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The Big Move

Closing a restaurant, selling our belongings, and giving them away; packing and cleaning up the house for renters was an exhausting experience. I worried for months about how the cats, Toby and Summer, would travel, hoping that they wouldn’t be relegated to stay in cargo while we sat in the cabin of the plane. In fact, they were able to stay in their soft carriers and sit under the seats with us.

We had a 55-minute layer in Munich and we had to walk across to another terminal with our carry-ons, plus the cats, and then walk down several flights of stairs to take a hot shuttle ride to the airplane. The engines were so loud – poor kitties – and then we had to walk with everything up the stairs of the plane. Good lord. They were so good on that plane, too. The topper was when we arrived in Lyon and found that all six pieces of our luggage were still in Munich!

Our luggage was delivered to Olivier’s mom’s house the following day.

Luckily, our nephew was there to pick us up. It was so, so hot and the poor kitties were miserable. They just stayed out of their carriers and sat on our laps in the car. We were a bit worried about them but they perked up when we arrived at Olivier’s mom’s house. There is so much outdoor space (enclosed) and they love it! They are having the time of their lives. The climate is different for them but they are really happy.

The first week after arriving in France was mostly spent going to the pet supply store to get a litter box, cat food, etc., and getting some sleepwear the first night since we were sweaty and gross and had nothing to sleep in. 

Olivier and I went to the outdoor market in his town on the first day and it just felt good to stroll around together and do something pleasant.

In search of le fromage du chèvre frais (soft goat cheese) at the farmer’s market.

We even picked some gorgeous purple plums that were different than the yellow or red ones that I grew up with in Marin County, California.

On another day, we had a barbeque at Olivier’s sister’s house and we all went to Lac Lavalette in the Haute-Loire department (like a county). Lots of people were out enjoying the water. Thin, fat, short, tall, dark, fair – don’t worry about how you look. You’ll fit in just fine.

We went to get water from the spring located on the private property of Olivier’s mother’s late partner. He dug about 1 km, about 30 cm down (1 ft) from up the hill. He basically piped the water down from an underground spring that he found by using dowsing rods.

Dowsing: fact or fantasy? Either way, it worked and now we benefit from fresh, delicious spring water during a drought.

We landed in France on 16 August. Eight days later on 24 August, we got our new cell phone numbers, found new tenants for our San Francisco home, and signed a lease for a house here in France – all in one day! (Next up: a car and health insurance.) We will move into our temporary abode in the Ardèche department on 4 September. It’s in the countryside and while not our ideal location, the rental market is very competitive and the house itself is quite beautiful inside. We’re looking forward to having our own grown-up space! 

After a fairly steady dose of a smattering of sunshine and a whole lot of fog in San Francisco, we’ve been experiencing Weather with a capital W in France. I love it. Nearly 10 days of excruciating heat isn’t my first choice but being able to actually wear light summer clothing is very novel indeed and the final break in the heat was spectacular, ending with a massive rain and hail storm. 

It’s been a whirlwind of a few months (years, actually), but we’re finally starting to feel things are coming together. We’re excited and relieved to start this new chapter in our lives, and I can’t wait to share adventures in France with you.