The Town, Carbonne:

  1. Population 5000 (slight growth in 1900s but increasing rapidly now).
  2. Founded around 1145 AD. It is named after the chief activity there during the late Roman period, charcoal-making.
  3. Located on a bluff in a tight meander of the river Garonne (flows to Bordeaux).
  4. Lies in the heart of France's rich agricultural southwest (Dept. Haute-Garonne).
  5. Extraordinary because, unlike most towns in Europe, no main highway passes through the town. Usually, 24-hour high-speed thru traffic disrupts commerce, and noise damages the quality of life. Carbonne is connected to the outside world by two fixed bridges and a few secondary roads. All traffic is local.
The Town, Carbonne, France
The Town of Carbonne

Convenience:

  1. 35 minutes by train from Toulouse (45 min. by car)
  2. 3 hours by car to Atlantic Ocean
  3. 2 hours by car to Mediterranean Sea
  4. 40 minutes to the closest of many ski resorts in the Pyrenees
  5. Virtually everything you need is a short walk from the front door.
  6. Rue Commercante Carbonne
    Rue Commercante Carbonne
    1. 4 boulangeries / patisseries
    2. 1 small grocery convenience store (epicerie)
    3. Full grocery store
    4. Laundry / dry cleaner
    5. 3 bistros
    6. 5 restaurants
    7. 6 hair / beauty salons
    8. 3 florists
    9. 5 banks
    10. Main Post Office
    11. 5 men's or women's clothing stores
    12. 1 tobacco / variety store
    13. 2 pharmacies
    14. 5 real estate agencies
    15. Middle-sized supermarket. Serious supermarket, hardware, and larger stores are a few minutes away by car or bicycle.
    16. Major shopping is less than 30 minutes down A64 autoroute to Toulouse.
    17. The church is St. Laurent, founded in the 12th century with the current building unchanged since the mid-19th century. Sunday Mass is at 11:30
    Carbonne Market
  7. Thursdays the main street is closed half the day for Market Day, when scores of food sellers and wares vendors set up tables and shelters. France's finest fruits, vegetables, breads, sausage, meats, and foie gras are available just outside our front door. Clothing, housewares, fish and wine are found in the Preau (park at the uphill end of the street). On Market Day thousands of local and regional shoppers transform our little street into a quiet festival. The only loud voices are vendor's occasional shouted special offers.
  8. Market Day, Carbonne
  9. Trails and streets minutes away lead the explorer to the river banks and the town's suburban and rural environs. Sights, sounds, and smells are unlike those in urban USA; examples... the rich aroma of burning leaves and agricultural waste and sight of unguilty rural smoke columns, the purr of an agricultural tractor pulling a trailer or implement up the "Alley", the absence of wailing electronic sirens.

    While the obscene bellowing roar of speeding 'Harley' motorcycles would not be tolerated, we do have occasional young males on loudly-buzzing motorbikes. We are working with the Mayor's Office on plans to discourage such behavior.

The Environment- weather

  1. Jun.-Sep.: Sunny to partly cloudy, 5% light showers, 85F+ days, 65F nights.
  2. Spring-Fall: Sunny to partly cloudy, 20% light showers, 65F days, 45F nights, windy.
  3. Winter: Sunny to overcast, 10% light showers, windy, 45F days, 35F nights, rarely freezes hard.
General: Weather surprises are normal. Midsummer you can have a few days of cold and wet. 80-degree sunny days are not unknown in February. Weather is overall more moderate than in USA; seldom what we would call bad. Rainfall is almost always in the form of nearly-invisible droplets. As you will see in SW France's agricultural fields which dominate the landscape, everything loves to grow in this climate.

"Le Vent d'Autan": a couple times a year a dry wind comes in from the Med and can blow for days at 30 mph +. Tempers flare and suicides increase as folks tire of the incessant whistling and howling, from every hole and crevice in your house and your neighbor's.

The Environment- social

  1. Monocultural, monolingual, mostly monoracial. Everybody is French.
  2. No visible crime or social disorder. No apparent homosexuality or aberrant behavior. No drug or even alcohol abuse. 'Diversity', as we in urban USA are subjected to does not exist in rural SW France.
  3. People are cheerful, neatly-dressed, well-behaved. They all speak softly, even in restaurants. Useless teens lounging on a sidewalk in baggy or ill-fitting clothes with gaudy, exposed underwear would be unthinkable
  4. Automobiles are small and in good condition. Drivers are courteous and patient. No horn-honking except Saturday wedding processions.
  5. Only infrequent visibility of law enforcement personnel. But watch out for the Seat Belt Police and the Gendarmes' occasional speed trap. Still, they are your neighbors in this small town.
  6. No litter anywhere. City services sweep streets and sidewalks weekday mornings.
  7. Most everything is closed and town quiet after 8PM. Exception; bistros on weekends.
  8. The downtown is alive. People live in many spaces above the shops in Carbonne; often the shop owners. Every year, a couple more long-vacant shop locations are reopened. The new shops are less 'staples' and more upscale boutiques.
  9. Another thing whose absence I don't miss is the gratuitous crudity, obscenity, and harshness of younger male speech. It may exist in Toulouse and other big cities, but not in Carbonne.
  10. In a cultural oddity, the French close their shutters after dark, sealing the people inside and giving a vacant and cold feel to the towns. I think it's a combination of weather protection (seldom needed) and a tradition of paranoia over potential crime

Financial

  1. The cost of things varies with the exchange rate, and quality is equal or superior to the same item in USA. The Euro is easy to use. Most shops accept 'plastic' and ATMs are in several locations. The French don't use credit cards, but rather 'debit' cards. Many items we are accustomed to buying in USA, particularly household, aren't available in France. There is no Home Depot in Carbonne. But there also is no MacDonald's. Most things you buy are 'Made in France' or E.C.
  2. Things to bring: cosmetics, personal sundries, underwear, personal electronic items. They can be twice the price of equivalent in USA.
  3. Food, particularly the basics, is inexpensive, often half what we pay in USA, but the price range is far wider than what we see.
  4. Fuel is pricey, with regular gasoline going for E1,35 and diesel at E1,20 per litre {approx. 1/4 gal.). Daytime parking in towns is scarce. So walk and ride bicycle morel
  5. Housing cost is comparable to suburbs in USA.
  6. Wine. Prices run from E1.35/ltr. for good local table wine in bulk to E250 for Chateau Margaux, from just west of here.
  7. Car rental. Local rentals are E15- E25 a day, but one-way from big cities are over E100.

Cultural

  1. There is growing influence of popular American culture. The Arab invasion is not seen in small towns.
  2. They still like classical music here and 2 such FM stations are clearly receivable on the dial in this small town. Other stations have regional French music and light rock or talk, with almost no rock music or 'rap' in the harsh form we hear. An ordinary roof TV antenna brings in over a hundred free digital channels free using a converter or prepared receiver screen
  3. Toulouse has famous orchestras, ballets, and operas (notice the plurals?). Paris is 4 hours away by TGV (8 by car). Regional music festivals abound all year-around.

The Environment- infrastructure

  1. Streets are in excellent condition. Even secondary roads are in nearly-perfect and well-marked. Easy to drive everywhere. Limited-access autoroutes are the best I've seen, and kept perfectly clean. Most traffic signals in the whole country were eliminated some years ago, replaced by traffic circles or roundabouts ('rond-points'). They work well, after you get used to them.
  2. Auto driving and navigation... most roads aren't numbered and compass directions aren't used. Destination/distance signs mention only the next or principal towns. A GPS, good regional map and/or local information are useful for exploration.
  3. Utilities (water, electric, gas, telephone) all work without interruption. Accounting is timely and orderly. Cellular phones supplement land lines.

Contact Us for a French Language Rental experience.

French Language Immersion    French Language Immersion    TF    French Language Immersion   French Language Immersion

USA

970 SW 31st Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
954-766-2675
954-732-1917 Portable
jrkess98@aol.com


France

3 rue Jean Jaures
Carbonne, 31390 France
+33 (0)5 61 87 81 30 Land Line
06 31 50 90 80 Portable
jrkess98@aol.com