Paperwork done, let's discover the Rhone-Alps
Finally we've settled on the apartment we will rent in January and now it's time to enjoy our new city! Aix-les-bains pronounced "X les bains" is a gorgeous little town, located in south-eastern France, we picked it because of its proximity to the Alps and beautiful natural glacial Lac du Bourget. It's a thermal town therefore it receives many tourists because of its spas and natural medical treatments. We visited the thermal baths during our visit and enjoyed it tremendously especially the outdoor pool overlooking the Alps! First things first, wine, cheese baguettes. Everything comes with a baguette in France, and I don't mind. Wine costs nothing and is delicious everything is local, meats, cheeses, wine, bread. Our first Savoie platter of cheese and meats was truly amazing, we went with a variety of local cheeses and can't say that we recognized any of them from home. Food is cheap here and the quality is always fresh. I was surprised at how much "Saucisson" , as they call it, is prevalent. I knew there would be many butcher shops but dried and cured meats are abundant and come in so many varieties. Our week was filled with great meals and so much wine, my hubby noted that beer is not consumed nearly as much and costs so much more than wine which differs from North America.
With the completion of school registration and apartment hunting I can now imagine what it will be like to live here day to day. What I determined almost immediately is that yes France is slower, people take their time and really do enjoy the smaller things in life. Coffee is drank in cafes and the absence of large "to-go" cups is refreshing, you just don't see them there. Local butchers "charcuterie", bakeries and many local farmers have small stores all over town. It's evident that residents buy their food every day since there are stores, shops, bakers and supermarkets on every block.
Our walk to school will literally be 3 minutes and we are so excited to have our daughter attend an authentic French school. The principal, a woman, is strict and is obviously respected - as we experienced when visiting our daughter's new class, every student rose from their seat when the principal appeared in the doorway. I thought it was great but shocking as we seem to have a very lax attitude about authority in schools here.
We appreciated the architecture of the buildings in the city and the history of the town so much as we took a small train through the town and over to the Lac du Bourget which was stunning and so picture perfect. This city is active with many running and cycling paths either within the city or leading to the lake which makes jogging or walking so pleasant. They have so many "Zone de Pietonne" these areas are restricted to cars hence so many more pedestrians there. The city has reduced the lanes in the centre of town and made the sidewalks enormous for greater foot traffic. As a result more residents, walk, bike and leave their cars at home since the infrastructure is really supportive of that lifestyle.