It’s Happening – We’re Moving to France!
My French husband, Olivier, and I have been wanting to move to France for some years and the time has finally arrived! The restaurant lease is done and we’ve closed the doors. After 19 years of running our beloved neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco, my husband and I are sad to close, but we’re excited to spend more time with our family and friends and finally enjoy life together. It’s safe to say that Olivier has been the one to work extremely long hours and has been the face of the restaurant. While I had my own job at a cultural exchange company for 16 years before the pandemic hit, I also did all the menu updates, assisted with party planning, organized communications with customers, etc. We have had really lovely, loyal customers and now it’s our time to relax and travel.
Things are moving forward! I received my new long-term residency visa, which allows Americans to stay in France for longer than three months. This is a major step in our journey to France, and the fact that I actually have the visa somehow makes this process more real. It feels like the most amazing thing that I’ve ever seen in my passport!
My days have been filled with the task of sifting through a lifetime’s worth of belongings. There are CDs, DVDs (we mostly stream music and movies now but maybe I’ll keep a few?), books, artwork, and random useful items like a collection of school supplies belonging to our daughter. We don’t need this overload of items, and I don’t have trouble letting go of most of it. However, I dread the tedium of selling and giving away everything. As an artist, I have years of art, art supplies, and art books that I won’t be letting go of. As the family genealogist, I also have boxes and photo albums with old documents and research that will stay with me. Oh well, so much for being Zen.
I’ve been spending time with my friends and visiting places that I won’t see again for a long while. I met a good friend of mine in the small town of San Anselmo, Marin County, California. Lavender, African irises, and jasmine were blooming everywhere and I can swear that the air of the entire town was filled with the scent of jasmine. I thought it was just delicious and such a beautiful way to have one of my last memories of the town before leaving for France.
Moving to a new country with a teenage daughter and two cats is no small feat. We’ve been doing a lot of planning to make sure everything goes smoothly. We’ve already settled on a local public school that looks like a good fit for our daughter, and we were even able to order her school supplies online through the school’s parent association. She’ll be going in for orientation a few days before the first day of school. She has French American dual citizenship and she spent most of her life going to a French school in San Francisco, so the environment shouldn’t be too foreign. Still, it will be true total immersion in French, as many of the students in San Francisco still socialize in English, and that will certainly not be the case in France.
There is still more planning to do before we can bring our two cats to France. We’ve already started the process of getting their travel health certificates, and they’ll have one more checkup at the vet before we leave. Airline rules stipulate that the total weight of the cats and their carrier must not exceed 8 kg (17.6 lbs). I’m crossing my fingers that they can travel in the cabin with us. I sent a self-addressed FedEx overnight PDF label to my vet which will be sent to the USDA after the cats’ checkup. I’ve been told that we might even receive the certificates the day that we leave for France, so it’s best to pay for the overnight shipment. It’s a bit stressful but I’m staying positive.
We’ll be landing in Lyon and living about an hour south, in the department of Ardèche. Once we settle in, I’ll be giving updates on the positive sides and the challenges of living in France, and of course, I’ll be sure to take a lot of inspiring photos to share with all of you!