From left to right: delish cheese/fromage selection, the tribe sees snow - 1st time, yummy gateau, the horse/cheval meat butcher

From left to right: delish cheese/fromage selection, the tribe sees snow – 1st time, yummy gateaux, the horse/cheval meat butcher

In 2010, I embarked on a fabulous adventure with the lovely Big A and my little tribe to live and work in France.

With a bucket-load of trepidation, mixed with sheer unbridled excitement, we packed up and jumped on a plane to Paris (ok, with four kids and 19 pieces of luggage, it was more like ambling on board the plane).

Arriving in the thick of winter (snow fell on our first day), the kids were super excited!

Big A and I were super petrified. 

It was, without a doubt, the most monumental case of culture shock either of us had ever experienced. Oh, and add to that a language barrier…

What struck me most, and what I have been thinking about today (realising we needed more milk – read on I’ll explain), is the little things that made France a unique place to live. Here are a couple of my faves:

  • Fresh milk is really hard to find.  UHT or long life milk is the go-to milk, in fact there was a whole aisle at my trusty local French supermarket dedicated to it. So with four kids, we usually got a case (12 cartons), which also meant we rarely ran out of milk.
  • Fresh bread, however is available everywhere.  Our local boulangerie (bakery) was two minutes walk from our house. Sliced bread, also known as ‘American Bread’, on the other hand, is a lot harder to find.  The go-to bread is a baguette, and it is just called a baguette, not a ‘French Stick’, because well, you are in France. It would be like calling a loaf of bread in Australia ‘Australian Loaf’. Add to this the bread/ baguette is super fresh, and no preservatives are used. Which means you buy daily, because by the end of the following day your crusty soft delicious bread is hard as a rock. Not even Charlie the Wonderdog would eat the ‘stale’ bread.
  • Speaking of Charlie the Wonderdog, the French love dogs. More than children.  More than other people. For example, when Charlie the Wonderdog got spooked on Bastille Day and ran away. Cue neighbourhood search, loads of ‘Chien Perdu’ (that’s lost dog), and in the end a very kind stranger coming to our door to tell us (in French) that her friend had found our dog, taken her to a vet, who had fed her, groomed her and looked after our beloved pooch overnight.  For the sum total of about $25 AUD. Only in France!
  • On the canine train of thought, people don’t pick up after their dog.  Yes, I mean the poo.  They just leave it right where it, um, lands.  Which would be a problem except for the  helpful man on a scooter with a vacuum cleaner on the back who sucks it all up.  Yep, the poo, into the poo vacuum cleaner.  Then there is another crew who come around with a water truck (recycled water)  and wash the streets (the gorgeous cobblestone streets – more about those another day).
  • French ladies really do look glamorous, all the time.  Well it certainly felt that way in our little village. Gorgeous trench coats, fab boots, a scarf (perfectly tied ‘of course’, or ‘bien sur’), the list goes on. Which meant I started to up my game, even to head to the local marché (the fruit and veg market). Beautiful scarf…check! Blazer…check! Soft leather boots…check! 

Now back in sunny Oz, I miss all the quirky little things that made France, well, France.  Well, except for the dog poo.  

What makes the place you live in unique or special?

Enjoy xx


2 Responses to What makes a place special, unique? #1: Living in France

  1. Michelle Prendergast says:

    Oh I loved this Kirsty! Moving OS is SUCH an experience. I was so jealous when I saw you were doing it and loved following your adventure as it unfolded. And now we are finally having one of our own and, although different in the things that make it unique and special, it is just the same. I love the “quirky things” that make this place Vanuatu. We are creating amazing memories and will never regret the big leap of faith we took to make the move.

    • Kirsty says:

      Thanks Michelle! I was so excited to read about your move, I am sure you will both look back on the time and be glad you took that huge leap of faith. It’s such an amazing experience to share with your family too! I am sure M will thank you in years to come for the opportunity to learn to speak French. take care, K xx

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