It’s kind of hard to believe that this is really going to happen for us. All of last year we were getting our house on the market, thinking all the while that we would be moving to France during the summer (after the successful sale of our home, of course!). By now we would have been settled down in the South of France, children would be learning lessons in a French school. Things sure don’t work out the way we sometimes imagine, do they?
After the heartache of six failed contracts on our home, we now have a rather official looking “sold” sign in the front yard. The closing won’t be until next week on the 19th, but at this point there’s really no turning back for either parties. This is going to happen, and we need to find an apartment to live in for six months. We have negotiated staying in the house until the end of November, giving us time to pack and find a place to live.
Everything now seems so official, and we both hope that we’re making the right decision. It’s going to be very hard to leave the house where our children have grown and continue to grow up. We have many, many memories after ten years in our little nest. The truth is, we really love our house, our home. I hope I won’t be too emotional on moving day. After ten months of really being proactive about moving to France, now it seems rather surreal to me.
In many ways I consider us fortunate to not have sold our house in a rush during the summer. Selling it now will give us the proper opportunity to enjoy our last 6-7 months here and to live through the different emotional stages of such a transition. It will also give us a chance to save some money, and I’m sure we will be very glad we did!
Last summer while we were in France for two months, we seriously began to think about the possibility of moving there for good when our children (4 and 7 at the time) begged us not to go back home. They like France more. Sounds too simple, right? But they are children, and that was their only excuse.
We tried reasoning with them, explaining that if we really lived in France, we’d have to work and go to school like everyone else. That didn’t slow them down. As it turns out, trying to reason with them quickly turned into trying to reason with ourselves. Well, we started to think about it. We’ve wanted to move back to the south of France for 13 years. Why not just do it?
That’s when it all began. When we got back to St. Louis last August and geared up for the school year, I went into my first faculty meeting of the year knowing in my heart that it would be my “last first meeting of the year”. Since then, we’ve been quite busy trying to get our house ready to go on the market.
Now it’s almost May, the house has been on the market 36 days, and we’re playing the waiting game. It would be so nice to just know where we’ll be in three months time. No home sale = No move to France (not for another whole year).
In my next post I’ll summarize how we’ve spent the last nine months preparing for the big move.
It’s almost scary how much I’ve heard (or overheard) people saying that they’re not going to travel this summer. Why? It’s not because of the economy or because they’re afraid of terrorist attacks. They aren’t going to travel because their kids are too small. While I haven’t given advice where advice is not requested, I did think about it a good bit. We’ve always traveled with our kids, and though the flight to France or 12 hour drive to Louisiana may not be the MOST fun we’ve ever had, the reward has been enjoying our summer travels to places near and far even if we do have little ones. In this post I’m going to focus on traveling with kids in France. We all know that France is the world’s #1 tourist destination, but what usually comes to mind are the museums, fine restaurants, wine tours, etc. In a nutshell… We think of grown-up stuff. When traveling in France with little kids, you may be amazed at how much there is for them to do. It’s just that before you have kids you don’t pay as much attention to what’s going on for the younger set. I’ve been digging around in my pictures looking for shots of our kids having a blast in France. Sometimes you’ll see we’re in Paris, other times in the south.
You can go directly to their website @ www.bateaux–mouches.fr for pricing and schedules. The ride doesn’t last too long, and if you choose to go on the cruise on a day when it’s nice out you can sit outside on the deck as we were in this picture. The cruise along the Seine gives you really nice views of practically all of the important monuments in Paris. In the summer, you have to wait until it’s pretty late if you want to see the monuments illuminated… which might be a challenge if you have really small kids with you. Here’s my baby having so much fun on the carousel in the Champs de Mars park, Eiffel Tower. I wish I could remember how old this carousel is. Let’s just say it’s VERY old and old-fashioned. What I mean is, there’s a guy who stands in the middle and hand cranks the thing so it will turn! Only in Paris! There’s so much fun stuff to do in the Champs de Mars. You’ve got this great park with swings, jungle gyms, this carousel, a sand box. There’s also, on the other side of the park, an area where the kids can ride donkeys, ride in little go-carts, watch a Marionnette show. Here are some pics from the Champs de Mars:
By the way, these swings go REALLLLLY high! So much fun, but make sure you strap ’em in real good! They also have swings like these in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is over in the Latin Quarter. Another really neat place for people of all ages. Here are some pictures taken over there:
There are plenty of marionnette theaters all over Paris, but for some reason I really like this one in the Jardin du Luxembourg. So much fun. The old man comes out with his bell in hand and starts ringing it when it’s puppet show time. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t speak French (but of course, it helps if you do!) because the show will entertain both your kids AND you regardless. There’s probably no better way to have a truly Parisian experience, right along with REAL French parents and their kids, than at the marionnettes.
This is one of the most beloved activities of our kids at the Jardin du Luxembourg. You rent one of these little sailboats, especially fun on a moderately windy day, and you play to your heart’s content. There’s just a small fee, but you’re good for a solid hour of seeing your sailboat fly across the basin and running to catch up with it. If you go on a day with no wind… you may have to wait awhile for your boat to get to the other side but it’s still so much fun.
Who knew there were so many donkeys in Paris? As at the Champs de Mars, your little one can take a donkey ride at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
What kid doesn’t like trains? In France, a great option with the little ones is to board the fastest train in the world (on rails) and head down for le Midi (the south) where you’re sure to have nice, warm weather and you’ll meet some of the sweetest, most kid loving people on the planet!
When most people think of the south of France, they think of “The Riviera”… La Côte d’Azur. Yes, it’s quite lovely! BUT if you’re on a budget and want to really get to know the south of France, where there are more French people and less tourists, head on over to the Languedoc region. It’s just as beautiful, it’s less crowded, and it’s cheaper!
You’ll be hard pressed in Paris to find an outdoor swimming pool where you can relax, but in the South, finding a pool is no problem! Now here’s something just as much fun for Maman et Papa as for the kids. Go and take a walk through the vineyards. They’re everywhere, literally. Along the way, maybe you’ll run into a little “dégustation de vin”… WINE TASTING!! Did you know that the Languedoc produces the largest quantity of table wine in France?? And if you’re on foot or if you have a bike, you don’t even have to worry about driving! Yeah… Watch out if you’ve been to a dégustation and then have to drive while you’re in France. They’ll stop you and you’ll get a DUI. It’s gotten really strict. Just don’t do it!
Our kids love to gather up as many escargot as possible, get them a little wet, then have races to see which one is fastest!
La cigale, the so-called symbol of the South of France. You’ll find them depicted everywhere, on tableclothes, in ceramic form, just everywhere. If you’re really lucky you’ll find one coming out of it’s shell, just being born. It’s a real privilege!
Bullfighting is really big in the south of France in the summertime, but it’s not exactly something you want to go see with your kids…..a liitle too much blood. In Provence, you can go with your kids to see a provençal style “bullfight” where the guys taunt the bull but nobody gets hurt. You can see the guy jumping over the wall here in this picture. It’s pretty exciting, no matter your age.