The 2nd Six Months in France

July 20, 2013


Images and text by Gabrielle (except the last one).

Here’s the second post in my mini-series about our adventures in France. (You can find the first one here.) The second half of our first year in France included a lot more local exploration, and visits to Spain, Belgium and Germany as well. I should note, at the time, we thought we would only be spending one year total in France, so there was definitely a now-or-never feeling to our plans. Take a peek:


We visited the Army Ranger WWII Memorial at Pointe du Hoc. It’s the most impactful war site I’ve ever visited.


We adopted French-made espadrilles into our wardrobe. Took a summer hike in the Swiss-Normande region of France. Ooohed and aahed over the fields of sunflowers. And shared our take on topless beaches in France.

(June took her first steps! And I talked about work-life balance.)


We shared Oscar & Betty’s bedroom. And some photos of the gardens at La Cressonnière in summer.

We made more visits to Mont St. Michel — this time we walked around the beaches surrounding the mont.

We discovered the public drinking fountains in Paris. Gathered wild blackberries near our home. And made hollyhock dolls.

We took a cooking class taught by Susan Loomis in Louviers, France. We went to a local amusement park (called Festyland) for Olive’s birthday.


And we took the kids to the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.


We featured our annual What to Wear to School posts — Euro Edition. See Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, and Betty. Plus, school supplies in France. And a few months into the new school year, we made another school report.


We visited Monet’s Gardens at Giverny.

Ben and I went to Florence, Italy (sans kids!) — here’s the trip report. And we also stopped by Pisa where we were wowed by the Leaning Tower.


As soon as we arrived home from Italy, we loaded up the kids for an epic road trip to Barcelona. This trip included a visit to 15,000 year old Cave Paintings, a night in the medieval city of Carcassonne (which I never even wrote about). And a visit to Sagrada Familia, easily my favorite cathedral ever. Here’s a full post about our Barcelona road trip.

We gathered walnuts from our backyard. And the kids watched a calf being born in our neighbor’s field. We harvested pears from our yard. Enjoyed the orchard across the street. Examined other local berries. (And Ben Blair grew a beard!)

We had our first Thanksgiving in France, including an adventure with a turkey. And we bought a painting from a favorite local artist.

We visited Paris to see the Christmas Shops on the Champs Élysées. Decorated with fresh holly from our yard, and French Industrial ornaments found in the barn. (More ornaments here.) Oh, and we had our best Nativity program yet.

We had a memorable Vintage Car photo shoot — more pictures from that shoot here. And we eventually ended up buying the car!

During the holiday break, we took a Waffle Tour through Belgium.

After the waffle tour, we spent time in Cologne, Germany.

This was big: We decided to extend our stay in France by six months! (The original plan was one year.) And we enjoyed a King Cake celebration with neighbors.

I shared French pharmacy picks. and talked a little about French Parenting.

And the last big event during our first full year in France? I went to Alt Summit in Salt Lake City. Here’s a full report.

And there it is. Post number two of five in this mini-series. It’s been so fun for me to go through my archives and relive these adventures! I hope you’re enjoying it too.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 R. S. Markel July 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm

What a beautiful adventure! I am sure you will always treasure your time in France.


2 Sandy July 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Is the car back in Oakland now too?


3 Design Mom July 22, 2013 at 8:03 am

The car! We miss it already. We left it with a Dutch friend that lives nearby our cottage. He’s going to maintain it, with a pinky promise we can use it for Sunday drives when we visit France.

The funny thing is, because Renault is over 25 years old, it can legally be imported to the U.S.. But our VW Transporter, which we really wanted to bring back, we can’t. It’s too new and it’s against the law to import it.


4 Kate July 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Wow, I must have missed it the first time around but thank you! for standing up against the argument that women are responsible for men’s thoughts. I can’t think of another commandment the Mormon culture allows you to blame your actions on others.


5 Design Mom July 22, 2013 at 8:04 am

That was an intense discussion! I’m glad you were able to read through the comments.


6 This girl loves to talk July 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

did you park the car at the cottage for use when you visit :)


7 Design Mom July 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

Sort of. It’s with a friend who lives nearby the cottage.


8 lisa thomson July 21, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Wow, how beautiful! Thanks for sharing all these adventures. I will be checking out all of these links you’ve shared as well. Sounds like a dream come true.


9 Zodiac R0409900 Retaining Ring Replacement Kit for Zodiac Jandy CJ Series Cartridge Filter July 22, 2014 at 5:38 am

Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you really realize what you are talking about!
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