Maybe Just a Few More Months…

January 6, 2012

Have I told you our plans? For the last several months, we have been thinking about what’s next for our family. After approximately 1 million discussions, we decided that if possible, we’d really like to extend our time here through the school year. The kids’ French is rapidly improving, and we’d love to give them another 6 months to work on it. Plus, we’re toying with the idea of buying and restoring a tiny cottage here in the countryside. So instead of returning to the U.S. on February 1st, which was our original plan, we’re making plans to return on July 1st.

In fact, this morning, Ben Blair is at the local government office where they handle visas. We currently have visitor visas that allow us to remain in France for 1-year. They expire at the end of this month. So we are in the process of trying to extend them. Extending them basically mean reapplying — a process very similar to the original application, minus the trip to Los Angeles.

We’re really excited about the revised plan. At some point, we realized just how much prep was required to get our stuff into storage, pack our bags, find a place to stay, register the kids for school and move here. I suppose it makes sense to extend our stay, and make the most of all that prep work. I remember many readers guessing we would feel that way — that 1 year wasn’t enough. And they were right! (Design Mom Readers always know best. : )

Wish us luck on the reapplication! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how it all goes.

P.S. — I’m in love with this adorable new site called Lately Lily. It will make you want to discover new places with your kids!

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sani January 6, 2012 at 5:19 am

Good luck with that visa extension! :)


2 Mo January 6, 2012 at 5:39 am

Gosh, that Lately, Lily site is amazing!!! So cute and really, it makes you wanna go.
Good luck with staying in France for a while longer. I’m eager to see your next family adventure, but I’ll give you another half year. ;)


3 Design Mom January 6, 2012 at 6:07 am

I think so too! Did you explore her sunny yellow suitcase. So cute!


4 susan January 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

I for one am glad you are staying. My reason is so selfish. I just love reading about your adventures in France and your trips to other surrounding countries. I hope all goes well with the visa extension.


5 Design Mom January 6, 2012 at 6:08 am

Thanks, Susan! We are hoping to fit in a couple more family trips while we’re here…


6 cupcakes for clara January 6, 2012 at 5:48 am

Good luck with your application, I really hope it goes well. You are all so amazing and brave. I can’t believe you’ve been there for so long already!


7 Neda January 6, 2012 at 6:10 am

Yay! I understand completely where you are coming from. We were only supposed to live in England for 1 year as well, but we ended up extending for longer as well. It’s too great of an opportunity to pass up. I also vote for you buying a cottage in France and fixing it up. You know, if my vote counts as part of your family decisions :-)


8 Nancy January 6, 2012 at 6:44 am

Bravo pour le français!!!!


9 se7en January 6, 2012 at 6:51 am

Oh hearts of joy!!! Thrilled you are staying on – so enjoying your trip!!! And my word … I just love Latley LILY!!! Everything is just so darling!!! Everything … clicking and dashing about as I type!!! Hope you all have a fun weekend!!!


10 Linda Kerr January 6, 2012 at 6:59 am

Yep, not surprised. So glad to hear you’re staying as I also love reading about your adventures!


11 Jennelle January 6, 2012 at 7:00 am

Good to hear that things are going well, and that you all will stay a little longer!

AND good luck with that Visa extension :)


12 The New Diplomats Wife January 6, 2012 at 7:14 am

i KNEW it! no one ever wants to leave france! :) congrats on the decision you’re going to love the remaining time and when it does come time to leave, you’ll do so with a light heart knowing you got all you could out of the experience!


13 Fiona January 6, 2012 at 7:16 am

I’ve lived on four continents in the last ten years and I always think you need to start with committing to two years, one to make a first impression and then one to confirm or change that opinion, after that you can make a decision.


14 Kristina January 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

Good luck! I’ve always felt that 2 years was about right to live in a place. I’d like to travel the world living in a place for 2 years at a time.


15 Giulia January 6, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hope all goes well. I think it’s great your staying a little longer, the first few months you guys were probably so getting used to things that you need this extra time to actually ‘live’ – plus taking kids out of school during the school year is probably not that easy on them? You’ll be missing your sister though – right?


16 The BabbyMama January 6, 2012 at 7:23 am

Wishing you all the best with the reapplication! I’m terribly jealous. I want to move to Berlin, but I don’t know if my husband could hack it with little to no German.


17 Joy January 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

It’s amazing how quickly a person learns to function in a second language. Plus, many Germans speak English. Go for it!! ;)


18 Lola G. January 6, 2012 at 7:34 am

How exciting! I’m assuming that you would stay in your present location during the additional time?……

Perhaps we’ll see another episode of House Hunters International featuring the Blair family search for the perfect cottage?….

Whatever the journey involves, I look forward to reading about it here, and I’m wishing you and yours all the very best in what is shaping up to be another fascinating year!


19 Amy3 January 6, 2012 at 7:35 am

Yay! I think that makes so much sense. I had wondered about the logistics of moving in the middle of another school year – and why leave France so soon?

Best of luck with the reapplication and enjoy your extended stay! So excited to hear about your cottage renovation plans. :)


20 Chi @ Carousel January 6, 2012 at 7:36 am

I’m glad (for you and your wonderful family) that there is a chance for you to continue on this adventure of a lifetime, Gabrielle – good luck!!! :D


21 Miet January 6, 2012 at 7:45 am

Good luck with the application!


22 Missy W January 6, 2012 at 7:53 am

Hope the visa is smooth sailing. I was just thinking the other day that I really didn’t want your adventure to be over!


23 elz January 6, 2012 at 8:14 am

I wondered how you would ever be able to leave. I hope the extension process goes smoothly. Best of luck.


24 Rebecca Grace January 6, 2012 at 8:17 am

Bonne chance, Gabrielle!


25 everton terrace January 6, 2012 at 8:36 am

I’m so excited “we” might get to stay!
It is fun living through the Blair family adventure :)
Keeping fingers crossed.


26 Rosa January 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

I am so excited for you . . . and for me; I get to read more of the Blair family adventures.

Wishing you much luck in the reapplication!


27 Jan @ Family Bites January 6, 2012 at 8:58 am

This is great news! I’m so excited that you’re staying AND thinking of buying some property there…..


28 Amanda January 6, 2012 at 8:59 am

That’s crazy that you’ve almost been there for a year! I first started reading your blog when you were making preparations. Time sure does fly! Good luck!


29 amy rhodes January 6, 2012 at 9:02 am

So happy for your family. I can only imagine how hard it would be to leave a beautiful place like that!


30 Amy January 6, 2012 at 9:13 am

I didn’t think you would pull the kids out of school mid-year. Enjoy the balance of your time there.


31 Shelley January 6, 2012 at 9:25 am

Well of course you want to stay! Best of luck in the process.


32 erica January 6, 2012 at 9:49 am

LOVE the lately, lily site. so adorable. and the illustrations are GORGEOUS. thanks for sharing.


33 alisa January 6, 2012 at 9:57 am

Bonne Chance with the re-application. I have heard mixed stories from people, some got them some didn’t. But very happy you’ll be staying until July, at least.


34 Jennifer F January 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

So great to read about your French experiences…great to want to stay longer…we had the same conversations when we came over…1 year or 2?? It’s still our discussion…but like you, my families adjustment is going well – so it would be nice to be here a bit longer…Best of luck to you with the VISA process..very stressful at best!


35 Molly January 6, 2012 at 10:02 am

Oh how fun. Your experiences especially with a large family encourage my gypsy soul that maybe one day we can be adventurers!


36 JenG January 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

All the best with your reapplication! I love reading the posts about French life, cluture, and food! By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask-what kind of foods do kids eat after school or for snacks or are snacks not really a part of the eating habits? Just curious….Thanks for your time. Jen in BC, Canada


37 Laura January 6, 2012 at 10:27 am

Good luck with the reapplication process! I’m so happy to hear that we’ll be reading more tales from France. :)


38 Barchbo January 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

I am so glad you are staying because I love reading about your adventures! Plus, it helps me to vicariously enjoy having a family of 8!


39 leslie w. January 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

well of course you have to stay longer. it doesn’t seem possible that you’ve been there almost a year — it has flown by! (at least for me!) :)


40 dunski January 6, 2012 at 11:54 am

So Happy to read the Plans! I hope it will work with the visas.


41 Erin N. January 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

So excited to hear your planning on staying in France for a bit longer… I love following your adventures! Good luck with your visas!

A big thank you for featuring our website on your blog! We love that you love it!


42 Rachel January 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Good luck! Do not leave until your family visits Austria…the most picturesque country in the world. The Sound of Music doesn’t do it justice and the pastries are divine.


43 Carina January 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I couldn’t agree more! Austria is so wonderful.


44 Traveling Mama January 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

My husband is very familiar with the visa application office as well. I hope you get your extension! I know it can be a total pain to deal with the visa application process, though Denmark is a breeze after what we went through in Morocco! In the end, though, it is always worth it! Hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend!


45 Franca Bollo January 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Oh, I’m selfish, too! I love reading about the American family of eight living in France. Such a great story. Why just until the end of the school year? Why not longer? Both of your incomes come from outside of France so you’re not taking anyone’s job, right? And I’m sure they’ll allow you to pay taxes


46 denise (guymon) hoogland January 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Hey Gabi, I was on facebook and my friend Micah who is the creator of Lately Lily was saying he made your site. It is such a small world. Micah is extremely talented as you can see. He used to work for us as our graphic designer at our scrapbooking company. Anyway just thought I would share that. Your site is AMAZING by the way! Just wanted to say HI!!


47 Kelleyn January 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I thought that was what you were going to do since you didn’t seem to mention any plans of packing to go home. Did you sister and husbands applications get extended. I know they wanted to stay longer too. I hope it all works out!


48 vermontmommy January 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I love that you are staying. It is hard to move children in the middle of the school year.

I just found your blog via SouleMama a month or so ago and I just love your blog. I try to limit myself to 3 blogs so you in my top three. :) If not I just spend too much time on the computer.

What a lovely family you have and what adventures you have been on. LOVE IT! :)


49 Christy January 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Good luck with your visa extension! I love reading about your adventures. We were supposed to stay in England for one year and ending up living there for four. I would love to move to France for awhile!


50 Souris January 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

It’s a joy to see fellow Americans enjoying their lives abroad. Your family “wears” France well and are a great example for those nervous to follow… THANKS for the international posts; I’m stoked they’ll be continuing (all fingers crossed on the Visa process)!


51 Joy January 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Good luck with the application, and enjoy the rest of your time there!


52 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay January 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

All the best on the reapplication.

It is odd to mark time with someone else’s life. How can it already be a year?

You have made me realize that it could be possible for my family to have such an adventure. Thank you for the constant inspiration. I have wished I could be a fly on the wall. Every post brings me that opportunity. Thanks.

You’ll land just where you need to be!


53 Sara January 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm

It is SO great that you are extending your stay! It makes a lot of sense to finish out the school year and give yourselves time over the summer to move back and take care of all of the logistical details involved…plus, more time for European adventures!

Good luck with the visa extension applications; hope all goes smoothly and quickly!


54 Emily January 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Good Luck with the visas! I do hope you get to stay. It’s such a marvelous thing you’ve done…why cut it short! But of course I would say so, I took a one month vacation to Greece nine months ago and I’m still here :)

Bon Chance!


55 sara January 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm

YAY! SO glad that you are staying – what an incredible experience for your family. And for all of us to live vicariously through you!


56 Tan January 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Good luck!!!!!!! 1 year is definitely not enough! I remember hating leaving Japan after 1 year as I just felt like I got the hang of it all. Alas working holiday visas don’t allow extensions :/
Since you’re on a visitor visa it may be the case that you can stay even while the application is being processed, which can take months. At least that’s the case here in Canada


57 Sandra January 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I lived in southern Africa for two years and kick myself for not staying longer. Life’s short so another 6 months or a year is nothing. Don’t be in a hurry to return! And don’t be surprised if the adjustment to home is more of a challenge than the adjustment to France!


58 Heidi January 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I second Sandra’s thoughts in the previous comment. I lived for 5 years in Austria, and that still wasn’t enough. And, the adjustment coming back home is difficult. At least for me it was. Hopefully yours is less so.


59 RebeccaNYC January 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I cannot imagine why you would not stay in France if it is possible…forever. If I had the opportunity, I would up and out in a heartbeat. My husband and I talk about this all the time. Unfortunately my job is rather specified and located here in NYC. Once I retire, though…we are so out of here, and over there! We do enjoy our summers in France in the meantime, and it is so hard to leave.


60 Angel January 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm

It makes the most sense to stay for the entire school year for the kids. Good luck with the reapplication.


61 Emily {Rue de France} January 7, 2012 at 3:09 am

Yippee! {Ou bien, comme disent les français… “youpi”!!!} I’m thrilled to hear that you are staying for a while longer. I think it’s a fantastic idea. I’ve lived in quite a few different countries & I agree 100% with some of your readers’ comments above. One year is what it takes to get settled when you live abroad. To feel comfortable. To wake up in the morning & feel at home. To go to the supermarket & actually be able to find what you’re looking for! So if you stay another half-a-year, it will really allow you to take advantage of this time in France. And it will allow me to continue enjoying your blog & your adventures which are taking place {more-or-less} down the road. Je suis trop contente !!

So… bon week-end, bon courage pour l’extension des visas {although there are many many many things I love about living in France, the bureaucracy is definitely NOT on that list, as you know!} & gros bisous d’Annecy !


62 Kristin January 7, 2012 at 9:29 am

A perfect decision! Hopefully the visa department will agree.


63 Small Houses January 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

Well if you do >> “we’re toying with the idea of buying and restoring a tiny cottage here in the countryside. ” I for one can’t wait to see it. Even the word ‘cottage’ evokes fun!

What an opportunity for the kids living in France!

dee :)


64 Anneliese January 7, 2012 at 10:19 pm

So happy to hear you are extending! I have so enjoyed the vicarious experience!


65 Kendra Fletcher January 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Oh, how exciting! Super great for you, and I’ve so enjoyed following you all this past year.



66 Lotte January 8, 2012 at 4:27 am

How nice for you Gabrielle! And what a great opportunity for the kids as well. Getting to spend another gorgeous Spring in the countryside while you are adjusted to life in France (and in French LOL) must be nice, too. Hope you enjoy your extended experience!


67 Danielle January 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Good luck with the visas! Like so many other readers, I’ve really enjoyed the vicarious experience – and regularly suggest to my husband that we try it someday, preferably soon!


68 Amy January 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Extend, extend, extend!!! I think it’s a fabulous decision! In fact, I think you should go for another year. How often do you get to live in another country? And besides, we all need to live vicariously through you!!


69 All Unwound January 10, 2012 at 7:55 am

Extending your stay is a wonderful idea. Going overseas is a bit like going out to play in the snow. All the prep work of getting little one’s fingers and toes covered can take longer than the time spent playing in the snow. That’s always a bit of a disappointment.

So make the prep work pay off and stay longer!!


70 MeGo January 10, 2012 at 9:29 am

So glad you are doing this! I wanted to suggest you do so ages ago but I didn’t want to be a yenta. :) I’m also not ready for your adventure to end!


71 Elisabeth Bergoo January 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I so enjoy reading your pieces, and I get dreamy seeing the pictures of La Cressonnière. I have spent a little time in France where my best friend has a “La Colline”, not as big of a house as yours but so similar in feel and beauty. Good Luck with that extended visa, you should totally stay on till next summer.


72 pinoyofw January 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm

good luck with your application. enjoy every single day of your time there. this is great for you.


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