In just over three weeks, I’ll be boarding an aeroplane with my two young children for a three-month “living in France” experience. Come share the journey with us as I push the “go” button on plans I made almost a year ago.
It all started in the heat of last year’s long hot summer when I dreamt of a white Christmas.
School had broken up some weeks ago and my little family felt cast adrift without the rhythm of the school-week to hold us steady. Heat-fuelled arguments were frequent between Silas, 6 years, and Delphine, 2. I wanted to escape.
I dreamt of happier times and more temperate climes. I wanted to recapture the enchantment I had felt as a child at Christmas time. I had always been drawn-in by the wintry scenes on the Christmas cards that arrived from the English side of our family. Long had I felt the charm of a traditional magical Christmas of snow-dusted turrets, cinnamon spiced biscuits and a Santa’s market-place decorated with fairy lights.
Taking refuge one children’s nap time, I skulked online and escaped into a wintry wonderland. And there it was – Alsace – France’s Christmas capital: home of the Christmas tree and famed for its Christmas markets.
I’d never heard of the place. Better yet, it seemed that not many English-speakers had. A quick online search of books about the region brought up a surprisingly small return.
I was beginning to be seduced by images and thoughts of life in rural France: of weekly visits to the local market, morning croissants fresh from the boulangerie, educative conversations with the butcher on how to prepare local dishes.
I let my thoughts wander to more than just a short Christmas break. How about a whole winter? Enrol the children in school there? Live for a season on the other side of the world? Exchange this dusty southern summer for a white Christmas in Alsace?
Could I actually do it?
It’s almost nine months down the track now, and most of the pieces are in place. I’ve had a few hic-cups along the way but the count-down to 1 November has begun.
Before we leave, I’ll share how our travel plans came together. And after our arrival in France, you’ll have a window onto how us three little Australians in Alsace are adapting to our new life.