greetings from oakland

By Gabrielle.

It was fun to see the guesses come in last Friday and over the weekend. At last count, 55% of people who voted guessed San Francisco. And they guessed right. We’re moving to the Bay Area!!

The home we’re moving to is actually in Oakland, not San Francisco. But when I’ve mentioned Oakland to people, some give me a blank stare (apparently most of our French friends have not heard of it), so I’ve mostly been telling people we’re moving to San Francisco. : ) We actually don’t know much about Oakland at all, so we’re trying to get caught up! We’ve heard it referred to as East Bay, Berkeley, and Oaktown, and several friends have described it as the Brooklyn of the Bay Area. If you are an Oakland lover, I hope you’ll chime in with some of your favorite things about the city — and I’ve been scouring SFGirlbyBay’s Oakland guide, too!

Here are a few FAQs we’ve been getting about the move:

Q: Why are you moving?
A: We first made plans to move because the family that owns La Cressonnière was going to move back in. They’ve since decided to stay in Australia for another year or more, so yes, we could have stayed around. But we feel like it’s time to head back. Ralph and Maude are ready to try American high school. And sometimes, living here affects how easily we can run our businesses. But we hope we stay tied to Normandy for the rest of our lives! In fact, we hope our cottage purchase ensures that we do. But the whole family agrees that it’s time for us to head back to the U.S..

Q: What brings you to Oakland/The Bay Area?
A: Good question. We can live and work virtually anywhere, so we opened our search pretty wide when we thought about where to move back. Ultimately, the Bay Area tempted us for 3 basic reasons: 1) because we have family there (my brother Jared — he’s married to Liz of Say Yes to Hoboken, and my sister Jordan of Oh Happy Day), 2) because there are particular opportunities for our children there, and 3) something Ben Silberman, the founder of Pinterest, said in his Alt Summit keynote speech a couple of years ago about being where your field of work is centered, stayed with me. As non-techy as I often feel, our fields of work (blogging, Olive Us and Alt Summit) are all online. And the world behind the online world is based in Silicon Valley. There’s actually a longer story about why we’re headed to Oakland, but I’ll save it for another post. : )

Q: How often will you return to France?
A: Alas, we don’t know the answer to that yet. I’m sure some of it will depend on how the cottage renovation goes. (Speaking of which, we meet with an architect tomorrow! We are very excited.) We like to imagine spending our summers here in France, and maybe the Christmas holiday. Who knows! We’re also open to moving back here if for some reason our family isn’t thriving in California.

Q: Are the kids excited about the move?
A: For sure! I think everyone is feeling ready to start the next chapter of our lives. And they’ve already started thinking about their future bedrooms and what their school life will be like in Oakland. But the kids are feeling reflective too — talking about what they’ve seen and learned over the past 2 1/2 years. Making note of what they’ll miss.


I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you ever spent time in the Bay Area? (I’ve spent many a vacation in San Francisco, but Oakland is fairly new to me!) If you could live and work anywhere in the world, where would you pick?

P.S. — Hah! As soon as we announced the move to our families, I received this video from 2 of my siblings:

177 thoughts on “Oakland!”

  1. We used to live in Alameda which is thru the tunnel from Oakland. It is awesome!! Alameda has a really cute Main St. and Shoreline Dr. runs along the beach. Have fun!! You will love it!

  2. Congrats! I love Oakland. There are some fabulous neighborhoods there on that hillside, great and interesting people, and even some fun history. Add the perfect weather and your family nearby…BINGO! And you’re right–there’s nowhere quite like the Bay Area/Silicon Valley for tech businesses and start-ups. There are some brilliant minds in that place. Yay Blair family. Best wishes!

  3. I guessed SFO bc of Jordan (family). You’ll like the Bay Area. I live in Los Altos Hills. I can’t wait til you move & start posting about the city!

  4. SF area has always been my #1 spot I could move back to. (excluding the city my family is located…). In fact, my husband and I were planning to move there when swift moves took us to Sweden. I can only send more “luck you” accolades and wishes! The time I’ve spend in Paola Alto has always been so easy .. the entire region endlessly interesting…. with one foot still back in Normandy, I would say it sounds absolutely perfect. Congratulations!

  5. I lived in oakland for the first 24 years of my life! (until i got married and moved about 12 miles away). My parents still live there but I miss the city so much! It is super diverse and has so many unique neighborhoods. Most of the better areas to live in are above the 580 freeway. American indian charter school is a great one, but can be hard to get into since it is a charter school. Let me know if you have any other questions..i’d be happy to help! As a popular tshirt for the area goes, “I hella <3 Oakland"!

  6. I’ll be on the opposite side of the bay from you! Oakland is a great place to be. You get all the benefits of living in the Bay Area but with much more reasonable rent/home prices! Also it is the best place in the Bay Area for food truck lovers. As far as I’m concerned everything is better when served from the back of a truck.

    Oakland (and really the Bay Area in general) will be a great place for keeping up your family’s French skills. There is a HUGE French speaking community throughout the Bay Area and if I remember a pretty good French preschool in Oakland if you want to keep the littlest one speaking it.

  7. I’ll miss France but I look forward to reading about Oakland! I’ve enjoyed my limited time that I have spent in the city.

    I hope you will continue to post about your children’s education – I think that is a really valuable resource for people to have first-hand accounts of different learning environments!

    1. The education options in Oakland will be such a big change for us compared to France! There are so many schools. And people have such strong opinions about them. Should be interesting!

  8. Congrats on your move back to the states and best of luck in the Bay Area. Although you’ll miss France (and we will all miss those updates), I can’t wait to see what’s next for you and your family.

  9. Yay!!!! So glad it’s official and can’t wait for you all to move here. After living for 8 wonderful years in San Francisco, my family and I begrudgingly made the jump across the bridge to Oakland and have been so pleasantly surprised to find how much I adore living here. Right now, if I could live anywhere it would be in Oakland. I hope your family grows to love it as much as my family has. Welcome!

  10. Hahaha, that video at the end made me crack up! Congrats on your exciting news! I can’t wait to see what kind of awesomeness the Stanley-family-blogging-mafia will come up with once you three are all in the same area :)

  11. There’s a great article in the current issue of Anthology which depicts Oakland in such a way that I would like to go now to visit this city! Hope you like it as much as the author!

  12. Welcome to the Bay Area! I know you and your family will love the weather, fresh food, people, diversity, and culture; we sure do! Also, we have the best day/weekend trips!! Our favorite is Santa Cruz and we just got back from a great trip to Tahoe. Napa and Marin are also pretty wonderful; especially in the Fall.

    I am so looking forward to how you describe our area with your fresh eyes.

    Sounds like you’ve researched educational opportunities so you’ve probably discovered there are lots of options in Oakland but they can be very tricky; especially for Middle School and High School. You may have already settled on a house but if you’re still checking areas I could go on and on about how much we LOVE ALAMEDA and it’s schools (an island right next to Oakland). We’re on the beach, have a great small town feel, and are just moments away from all the big city stuff in SF and Oakland.

    Congratulations on a great decision; you’re going to LOVE it here! (maybe I already mentioned that?)


  13. I live in oakland! I moved here 6 years ago from Portland Or, with the intention of living in SF. But my job was in the east bay so Oakland just made mores since. It’s a great city and I needed up staying here. What neighborhood will you be living in?

  14. Oh yay! I sure hope you love living in Oakland as much as I do.

    It is sometimes tiring trying to convince others that Oakland is not a sad runner-up to San Francisco, but actually a great city too. I bet your lovely photos will help others see that!

    1. “It is sometimes tiring trying to convince others that Oakland is not a sad runner-up to San Francisco, but actually a great city too.”

      Hah! I’m getting that feeling from some of the comments. But hey, we’re used to it. We often have to defend our little part of Normandy to our French friends.

  15. Always a little bitter-sweet to start a new chapter — but more sweet than bitter because new adventures await! I look forward to all the new and creative work this new place will inspire in you.

  16. Congrats on beginning your next chapter in your lives! How exciting! I will be reading about what you think about Oakland and the Bay Area – it has always fascinated me, but I have never actually visited – so I’m looking forward to virtually living through your eyes!

    It will be interesting too for your children returning to the US with their “foreign” perspectives – sort of a reverse culture shock as they enter schools there. I’m sure you and your husband will also experience some reverse culture shock too. Enjoy!!

  17. I’m so happy you chose the Bay Area! I live with my family in San Francisco, and have spent many college years in Oakland. I think it’s the perfect fit for your family, and you will have many fun days at Tilden and Golden Gate Parks, and I’m sure you will have many posts about your trips to Tahoe (only 3 hours away). Safe travels back to the US!

  18. I lived in Oakland for 12 years until I got married and moved across the bay, but my family still live there. I used to live and work around the Rockridge neighborhood. It has lots of little shops and restaurants. You can try a new one almost everyday! My sister and her boyfriend live in a little condo in Jack London Square which is pretty popular, too. Farmers’ market and food festival can be found there almost every week. Looking forward reading your blog from Oakland, CA!

  19. We live in the Bay Area, but in the south bay, and love it. I will be so excited to follow your family as you discover the endless beauty and fun here. Best of luck!

  20. I am a long-time reader but infrequent commenter. Can I just say how thrilled I am for you and your family that you will be moving to Oakland? I lived there for 5 years before jumping across to SF this past winter (for a shorter commute for my partner), and I really miss it, even though it’s only across the bay! The weather there is fantastic, and the people are so friendly and down-to-earth. We still head across the bridge to hang out in our old neighborhood. The Lakeshore neighborhood has a fantastic farmer’s market, and Lake Merritt has been completely re-done in the last few years and is so beautiful. Check out the Oakland Zoo and the Oakland Museum of California, too. Both are real gems.

    Neighboring Berkeley has a bunch of wonderful activities for families, especially at Tilden Park. There is also the annual kite festival, which we only attended for the first time last year even though I’ve seen it from afar for years. It will be held on the weekend of July 27-28 this summer, so if you move here in time for that, you should go!

    Best of luck for a smooth move back to the States! I am looking forward to hearing about how your family adjusts to being back in the U.S.

  21. Never in a million years would I have thought you’d say OAKLAND. I live in Adams Point near Lake Merritt, which is super diverse, young and mostly professional. The Oakland hills are amazing to hike in and feel like another world from the gritty city life. I have lived here for fifteen years and can’t imagine moving away. The city government is having a hard time these days but the spirit of Oakland and its people are hardcore/determined and passionate. May be a bit of culture shock coming from pastoral France. I would be super star struck if I ran in to you and your family!! Looking forward to it though!

  22. How awesome! I lived in Oakland for seven years while attending grad school at Berkeley, and it is my favorite place on earth! So much art and good food awaits you! Seriously, if I could live anywhere in the world, I’d live there! Rockridge, Piedmont, and Temescal are fantastic neighborhoods, full of cool shops and restaurants. And the beauty of the Bay area, along with its crazy diverse plant life, just blew me away every day. Here are a handful of blog posts about a few of our recent trips up to the Bay area:


    These are two of my favorite places on earth:


    Have so much fun!! Excited for you guys!

  23. Holly Snyder Thompson

    Very cool! We live in Davis, less than an hour from Oakland, and have good friends that live there. You might be interested in this campaign: http://respectourcity.org/. Oakland gets kind of a bad rap sometimes, but there are a lot of people doing community organizing and reconciliation work in the city. I’m sure you’ll love it!

  24. fun! I had a hunch it might be in that area when you mentioned it at Alt. I admire the adventuring spirit that you and Ben Blair have created with your family. Good luck with the packing and the move!


  25. I was born in Oakland and spent my first 5 years of life there before my family moved to Utah. We recently went back and visited our old stomping grounds. I said to my parents, “How could you ever move away from a place that smells this good?” Because the air has not only a perfect temperature, but also the most wonderful scent.

    My mom had a pretty good answer to my question. She said,”If we had stayed we would have needed to repair the roof on our house, which means I would have had to go back to work to afford the repairs. But I wanted to stay home with you and your siblings all day so we moved somewhere less expensive.” And I’m pretty glad she did.

    Good luck with the move!

  26. Oakland is a great spot. Kinda surprised you picked it, though, as a mother of six, as the public schools have some challenges. Understatement. There’s a great charter school for the arts downtown. And a lot of fabulous diversity coupled with an easy hop to the city and SFO. While the farmer’s markets won’t compare to those in France, the Temescal one on Sunday mornings is a favorite of ours.

  27. Oh, so happy for you! I have heard it’s like the Brooklyn of California. Most of our friends leaving Brooklyn are moving to the Bay Area actually! It feels a bit like an exodus these days. It’s always on our radar because of Silicon Valley + gorgeous outdoors + less expensive cost of living. We miss the West like crazy. Can’t wait to hear all the ins and outs of your new house and community. They’re lucky to have you!

  28. Welcome to Oakland! There are some lovely parts and some…not so lovely parts. (We’re in a lovely part surrounded by not so lovely parts. It certainly keeps things interesting.) Best of all, it’s 15 minutes into SF, which is faster than anyone in SF can get to anywhere else in SF. :)

    Definitely check out Alameda and Bay Farm if you need a dose of suburban living. Big parking lots! Safe streets! Strip malls! We spend as much time there as we do in Oakland proper. (You can take the girl out of Utah but you can’t take the Utah out of the girl, apparently.)

    p.s. My 4yo adores the Olive Us videos, so he’ll be jazzed to see future episodes featuring our fair city. Fairyland! Tilden! Lake Merritt! So much fun stuff.

  29. Welcome to Oakland! I grew up in Oakland and live across the Bay in SF now. Really excited to hear that you’ll be bringing your family to Oakland, it’s a wonderful place for kids. If you ever need any tips for restaurants, shops, neighborhoods to explore, parks, anything. I’d be happy to help.

  30. Congratulations! We live in Oakland and love it. There is so much diversity, creative people and gorgeous places to explore. Some spots for kids: Fairyland, Lake Temescal, Redwood Regional Park, Play Cafe, Sibley Regional Park (and its secret labyrinth), the New Parkway Theater (and its family matinee), the Grand Lake Theater, Lake Merritt, the Museum of Children’s Arts (MOCHA), Fentons Creamery, the Oakland Zoo, Roberts Park and Pool, Doughnut Dolly, etc. And the list goes on! See you in the neighborhood!

  31. Oakland!!! I live in Oakland currently and am sadly packing up to leave in a month for grad school. It has probably been my overall favorite place I have ever lived. It’s a huge city with a wildly diverse population going through some serious growth and change right now, for better and for worse, and it feels very exciting. Some of my favorite Oakland phenomena and resources:
    –The revitalization of the Oakland Alameda estuary. (http://www.waterfrontaction.org/index.htm) Right next to downtown, they have completely re-imagined a major roadway and turned (or are in the process of turning) formerly inhospitable areas around Lake Merritt and the channel that connects it to the Bay into interconnected, walkable parks and trails which also makes these urban neighborhoods much more livable and increases access to public transit, green space and cultural centers. It’s design with humans in mind and creates spaces for people to come together. I’m impressed.
    –Art Murmur and First Fridays: began as a monthly open-gallery art-walk type event, at it’s peak it turned into a huge monthly streets-closed-for-blocks community happening with artists, musicians, performers and basically anything you can imagine. It’s been ebbing, flowing and evolving ever since (especially in the face of questions about safety, etc.) but remained very grassroots. Oakland celebrating itself!
    –http://oaklandwiki.org/ is a really cool site I just discovered and has opened my eyes to Oakland history. Has a cool mapping function so you can see what historic places are right next door.
    –The Oakland Museum of California is a great art, history and natural sciences museum, a very unique site from a design perspective and very community-oriented.

    Also, the weather here is WAY better than Berkeley or San Francisco, seriously. The way the bay and the peninsula are shaped, we just don’t get the fog as much as they do. Good choice!!

  32. We lived in Berkeley for 7 years and we love Oakland and the whole area. Marlies’s comment above outlined some of our favorites in the area. The regional parks make fantastic hiking year round. The food culture is spectacular (no need to go to SF for good restaurants), the cultural activities are so accessible, and Oakland is like the best kept secret of the whole Bay Area. Besides, we loved the wards there and the stake president is the best in the church and lives right there in Piedmont/Oakland. Congratulations. You will love it!

  33. Another Emily

    Hi Gabby, we were in the Berkeley Ward for 5 years and I miss it so much! I’d recommend Albany (it’s 2 square miles and is right next to Berkeley). It’s next to Oakland but you’ll enjoy your school experience much more.

  34. mom in mendon

    So exciting! I remember that in the book Cheaper by the Dozen the children travel to Oakland to visit their genteel, well-to-do, maternal grandparents–in the early 1900’s. And, DM, you had a few relatives living there about the same time. But it’s a century later. Now you can check out Pixie Donuts and see how they compare with French bakeries. : )

  35. I’m glad that you always move to places where I’d like to visit. It works out nicely, no?

    Sad that you’re leaving France just as I’m planning a trip to Paris ( I KNOW.) but happy to have more people to see when I visit the Bay Area. xoxoxoxo

  36. Congrats! I’ve always loved Oakland.

    My favorite memory was eating fresh pie at Ikeda’s in Auburn. The burgers there are pretty fantastic too. Best wishes to your family!

    1. Next time you’re in Auburn, try Machado’s for homemade pie. It’s very near Ikeda’s, just off the frontage road on the OTHER side of I-80. It’s smaller, family run and sits right in the orchard where the fruit is grown. You can even eat your pie at a picnic table sitting in the orchard!

  37. I lived in the Oakland hills, in the shadow of the Mormon Temple for 7 years some time back. Lovely neighborhoods up there with real summers (as opposed to SF’s cold and foggy ones). Good luck! I’ve since moved to Seattle which I love even more…mostly b/c of the trees and incredibly quick access to wilderness.

    1. Just went hiking on Mt Tamalpais last Saturday. Left sunny San Francisco around 9 am, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and was at the trail head 20 minutes later. I’d say that’s pretty quick access. You do have to get on the road early to avoid the snake of cars, though.

  38. Sad to hear you leaving France but happy to know you enjoyed it and especially Normandy where I m from and still live. You inspire me so much each time I read your blog, your family, online, crafty, adventure, career life, you are such an example of successful womand to follow ! Hope we’ll meet one day ! good luck for the move back but i m sure you ll be all ok !

  39. HUZZAH! Now I can piggyback off all the wonderful places and adventures you discover!!! Even though we are in Santa Cruz and have plenty of awesomeness surrounding us, frequent trips over the hill to the Bay make life extra bright. Welcome to NorCal, it’s hella fun!

  40. Congrats! We are in Pleasanton, about 15 minutes on the freeway straight East of Oakland. I love parts of Oakland…but see some pretty sketchy areas, so I was shocked with your announcement! I’m sure you’ve found somewhere great.
    I will be anxious to see what you find to do in the East Bay- I love seeing posts from your family about SF, but it’s a day trip to go there, so some fun things closer to home will be great! We’ve found lots of fun adventures, and are always up for more. Also- Val’s Burger in Hayward. Blackberry shakes are a must. Welcome to the Bay Area!

  41. welcome to oakland! i’m smitten that you’ve chosen to move to a place i call home :) i’ve been living here for 17+ years and have lived all over oakland (lake merritt, west oakland, oakmore, lower rockridge) and now in upper rockridge! you and your family will love it here as we do. there iss o much that this city has to offer and i think it’s one of the best places to raise a family. feel free to email if you have any questions, especially about neighborhoods and schools. i’d love to help if i can!

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