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Christine

Our Adventures

Six Months in France – les petits gourmands

February 3, 2020

January marked a milestone for us – six months that we have now spent in France. It seemed like a good amount of time to reflect on what we have learned and experienced so far, but to avoid going on and on I’ve decided to split this blog into three key areas where we get lots of questions, or have learned a lot – language, school and social, and food! Here’s part three… food… oh the Food Despite my best…

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Epic Trip Planning

Six months in France – School and Social

January 18, 2020

January marked a milestone for us – six months that we have now spent in France. It seemed like a good amount of time to reflect on what we have learned and experienced so far, but to avoid going on and on I’ve decided to split this blog into three key areas where we get lots of questions, or have learned a lot – language, school and social, and food! Here’s part two – school and social On a cold…

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Epic Trip Planning

Six Months in France – French language progress

January 18, 2020

   January marked a milestone for us – six months that we have now spent in France. It seemed like a good amount of time to reflect on what we have learned and experienced so far, but to avoid going on and on I’ve decided to split this blog into three key areas where we get lots of questions, or have learned a lot – language, school and social, and food! Here’s part one – language Last week, I finished…

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Epic Trip Planning

Choosing our village in France – part 2

January 14, 2020
Quillan - Finding our new home

So how did we end up in our tiny little French town of Ax-les-Thermes, in the little-known départment of the Ariège? We have been asked this question more times than I can count so I should have this story nailed. Usually I mime circling a finger in the air and sticking it in the map, because that’s the way I began. In part 1 of this blog, I explained how we settled on the south west, the mountains rather than…

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Our Adventures

Summer in Les Alpes

November 25, 2019

From Alsace we drove across Switzerland, to the French Alps choosing this route partly for the novelty of traversing a new country in a day and encountering another language.  We stopped for a picnic by Lake Geneva where it was incredibly hot, and the lake was surprisingly like a swimming pool – warm, clear, and absolutely gorgeous for swimming. Sadly, one child had left his swimming togs at the bottom of his suitcase at the bottom of our car boot…

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Our Adventures

Alsace

October 6, 2019

From Champagne we travelled east and descended into the Rhine Valley, where France meets Germany. This part of France changed hands four times between 1874 and 1945, and again in the preceding centuries, so there are strong Germanic influences in the architecture, wine, cuisine, customary dress, and village names. We began with a visit to Haut Koenigsburg Castle, a medieval fortress perched high on a rock looking out across the plains to Germany.- We stayed in a campsite just outside…

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Epic Trip Planning

Choosing our village in France

September 16, 2019

Choosing the town where we would live our French dream was a bit like sticking a pin in a map. Where do you start? From the beginning, my husband Simon told me that I should feel free to pick any town or place, in any part of France I wanted. This was my dream, and he didn’t have a personal preference, he wanted me to have freedom to choose.   Trouble was, I didn’t have a particular preference either.  There was no…

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Epic Trip Planning

French school, one week down: La Rentrée part 2

September 11, 2019

Last Friday I was sneaking in a little rest after a busy morning unravelling la paperasserie (red tape), when I heard Tom’s feet resounding up the stairs. He burst through the bedroom door and pounced onto the bed, perching astride my knees to pin down my attention.  “Mum, Mum, MUM. So today, we had salad, with olives and egg and dressing…” “I had rockmelon!” yelled his younger brother, sticking his baseball-capped head around the door frame. “Shhhh I was telling!!”…

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Epic Trip Planning

Preparing for school in France: La Rentrée

September 10, 2019

As August faded into September, I found myself waking in the early hours. The children would soon be starting school speaking very little French, and the enormity of what we were asking of them loomed out of the 2am darkness. I felt sick with anxiety. Of course, we had tried to help them learn French for months. We engaged a tutor before we left New Zealand, we played language learning apps daily in the car while travelling and we had…

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Our Adventures

In the trenches of Verdun

August 30, 2019

“Many of us here use writing as a means of staying alive…” So wrote a French commanding officer, holed up in the underground citadel of Verdun, during the longest battle of World War I. The subterranean tunnels of the citadel were the command post, the ammunitions store, the place from which troops were dispatched or returned  from the front, where bread was baked for the soldiers’ rations and wounds were tended. I was a little apprehensive about visiting Verdun, where…

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