Voltage, frequency and plug ins.
Maybe it sounds a bit weird, but as an experience traveler I know that you every now and then need this kind of information in advance: electricity in France is 230 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second. If you travel to France with a device that does not accept 230 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter.
There are three main types of voltage converter. Resistor-network converters will usually be advertised as supporting something like 50-1600 Watts. They are light-weight and support high-wattage electrical appliances like hair dryers and irons. However, they can only be used for short periods of time and are not ideal for digital devices. Some companies sell combination converters that include both a resistor network and a transformer in the same package. This kind of converter will usually come with a switch that switches between the two modes. If you absolutely need both types of converter, then this is the type to buy.
Outlets in France generally accept 1 type of plug: Two round pins (see the picture). If your appliances plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter. Depending on how much you plan to travel in the future, it may be worthwhile to get a combination voltage converter and plug adapter.
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Local Food dish: Brandade
If, like me, you like to try local specialties, you may decide to order Brandade (or Brandade de Morue Nîmes to give it's sunday name). This is a cod based mousse dish. The thing is, I have tried it a few times and always burn my mouth, once very badly. For some reason, it holds the heat inside so that when you take a mouthful, it feels ok at first but then the heat can take the skin off the roof of your mouth.
I can't understand why it holds it heat so much but be particularly wary if it is served in a terracotta dish...those are the worst. Be warned, blistered mouth is not a good thing.
Always say Bonjour
As with other places in Europe, it's customary to greet the shop keepers any time you walk into a store. Always say "bonjour" and "au revior" or else you'll be considered rude - and obviously foreign. If you are there in July or January, you will be able to experince "les soldes." These are the only months when retial stores have big sales. I've experienced some crazed shoppers during this time. It's reminiscent of the mall on xmas eve.
Is This the real France ?
It is very noticable that this area of France has long been influenced by it's Spanish and Italian neighbours.
You most obviously see this in the food - with Pizza and Paella available in many places, but also in traditions such as bullfighting and in the generally more laid back and relaxed 'mediterranean' feel of the place.
I'm not saying the Parisians are cold in comparison but.....
Is this taking the revolution too far ?
When the revolution occurred in 1789, the founders of the new state fought in the name of equality. They probably never realised it would end up in unisex toilets.
I found some at Nimes aiport recently - and you can find some comments following a forum posting of the same topic on 31/10/03
This was the initial posting :
Is nothing sacred ? I entered one of these arrangements at a french airport. I'm as much for equality and women's right as the next modern man - but don't take away our urinals !
I thus had to wait ! (see how silly this idea is) for a cubical to become vacant. A woman exited and I went in. So far everything was OK - but then I saw that the toilet seat was up. Either she was a very thoughful woman or she was hiding something.
Either way, this equality in the bathroom department is an appauling attack upon personal freedom and should be confined to one of the dustbins of history.
The monument of Alphonse...
The monument of Alphonse Daudet (born in Nîmes) can be found at the square de la Couronne. The famous writer gives the cold shoulder to the Hotel du Midi et de la Poste, which served as love nest for Guillaume Apollinaire and the legendary Lou.
Agrippa and Augustus...
Agrippa and Augustus (Octavian) were the best mates. Agrippa took Augustus' daughter Julia as his wife after divorcing a niece of Augustus. One of Agrippa's five children by Julia, Agrippina the Elder, was the mother of one emperor (Caligula) and the grandmother of another (Nero).
The crocodile chained to a palm is the symbol of Nîmes.
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