Summer, friends and family.

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Father and son reunion. Tony had already remarked before getting on the plane, ‘you are going to cry, I just know it’. He knows me well.

I don’t want to start every blog with the words, ‘I apologise for taking so long to get this blog published’! But it seems it is the way things are heading.

I have found a way to get around this. Anna, my manager from the City store has suggested I start a separate instagram account for the blog, with daily photos of our adventures. Search for the grasseisalwaysgreener and you will be rewarded and sometimes inundated with places to visit and eat on our travels.

Life is busy. It still amazes me how you can move country and be even busier than you were at home. I am having less time to myself. The upside is everyday is an adventure. Some days they are ‘real’ adventures, travelling to another country. This can also mean driving just one hour east to Italy. Or trying to translate and communicate on what is considered a simple task back home. Like grocery shopping, or getting alterations. This one is even more amusing, conversing with Luc’s Headmistress who doesn’t speak English, yet is the Head of a Bilingual International school! Yes, life is constantly amusing and also a huge adventure.

Since the last time I wrote, there have been some rather large milestones in the ‘picture’ of our new life. Firstly we had visitors form Australia! And not just any visitors, but Luc’s Dad came to stay for a month. I also had two of my best friends arrive to go travelling with and also Anna who manages my Degraves St. store to see what I was up to!

 

 

I had the idea that having Tony and Anna at the same time was a genius plan so I could show them both the same things at once. And it worked a treat. Luc was still at school for another week, so we could move at our own leisure. Tony arrived first, and Luc and I were so excited leading up to it, we were almost going to burst! It was the first time I had taken time off from French school too, so I felt I could enjoy the summer I had always imagined.

I often describe our life here as our ‘bubble’. It’s our safe place, our happy place. Whatever we have left behind doesn’t reside there. It is almost our ‘living in the moment’ place. So you can imagine it was also quite nerve wracking that our little ‘bubble’ would be temporarily burst. Or do we expand it to fit everyone in? Do we even let them in? I have to admit, it played on my mind a lot. So I ran more, and made it to yoga more regularly. Old routines started to return. Buying foods that I knew we always ate as a family, looking after extra people. Thinking, ‘Tony would like that’, or ‘I must show Anna that’. So our little bubble grew to take them all in.

To my surprise it all worked out beautifully. To know that my little boy was with his Dad made my heart sing. I obviously carry a lot of guilt having him so far away from him, but having him here took all that away. I also really loved showing off my new ‘home’. Wow, I started to look at my existence here as more of a permanent one, that we belonged. That took me by surprise too. Everyone loved where we went. The markets at Ventimiglia, just over the Italian border on a Friday, Valbonne market, also on a Friday morning in the sweetest little town you have ever seen. Mougins, which is perched high on the hill, home to an amazing Museum of Classical Art, and many art galleries. The glitz of Cannes on the Croisette. The idyllic drive to Monaco along the coast through sensational towns full of Cliffside mansions. Stopping at the spectacular, lush and tranquil gardens of Villa Ephrussi Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat that I have written about in the last blog for the Rose expo en route. We all had lunch at my favourite seaside restaurant ‘Anjuna’ in Eze sur mer.

The wonderful Cannes Marché Forville on a Sunday morning, with it’s fresh pressed organic juices, the most amazing array of flowers, cheeses, olives, and the best part, local specialties! Socca, which is like a thin pizza base of ground chickpeas, salt and water. Zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs or veal. Silver beet tarts, fried zucchini flowers. Rotisserie chickens with fresh ratatouille and those delicious small potatoes roasted in local olive oil and provençal herbs. I was in ‘being a local’ heaven. I realised how much of the Cotê D’Azur I had covered in the past four months before their arrival. I really had become a local!

None of them had ever visited the South of France before, so we travelled by ferry to the local islands of Lerin, and to the beach at St. Tropez. The market at St. Tropez is by far the best in the whole Provence region in my opinion for ‘quality’ market stalls. It is also the busiest in the peak season. Each night we arrived home late and exhausted. The routine was that everyone cools down in the pool whilst I set up for dinner. This we had on the balcony watching beautiful sunsets with bottles of Rosé. There were local terrines and rillettes and veggies from the garden. Angelique would make the ratatouille and we would BBQ ‘aussie’ style to accompany it. Lots of fresh salads filled with our bounty collected on our travels. This continued for two weeks, and then I went off travelling… sans enfant! Woohoo! I thought I wouldn’t know myself.

My travelling companion had a mighty ‘tight’ schedule to cover that involved a lot of driving. This I had been assured was more than ‘doable’.

First stop the Alsace. I love Alsacian whites and they didn’t disappoint. We stayed at the beautiful Chateau D’Isenbourg not far from the gorgeous medieval town of Colmar. A note about the town of Colmar. It will not disappoint, but it is like a lot of ‘old towns’ in Europe. Those surrounded by rather large new sections are difficult to find. We knew it was there somewhere. You can get only one block away, park the car and still wonder where they hid it. It’s like going down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. All of a sudden you turn a corner and BANG! Right before you is not only a magnificent town but also a rather large one with a Venetian style canal with Gondolas! From here we travelled to see Corbusier’s famous Ronchamp Chapel. You cannot imagine what it was like to have this built back in 1954 and by the Catholic Church. It is an outstanding piece of architecture. It is often noted that religions were so successful as their churches inspired and left people in awe. The Cathedrals play a huge part in winning the non converted through lands and time. Ronchamp is a clear example of this. The detail is exquisite both inside and out. It was in incredible condition too considering it attracts over 80,000 punters per year.

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The Chateau D’Isenbourg is a great base for discovering the Alsace.

Next was a visit to the Vitra design museum. What an amazing place. So many different architects have designed the different buildings over time. But one of my favourite architects, Frank Gehry, also designed the Art gallery. Coupled with beautiful furniture, this was a fantastic day to be had. They had all their furniture; iconic chairs all lying around the summer wildflowers with a ‘cool’ Airstream caravan serving refreshments. Tony, Luc’s dad is in the modern furniture business, so it was great to visit where all the ‘magic’ happens.

We then spent the night in Basel. Basel is a very beautiful town and has the wonderful laneways and cafes, but lacks that ‘grit’ or energy that other cities have. The best part was an amazing vegan and organic restaurant that I discovered called Tibits (www.tibits.ch). Although we had eaten in a few Michelin star restaurants at night, I have to admit, that well cooked organic food makes my heart sing. I feel incredibly nourished, I know I sound like a complete hippy, but I love discovering places like this even more than the grandeur of a fine dining restaurant. Simple foods, where the ingredients are ‘king’ are always my favourites. If you are in Basel, do your tastebuds a favour! We then had a quick night back in Grasse to repack for Round 2 of our journey.

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Tibits in Basel.

Italia! I am a huge fan of the American band ‘the National’, so this became the centre point of this leg, coupled with a trip to the Cinque Terre. It was also an excuse to drop into Pisa to see the Leaning tower after 20 years. It still amazed. And still people were taking photos pretending they were holding it up. It actually looked like a yoga pose they were all performing in unison! Pisa as a town doesn’t do it for me, but luckily Florence is just down the road, and I love it. What a beauty. Once again I was lucky to find a great organic restaurant for lunch. Once we found the one I wanted to go to it was unfortunately closed for the month. I was disappointed and hungry. Luckily walking along we discovered another organic restaurant just nearby. It was perfect! The ingredients so fresh! Plus for my friend it had beer, beer is good so I hear… The restaurant is called Simbiosi and makes incredible pizzas. (www.simbiosi.bio).

Next we travel to the gorgeous town of Pistoia to see The National play in the Piazza at the Blues Festival. To see your favourite band in such an intimate town square in Italy, is a dream come true. Drinking Campari, Italian beer and eating pizza with the sun setting…even better. We were on a high all night. The hotel that I booked was another highlight too. It was an old convent about 2km out of town. It is interesting with accommodation in Europe. What you pay is not necessarily good value of what you get. Then there is location, and my most important part, cleanliness. It needs to be clean. This convent was set on beautiful grounds with a huge pool overlooking the Tuscan hills. It was immaculate with a large acreage of garden filled with olive trees and pencil pines. And it wasn’t expensive. To be honest it was one of the last places left when I bought the tickets to the gig, so was more than pleasantly surprised and would definitely recommend it as a base to explore Tuscany in the hot weather. It is called Antico Convent if you are ever travelling through this region. (www.hotelconvento.it)

So, now to Cinque Terre! This is a lifelong dream. I have travelled the Amalfi Coast, but never quite made it here. It is everything and more. I had worried about travelling in the heat of summer, but it was perfect. It suits the area, as there are so many beautiful places to swim and relax. Plus warm nights are made for wandering laneways and taking Apero. Air Bnb has always been hit and miss. But this time it didn’t fail to disappoint. It wasn’t the most stylish accommodation, but the location was unbeatable! And it was super clean. Every review mentioned the same thing, the location is perfect, so do not hesitate to book. And they were right. We were in the town of Riomaggiore, the first of the five towns. Originally you could walk between all towns. But there are regular landslides and one rather large one in 2011 that took out the most popular track. But, you can still take the ‘high’ road. This took three and half hours in 35 degree heat, but I can well and truly recommend it. One of the highlights of Cinque Terre is not just the beautifully coloured buildings in each town, or the fact you can walk between them. It is the incredible vineyards plastered to the side of very steep hills. The path meanders throughout these vineyards, where they have a miniature rail like system to pick the fruit. You literally walk through the owner’s backyards and veggie gardens. Flowers abound at every turn. It is truly a fascinating experience. Mesmerising is probably a better way to describe it. The view captured our breath at every turn. It is as much a part of the experience of looking at the towns, and I would insist if you hadn’t been to Cinque Terre to make sure you set aside the time to do the hike. The area is also famous for it’s lemons; we bought everything ‘lemon’ home, soap, grappa wine, amaretti, chocolates and jellies. Each town had it’s own personality and character and also I am sure it’s attraction to different types of travellers. I loved Riomaggiore as a base, but would have been happy in any of them.Love, love, love Cinque terre, absolutely bellissimo!

This ended the second leg of my travels. I have to say I was starting to miss Luc at this time. You need to understand that I spend everyday with him, and we have only ever been a part once for two weeks. We then awoke to the news of the dreadful news of the truck killing so many innocent people on the Esplanade in Nice. It could have been us. The screen on my phone when I awoke was filled with messages, I instantly knew something terrible had happened. It was France’s National day and fireworks are used to celebrate in every town. Amongst the 84 people dead, ten were children. It was horrible. I had already spoken to the boys earlier to ask if they were going to the celebrations, but apparently Luc had hit the sack at 6pm after his travels with Tony, so I knew they were safe and sound. 10,000 more people turned out to the tribute a few days later than were there on that night, and there were thousands of bunches of flowers laid along the beach. How sad and senseless. Did it make me want to return back home? No, it didn’t. I believe we need to not take risks, but we also have to not live in fear. Luc was not affected by it. He had experienced the media effect of the attacks in Paris before we left Australia, and then when in Paris, realised life goes on. By the same token I cannot imagine the fear that went through each and every person there that night. I have friends who live in Nice now and I like everyone else contacted them straight away to make sure they were safe.

So ‘truck’ stop back in Grasse before the final leg in Provence and Spain.

Provence has many towns to it, and is part of the Var department. It is also rather large. We were very eager to photograph the Lavender, as a keen photographer it was on my wish list, a not negotiable part of this leg. All the best photos you see are in front of the Abbaye de Senanque. And you can see why when you get there. It is postcard perfect. Although we were about a week off the lavender being at it’s most ‘vibrant’, great photos could still be captured. I had wanted to buy a floral essential oil for a friend back home and had yet to choose one. This seemed the perfect place. They sold organic Lavender oil made from the lavender grown at the Abbey, perfect! I know she will love it even more! I also bought a lavender sachet for my Mum as she always talks about the lavender fields, and it was made more special from where we had been. We walked around the nearby town of Gordes after. What a stunning town! L’Occitane and other well-known international brands, started in this region in France. How beautiful to see their region of origin. It’s a wonderful piece of real estate. I did find a local organic restaurant, but they had finished lunch service. You have to be early to get a lunch booking as most restaurants stop serving at 2pm. The chef did give me his card so I can return in autumn. I will update you on it then!

Next on the map was Carcassonne, the world’s best medieval town. And yes, I have been to a lot of medieval towns. It is completely walled as they are. But what makes Carcassonne so special is that it has two ramparts. Imagine you infiltrate a wall of one metre thick stone, only to discover, another one! It is wonderful to visit, and being school holidays made it more exciting as they ran real live jousting sessions in the afternoon. The building is particularly impressive as are the various laneways. As a photographer the night provided many an opportunity for some great shots to be captured with wonderful lighting placed strategically to show off it’s beauty. The other highlight for us was staying on a barge. I have friends who regularly holiday the canals of Europe by barge. By chance we found an amazing one just out of Carcassonne. Now getting there was a bit of an adventure too. I sensed that the road the GPS gave getting off the main road was too narrow. I should have stopped and taken another route, but my companion who can be a bit of a cowboy, said ‘no, the road wouldn’t be on the GPS if we shouldn’t take it. We are by now crawling alongside a very rough track sandwiched between a vineyard and the canal. It is getting worse and I am worried about two things, the first is the undercarriage of my car is getting destroyed, and the barge is on the other side of the canal, if there is no bridge, which seemed highly unlikely, how would I turn around and get back out. Anyway, somehow after 2 km of this, there was a clearing onto an almost normal ‘track’ that thankfully had a bridge over the canal, we then turned out onto the road and to our right was a gorgeous restaurant, and there right before us was our barge. Boy, was she a beauty! I adored it, and will definitely look at staying here again. It is owned by a wonderful couple of which the husband was a fighter pilot with the French Air Force, he went from flying at mach 2 to 2 knots on a barge! There was memorabilia all through the barge, he was one hell of a pilot! The added bonus is you can have him take you out for joy flights too. No time this trip, but I do plan to return and include that with my stay. The restaurant we ate at on the banks of the canal had the most perfect simple menu, everything local, cold beer for my friend and organic wine for me. The sunset amongst the vines was magical and all was well with the world. My car had certainly done an amazing job getting us around. I could actually write a whole blog on the drivers of Italy, France and Spain. They can be so bad that you cannot believe there is not more road rage other than the fact you are travelling at 135kmh!

Anyway, if you visit one medieval town, make it Carcassonne!

Okay, so we finally venture over the border to Espagna! And two major highlights I had been looking forward to. I have mentioned before I am a huge Frank Gehry fan. The Guggenheim in Bilbao has been on my wish list for a long time. I had travelled to LA the year before to see The Walt Disney Concert Hall and Sydney to see the new business wing of  UTS.What I didn’t realise in my research until last year is that he had also built a hotel in the Rioja region, just an hour away from Bilbao! Oh my, was I excited, I had looked forward to this since I arrived in France. Not only would I feast my eyes on the product of the pure genius of the man, I would actually sleep in one of his buildings! It did not fail to impress. No one is in his class, I am in awe of his work. If you can imagine, it had a huge ‘skin’ like a sheath over the main building, almost like the man himself was giving the hotel a hug, a ‘snug’ feeling. I have no idea what his actual intention was, but I felt well and truly ‘loved’ during my stay. The colours of the light reflecting of the titanium were all purples, pinks, gold and silver. This was to represent the colours of the vines, the gold wire and the silver cap they used on the wine bottles. I didn’t have time to indulge, but they have a spa there with all things wine. They recycle the stems, seeds, skins etc. for differing treatments. The French company Caudalie even make special products containing these ingredients. There is such as a thing as the ‘Gehry’ effect. It is claimed it put Bilbao on the map. This area of Rioja has had the same treatment. Unbeknown many other architectural gems were to be discovered. Some due to time restrictions will have to be seen on subsequent trips. One thing walking through the very small and sleepy town the next morning is seeing these old apartments, who now look straight at this magnificent masterpiece. I can’t help but think they can’t believe their luck. Do they say ‘wow, thanks Frank!’ or ‘Cheers mate, that’s not too shabby’! Who would have thought in the middle of Basque wine country in a tiny town, you would have a Gehry building 200 metres from your house!

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Hotel Marques de Riscal.

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And then there was the Guggenheim in Bilbao! Oh my lord! I have wanted to see this for years. The building is sensational. How does he do it? It consists of over 33,000 titanium panels, for it’s colour and shine this is apparently associated with the scales of the carp fish that Gehry played with when he was young. What most people don’t know is that the carp he played with was in his grandmother’s bath! She would buy one fresh every Thursday and keep it fresh in the bath for a day to make ‘gelfilte’ for Shabbat on Friday; he watched it swim around for hours. Apparently the Basque Administrations wanted something similar to our very own Sydney Opera House by Jorn Utzon. You can truly understand the ‘Gehry’ effect, not only in Bilbao, but also throughout the whole Basque region of Spain. I look forward to seeing the ‘Fish’ in Barcelona in a few months time.

I had shown Luc photos of the Floral ‘puppy by Jeff Koons standing at the entrance for years, what kid doesn’t love a Jeff Koons sculpture. It was in full bloom, and pardon the pun, but blooming’ beautiful! To appreciate it in all it’s splendour you really must make the journey. There is also ‘Tulips’ by Jeff Koons adorning the river entrance and an amazing sculpture of a spider called ‘Maman’, by Louise Bourgeois, this spider just happens to be almost ten metres high and ten metres wide.

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‘Maman’, by Louise Bourgeois
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‘Puppy’, by Jeff Koons.

Then there is the magic of the interior. Everywhere your eye is drawn to the magic that is ‘Gehry’, you are enclosed in his world. It is almost like you are the carp under water in your underwater world. About a third of the ground floor is dedicated to the ‘Grand Hall’, which contains an installation called ‘Snake’ by Richard Serra. It comprises of seven large sculptures of weathering steel 4 metres high and 31 metres long. It is love at first sight. It literally takes your breath away. But it doesn’t stop there, as you walk through it, the dimensions change and it is like being in some kind of sculptural time warp. You approach and appreciate it with child like wonder. You literally ‘snake around it, and although it is hard steel in a concrete floored room, you feel like a snake, slithering through tall grass.

So how to top off a day like that? There is nothing more sobering than driving 12 hours straight to get back to Grasse. Tony is flying out the next day and although it was offered for Luc to be looked after, I could not have not been there for both of them. I always knew it would be hard when Tony left, and our wonderful friends too. Luc and I had to close that little bubble tight around us. It was heavy hearts that we drove Tony to the airport. We would all miss having our little family together until Christmas.

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What a beauty!

There were still another 5 weeks of school holidays left, so thankfully it is summer here. A summer like no other. It goes on forever. The temperatures rarely change. It is around 30 degrees during the day and 20 degrees each evening. It is a 25 minutes to the beach for us, and we are lucky to have a beautiful pool that overlooks the Mediterranean and Cannes. It did take about a week of readjusting by keeping ourselves busy and refocusing on all the wonderful opportunities around us.

So stay tuned to hear of the rest of our plans for the summer break. We will write soon on the amazing trip we made to Hyères and the Port Cros National Park. We are off to Copenhagen, Sweden and Germany in the coming weeks. Just a note to other parents. Never hesitate in travelling with your children. It is the best experience in the world. Yes, it may not be perfect some of the time, but they add so much value, that it more than makes up for it. I love this kid beside me every step of the way, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks for following our blog and don’t forget to follow us on instagram. The grass really is always greener!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring has sprung.

 

 

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Ski school graduation.

I admit and apologise in one that I am very behind in my blogs. What was going to be a weekly journal entry has become a monthly entry instead.

We find we are so busy doing things that I don’t have time to write about them!

We had our first school holidays. This included a great week spent at a hippy, holiday camp for Luc, complete with self-composting toilets and a veggie garden. Then a fantastic week skiing the Tignes-Val D’Isere mountains. Luc and I had two objectives for our year away. The first as to learn French, the second was to master skiing. This was our moment to work on the skiing.

Spring skiing is the quite simply the best. There is a great base of snow, warm sunny days and still plenty of fresh powder. Of course there are also a lot more resorts here, and most people are ‘skied’ out by spring so there are great deals and fewer punters to contend with. I also signed for French lessons, – everyday! I love it! I am constantly meeting the most wonderful people from around the world, and slowly grasping the difficult language that is French. I complained half-jokingly the other day to my wonderful teacher Christine. “You know, I wanted to learn difficulty this beautiful language possessed, I may never think of it the same way again!” Christine French because it is such a beautiful sounding language, I never envisaged the not only is a great teacher, she is also the most stylish dresser I have met. In nine weeks of classes, she has only worn the same outfit twice, her clothes, earrings, shoes, glasses and jewellery are always perfectly matched.

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The other great part of spring is the flowers, and in particular roses. The rose festival was a huge hit. We are in Grasse, so this is not a time of the year to miss. Grasse is the perfume capital of the world. The original perfumeries are still here and very much alive. But sadly most of the land and businesses closed down when synthetic fragrances became available. The few small ones that are left supply the likes of Chanel and Dior, so hopefully they will continue to support the industry and their craft. It’s like anything, if consumers only support perfumeries that only use the real flower essences the industry will survive. As with food we vote with our dollar. It is worth researching the companies that use synthetic fragrances in their perfumes, you would be surprised how many high end, expensive companies do. The variety of roses has blown us away, as mentioned in the previous post. But it is the perfume that has seduced us. Some are so delicate and some hit you right between the eyes. We were very fortunate one morning when our lovely gardener rushed to stop us as we were leaving for school. He grabbed two perfect pale pink roses for Luc and I. The scent was the most amazing sensory experience. Luc was equally enamoured by this. He said his neighbour grows all the roses that go into making J’Adore by Dior, and he asked if he could pick them to bring to us. This is another example of how well we are being welcomed here. These little daily incidents mean the world to us. He has also invited us both to come and watch them being harvested. We are indeed lucky!

The French are able to take in the seasons and celebrate them well. We are so rushed and wrapped up in our little world back in Australia. The flipside of course is things take a long time to get done here. Everything stops for two hours every day. Day by day, we are getting used to this and accept how they operate. The long lunch is such a great idea. It has taken me three months to enjoy it. I was still in that Australian mindset of grabbing lunch on the go. I would order, eat and get the bill. They always serve little canapés before ordering, and expect you to have a coffee and linger. I would be thinking instead of what I still had to get done that day. It was a huge conscious mental shift to realise that when I accept a lunch invitation that it is for a ‘long’ lunch, not a half hour snack. It may be better described as ‘mindful eating’. We are almost all guilty of not consciously achieving this. Whether it is a sandwich or a degustation menu, it means to stop and be in the moment. Slow down, chew each bite and not have your mind racing through what else needs achieved throughout the day. Instead, we need to be aware of what we are putting in our body and creating that mindset to focus and enjoy it.

112A4584I have learned to stay and linger over a coffee at the end. As I am always by the sea, these restaurants are also in the most beautiful and tranquil settings. I used to run past them everyday and think how indulgent it was to eat like this. But for the French, lunch is like our dinner. It is the main meal of the day, and a time to relax and savour the moment. To be honest, I do struggle to completely ‘switch’ off, but I have learned to put aside the time at least, and breathe. I will get there in the end though!

Spring has also brought with it the most amazing weather. We chose the South of France as it claims to have over 300 days of sunshine. We have not been disappointed. Days are now spent at the beach and heading to the pool before dinner. The daylight saving means it is not dark until 9.30pm so we can swim from 6.30 till 7pm and have the warm sun on our skin, it also means the sun is less dangerous. June is also the last month before the dreaded summer tourist season. We have both heard and I have read of how horrific it can be. We had a small glimpse of it the other week when the Cannes film festival was on. The streets were packed and parking was at a premium. Lots of tourists and celeb spotting wherever you went. For the red carpet and first screenings of the movies entered, the punters must be in black tie. There are also huge penalties if you RSVP to an invitation and don’t turn up. You will lose your spot next year. So, this creates opportunities for those who don’t have tickets. It is possible to see people dressed up looking for tickets, if you don’t look the part you aren’t going to get the privilege of taking someone else’s ticket. The other tricky part is that you must then go in with someone who has a ‘badge’, without the badge you are ‘nothing’ in this town at Festival time. Luc and I went in a few times and enjoyed the atmosphere; we loved watching everyone so beautifully dressed up. The most amazing marquees are setup on the beach, and the usual restaurants go the extra mile and have beautiful floral arrangements and table settings to entice you. We were able to get bookings at some of these places, but sadly for the wrong reasons. After the attacks in Paris, a lot of tourists didn’t come. We were told that normally there would be lines down the street. The restaurants suffered. Although they seemed very busy, it was nowhere near the level they were used to. You have to understand they put a lot of time, money and planning into this event. The ironic part was it was the American tourists that didn’t come. Considering their lax gun laws, you would think you would feel safer out of America, maybe it was because they can’t bring them with them? Who knows? The response to the attacks that affect us personally, is security at the school. Major events like the vintage Monaco Grand Prix, were easy to get to and into. You could take your own alcoholic beverages even. But at all schools parents cannot attend events. So end of year productions, science shows and presentations are banned to parents. You would think these events carry the least risk, especially as we can all carry ID to show who we are. The sad part is, the kids miss out. They miss out on performing and they miss out on showing the ones they love most their work. On a greater scale, the sense of community that these school events brings, is lost. Luc worked so hard on two major projects, and could only relay to me at home how they ended up. There have been a lot of riots in Paris and we are aware of what is happening, although we appear to be relatively sheltered in the South. We are in our little ‘bubble’.

So politics aside, we made it to the Vintage Grand Prix. I love old cars, and it is only held every two years. This was our year and we made the trip to Monaco. It is on the exact same track, two weeks before the ‘real event’. These cars are worth 6-10 million euros. The drivers are all former Formula one champions. It was such a great day. Unlike when I have been in Melbourne, people were there to enjoy the cars and races, and not to yell, scream and get drunk. They dressed well, and were keen to see what they could. It was all very civilised! We stopped for lunch and sat at a restaurant, no hot dogs in sight! The cars were beautiful and we had an amazing day. I had no expectations, but have to admit I enjoyed it thoroughly and would recommend it to anyone who likes vintage cars.

We also got to enjoy the Sailing Festival in Antibes, in French, ‘LesVoiles D’Antibes. This is where the beautiful old wooden yachts of yesteryear sail in a five day regatta. As a sailor I was not going to miss this event. This is serious boat porn!! Beautiful old Sloops, Schooners, Ketchs, Cutters and Yawls with original brass fittings, glorious sails and classic timber decks. My old skipper back in Melbourne used to call the old timber boats, ‘floating firewood’! One of the Scottish yachts arrived back with the crew in traditional uniforms and the bagpipes playing. It was such a sight for all the senses. They are such yachts of style, substance and beauty. The modern fibreglass ones pale in comparison. The other added bonus was Italy had a food festival on as part of the festivities. So we got to eat, drink and taste our way around Italy too! Luc has discovered truffles and guess what? He loves them! We have bought some to keep when his daddy arrives in three days time. We ate cheeses from Calabria, jumbo olives the size of small eggs, cannoli with fresh marscapone, gelati, a glass of Barolo wine for mama! A delicious way to spend the day!

Tony arrives this week as well as Anna, my manager for Degraves St. Luc and I are super, super excited! We cannot wait to share our love and excitement of our new home with those we love. There will not be a dry eye at Nice airport that is for sure.. It has been 3 and a half months since we left and we miss Tony every day. We are so grateful to him for letting us have our adventure. We are also grateful to Viber, whatsapp and messenger for allowing us to video call most days. We show Tony the food at the festivals and our local organic supermarket. Luc holds the camera phone to the staff and proudly tells them it is his Dad “en Australie”. They always get a buzz out of it! Anna will be bringing us a few organic goodies from the Degraves store, and it will be great to share all things organic with her here in France. Our garden is so beautiful at the moment. We had friends for lunch the other day, and whilst the kids swam the mother and I went and picked lettuce, carrots, parsley, mint, plums and berries for lunch. Then Luc came in saying the beautiful Martine had given him 6 fresh eggs from our chickens for us.

 

I had hoped and dreamed for this exact moment. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would be this good. We have to pinch ourselves daily. Luc almost daily as we drive to school comments on the beauty that surrounds us. We have this saying as we are driving the winding roads, “you don’t get a view like this driving to school in Melbourne”, and also the classic Aussie line from the movie The Castle, “Ahhh, the serenity”!

 

Lots of love from me and Luc xoxox

 

The French life.

 

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We are here. We have a bank account, a mobile phone, a fixed address and we know where to buy every organic food known to man on the Cote D’Azur. I have settled into yoga and running. As far as the cafes, I am working well from afar and the systems we have put in place are and ticking along nicely. Luc has settled into school extremely and made plenty of new friends.

This is working! We have made it! We have achieved our goal!

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Life has moved at an incredible pace. Our days are so full fitting everything in. Everything is new. Roads, directions, driving on the other side of the road. How to buy groceries. How to fuel your car. How to do the banking, buy insurance, send and receive post. Order in a restaurant, pay a bill, tip on a bill and ask for the bill. Opening hours of shops, supermarkets, banks and post offices. The list is endless. We are constantly learning this new French way of life. A lot of the time we get it, other times we accept it is the “French” way. The French even say this. They tell you to your face. ‘ This is the French way!’ So you just learn to accept it. It is something you take on in other aspects of your life as well. You begin to learn to let go…

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I mentioned recently to a friend that I was well and truly living in the moment here. I said that if anyone had to ‘learn’ how to do this, then the South of France was a great place to be. It is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye, that you can’t help but stop and look at it. It screams at you as you drive down the laneway, look at my beautiful stone wall, look at my beautiful poppies growing out of every crevice, look at how they glow as the sun shines through them. How can roses be so red? Did I not notice them before? Luc was telling his Grandma on the phone, whom I may add loves her garden, lives for it and has grown roses for as long as I can remember, that they have ‘real roses’ in France. Easy tiger, this is your rose loving grandma you are talking to here! ‘No Grandma, you have to visit me now, this week, these are the real roses, not the ones we have in Australia, they aren’t the proper ones. So you can see, it captures an eight year old boy, no less!

But then there are also the beautiful shutters on the windows, the gorgeous hues of colour they are painted, greens, blues, creams, some new, some old, some freshly painted, some peeling, they all arrest you. They demand you to look and say, ‘my, how beautiful are these things.’ The roofs, the tiles, the cedar trees , palm trees, pencil pines, peppercorn trees, tulips, irises, olive groves, lavender, the list goes on. It doesn’t matter if you are driving the highway, or a winding road, or down an alley. It doesn’t matter if you are in the city or a small town, the whole area says ‘look at me’. It says, stop your thoughts, don’t think of what to cook for dinner, don’t think have I paid the bills or wages? did I reply to that email? did Luc do his homework? It stops all those thousands of thoughts running through your head, and you are forced to ‘live in the moment’. Yes, this is where you send people that could never imagine ever being capable of doing this.

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But, it doesn’t just stop there, it also forces you to be grateful. Luc is used to me asking him after school or at the dinner table or before going to bed, what are we grateful for today. I admit, we used to repeat things like having dinner, cuddles etc. but I don’t think we fully felt it, we acknowledged it, but it wasn’t real enough. Here, we feel it. Here, we love going on and on about how grateful we are. There are so many things. I tell you what we are incredibly grateful for, the organic French butter with sea salt crystals in it!! Seriously, it is AMAZING! But we are having these OMG moments constantly and we love showing gratitude. We do it without thinking about it. We LOVE it. We both went to a parent/child mindfulness course on the weekend. It was run by one of the ladies in my yoga class. She was going to have the morning one in French and for the first time, one in English in the afternoon. I have to admit, Luc was nervous it was going to be ‘boring’. They actually took the kids out for most of it with another teacher, this worked so well. We were learning the same thing, but not being distracted. I asked him what did he love best other than his teacher as we both asked each other that first and realised we both loved how good they were. He said, Mummy, when we are stressed we are worrying about the past, when we are anxious we are worrying about the future, true happiness is when we are living in the present. Bingo, he got it. That was the simple but effective tool we took away. We learned to press the ‘pause’ button every time we felt ourselves wandering away from this. And the most important part, that the more we practice the better we will get at this. We got so much out of it, and I really question whether we would have if we had not come to France. We are in a special space that has allowed us to really stop and smell the roses. And boy are those roses incredible!!! You won’t get them in this blog, but the annual Rose exposition is in Grasse this weekend and the open house of the villa & gardens of the Ephrussi de Rothschild in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferret, so we have an action packed weekend of all things rose coming up. Rose photos will follow after.

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I did not buy this! It was his first time to have fairy floss. yes, he loved it, I had heart palpatations…

In between all of this there were also important ‘growing pains’ so to speak. We missed our little family unit with Tony and me having a “little friend” as they call a boyfriend here. It is a pretty romantic place to hang out. I have this beautiful balcony off my room overlooking the mountains and the beach, it would naturally be awesome to share this with a ‘petit ami’, especially all the romantic restaurants along the beach. Luc actually commented when were out the other night having dinner in a restaurant, “mummy, it is so romantic isn’t it” , see, even an eight year old boys feel it too, there is a magic here. Anyway, this blog is not about that part of my life, but I feel it is important to acknowledge that we have had to ‘adjust’ to our new way of life.

So, the food stuff that lots of you have been waiting for! I will admit, you wouldn’t want to be a pig or a cow here, they eat a lot of saucisson and cheese! Every time we go past a billboard there is some festival on. It involves me leaning out the window and quickly taking a snap shot of the poster. It is filling our weekends, and that was before spring had truly sprung, we have got to let a lot go now, as there is too just too much to see and do.

The first one on the calendar is the Chocolate festival. To those who know me, this is my worst nightmare. But, we are in France and Luc loves chocolate, so we are going. It was so beautiful. Everyone was so happy, people dancing, eating, drinking, chatting and tasting Chocolate. They love their food, it is such a different way than we do. It is expected to have good food, to know about good food. It is their way of life. Festival number two is an Olive festival, now this is more my cup of tea. Luc adores olives, he eats jars of them, he hoovers them, inhales them, get the picture? We buy $80 dollars of olives!!! We already have olives at home…

112A3584Then we have the honey festival. Honey ice cream, honey lollies, honey marshmallows, honey itself. Lots of ‘bio’, that is ‘organic’ honey. Lots of bees., they show the process of how they make the honey from ‘bee to jar’. With the big pesticide companies literally biting the hand that feeds, which are our bees, I love this festival. Bees are essential to our survival. Buying honey here is so important. Luc gets to try honey from lavender plants and blossom trees. They take their honey seriously. They know how it is extracted and why it tastes different depending on where the hives are and what plants the bees are pollinating. Luc got a great lesson on this first hand last week. We have hives on our property, and the beekeeper came to look after them. We discovered three new hives they had made. It was so amazing to show him this, there was much excitement and ‘buzz’., pardon the pun, of finding the new hives they had made.

In between this we also had Easter, that in itself is a chocolate festival. We had the world’s largest Easter egg hunt in the history of our Easter egg hunts. Seriously, 20 acres to spread them all out. We also have our wonderful ‘new’ friends from Melbourne and their four kids and another local French family and their son. So twelve for a sit down lunch and eight kids for the hunt. Angelique set our alarms early to get up before the kids. It is a ‘crisp’ morning, and not one that you would wear your thongs to ‘hide’ the eggs. But worse than this is, Luc wakes up!!! This is like Christmas! Lucky, I had a cunning plan! I had told him the night before that Angelique had all of our eggs sent from Australia and that I would get them off her in the morning, that way he wouldn’t pull the house apart looking for them. I told him if he looked out of the window and the Easter bunny was out there, all the eggs would disappear. I had to close the shutters all over the house, so he wouldn’t be tempted to look out of the window and see us hiding the eggs. Then I had to ‘lock’ him into the house!! There are two little love heart cut outs on our shutters, which we never close mind you , so he really thought mummy was taking this seriously! I was worried he would peek out of the ones in this bedroom, so we had to sneak along the wall. We hid over 300 eggs, some tiny, some huge, some organic, some fair trade. Then of course, we have me. I have to photograph ‘everything’! Now, as you can imagine most of these are for the blog, but it makes everything we do take longer, plus my feet were almost numb at this point!!! He was worried what took me so long when I got back, but the excitement of the day was building beautifully. Next, he had to wait for everyone to get here. Are they here yet? Are they here yet? This is from Angelique! not Luc, she couldn’t wait for the kids to go for it!!!! It was hilarious!!! The other kids arrived and we had baskets lined up. The little ones were in rapture, the big kids competitive to get the most. And boy did I hid them, ha! I would not be surprised if there are still 20-30 still hidden in the plants as we speak! Then it was time for the big sit down lunch, a huge family roast, lots of roasted vegies and of course chocolate for dessert including an Italian bell shaped Panettone, followed by cheese. We started at 0900 and said goodbye at 2100. Twelve hours of solid celebration amongst a fire roaring, kids running around the property, movies, games of backgammon, it was a beautiful ‘family’ day with our new friends. We were so happy and truly grateful. We could get used to this…

 

We will both continue to both ‘live the dream, ‘live in the moment’ and ‘carpe diem’.

 

Lots of love Jeanette and Luc xox

Home sweet home.

We are finally on our last leg of our journey to our new ‘home’!

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This is the moment when you start to think whether you chose the right house. Will it be anything like its photos? What happens if you hate it and you have prepaid 6 months rent!

Blind faith is a wonderful thing. It makes you feel alive. It’s edgy, it keeps you brimming with the excitement for the unknown, it is also what we have to believe in. Trust our instincts, go with the flow, believe that everything will be okay.

We also have to find it…

So we land at Nice airport and it is pouring with rain. That’s not so bad, but they did promise over 200 days of sunshine on the Cote D’azur. The mountains are covered in snow and we are super excited by this. They look so beautiful. To look at snow capped mountains right beside the sea is fantastic.

First we get the hire car. Then we need to workout GPS, google maps and anything else I can think of so as to not get lost. Our luggage just fits in the car, and by just, I mean Luc is completely surrounded by suitcases. It’s a mid size car too, purposely chosen to take 6 suitcases of luggage. Good think we didn’t get the Fiat 500! This is like a Lego building, he is the little figurine delicately placed in and around the blocks. Well he sure as hell ain’t going anywhere!

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My little man, still standing after 48 hours of travel.

So we head off on our drive which is about 45 minutes. As it gets dark we slowly start to climb the mountain to where we will live. The roads are getting narrower, the sky darker, the air colder, the rain and wind harder. I start to feel nervous. When I say the roads are narrower, we are talking two way roads that are only one lane wide. I am worried about the hire car getting scratched, and wish I had hired something smaller or just got a taxi and hired a car the next day. What was I thinking? I start panicking as we ascend up our road. There are sharp hairpin turns. I continue to panic and think I will have to get another house! I can’t live like this, it was a mistake, why didn’t I ask what the road was like? Then the driveway up to the house is even steeper. And my worst nightmare, the carpark is at the bottom, I will need to carry everything up!! It is cold and wet and I worry that I have just wasted 6 months rent on a house I can’t live in.

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We just fit all the luggage in. It was incredibly ‘snug’.

Hold that thought.

 

Angelique and her mum greet me at the top of the drive. Yes, you can drop all your luggage at the top then take your car down. No, it is not usually this cold and windy, it is the worst weather we have had. Please, come in and have a glass of wine. I slowly relax and breathe a little. It is fair to say there will be a few panic attacks along the way on such a great journey. Blind faith, things will be okay, things will get better etc. You have to believe.

We awake the next morning to the most glorious view and sounds of birds chirping in the background. I may not have mentioned that Luc started school the very next morning, just 12 hours after landing. It is a 15 minute drive away on a good day. Due to the storm, the trees had come down and our road was closed off. So we divert another way. We were a full hour late the first day. The views driving there though were nothing short of spectacular, we were breathless. Luc is madly taking photos on my ‘good’ camera as I drive. I almost brake as every car goes past us. I am freaking out a little at how close they drive to us. I have to stop and reverse four times on the first day, just to let someone past. How do people live like this? How are there not more accidents? I need to find the world’s smallest car on the market or we are never going to survive!

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This is the sunrise from my bedroom on the first morning.

It takes about a week to start to relax on the roads, and not give Luc whiplash every time a car gets too close. Whenever there was a bus or a truck, I went into full time panic mode. Poor Luc may have heard a few non French curses in the car. I slowed the car right down to let them past. It was not just me, I watched others do it too. It is like you are all holding your tummy in as you squeeze past. So if one of you is stationary at the right angle, the other can just, and I mean just, shimmy past.

I only have the hire car for two weeks, so the hunt for a car is pressing. I start to realise how bad my French is, how will I get through this process?

Angelique is an angel, by name and by nature. She speaks fluent English, French, German and Spanish. To say that she saves my butt on numerous occasions is an understatement. She steps in for me. After attempting, and failing to communicate on the car I finally decide on, she speaks to the lady for me. For every little detail I must ask, she translates, she also comes out with me to act as my translator at the car yard too.

So I buy the car, I need a bank account and a phone too. All of this takes so much longer that it should to happen. If you have heard stories about how long it takes to get things done in France, they are all right! I am not going to bore you with it, but a couple of snippets.

I have transferred a lot of money from Australia to reduce my transfer fees. I am late to an appointment and need to get money out and I get refused on many occasions. How can this be? I panic my money has been stolen. I go home and transfer another chunk. First thing in the morning I go to see my bank manager to ask what the problem is. He said I took too much out. What do you mean? I have not spent all my money? Oh, no madame, you have not, that is true. But, you can only use a certain amount per week. Que? I explain that I have always had my own income and bank accounts and didn’t need to start now having someone determine how much I could spend. I say, in Australia we have similar for eftpos, but it normally starts at 500 AUD per day, plus a few thousand from a teller machine. He cannot believe this. No,not in France. Here they write cheques and go to the bank when they want large sums. He will give me a special single use card as a back up that gives me whatever cash I like and doesn’t affect my special weekly limits. He also increases my weekly limit to the maximum. They are either not used to or don’t want to change and take advantage of the automatic teller machines. The way banks have become automated in Australia, would take 20 years over here. He assures me my money is always available, I just need to come in when I want extra cash. This lets me down when we go skiing for a week. I buy new skis and get knocked back. I don’t panic this time, just be grateful I have my Australian card as backup. Fraud must be tough here, it is so hard to get your own money out!

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Spring has sprung!

There is also the problem of needing a bill in my name with my French address to get my bank account. So, I go to get my French phone account. They need a French bank account to set up my account. You are kidding! So I go back to the bank. I also need these documents for my car insurance too. I am in a loop, that doesn’t seem to have an answer. We agree to make special dispensation with my house contract and my visa. But, I must get all other paperwork to him the minute it comes through. This takes about a week to do. The days roll past. There is always something that holds things up. If you don’t have an Angelique in your life and you want move to France, you are in trouble! She helps me with everything.

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The garden is amazing!

Her mother Martine is wonderful as well, another angel!

They have both been so hugely supportive of Luc and I, we are both indebted to them forever. Nothing is too much, they treat us like family. Actually the whole property has an extended family feel to it.

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View to the west from my lounge room.

Now, our new home!!

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I never tire of the view. 

It is like heaven on earth. It is set on 20 acres, with an olive grove, palm trees, cypress trees and the most amazing garden you can imagine. Martine, has a green thumb and lives for her garden. My mum is the same, so I understand her love and addiction. She has the most amazing vegie garden I have seen. The best part, she wants me to help myself to what ever I like. And, its all organic! She has started to grow the seedlings from seed for summer. We have a wonderful array of herbs. They even have bees for honey! Plus the olive grove provides us with the most amazing olive oil I have had. It is fantastic. We have a great compost and Luc loves running out to pick me some herbs for dinner each night. I am really going to have to cook some amazing food for these beautiful people. Cooking is my best skill set to offer. Everyone loves to eat…

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View to the east towards Grasse.

We have fantastic views through to the Mediterranean sea and on a super clear day you can see Cyprus. There are stepped gardens and olive groves dotted all over the mountain. We are exactly half way between the city of Grasse and the small town of Cabris. It is the most perfect location. I definitely made the right choice. Everyday I come home I am so grateful we came here. I go to Cannes for my yoga and running on the beach. There I can get my city fix and then retreat to the hills.

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This is my view running each day.

Angelique has three wonderful children, but her eldest Ivaan was a major reason for me to take this place. As his siblings are only 5 months and 2 years old, he and Luc play together every day. He is now like my second son. He loves to hang out here, and we love having him stay and eat dinner. Plus, he loves my cooking! This kid is welcome any day of the week! He told me my vegie soup was the best he has even eaten, it made my day. I love it when kids ‘get’ and love good food.

Luc’s first day at school went well. When I first dropped him off, the little munchkin was shaking. I felt terrible to leave him there. Then he went to cry and didn’t want me to go. One of the boys in his class came out and said he will look after him. I rang an hour later and they said he was doing great. The other boy had proudly told the teacher he would look after him the whole day and make sure he was well settled. I was instantly relieved. The thing about a bilingual school, is all the kids are in the same boat. Some know both languages, but most only one, and there are those that don’t speak French or English. So the kids are all on a level playing field. Everyone is different. I am really happy with the school. His teachers are great, and the communication is fantastic. Lots of emails and they constantly take and send photos of the kids activities to the parents, so you know what they are doing.

The French school system does have a few differences though. First, there is a lot of homework. Luc’s school also has Wednesdays off. Most French schools have the same day off or a half day, which is becoming more popular. His school therefore goes through to 5pm every day. Then they have study class from 5-6pm. By the time we get home it is 6.30pm. It is late for him, so I need to be super organised and have dinner on the table the minute we walk in. Then, we need to get his homework done too. The upside is, I am far more involved with where he is at academically than I was in Australia. I am also more involved, due to the homework. I enjoy this aspect very much. I love seeing what he has done that day. There are no computers or ipads at the school either. The French system is very strict and hasn’t evolved like ours, but I am not as concerned as I first was about it. There are pros and cons. I don’t like the homework after a long day as I don’t see how it can be productive. But I do love how they bring all their books home every day and have to write by hand. He has pleaded with me to type up his projects, but I think the art of handwriting will be lost very soon, so this is not a bad thing for him to experience. It is only for one year. They go on a lot of excursions. It’s kind of cool when you are studying different cultures and architecture and they have real examples to visit nearby. The kids just can’t do that back home. Same goes for art too. There are so many museums around here.

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Day one at school, insisted on wearing his footy jumper from home.

Now, the most important part of his day is lunch time!! They have the menu posted every week and he trying new things all the time. Some days it is a hit, others it is apparently disgusting. His words! He has liked things I didn’t think he would, a bean cassoulet and vice versa, the fish meuniere he hated. Obviously having dessert or cheese to finish is a huge bonus. I am relieved dessert is quite often fresh fruit, and just one type. Everything is seasonal which I love. It is the first question I ask at pickup each day. What did you have for lunch? Quickly followed by, did you like it? He reviews it like we are watching Masterchef which I find so entertaining. No wonder the French are good at food! They all sit down together with the teachers which I think is fantastic. They have to watch their manners and not talk too loudly. I am just happy that someone gets to share the parenting of meal times with me. It’s not just me telling him the same things.

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Menu the first week.

So, things are trés bon, as we say in France.

 

I will get to all the beautiful produce from now on in with the blogs.

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Local clementines.

Thanks for following a foodie and her son, we love sharing our stories with you!

 

We are going to France!

A wise, yet crazy friend said to me. You need to make the decision and never ever look back. So, I did. And I kept that thought with me at all times.

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Our French farewell, featured all things French down to the magnum of Laurent Perrier Champagne to the Orangina for the kids.

The conversation came up as there were hundreds of doubts going through my mind on going to France. One interesting one that bothered me, was the question, am I running away? I didn’t feel in control of my life as I felt my every decision was hinging on others, it was suffocating me. I had to find myself and be in control of my life again. I had read an article that talked about people who made radical life decisions, some people will view them as running away, but others will think what a brave decision, look what they did with their lives. Sometimes when we are at a turning point in our lives, upending it is the best solution. It forces you to see the world differently and hopefully your place in it. It builds resilience and doesn’t leave ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ hanging over your head. You won’t know how great life can be if you don’t take a chance. So now I am selling our beloved home, getting divorced and moving to France.

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The Mornington Peninsula. This is my home away from home. I used to run these tracks every day down here.

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Dealing with lawyers and real estate agents in the same year alone is enough to make you to move to the other side of the world. So how will this all pan out? First the divorce. Tony and I would go in and out of our joint divorce proceedings as great friends, even dropping our son off to one of respective partners on the way to be cared for. We are indeed the ultimate modern family, and I couldn’t be prouder of how we have handled it. We are definitely the exception not the rule. This was lucky for us, as packing up our house was the saddest thing we had ever done. We loved it more than anything. Our hearts and souls had been poured into a very dated and run down old art deco home. Tony has a great eye for design and I am good at getting things done. Together we restored it into a beautiful contemporary home that we all adored. It was heart wrenching to tell our 8 yr. old son, we have to find a new home for his dog, but Tony couldn’t take him and we couldn’t take him to France. Luc and I had a little cry on his last day but we are so grateful he has gone to a great home and is much loved. Coupled with Luc finishing up school and being Christmas time, it is not a part of my life I want to repeat again. Yoga again was what got me through it. It centred me, gave me space to breathe and the strength to move on. And I needed that. We packed our life’s possessions into a container and we kept what we could each fit into 6 suitcases.

 

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Bondi Beach. Luc couldn’t wait to swim here. We had so much fun in the waves.

We still had 8 weeks to find a place to stay, so we did what all couples whom separate do; we all stayed living together at Tony’s new apartment, one big happy modern family. The first night had all three of us in the bed and my Mum in Luc’s bed. His first night as a bachelor was spent with his ex wife in his bed and his mother in law in the next room! It ended up being a great decision. It was much easier to stay together emotionally till we got on the plane, especially for Luc. Plus I felt awful taking him away from Tony, so it meant we both got to spend time with him every day. Naturally there was a few scheduling problems when you have a smaller home and you both have ‘special’ friends, but we handled it with aplomb, good on us!

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The Sydney Harbour bridge. 
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Our beloved Opera House. One of my favourite buildings in the world. Luc and I built the large Lego model, so felt we knew it intimately.

It was time to schedule that flight to Sydney for our Visas and get the hell out of here!!! I have never amassed so much information in my life. I had pretty much every square inch of my life being handed over to either lawyers or the French embassy, or Luc’s new school. In order to get the visa, you must be enrolled in school, paid for a house, and have return tickets. It is a huge leap of faith they are going to give you that visa when you have already handed over thousands of Euros in the form of deposits and airline tickets and you don’t even know if you can go. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was incredibly stressful.

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Woohoo! We have our visas!

Our visas arrived two days before we boarded the plane. The divorce was settled the day before we left. Better late than never they say! Flight QR 905 was departing, and years of saving points had put us up the pointy end, lucky for Luc as had to start school 48 hours later. Don’t you love it when a plan comes together! The day we were leaving was spent running around in a hundred directions. For Luc and I it was exciting to be going on our big adventure. For those we were leaving behind it was a very sad day. We packed up two cars for the drive to the airport. Whilst I was saying my goodbyes, Luc was saying goodbye to his Daddy. I can not thank Tony enough for letting us do this. I felt so awful, sad and sorry for him to be away from his beautiful boy for so long. There are two long visits planned, but it is heartbreaking to not have this little monkey near you every day. I made a recordable book for Luc to give him, so that other than pictures, if Tony was missing Luc and it was at a time that he couldn’t call, he could hear his little voice. Tony loved it and has listened to it many times. It was now time to walk through those doors. Au revoir my friends.