When did it all start? Can I pin point my conscience decision to purchase a holiday home in France? No; I don’t think there was a defining moment, rather, a slow building of an idea which gained momentum with each book and TV reality show that showcased others relocating to France. Even travel and French property magazines aided visualisation of myself and my family in France. Recipe books featuring French cuisine fuelled my desire to experience the rich culinary delights of this country famous for its cuisine.
I have always loved the beauty and serenity of French gardens, the stylish interiors of grand maisons and the seemingly effortless style of men and women’s dress. This however, I admired from a distance because I had never even stepped foot on French soil at that stage.
These are some of the quintessentially French activities I did imagine experiencing with my family:
- walking along leafy paths in the chilled winter air rugged up with boots and beanies
- shopping for fresh produce in open air local village markets toting my wicker basket
- preparing warm aromatic family meals with fresh market produce in my own French kitchen
- walking or cycling country lanes and canal pathways amongst spring blossoms and autumn folliage
- touring and exploring regional France
- visiting Paris and other major French cities
Do any of these pastimes and activities appeal to you? What is your favourite place in France that you would love to spend more time at?
Some of the first books I read about others relocating or moving to France were:
- Au Revoir by Mary Moody
- The Accidental Renovator: A Paris Story by Barbara Biggs
- French Essence by Vicky Archer
- At My French Table by Jane Webster
Read why I found these books to be a helpful, instructional and an inspiring resource in the Mini Review of My 4 Inspirational Books.
After reading the above books and watching British TV shows I reasoned that if these people could do it, surely I could. What would stop me? Well, stacks of things could stop me in reality but I decided to continue with my investigations anyway. I figured that I could work through any obstacles step by step if, and when, the time came.
Making a start So the first real thing I did after all this was to take a Beginners French Travel course. I choose a TAFE WEA 10 week course to get started. Well, even getting to the class took a fair bit of organising. At the time I had a 3 year old, an 8 year old, a 10 year old and a husband who worked predominately overseas. Finding the time to physically get into town for the lessons with all children safely taken care of was a commitment in itself.
Together with taking the WEA Beginners French Travel course Travellers French class and continuing to read autobiographies I started talking to my husband about my dream. It sounds trivial but taking that first step to verbalise what I had been thinking was a move forward. Another leap for me was verbalising to strangers what I planned to do. I never forget when the TAFE teacher asked us to introduce ourselves and share with the class why we were attending the class and what we really wanted to learn; I said I really wanted to learn the names of items found in hardware stores for renovating and gardening because I was planning to buy a house in France! The overwhelming display of quizzical unbelief and sceptisim was really something else.
A joint decision What if my husband had no interest at all? I needed him on board as financially I definately couldn’t manage without his input and I wanted this to be a holiday home that we all enjoyed as a family and were happy to commit to. My husband was against the idea of purchasing in France and suggested the United Kingdom as he had spent a lot of time travelling and touring there for business and loved it. This was not the outcome I wanted but figured that the south east coast of England would be much closer to France for short trips than Australia. More on the English French conflict in the next instalment!
Keeping a secret At this early stage while I was bubbling with growing excitement and determination I kept my dreams close to my chest. I had to keep my thoughts a secret as I couldn’t risk my excitement and enthusiasm being pierced by well meaning family and friends. You know the ones that want to protect you from financial disaster, extended hard physical work, sacrifices they consider unnecessary, and the fear of the unknown. Yep, they are well meaning but not want you need at this stage.
Reflection At this time I also reflected upon our current way of life and thought deeply on how much I was prepared to sacrifice or change to make my dream a reality. What sacrifices or changes would I need to make? Would I be prepared to work more hours to assist financially and how would this affect our family? Could we postpone the renovation of our family home to free up resources for our overseas project? Would the French property need to be run as a holiday home business to pay its way? You will have your own thoughts on what you might need to do.
The time between first imaging our family in France, forming a plan, executing the many necessary steps, and then eventually putting the key in the front door, as the new owners, was a long process (and a much longer one than first anticipated) but on reflection, a very pleasurable time.
So if you are at this initial stage – take hope that if I did it, you can too! You can work through it also and I believe in your ability to make it come true. Enjoy all the stages of your journey, especially this initial dreamy planning stage. Savour the excitement and hope!
Our next episodes in this series have also now been posted entitled My Story #2: Location, Location, Location and My Story #3: Living in Rural France and our website and story has been featured in the leading UK magazine French Property News.
Hopefully this inspires you to follow your dream… Annette xx
This post My Story #1 first appeared on afrenchcollection and linked with #IBOT by Essentially Jess and #TPThursday by Budget Travelers Sandbox , #WeekendWanderlust by JustinPlusLauren and OuiInFrance for the #AllAboutFrance link up. Check out the wonderful selection of blogs in this French inspired link up.
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