Before we moved to France Andrew worked Monday to Friday and I looked after Reuben and Jacob at home. Any parent knows that parenting can be challenging and it is so much easier when there are two of you around to deal with arising situations. In moving to France we are spending far more time together as a family. Andrew and I are still working out our work/life balance as we both work from home and juggle looking after Jacob whilst Reuben is at school, but we are working on quality time with the kids as we plan more activities together.
After life in London we were worried that village life after a while might become a bit too quiet. But life in Parisot has suprised us as there is always something going on. This Friday the café plays host to the monthly jam session set up by the village guitar maker and Reuben's school teacher who believe it or not is in a Pirate band! Thursday nights I sing in the Salle de Fêtes in the village choir (our first concert of the year is in a couple of weeks!) and I'm tempted to join the Zumba classes on a Tuesday evening. We had a Chinese feast with friends and neighbours to bring in the Chinese New Year and we're planning our next themed night...Mexican maybe?! We may have struck lucky with the village we have moved to but the village library is full of posters with events, workshops and associations that we can all get involved in, and everything we do helps us integrate more into the community.
One of the big pulls for moving to France was so that Reuben and Jacob could grow up bilingual. When Reuben plays with other French children we hear what he has learnt in just 6 months, and even Jacob says 'merci' and 'au revoir' to us and people he meets. Andrew and I have French friends as well as English and although we're not picking up the language as quickly as the boys, we love the challenge of conversing in another language.
We were always lovers of French food before moving to France. There is so much food that we can't get here that used to be on hand in London supermarkets so we're slowly changing the way we eat and think about food. We have some great markets on our doorstep where we can buy fresh fruit and veg, and cheese is always on our shopping list! French supermarkets are very seasonal in their produce and so we adapt our recipes and look forward to adding more French recipes alongside our English ones.
We were very lucky when we arrived in France as we were invited to one Summer BBQ that opened the door to a whole new group of friends. We have since got ourselves involved in activities that have led to more new friendships and of course having kids helps. Here in France we seem to have more time for our friends and we've been to more parties and coffee mornings/afternoons in the past 6 months than we ever have done since having children. Admittidly most of our new friends are English but we also have a few French friends who are keen to help us in our new adventure (and don't mind our bad French!)
There is of course more we love about our expat life...the outdoor life, the warmer weather, our new businesses, and the chance to explore a beautiful country...but these are our top 5!
Are you an expat? What do you love about your expat life?
(Learning French picture taken from here)