Vive la France!

Oh my goodness. We’re really doing it. We found a house and sent off our contract and security deposit last night.

So. It’s now officially official.


Next up: shopping for plane tickets. We’re aiming to move on February 1st. Which is just 6 short weeks away.

I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

I’ve been talking about the possibility of this move for months and curious readers have sent in lots of smart questions about the whole adventure. I’ll answer some below.

1) Why are you doing this?

Mostly, it’s because we can. My husband and I both work at home and the kids aren’t in high school yet. We’ve always talked about doing something like this and realized if we didn’t make it happen soon, it wouldn’t happen at all. We hope an experience like this will be very formative for our family and will help our children have more world-minded viewpoints. We are planning to go for a year, but would definitely consider extending our time there if it makes sense.

2) Do you speak French?

Un peu. I studied French in high school and for 2 semesters in college, but I can only remember a few words and phrases. I better get working!

3) Will you keep blogging while you’re there?

For sure. I’m pretty much addicted. Plus it’s my job. I’ll be reporting on all our adventures in case you’re curious to see what a year abroad for a family with young children is like.

4) How did you decide where to live?

Good question. After lots of research, we narrowed our country choice to France. I wasn’t interested in living in Paris (families of 8 don’t always make good city neighbors), but I wanted access to the city. So we looked for towns within 1 or 2 hours of Paris with a direct train. Then it came down to finding an actual house. We wanted something that would fit our large family, was furnished and was in our price range. The house we found (it’s in the countryside of the Normandy region) is amazing! I’ll tell you all about it in a separate post.

5) What about your husband’s job?

His job will remain exactly the same. He works for as the Director of Foreign Language Curriculum. K12 is based in Washington D.C., but because their offerings are online, Ben Blair can work from anywhere.

6) What are you doing for school for your kids?

K12 is an easy choice for us because of Ben Blair’s work. But we’re determined to help our kids master French as soon as possible, so we’re also looking into the local schools or hiring a tutor. I’ll keep you updated as things develop.

7) What about practical things like selling your house? Getting a car while you’re there? Renter’s insurance and health insurance? Your kids yearly doctor visits?

Some of these things are easy. For example, we rent our house here in Denver and our contract is month-to-month so we can leave at any time. Simple. Other things are more complicated. But we’re working through the challenges one by one. Whenever I have a good tip, I’ll let you know. In fact, I’m considering writing a weekly post where I can discuss some of these practical things. Is that a feature you would like?

8) Are you scared?

Terrified. I keep remembering when Ben Blair and I lived in Greece. Those first few months were so challenging! But ultimately, being there was wonderful for us as a couple and influenced our marriage and our lives in hugely positive ways. I hope (and suspect) the same will be true for our year in France.

Watercolor of Dinan, France by Wayne Roberts

249 thoughts on “Vive la France!”

  1. Ah, I love this idea. What a wonderful idea. My friends family lived in Paris for awhile and I really think it does help shape your world view.

    We lived in Israel (just for the summer) and exploring a finding our way around is one of my fondest memories.

  2. Congratulations on making a dream come true! I would love a weekly update on how to manage life as an ex-pat of sorts. We are thinking of moving our big and young family to Singapore for a few years.

  3. What a great adventure!

    We’re headed overseas too (to West Africa) for my husbands job and there’s a lot of planning involved, it’s so exhausting! Best of luck to you. Oh, and when you’re considering international insurance, you should check out Clements. Especially for property insurance. While we haven’t had to utilize them yet, we will, and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

  4. COOL! I definitely want to hear more, especially about how your kids psychologically deal with it (what do you do when they’re overwhelmed or feeling culture shock or severe homesickness) and all that. I’d really like to do this as well, it will be helpful to see how you handle it all. Vive la France! :)

  5. Magnifique! Bonne chance, Gabrielle!
    I’d love to read about the practical stuff if you choose to write about it.

    Thank you for introducing me to yet another wonderful artist. The painting you chose for this post is so lovely!

  6. So jealous, I would love to take my kids and moved to Italy for a year, but my husband owns several restaurants here in Massachusetts and he is a “hands on” kind of guy, so he has to be able to go into each one on a regular basis. Also my eldest daughter has bilateral Cochlear Implants that require medical attention frequently, so I would be worried about the level of care she could receive abroad. I guess I will just have to live vicariously through your posts. Bon Voyage!

  7. Yes, please do write about the practicalities! (Finding doctors, health insurance, etc) My husband and I are moving with our daughter (who will then be 18 mos) to Germany next year – not the same as France, but still Western Europe – and any tips will be much appreciated!

  8. i’m so jealous. my husband and i have talked about doing this when our kids are a little older since his job is pretty flexible as well. i would love tips on the practical stuff. good luck with everything and i’m sure it will be amazing!

  9. If you haven’t already, find the Travels With Clara blog. The month of November has posts about Normandy and Paris, etc. Lots of fun stuff!

  10. Congratulations! We’re a French-Canadian family who fell in love with France when my husband and I visited last summer. You are living our dream. Can’t wait to hear all about your French adventures!

  11. Congratulations! What an amazing opportunity for you and your family! My husband and I often dream about doing the same thing (although in England); however, our work situation is not so flexible. So excited to live vicariously through you on this adventure!

  12. Congratulations on the big move! Yes, I would love to hear a weekly roundup of moving abroad logistics. I have a feeling this trip is going to make your blog even more coveted by all. I’m looking forward to living vicariously through you, and hearing about the ups and downs of family life abroad.

  13. please write about the whole process! i want to know everything. i want to do this so badly, and if i have enough knowledge (that’s where you come in) maybe i can convince the husband that it’s not a terrible idea…

  14. Oh yes, please on a weekly feature about practical issues of moving overseas! (I’m assuming the work visa isn’t an issue since you both have location-independent jobs but I also assume a regular tourist visa doesn’t quite cut it either.) I lived in several foreign countries growing up due to my dad’s job and it really does change your world view. I would love to do something like this with my family so we need to work on getting a job we can do from anywhere or getting a job that will move us or save up enough to take a year off for travel, I’m not picky. :) I’m so excited for you and your family!

  15. This is fantastic! We have been discussing a move to Mexico. We don’t really have jobs that allow for that, so it would be a bit tricky, but so worth it! Wait- what am I saying? I guess I can be a mom ANYWHERE!!! But the hubs, that’s a different story!

    I love that you guys are doing this! What fun!

  16. My heart is in France. I am trying to figure out how my family can get that gig to go over there for a year or so. I love it there so much. I would love to hear all the logistics of how you are making it work for your family of 7 especially since our family is the same size. Have fun. You will love it. And as amazing as Paris is, I think living a bit away from it will be so lovely for you and your family. Really nothing is too far away by train. You can visit so many places! How exciting!

  17. Oh, I’m so jealous! My husband and I had hoped that he’d be transferred to either France or Singapore, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. I’d love to be able to pick up and move abroad but because of my husband’s job we’re tied down for at least a few more years. It’s going to be such an amazing opportunity for your kids. Bonne chance!

  18. Hooray! So happy it’s official and you’re going to have the adventure of a lifetime. I love that you can Ben create your dreams. Thanks for inspiring us all to do the same. ;) xo!

  19. Are you kidding me? this is AWESOME. And yes. YES. YES. Weekly column about your prep (or more often!). For sure!! We want to do this one day as well- so I’m VERY curious!

  20. Living in France was one of the best times of my life. I know you will have an amazing experience! Bonne chance et felicitations!

  21. You forgot that you need to take a cook and chauffeur along with you. Fred and I graciously offer to be those two things for you. What do you say? :)

    I am incredibly jealous and think it’s going to be marvelous for your family. Hooray!!!!

  22. My first thought via twitter:
    Is she serious…probably, but I really need to know
    My thought when I laid my eyes on this post: OMG
    My thought as I leave this comment: sniff, sniff…wishing you guys the best. Even though you’re in Co, I always feel like your in NY. When your year is up come to the DMV (D.C, Maryland, /Virginia) area.

  23. I can’t wait to follow! I have been contemplating doing something similar during the summer (I’m an academic with a work-from-home husband) but haven’t gotten the chance yet, hopefully next year. Looking forward to hearing practical tips, even if they’re offered on a small scale. And enjoy the food. I always think of food when I think of France. Good luck!

  24. Wonderful news! So happy for you and your family and so looking forward to reading all about your experiences there. Happy packing! :)

  25. Hooray! So happy that it’s all working out for you, your family and your sister’s family. I think you’ll have a blast and can’t wait to read weekly updates.

  26. I grew up in Normandie! Caen to be specific and it’s an absolutely beautiful region. If you need any tips or help with anything let me know!

  27. I’m so excited to follow your blog on your adventure!! I had no idea you rented your house in Denver, that gives the rest of us renters hope in decor for rentals. :)

  28. This is so AWESOME! Can we come visit you :) I would say just kidding, but since I’m totally serious… I won’t!

    Congratulations! I’m so excited for you and your family!

  29. What an amazing opportunity! We lived in Paris for 2 years with our kids and would have stayed longer if we could have! It was a once in a lifetime experience. I’m so looking forward to hearing about your adventure even though I am a little jealous.

  30. This is so exciting! I can’t wait to read everything about this! How you did it, what it was like, surviving language immersion… Maybe it will inspire/educate my family on how to do the same thing! LOVE IT.

  31. I am so super excited for you! I cannot wait to hear absolutely everything about this new adventure. Can I come along? Can I bring my hubby and my son and my dog? Pretty please??? Sending you the very best wishes!!

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