Hello From France

Hello, Friends. Thank you so much for your patience as I took a week to tackle some just-moved-to-another-country-tasks. I sincerely appreciate it. I feel like there’s so much to tell you, so I’ll just dive in.

We arrived last Wednesday evening (August 28th) and checked into an Airbnb that we’ve reserved through the month of September. We did our best to stay up until normal bedtime hours, but ended up waking around 3:00 in the morning with jet lag anyway. : )

The next day, Thursday, we connected with a few friends (so lovely to see familiar faces as we ran errands in town!) and spent a good chunk of hours arranging for our French SIM cards for our phones. We also had a surprise: we thought school was going to start the next Monday (September 2nd), and that we’d have a few days for the kids to adjust to the new time zone and gather the long list of French school supplies. The Monday start was true for the middle school. But for Flora June, we found out the first day school was actually the next day (Friday, August 30th)!!

So after the phones were sorted out, we went straight to the school to make sure her registration was all set (it was), and get a school supply list for her class. It was such a wonderful visit! Flora’s teacher gave us a tour of her classroom and building, and we got to explain in person that Flora really doesn’t know any French and is starting from scratch.

Sidenote: Flora’s teacher has a Harry Potter theme for the classroom, and the students got to pick their “house” out of a Sorting Hat. In French the four houses are called: Gryffondor (Gryffindor), Serpentard (Slytherin), Poufsouffle (Hufflepuff), and Serdaigle (Ravenclaw). Poufsouffle is my favorite translation.

After the school visit, we went straight to the grocery store to buy school supplies. The stores in Argentan typically close at 6:00 or 7:00 PM, and aren’t open on Sunday at all, so there are no late night Target-run options. There are different sized grocery stores with labels like Marché, Super-Marché, and Hyper-Marché. The Hyper-Marchés are similar to a Super-Target — they have groceries and household goods and some clothing too.

On Thursday, we also went to the laundromat. By the time we got to France, we had been staying in hotels for four nights, and our laundry was piling up. There is a small clothes washer at our Airbnb, but no dryer (more on that later), and we decided the laundromat would be the most efficient way to get everything clean at once. The laundromat is open till 8:00 PM.

We ended Thursday with dinner at our friend Caroline’s home. She bought a house a few months ago and has been fixing it up and it’s wonderful! It’s right in town, it has a big garden, and it’s a three minute walk to her work at the library. Caroline is my dear friend and she has been such a help as we’re getting adjusted — things like helping us understand a note from school, to letting us use her wifi, and even receiving a package for us.

On Friday, Olive and I took a 7:00 AM train to Montpellier. (Which means, Ben Blair was the parent for Flora’s first day of school. We made sure to set out Flora’s outfit the night before.) Our train went from Argentan to the Montparnasse train station in Paris. Then we took an Uber to another station, Gare du Lyon, where we took a train straight to Montpellier, which is in the South of France.

Sidenote: In case you missed the news, Olive is spending her senior year in Montpellier as an au pair. Olive took four classes this summer (taking the final exams the Friday before we moved!) and that completed her required coursework, so she’s officially done with high school. Knowing we needed to take Olive to Montpellier so she could start her Au Pair work on Monday, September 2nd, was one of the reasons we needed to prioritize getting our French phones in order.

The father of Olive’s host family met us at the station and helped us navigate the tram to the hospital campus where the family lives. (Both of the parents work at the hospital and live right on the campus — there are a few houses for the hospital directors.) He gave us a wonderful tour of the house, gave Olive her key to the house, and then had to return to work because it was the middle of the day. We got Olive unpacked, made a list of a few things she wanted for her room, and then used the tram to explore and figure out the best place for shopping. It turns out the tram line that goes to the hospital, also goes straight to an Ikea, so we picked up everything Olive needed really easily.

Friday evening, Olive and I met her host parents, Laurent and Emilie, at a super charming restaurant in the old part of the city — you know, tiny cobble stone streets, and charming little shops around every corner, and then surprise! a giant cathedral or castle that’s 400 years old. Laurent and Emilie are really lovely. What a treat to get to know them a bit, and be able to picture where Olive will be living. After dinner, we shared desserts, wandered around the old city (it was HOT during the day, but the evening was the perfect temperature), and then took the tram back to the hospital.

Sidenote: I really loved the tram system in Montpellier. It’s super easy to navigate, and you’re above ground the whole time, so you can see what’s happening. The city of Montpellier was not really built for cars, and it’s difficult to navigate and park a car there — especially in the city center — so everyone just uses the tram and it’s awesome.

Back in Argentan, Flora had her first day of school, and Ben Blair got the kids signed up for music lessons. Oscar will continue with trumpet. Betty will continue with Clarinet. And Flora will try the oboe (she wanted guitar or piano, but they were full). Ben also figured out where and when to sign up for swim team, and took Betty and Oscar to get their school supplies.

On Saturday morning, Olive and I (still in Montpellier) went with Laurent and Emilie to the weekly market. It’s held beneath the ancient aqueduct (of course it is). And my oh my one of the things I was impressed with is the older ladies at the market — I’m talking about the ladies in their 70s and 80s; so stylish and put together. I definitely felt under-groomed.

Montpellier is a big city and the market was big too. It was really fun to see how this French couple shopped. They said they always start at the fishmonger, then Laurent picked out a week’s worth of bread, while Emilie picked out fruits and vegetables at vendor who only sells organic options (organic is called biologique in France). She mentioned she also buys from the grocery store when needed, but that the quality is much better at the open air market. The last stop was their favorite cheese vendor. (There are many cheese vendors, meat vendors, bread vendors, etc. at these markets. And overtime, customers figure out their favorites.)

Emilie also joked about her good friend Mr. Picard. Picard is a famous frozen food chain in France. They only sell frozen food, and it’s known to be very high quality. Emilie said the reality is they are both working parents and sometimes is easier to throw some Picard in the microwave than figure out dinner. Olive was like: We agree! And we don’t have Picard in the U.S., but we had a freezer full of Trader Joe’s. : )

After the market, we took a touristy walk around town, and then they dropped me at the train station and I was off to Argentan once again (with a stop in Paris as usual). But this time, with only a small bag and leaving Olive behind. I think she’s going to have a wonderful year and I’m proud of her for figuring out the au pair scene all on her own.

Sidenote: Montpellier is a college town with several universities and it was fun to see all the students on the trams, with luggage and pillows, moving into dorms or student housing. I’m hoping Olive will be able to take a class or two.

Another sidenote: While I was on the train, I pulled out my laptop to write my Friday Link List, and realized I left the laptop in Olive’s room. Ugh! The post office isn’t open on Saturday, so Olive shipped it on Monday and it got to me on Tuesday. I’m so sorry I missed publishing a weekend link list — I don’t know when I’ve ever missed that before. I felt bad about letting you down.

On Saturday, while I was on Montpellier, Ben Blair took the kids to Deauville Beach, did the grocery shopping, and then met me at the train station at the end of the day.

On Sunday, we slept as much as we could (jet lag is killer!), and had friends over for Gouter in the afternoon/evening. Gouter is basically an afternoon snack. In France, lunch is at 12:30 PM, and dinner is around 8:00 PM, so Gouter is a snack, typically sweet, that happens around 4:00 PM (perfect timing for an after-school snack). Our friend Capucine made a gorgeous and delicious peach charlotte and we gobbled it up.

On Monday, Oscar and Betty had their first day of school, and Flora had her second day. While they were in school, Ben and I started tackling tasks like buying a car, and figuring out long-term housing. We also had more paperwork to hand in at the school for Oscar and Betty’s registration. When the kids were out of school we took them to test drive a couple of family cars. We haven’t made a car decision yet, but we’re getting closer.

Sidenote: When we landed in Paris, we had reserved a big van for a week (there were six of us plus we had so much luggage!). Funnily, the van they gave us was the exact same Mercedes utility model we drove in the U.S.. We handed that in today, and we’ve rented a smaller car (a five-seater) to use until we make a purchase decision. Even though there are only five of us here at home, we’re still feeling like we need lots of seats, because of likely visitors. At the same time, we’d rather skip the industrial size van if we don’t need it, you know? We’re not sure — it feels like we’re trying to guess at future trips and visitors. The nice thing is, if we do decide to go with the industrial van, literally every car company here makes their own version so we have tons of choices.

Tuesday looked a lot like Monday, but included tours of five houses that are in town and for sale. (I’m going to do a whole separate post on our real estate happenings here. Lots to tell you!) And I got my laptop back! I confess, I feel so dysfunctional when it’s not around.

That completes a report of our first week, and here are a bunch of other things I want to tell you about:

-It’s been interesting to see what is familiar and what has changed about our little town of Argentan — like a new windfarm just outside of town, and changes to weekly trash pick up and recycling. There’s a new bakery we’ve been to 3 times already, and we noticed three other bakeries we like to visit have all had facelifts — new signage and canopies out front.

Argentan is not a touristy town — though it’s a wonderful home base for seeing the big tourist spots in the Normandy region, like Mont St. Michel, the D-Day Memorials, the resort town of Deauville, the fishing village of Honfleur, the Bayeaux Tapestry, and several of William the Conquerers castles.

To our eyes, Argentan is a community that is constantly improving, with exciting public works projects that benefit everyone who lives here, like a new art museum, and a current project where they are transforming the area around the town hall to be a walking district and park. Even just things like they’ve added new covered parking to one of the big grocery stores, which is a huge help when the rains begin. I love that the city really seems to keep the quality of life of their citizens in mind.

-School here is HARD for Flora. We’re only a few days in, and she really doesn’t speak or understand French. For sure she’ll get there, but it’s tough. The nice thing is she gets lots of breaks. Her grade only has school on Monday and Tuesday, and on Thursday and Friday. So she just has to face two days of school at a time. Also, the kids have been super friendly to Flora try hard to communicate with her. It’s really sweet.

Oscar and Betty remember more French than they thought they would, but not enough to feel fluent. Plus, the combination of new school, and new language, gives them the feeling like they never quite know exactly what’s going on; or that they’re missing information (which I’m sure they are). A happy thing for them? English class! It’s totally in English, and they feel like they can be helpful to the other kids.

Betty really wants to get good grades while she’s here, so we’re trying to figure a tutor that can help her until her French is up to speed.

Another happy thing is the school schedule. As I mentioned, there’s no class for Flora on Wednesday, and school lets out at noon on Wednesday for the middle school. Plus, the school has four 2-week breaks during the year (the first one is in October), and a two month summer.

-We’re curious to see what being on the swim team will be like. We didn’t really do anything like that last time we lived here. Ralph’s memory is that you are an athlete by default if you come from the U.S. because we’re so saturated with sports. Like he remembers they were doing a section on baseball in P.E., and the kids thought you held a baseball bat with one hand. Ralph is not into sports at all, and only played one season of baseball as a 4 year old, but still knew a baseball bat is held with two hands.

In addition to swimming, Oscar is planning to do handball, and Betty is currently signed up for kayaking and horseback riding — that may change depending on the final schedules. Swim team is it’s own organization, but the other sports are done through the school.

Sidenote: The U.K. is so close to Normandy, and there are many people from the U.K. who visit this area, so if a local hears someone speak English, they assume it’s a visitor from the U.K.. The kids have noticed they get positive attention when people (adults or kids) realize they are from the U.S.A. — I’m sure it’s partly the novelty. They seem to get extra good vibes when they add that they’re from California and San Francisco. : )

-I think I’ve mentioned this before, but June (full name: Flora June Blair) was wanting to switch her name to Flora for a quite a while, but it’s challenging to get people to use a new name. We’re finding it’s much easier to do here, since the kids and grownups at school don’t know her as June, only as Flora. At home, to help the family get used to the new name, we’ve been trying to say Flora June while we make the transition.

-I really want to find a French language exchange partner. I’m committed to improving my French as much as I can.

-We did all the recommended jet lag remedies — like staying awake till local bedtime, eating meals at the local times, and using melatonin — but jet lag just stinks no matter what. I think it takes at least a week to adjust no matter what you do.

-Two things I’m having to adjust to again: 1) Stores aren’t open at the hours I’m used to. In the U.S., I do A LOT of my errands in the evening or late at night. So I’m having to be more mindful of the closing times here and planning my schedule accordingly. I know I’ll get used to it, but it’s going to take me a minute. 2) Coins here have much more value than they do in the U.S. A handful of coins here ends up being like ten bucks instead of 80 cents. Hah! I need to remember to keep track of my change. : )

-It feels like we’re going to be doing big administrative stuff (like: we need to find an orthodontist to continue Oscar and Betty’s treatment), pretty much every day for several weeks. But I feel great about what we’ve already accomplished, and I’m hopeful we’ll settle in to our new routines soon.

That’s it for now. Other posts I’m hoping/planning to write include some Q&A on why this move happened in the first place, what we did with our house in Oakland, and what it’s like looking for long-term housing here in France. And there’s a bunch of current event stuff I want to discuss too (like I’m really feeling a welcome shift about gun attitudes in the U.S.).

Today is the first day since we got here that I’ve had regular work time with my laptop, and I’m hoping to write a ton this month!

I hope you are well and I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything I reported. Question are welcome! I can add them to my Q&A post.

P.S. — Another time, I need to tell you about my depression meds and how they somehow got shipped on the container with our household goods instead of getting packed in my suitcase.

62 thoughts on “Hello From France”

  1. Bienvenue! So excited to hear more about your move to France. I’m excited that you are back on the same continent as I am.

  2. Yay, welcome to Europe! :) As a longtime reader, I was a tiny bit worried when I saw that you hadn’t posted a Friday link post. I don’t think it has ever happened before! Very interested in your future posts about your move, keep them coming. Starting the school year is hard as it is, but it seems that you are doing brilliantly!

    1. Oboe is a great instrument. Not many tend to play it which opens up so many more opportunities. I loved playing it!
      Plus, once she learns oboe, she can easily play English horn with same fingering combinations. Two in one!!

  3. I’ve been reading your blog for years and I am so happy for you and your family and quite a bit jealous. I studied abroad in Rennes so I’m remembering the autumn and back-to-school feeling of this time of year. Man I miss those markets en plein air. Thanks for being real about the tough stuff (like forgetting your laptop and all the administrative to-dos)… this sounds like such a fantasy but it’s all because you are making it happen! Bon courage!

  4. I’m so glad you’re settling in well and are having such positive experiences! For a language exchange I recommend asking at your local Marie. Or you could post a note on the door if you have a salle de polyvalente. I used conversation exchange before but it’s nicer if you can find someone in your own village. Also signing up for local activities will give you lots of practice. If your village has marche nordique, i would sign up for sure. I’m looking forward to reading your updates. Sending good vibes from haute Savoie :)

  5. Welcome back to France! Sounds like you and Ben Blair did an awesome job getting everyone settled, which can’t have been easy even though you seemingly handled it with aplomb. :)

    I’m almost ridiculously excited to follow along on everyone’s adventures and to hear more about what led you to return as well as your long-term plans.

  6. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    Thank you so much for taking the time to give an update. I’m sure you are used to having your readers think of you as an old friend-but I always know that you are giving us the gift of seeing into your life. I had a moment when you said you were moving to France when I thought “Oh, I’ll miss her!”. Then I remembered you would still be blogging. It was kind of funny. I know I’ll love your posts as much as the last time you lived in France. Good luck getting settled. You inspire me to try new things.

  7. Danielle M Lindberg

    I am thrilled you moved back to France! I loved your previous posts on France and I am excited to see France through your eyes again. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

  8. I feel like we can oddly relate to your situation just a little bit, even though we’re still in the US right now. We moved over the summer and our kids are now attending a french immersion school. Not a big deal for our kindergartner, who is on a level playing field with all of her peers, but my son who is in second grade is two years behind all of his friends and it has been hard for him to adjust. Sending good vibes to you guys that the language catches on! I feel pretty impressed that with my kids in school, I’ve actually learned A LOT of french the last few weeks! We’re going to have to visit soon so these newfound skills don’t go to waste!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  9. so exciting! thank you for sharing the details; it’s very fun to follow along on the kind of adventure that so different from my experiences raising similarly aged kids. as you continue to post here are a couple of topics I’m curious to hear about along with the real estates stuff:

    #1 How’s your transition to a family of 3 (younger) kids going? I think not all 6 of your kids have lived at home for a few years. does it feel like a big change to have “just” 3 at home? Is the focus of the family different without the young adults and older teenagers around?

    #2 Does this move have a big impact with your relationship with the LDS church? In Oakland I know your LDS ward, youth activities, dances, and morning classes that Ben taught were a big part of your family life and took a lot of time. If that something you will miss now? something you are intentionally moving away from? Do you miss the strong sense of community and what do you do to replace it?

    Thanks again for sharing your adventures with us!

  10. I’d love to hear about the visa experience: how did you go about getting a visa to live in a foreign country? What were the requirements? It seems like you aren’t employed by a French firm, so how does employment figure into the visa process (I always thought you needed a job offer, or school acceptance, to live in a European country as an American)? Do they limit the time you can stay there? merci

  11. *Sigh* — it sounds just wonderful! I’m jealous too — wish my darling husband was a bit more of an adventurer. How lucky that you and Ben Blair have the same taste for adventure and the unknown. The last-minute nature of the school and travel schedule made me a little anxious just to read it, but it sounds like everything turned out just fine!

    1. I really relate to this, Sarah. My husband is an adventurer when it comes to things like camping, climbing, boating, etc. but no so much when it comes to international travel. I’m grateful I can follow along with Gabby’s family – what a gift for all of us.

    2. I hear you. I work for a company based in Europe and would LOVE to move abroad. Mostly because I would like my kids to have fluency in an another language. But my husband would have to give up his job and it would be unlikely he could find something only knowing English. At least not initially.

  12. Thanks for the lengthy and detailed update. I think your regular readers would only expect you to take whatever time you need to get settled, including a break from blog writing if needed! If you’re comfortable sharing, I’m curious what your plans are to see your oldest two who are still in California? They are obviously adults now but you have such a close family that I’m guessing it’s still hard to be so far away from them, although I know have experience with this with your son’s mission and your daughter’s previous time living in France. I can’t imagine how much work it must have been to make this move happen and now the work continues as you get settled. Thanks for being willing to share the journey with all of us! (And I hope you are able to get some replacement meds soon!)

  13. I was worrying about your mental health when I heard about the move. I hope it is easier for you this time. And that the boat floats quickly with your shipping container. You continue to inspire me with how hard you work for your kids in such an intentional way.

  14. For Flora, Oscar, and Betty: in your down time, when walking around, or puttering about, listening to the audio versions of Harry Potter in French – stories I assume you are probably fond of and know well – might be a fun way to jump start increased familiarity with French.
    Regardless, your brains are gorgeous and young and will soak up your new language very quickly.

    1. I’m in awe of your ability to deal with what seems like an overwhelming list of things that must get done, all while coping with all the emotions of such a huge move. I hope you’re able to take some time for yourself and have a few moments of calm.
      My question: how many children (ages?) will Olive be nannying?

      1. I totally agree that audio books are a fantastic tool, but before Gabby spends the money on the French versions, they need to listen to a chapter or two. We absolutely DETEST (!) the french readings. Haha… unbearable..( obviously subjective, but my entire family of 6 ,just can’t…)

  15. So glad to read all this fun news! I just read it aloud to my teens, and they are now begging us to move back to England! :) We wonder if the kids who were learning to play baseball thought you hold the bat in one hand, because in the game of rounders, and English game similar to baseball w/ a smaller bat, the batter does hold the bat in one hand. And with your proximity to England, it makes sense that the kids there would be familiar with rounders.

  16. Hi Montpellier is great! And Olive should also visit Nimes, if she likes ,which is really close to Montpellier by train. Its the twin town of my hometown in Germany and I spent a really great autumn there and in Montpellier ages ago :-) Lots of Roman remains etc. to look at…

  17. Wonderful! I hope you are doing okay without your meds. We love following along with your adventures! Thanks for the update!

  18. So happy to read the update – glad you are in France and getting settled. When you get a chance, please update on the property you purchased in France awhile back – will you eventually be living in that house? Maybe I missed an update about it in the blog. Thank you –

  19. Thanks for the update on France. My family and I just moved to Rome from the Bay Area. We arrived 2 weeks ago after spending 3 weeks in Dublin. Before we left people seemed to think that it would be some kind of extended dolce vita vacation. The reality of moving is much harder. We have managed to fit a bit of fun and a tiny bit of site seeing into our days, but the administrative and daily tasks take sooo long, especially when we don’t have a car. Thanks for taking us on this adventure with you.

    1. Alison, we have a family home about an hour north of Rome (Orvieto) and are thinking about spending a lot more time there. I’d love to pick your brain sometime if you don’t mind.

  20. YAY! I’ve been soooo excited for this update!!! Thank you for posting – I follow on IG, so I wasn’t tooooo worried when you didn’t post Friday. I don’t know how you do all this (especially without your meds!); I want to nap just reading it. So glad you and your family are so adventurous though!

  21. Congratulations on the move & for keeping us updated. Been wondering how it’s going for your family. All I can think of is “what a blast!” and nope, I’m not even a tiny bit jealous :) Cheers from St. George, UT!

  22. I have to say, when I saw your instagram post announcing the move, my first feeling was “oh thank heavens”, ha! It’s not that your Oakland life didn’t seem to suit you, but it just seems like France is truly your family’s home. There’s such an ease and joy in your writing about your life there, even when things surely aren’t easy (ergo how you’ve tackled all of the “setting up life” tasks in such a short amount of time). I’m so happy to follow along in this adventure again!

  23. I have just looked up in the World Book Atlas to find where you are living. It looks very central to lots of places. Will follow your journey with interest. Cheers from Karen, Newcastle Australia.

  24. Congratulations on this new adventure for your family! I am planning to read these posts as a “how to” for moving abroad with a family. Thank you!

  25. WOW! I am full of admiration. Having just returned from a tourist trip to Paris, I’m having all sorts of pictures in my head. So thrilled for you, Olive, your whole family. The hardness of it all makes for such strength and creativity, until the whole experience gives way to something new and opens up space for joy that I don’t think is possible otherwise.

  26. I loved this post. Congrats on accomplishing so much in such a short amount of time. How good you must feel living your dream! Will Ben be teaching there? I’m so happy for you and can’t wait to hear all the new adventures.

  27. Yay for safe arrivals! Cheering your family on from the U.S. Best wishes that settling in will go smoothly. Thank you for sharing your family adventures. I know it’s not all easy — I loved reading the description of the market and the Harry Potter house name translations though.

  28. So glad to get this wonderful, newsy letter! Especially grateful that you’re safely arrived and children are in school and you’re dealing with things beautifully! How’s the weather? Take good care of all you precious people!
    Love, Julia Blqir

  29. Ahhhh! I was so busy in August that I took a break from reading blogs – and here I come back and find you guys moved back to France! It’s such a fun, beautiful surprise! I’m so impressed and in awe! Thank you for sharing your courageous adventures. I love following along!

  30. i Am from USA and my husband from Europe. We’ve lived both places and fly back and forth lots with kids. My best tip is when going to Europe -don’t stay up to fight jet lag. That ruins you for a week! We arrive in the morning and nap for 5-6 hours at airport hotel. Then force yourself awake at 1pm and shower and you’re good to go! Go to bed at midnight that night!

  31. Loved this post so much! Fascinating to hear all the details – thank you for taking the time to share them with us. Can’t wait to hear about your house hunt – yay!

  32. Congratulations on your move to France! I so enjoy your writing of all the details of daily life there because it really is so different from the US. My husband and I visited 2 years ago and fell in love with it. Your posts from your previous time living there helped us adjust and learn what to expect during our travels. I can’t wait to hear more of your time there!

  33. Thanks for the update! I felt like I was reading a book and each sentence was full of imagery! What an adventure and I am for sure living vicariously:) I’ve been a long time reader and appreciate how down to earth and open you are in sharing your thought processes and life decisions.
    Looking forward to reading about your depression meds. I finally got the deprovera shot to try and help some of my symptoms but no luck :(

  34. Hurray! Thanks for the update! We just moved to Vienna, so I can understand all the intricacies of such a move. Wishing you and your family a quick transition into French life and language! (And also an invitation to Vienna! It’s lovely here!)

  35. I think it’s amazing you managed to write this at all! We are two weeks into setting up our French life and holy moly – the administration! Just wading through the school paperwork takes many hours (and we only have three kids), let alone the insurance, car purchase, bank accounts…. as you know. This week I’ve been focused on supporting the kids through La Rentrée and getting back to work… but there is so much to say and share about our life in France, and I am well behind on my blog. Bravo Gabrielle and welcome back to France

  36. Gabrielle!!!!! This is amazing and what an adventure for your family. I love reading this and it is so great you can write down your adventure so you will all be able to look back on this amazing time.
    We lived for three years in Patagonia, Argentina with my two kids and now live in Sydney, Australia. I also kept a blog and love reading back on what we did.I would love to go to France to do something like this. Will you move into your house you bought in France?
    I love reading this and will read it again as have to go now and pick up my kids from school. Bye and take care!

  37. Welcome Gabrielle and family! (french reader here, in Vendée). By the Toussaint holidays, Flora will be alright. At the library, there must be plenty of books with CDs, you could try Casse-Noisette (Nutcracker) in the Histoires en musique collection (by Elodie Fondacci); they are so good to learn french.
    I have never seen any one play baseball in France, the vast majority of people wouldn’t know what it is, at all ;) it must have been really funny to experience!
    Have a nice fall.

  38. Oh my! Congratulations to your family! I am exhausted from reading this- your energy levels are abundant! We leave in a trilingual country that includes French, but our (very young) kids speak a funny amalgam of all three. Can’t wait till they sort the languages better! Flora will do just fine; she’s very brave to jump into classes like that. Sending love and warm wishes to all of you, and looking forward to following along!

  39. Isabelle Brugger

    Wow, what an interesting post! I loved reading it. I live in Switzerland and have been following “design mom” for years. Living next to the border to France I go there a lot and am familiar with the stores, the markets etc.. But I find it’s as interesting reading about your experiences in France as it was reading about those in the U.S. I wish you all the best for settling in and hope you find a wonderful house.

  40. I’m thrilled you’re back in France! 🇫🇷

    Totally hear you on jetlag — it’s brutal, and after so many attempts, I stopped forcing myself to adapt. The body naturally does so after the right number of days. So, I sleep through the mornings, pas du problème for a week ❤️

  41. Congratulations on your move!!! I started reading your blog after I saw you on House Hunters International. I am so excited to follow your latest adventure and hopefully I will somehow find a way to get my kiddos back over to France for a visit. They have been there once, when they were little, and barely remember anything. I’m curious to learn more about the area where you live. My kids are ages 16 through 20 and the window has closed for us having a move to an international location, but I would like to still get them out to explore the world.

  42. I am so delighted to hear about the hopeful way in which your big, exciting move is unfolding! As someone who, like you, is depression-prone, I know how big life changes can spark a descent into the doldrums. Be well, and I look forward to hearing all about your adventures! PS Any chance of House Hunters International II? Or a reprise of Olive Us?

  43. Dear Gabrielle, I enjoy reading your blog. I am French but live in the U.S. I try to go to France when possible since I have family there. My daughter is a teacher and we would both live to move to France. My daughter loves Paris but I love Paris and my favorite is Normandy. My dream is to move back to France and bring my daughter and granddaughter. My daughter has been to France three times, twice with her two children and loves it. I miss France so much that when it is time to leave, I get homesick. I hope you and your family enjoy it there. I know Argentan and it is a lovely town. There’s so much history everywhere.

  44. Thank you for sharing! And I’m glad you felt able to take time away from the blog for your international family move. We understand :-)

    I am so interested in the logistics of moving your family to another country as well the social/emotional experience. My wife and I would like to move to Medellin, Columbia for at least a year while our kids are young. Right now they are three years old and five months old, and we would like to move in 1-2 years. Right now I’m flipping between being excited about the adventure and overwhelmed by the logistics. Some of the questions we are considering are – Do we sell our house? Do we rent it out? What do we do with all of our furniture and our possessions? Do we try to store some of them for when we move back to the states, or just start fresh? What about the pets? We may move back to our current town, but likely we would move to a different state to be closer to extended family.

    I’m curious about what it’s like for your kids adjusting to a new culture, especially not speaking the language. You were in France when the kids were younger, and I’d be interested in hearing how their adjustment differs by age. My wife speaks very good Spanish, I speak a few words (I am learning), and our three-year-old speaks just a few words in Spanish. My wife and three-year-old went on a trip to Medellin last month, and my three-year-old was initially frustrated by not understanding people, but picked up phrases and words quickly. Any insights you want to share would be much appreciated :-)

  45. Just a note of encouragement for Flora: I learned fluent German in a matter of months by total immersion in a German-speaking school in Berlin when I was a child (first grade for me…I think Flora is older than that, but I bet her brain is still similarly adaptable!). I still remember a few of the moments of bewilderment as I tried to navigate in a classroom where almost no one spoke any English. But by far my dominant impression from that time is gratitude for the experience and how it opened up my world and my mind. Best wishes to your brave girl, who I think is going to rock this new challenge!

  46. Welcome back! I started reading your blog when you were living in France before and am looking forward to your new French adventure. I am in awe of how quickly (and easily?) you see to sort everything out. I live in Italy and everything seems to take far longer.

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