Monday, January 14, 2013

Our nouvelle vie in France

Despite the fact that in my recent post, about all the things I have been missing about France, the majority of the points I brought up were Paris-centric, we are NOT moving back to Paris.  We are staying far away from Ile de France, in fact.  We remember perfectly well how unhappy we were living in Paris, and before deciding to move to the US, we were already talking about leaving Paris to go elsewhere in France, and we were making plans to that effect.

Now that we are going back to France, we know that no matter how many things there are that we may miss about Paris, we definitely don’t want to move back there now.  I’d be very happy to visit, and we certainly will take trips to Paris from time to time to visit good friends and old haunts, but we are not willing to move back there at this time.

So, we are giving another part of France a chance and moving to the Bordeaux area.  We chose Bordeaux primarily for practical reason…Lionel was born in the area, a lot of his extended family lives there, my in-laws live only about 45 minutes away along the Atlantic coast, and most importantly, we have the opportunity to take over Lionel’s grandparents’ house.  I didn’t mention this at the time, but right before I started my job, Lionel’s grandfather unfortunately passed.  It wasn’t a surprise or anything; his health had been drastically declining for about a year.  It was still very hard for Lionel, especially since he was unable to go back for the funeral.  Anyway, the house passed on to the family and while everyone would like it to stay in the family, no one actually wants to live there, and my in-laws are the only ones who care to do any of the upkeep.  So, Lionel and I have found ourselves with the chance to take over the house, which is what we plan to do.  Hence our decision to move to Bordeaux.

While we are very lucky to have a house lined up (albeit an older house that is going to need some work and remodeling), we are still a little concerned about the move to Bordeaux.  We don’t know the city at all.  Though Lionel was born in the area, he didn’t spend much time there at all because of his dad’s job.  And even though a lot of his family lives in the area, none of them actually live in the city.  They are out in the countryside near Bordeaux.  So when we would visit them we didn’t really see the city.  In fact, I have only been in the city center once, for a few hours one afternoon.  But on the bright side, we will get to have the opportunity to explore and discover the city together!

Also, other than Lionel’s family, we don’t know very many people there.  But we are very lucky to have one of Lionel’s closest friends who moved to Bordeaux from Paris shortly after we moved to the US.  So at least we know him, his wife and their two children.  Plus Lionel’s family, who I do genuinely like.  But it will be starting all over again, trying to meet new people and make friends. 

But our single biggest concern is definitely the job search.  Bordeaux is not Paris, and I know there won’t be as many job opportunities.  And that scares us both because we would both like to be able to find decent jobs, and we don’t want to spend months searching.  And I’m doubly terrified because looking for a job in France has always scared me, and this is even worse because there will be less available jobs to choose from.  I’m just hoping that with all of Lionel’s family in the area, they might have some leads for us too.  I know I won’t be able to be picky, especially in the beginning, but it would be nice to find something I like from the beginning.  Though realistically, I know I’m going to have to keep English teaching on the table because we will need at least one of us to be working as quickly as possible.

However, despite our concerns, we are overall looking forward to the move.  We are excited to explore and discover the Bordeaux area, to be closer to family and to settle in to Lionel’s grandparents’ house.  We are looking forward to having our own house, rather than an apartment, though I’m a little intimidated by the size of the yard.  And we are excited to start fresh and new in a place where neither one of us has really previously lived (because I don’t count the first 3 years of Lionel’s life as having really lived there).  At the moment I’m feeling pretty positive about the move, and, though I know there will be challenges along the way, I’m hoping it will overall go smoothly.


  1. I go to Bordeaux a couple times a year because I have customers in the region, and it's an area I really like. There is also a pretty active "Americans in Bordeaux" group there, as well as an APP (American Presence Post).

    Maybe you could find work with one of the big wine houses in the area? I have an American friend in Bordeaux who works for one...and another (Scottish) friend who is an interpreter.

  2. I'm a new blogger based (sort of) in Bordeaux. It's nice to see more expats moving here as it seems like there are very few expat blogs for Bordeaux. I just did a new post (with you in mind) about my pros and cons about Bordeaux.

    Good luck!

  3. Hi Michele, I found you blog awhile ago from Crystal's blog (which funny enough I found through Ksam's blog)

    I hope everything goes smoothly with the move and it doesn't take too long for you to find a good job. I look forward to updates about the transition and the house renovation.

  4. Bordeaux sounds like a good idea! I think a fresh start could be just what you need in France. It's a large city, so you should be able to find something, and having the house at the beginning is definitely a big plus. I'm sure you'll meet lots of other ex-pats, and you know your blogging friends are always here too :)

    P.S. I've never properly visited Bordeaux, so I might swing by to visit you one day!

  5. Ksam - The Bordeaux area is really nice and I've liked everything I've seen. Plus I think it will be a nice change of pace for Lionel and I. I'm very worried about the work situation, especially after years of jobs I haven't particularly been thrilled about. I would love to work for a big wine house and I'll definitely be looking for something like that, among other things.

    Den Nation - Thanks for visiting my blog! I just stopped by yours to check out the pros and cons of Bordeaux and I'll definitely be following along!

    Wonky73 - Thanks for the support! There will definitely be more posts coming about the move and once we get there about the transition, the Bordeaux area, the house renovations (once we finally get to start...long story) and the job search.

    Crystal - No matter how worried I might be, I'm definitely excited for a fresh start for both Lionel and I in a new city. It should, at the very least, be a very interesting adventure! And you will definitely have to come to Bordeaux and visit, especially since we will have a 3 bedroom house. Plenty of room for guests!

  6. Hi Michele, I'm another American in France with a French husband, in Lille, and I came across your blog via Amber. My family has been struggling with the decision about whether to stay in France or go to the US, so I was interested in seeing how things went for you in your return to the US. (We're leaning toward staying in France... we love vacation!) I think you're very brave to decide it was the wrong thing and to return! Bon courage to you, I hope it all goes well! -Jennifer in Lille

  7. Jennifer - Thanks for the encouragement. I know how big of a decision it is to stay in France or move to the US. Sometimes I regret our decision to come to the US, but then I try to stay positive and remember that at least now we know and that luckily we are in a position to be able to go back to France without too much difficulty. Though most of the time I don't feel very brave, just cowardly and like a failure, but I'm trying to move past that. Good luck to you with your decision!

  8. I'm not familiar with Bordeaux (I was hoping for another American in Picardie, I seem to be the only one!), but having a house lined up is a huge plus! Best of luck with your move, and with the job hunt. I believe all jobs are required to be posted at the ANPE so be sure to check their website.