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Unfinished business

June 22, 2020

One year ago at midnight, as the seven stars of Matariki rose in the southern sky and one day after the winter solstice, we embarked on our grand adventure – what I hoped would be a year in France. A perfect moment for new beginnings, regeneration and reflection. In the pictures taken at Auckland Airport, I look tired, with greasy hair (I swear I had just washed it!) and bleary eyes. We’d packed right up to the wire, leaving forgotten…

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Our Adventures

When history meets reality

April 20, 2020

Sunday 15 March 2020. With Spain now in lockdown, we could no longer use the air tickets we’d reserved out of Barcelona. Overnight, I had reconciled myself to waiting out his virus in France. Staying put and concentrating on LEGO and homeschool seemed more sensible than making a run for it though countries in lockdown with no guarantee we’d be allowed on the plane. The kids were keen to stay in and do LEGO all day, but I declared that…

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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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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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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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Our Adventures

Of Champagne and Birkenstocks

August 20, 2019

When you’re so close to Champagne, how could you  resist stopping by for a glass or two? Yet again… we’re travelling with kids.  So rather than drag them around a series of vineyards, we decided to head into Épernay for a stroll down the Avenue de Champagne, home to dozens of champagne houses and their magnificent mansions, some of which have been transformed into elegant hotels.  Think Moët & Chandon, Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët. Beneath the streets lie over 110 km of underground…

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Our Adventures

You came all the way to France and you missed it?

August 9, 2019

Everywhere we go in France we find ourselves thinking – gosh this is lovely – should we have based ourselves here for the longer part of our stay? Each region unfolds some new and unexpected loveliness and so it was with Burgundy.  We passed through pretty if a little more rustic villages, and rolling fields of sunflowers, corn, and golden wheat scattered with wild poppies. We’d booked a gîte (apartment) through AirBnB and thank heavens for the SatNav or we…

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Our Adventures

Exploring the chateaux of the Loire

July 25, 2019

In the Loire Valley, there are more than 100 chateaux open to the public. So if you only have a few days, or even a week, to explore the valley, how are you to decide which chateaux to visit? It’s interesting to observe how the chateaux owners have attempted to differentiate their pads and entice visitors through the gates. It’s simply not enough to rest on your historic, majestic, or elegant credentials. So there are classical concerts, jousting displays, incredible…

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Our Adventures

The incredible Puy du Fou

July 19, 2019

When we planned our trip, my French friend Laurette insisted there was one place that should be on our itinerary: historical theme park, Puy du Fou. There are no rides, no amusements. Instead the park hosts a series of historical “spectacles” portraying different periods of history, complete with special effects and stunt actors. Laurette and her kids were visiting France at the same time, so booked tickets for the same day. We met them there in the morning, and our…

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