Sitting in a classroom in Sydney’s northern suburbs, learning the basics of French, it never crossed my mind that I would make a life for myself in this beautiful country so far from home.
The only things I could really remember were the lists of colours and fruit, given the lack of inspirational teaching (or maybe I wasn’t listening).
But something else struck a chord when we were treated to watching a classic French film based on the novel by celebrated French writer, Marcel Pagnol. My Father’s Glory was set in the warm, hilly countryside of Provence, where the sounds of cicadas mesmerise you, and if you close your eyes to that buzzing hum, you can almost feel the sun on your face.
The scenery, characters, close family bonds and the dreamy summer holiday house in the hills drew me right in, but little did I know by how much.
Why did I go on to follow an office career, and move so far away from this dreamy ideal? The challenge, opportunities, experience? One, none, or maybe all. Who knows, but despite this detour from a life in the countryside, I very much enjoyed my time in a thriving organisation; especially meeting some fantastic people (one of which is now my husband, Justin), and being given a true taste of life abroad.
When the opportunity to transfer to London was first offered up, I was terrified of moving away. But once I was there, a whole new world opened up. Having so many European destinations within easy reach, the bug to explore had erupted.
France was always high on the list, from Paris down to Provence, and I was taken by the language, culture, and delectable food and wine. By this stage, I wasn’t alone in my weakness for all of these delights.
With Justin as my savvy travelling companion (he’ll love being called that), we were on a journey together and the dream to breakaway one day to the French countryside and receive guests, rather than just being guests, had begun.
As the saying goes though, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. Before we could think much more about it, a transfer to New York came up, which was hard to resist. Buzzing city life, amazing restaurants, a never-ending supply of live music; but not quite the hum of cicadas.
We still managed to spend a few holidays back in France to keep the momentum going, and after a couple of years, the magnetism to change our work/life balance was getting stronger. It was decision time.
The what, where, how questions perpetually turned in our minds, and after months of deliberation we had a plan, the choice was made, and our visas were granted. Woohoo, we were on our way to “living the dream” as so many of our friends called it. But would you believe that of all the areas in France, we chose one that we had never actually been to? Crazy? Yes. Disappointed? Absolutely not.
Bordeaux and the surrounding area is a hidden gem, with a revitalised city that has so much to offer, and beautiful, rolling hills covered in lush rows of the famous vines. The journey so far has been a mix of fun, stress, challenges and laughter, between language school, house hunting, meeting new people, and maybe one of the worst things a couple can do together – renovating.
I’ll be sharing the adventure through stories and anecdotes over the coming months. Or better still, why don’t you pop in for a glass of wine and experience The Other Life for yourself?