, je continue ma série banlieue avec la ville d’Antony (92). Située idéalement sur un des arrêts de l’Orlyval, on peut y passer un moment agréable à condition qu’il fasse beau (en effet la plupart des endroits que je vais vous présenter sont en extérieur). S’il pleut, on se trouve à 1/2 heure de Paris, vous y  trouverez bien un musée ou un café pour vous abriter! Continue reading

Where to eat in Palermo?

Pour cette semaine à Palerme, nous avons choisi Airbnb et nous avons eu la chance que notre hôte ait prévu une carte affichée dans la location donnant d’excellents conseils pour agir comme un palermitain, “act like a local”.

For this week in Palermo, we chose Airbnb and were lucky enough to be left with a map that gave excellent advics to act like a local, foodwise for example.

Voici donc notre top des tables agréables et notre dé-top des endroits à éviter.
Afin de finir sur une note positive, je commence par le dé-top ( il n’y a pas d’ordre particulier):  Continue reading

Erice et Trapani, ou la confirmation de pourquoi je n’ai pas de voiture

Aujourd’hui, c’était destination Trapani avec une escale à Erice, un village médiéval accessible en funiculaire ou en voiture. Arrivés à la gare, surprise: il faut 5 heures au train pour relier Palerme à Trapani. En bus, 2 heures….. Nous avons donc pris un car très confortable pour rejoindre cette ville portuaire et sommes arrivés dans l’après-midi.

Today, let me guide you through Trapani and Erice., a medieval village with cobblestone streets that you can reach by car or shuttle. First surprise: the time needed to reach the city by train: 5 hours! By bus: 2 hours. We took the bus. Obviously.

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Mes cartes de voyage

Voilà un article conseil qui semble basique, mais justement, c’est aussi important quand on est voyageur: nous allons parler cartes!

J’avais reçu pour mon anniversaire l’an dernier une carte à gratter du monde. Ce format me plaît bien, mais il n’était pour moi pas assez précis. J’ai donc créé mon propre carnet de cartes de voyage par pays.

For my birthday, i got a world map to scratch. I like it a lot, but it’s not detailed enough, so i have come up with my very own Mapbook, by country and by region or département. Continue reading

Dresde- International Youth Hostel

$ / S: +++/ F:+++/ C:+++                                                                                                                                 14/20      

Situé à 10 minutes du centre de Dresde, l’hôtel international est un endroit agréable, normalement accessible en tram, ou bus, mais lors de mon séjour tout était en travaux. Les chambres, de 4 à 6 lits, sont assez grandes et pourvues d’un lavabo, les toilettes et douches sont communs. Elles se composent de deux pièces (en tout cas celles que j’ai vues), soit 2 et 2 lits soit 2 et une plus grande où l’on peut en mettre 4. J’ai eu la chance de dormir dans celle pour 4 lits alors que nous n’étions que 2 , autant dire que nous étions à l’aise!
Seul point noir, les douches, sans pommeau, un peu ambiance colo: pratique lorsque l’on ne souhaite pas avoir les cheveux mouillés! (l’hiver par exemple).  Le petit-déjeuner était sous forme de buffet, bien garni et de qualité.Seul problème, le chocolat chaud était froid. L’hôtel est très grand (480 places) avec 6 salles de repas et 8 salles de conférence. A partir de 20 euros 50 hors saison(1 euro de moins dès la 2ème nuit), le couchage n’est pas très cher. Si vous possédez la carte de la German Youth Hostel Association et avez moins de 26 ans c’est même seulement 12 euros 50!

Mon seul souci a été le personnel peu souriant.
Possibilité de laisser ses bagages dans une pièce spéciale après le check-out mais non surveillée et non fermée.-> un bon endroit pour se reposer et reprendre des forces après une longue journée de visites.      
The international hostel is 10 minutes from the centre of Dresden: it is agreeable, and normally accessible with the tramway or bus but when i was there, the road was under construction so we had to walk. Rooms are 4 to 6 beds, pretty big and have a sink but bathrooms and toilets are in common for the whole floor. The rooms are usually in two rooms, one with two beds and one, bigger, that can contain 4. We were in the one for 4 but were only 2 so that was very comfortable!
The only problem would be the shower: water falls from the top and cannot be moved so that your hair are automatically  wet every time you take a shower. Breakfast is a buffet with a pretty good quality and wide choice. The hot chocolate was cold though and there was nothing to warm it. This hostel is huge (480 beds) with 6 breakfast rooms and 8 conference rooms. Prices start at 20,50euros (outside vacation time and summer) (1 euro less if you stay more than one night).. If you are the proud owner of the card German Youth Hostel Association, it even drops at 12,50 euros.
My only problem there was the staff who wasn’t what you would call smiling or warm. You can leave your luggage in a room but it’s not closed and nobody watches it.
-> This hostel is a good place to rest after a long day of visits. i don’t regret staying there!

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