Beginnings

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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.

Christmas Market at Strasbourg, Alsace

Christmas Market at Strasbourg, Alsace

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.