This blog on New Caledonia is for those of you who ever wondered what life on a tiny island in the South Pacific might be like. Tired of bracing winter winds, the stress of an inner city or simply dreaming of a life change? This is a blog about what happens when, in the words of Yogi Berra, "you come to a fork in the road, [and] take it".

29 April 2007

Everyday Things

Photo by Melissa Kurtz, 2007.

Here we are, a typical day in Nouméa. Pablo and I try to get to the beach or the park or the store for bread every day. Laurent goes to work and Sophie starts school at 7 in the morning. Pablo and I toddle about, get out and about, and Pablo generally goes down for a nap in the afternoon (when I can work at last). Sometimes we even get to the beach for a fully-clothed dip (for Pablo, that is) and a rinse (as above) - but most times we head off to the park for climbing and squeezing and jumping and sliding.

Today it is a beautiful day in Nouméa and everyone in the family has had a long nap while I have cooked apples, answered e-mails, done some online research and looked at the view. Our lives will change dramatically in a few months with our return to Paris. Gone will be the ocean view, the cloudless skies, the warm temperatures, the silence and the birdsong. In with activity, friends, café visits, good coffee, the world's greatest museums, theatre, film, paying parks for Pablo and great shopping for Sophie. Oh - and self-evident, fully functioning faucets. Joy!

26 April 2007

What We Loved About Lifou

Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2007.

Some of you may remember that we visited the Loyalty Islands over Christmas and that I have written a little bit about our adventures on Maré and Ouvéa. The last island we visited was Lifou, the largest of the three.

Lifou is the size of Martinique and it is resplendent with things to do and see. Here are a few of the things we loved most about Lifou:
  • Visiting a vanilla plantation and bringing back some vanilla to make vanilla coffee.
  • Snorkeling in the north of the island on Christmas day. We snorkeled for well over an hour in deliciously warm water, surrounded by the greatest variety of tropical fish that we have seen in New Caledonia (we've snorkeled on the mainland, at the Ile des Pins and in Maré).
  • Chatting with the very friendly locals (some of whom invited us to their big Christmas festivities).
  • Picnicking on the beautiful white, sandy beaches and the turquoise sea.

23 April 2007

New Caledonia Votes Overwhelmingly for Nicolas Sarkozy

49.74% of New Caledonia's voters cast their vote yesterday for Nicolas Sarkozy in France's first round of presidential elections. The 52-year-old son of a Hungarian immigrant, Sarkozy appeals to those who want a stronger, more prosperous, more competitive France. Nicknamed "Sarko the American", Sarkozy vows to put France back to work (all but doing away with the 35-hour work week), lower taxes and guarantee every citizen the ability to own his/her own home.

New Caledonia voted overwhelmingly for Nicolas Sarkozy, more so than any other French overseas territory. Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party representative, won 23.73% of New Caledonia's vote, followed by François Bayrou at 8.85%, José Bové at 5.88% and Jean-Marie Le Pen at 5.67%. Ségolène Royal won Martinique, St Pierre and Miquelon, and Reunion. For the overseas results, see RFO's site.

Sarkozy will face Royal in the final presidential round on 6 May. A televised debate between the two is planned for 2 May.

20 April 2007

New Caledonia's Top Blogs

Some weeks ago, New Caledonia's top blogs were named following an online survey conducted by a local blogger called "le mouton". 36 blogs were nominated by 29 Internet users. The top five winners, all Francophone, were:

  1. Margouillette - Life in New Caledonia told with a sense of humour and exquisite presentation.
  2. Calédosphère - A regularly updated smorgasbord of content on subjects as diverse as politics, New Caledonia, the Internet and love.
  3. 5 minutes en Nouvelle-Calédonie - A beautiful blog full of stunning photos, videos and sound.
  4. Le Cri du Cagou - A collective blog that blends techno with underground art and life in community.
  5. Katuali - Expats talk about daily life, good shopping, activities, etc.
For all 36 results, go to and scroll to "Et le Calédoblog d'Or revient à..."

Speaking of blogs, this little blog, "Sojourn in the South Pacific" will soon come to an end. We received official notice yesterday that we will indeed be returning to Paris on 21 August 2007 (via the States and the United Kingdom).

If any of you are looking for particular information about life in New Caledonia, do post a comment or send a note. Four more months ... let me know what you'd like to know.

18 April 2007

Birthdays are Good in the South Pacific

Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2007.

"Birthdays are good, GREAT, in the South Pacific," reports one-year-old Pablo Guiader. On 7 April 2007, young Pablo boarded an Air New Zealand flight bound for Auckland with friends and family in tow. Air New Zealand staff were friendly enough to allow the taking of a photo of Pablo and his papa in the cockpit (which pleased his papa no end). Presents before, during and after the flight, Pablo reports that one simply could not have a better first birthday. When he thought all the fun to be had had indeed been had, he met the delightful Melissa and the fun began all over again.

Pablo does state that the highlight of his first birthday was not however the fantastic flight in an aeroplane nor the many wonderful presents, but the MUFFIN his mom finally let him have. Those muffins in New Zealand really are something else!

16 April 2007

New Zealand: A Land of Many Faces

Photo by Laurent Guiader, 2007.

Back from our whirlwind tour of New Zealand, our heads are swimming and are bones are aching. What a fulfilling (and exhausting yet thrilling) trip it was! We took a total of six flights (three in one day on the last day), rented two cars, took two trains, went on two aquataxis and one ferry. We spent more time travelling, me thinks, than visiting New Zealand, but my was it beautiful! If I were to do it again, I would definitely take a whole month to see The North Island and The South Island: there is so much to see and do.

We started with fair weather in Auckland and nearly froze to death in Dunedin. But oh the snow on those mountains, the green green green of The North Island, the sheep on the hills and the train literally on the sea. A trip to remember!

For a blog that tells more of our tales, see our friend, Melissa's, blog, "Petit Sojourn". She took literally thousands of photos (averaging a good 500 a day) and will be posting a fair few of them in the coming days. I'll also try to give you more highlights from our trip over the next month or so.

15 April 2007

"Suspicion and Apathy in France's Faraway Land"

For an interesting article on how New Caledonia is expected to vote in next Sunday's (22 April) French presidential election, see the Financial Times' piece entitled Suspicion and Apathy in France's Faraway Land.

The French state is still fitting 60% of the New Caledonian bill (according to the article) as well as providing the know-how and personnel in the areas of health, education and justice. A journalist at Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes gives Americans the credit for modernising the island.

06 April 2007

New Zealand Bound

We're off tomorrow for a week or so to the beautiful New Zealand. We will be seeing:

Day 1 - Auckland
Day 2 - Rotorua
Day 3 - Wellington
Day 4 - Nelson
Day 5 - Abel Tasman National Park
Day 6 - Scenic train from Picton to Kaikoura
Day 7 - Kaikoura and Christchurch
Day 8 - Dunedin

It is a whirlwind tour of both the north and south islands, with guided maori walks and swimming with dolphins thrown in for good measure.

Will post news and tales of our trip upon our return.

Happy Easter, everyone!

03 April 2007

Birthday Boys

Meet the magnificent Master Dorian who is one year old today! Happy Birthday, Dorian! Dorian and his family moved from New Caledonia to Réunion in August of last year and we miss them terribly. Before they moved, Pablo saw Dorian nearly every day. They nursed together, they strolled together, they cried together and they smiled together. These days Dorian is his usual observant, sophisticated, intelligent self. Pablo is still our resident rugby (or football) player.

Pablo will be one on Saturday (7 April). To celebrate, he will be in New Zealand for his birthday. (We're going along, too.) We're excited about doing a quick tour of both North and South islands and meeting up with our great friend Melissa (she's flying all the way in from LA for the event!) and our friends Jo and Séan in Dunedin. We'll be taking planes, ferries, trains and cars all over New Zealand. Pablo will be a travelling fiend by the end - so will we all. Photos and tales to follow!

In the meantime, Happy Birthday, Boys (including Uncle Clyde who turns 25 today)!

02 April 2007

Tsunami Alert in the South Pacific: No Danger to New Caledonia

The tsunami that devastated the Solomon Islands today brought no damage to New Caledonia. On alert for two hours this morning, the tsunami crashed down on the Loyalty Islands - at 15 cm high, a "vaguelette" or "baby wave".

The public was fully alerted however and inhabitants made for higher ground. By 10:38 everyone was out of harm's way and by 11:15 the alert was over. Everyone could go home.