The First Six Months

July 15, 2013


Images and text by Gabrielle.

I know. I know. I need to stop talking about moving. But I can’t help it! It’s taking up every square inch of my brain at the moment. Over the last few weeks, I’ve occasionally felt a pang of regret at some small thing we haven’t done during our time in France. And finally, I had to stop and remind myself that we absolutely jumped in with both feet and have taken advantage of every possible opportunity. No regrets!

I thought it would be fun to write up a mini-series of posts covering some of the adventures we’ve had since we moved here. It’s been a nice round 2 1/2 years, I’m going to break it into 5 posts covering 6 months each. I hope you enjoy the mini-series. And thanks for indulging my trip down memory lane!

la cressonniere hallway

We flew to France on February 1st, 2011. And started to get to know the house, La Cressonnière — we introduced the tree house, we shared the halfbath (I still find it so charming!), we shared Olive’s bedroom, too. But it actually turned out to be Ralph’s room, when he suddenly outgrew the bed in his first room! We talked about the floors, and showed off the gorgeous kitchen. We also learned more about the artists that worked in the studio here at La Cressonnière.

french ceramic yogurt container

We started to explore our community — we learned to shop for food in France, and discovered our first French licorice. We gave our initial French school report, we met our neighbors, and started discovering French clothing stores for kids. Oh. And we discovered the yogurt aisle!

chateau carrouges

We found a castle very near our home. We started exploring brocantes. We were amazed at the countryside covered in wild daffodils.

Winged Victory eiffel tower picnic

And we started exploring further from home as well. We spent our first touristy weekend in Paris as a family — day number one & day number two.


Then, Maude & I went to London on a ferry across The English Channel for her 12th birthday.

mont st michel mont st michel

We made our first visit (of many) to the legendary Mont St. Michel. Which included a visit to a small military cemetery nearby.

House Hunters International  |  Design Mom

Oh. And we shot an episode of House Hunters International. (It aired a few months later. So fun!)

ornate mirror la cressonnière

We shared more of La Cressonnière — we gave a photo tour of the stairwell, posted about the amazing exterior, and shared photos of the living room. We toured the studio, watched the wisteria come in, shared Maude’s bedroom —which since turned into Betty & June’s bedroom. We shared Ralph’s room, too (which later became Oscar’s room).

ribbons on trellis laduree macarons

We hosted an big Easter Egg Hunt. (Posts herehere and here and here. Including 100 Laduree Macarons!)

buying eggs

We explored more of the French countryside. We bought eggs from our neighbor. We discussed laundry and ironing in France. We were amazed at the wild poppies. (Fun fact: The spring is so delayed this year, that the poppies are in bloom right now!) And we made our second report about school.

New Orleans Shop Sign

I went to New Orleans (my first visit!) for the Mom 2.0 conference.

rafting on the dordogne

We drove to the Dordogne region of France and canoed. While we were there, we also went to the famed Marquessac Gardens.

June Blair 1st Birthday

(Baby June turned one!)

tulip fields

We went to Amsterdam — posts about Vondelpark, the city and the tulips!

I went to Sweden on a business trip.

(Baby June weaned.)

le 104 carousel
French Open Final

We had 3 weekends in a row in Paris. First, I met my friend Megan and wandered the Luxembourg Gardens. Then we took the kids to visit The 104 in Paris. And finally, Ben and I had a weekend — just us — including tickets to the French Open Final!

chateau medavy

We had French Greys family photos. Maude spent several days in the hospital with pneumonia. We were invited to a French Country Wedding. We harvested cherries from the back yard. (They’re still not ripe yet this year!) We discovered another local chateau, called Medavy.

We started thinking about real estate in France.

Design Mom turned five!


In July, we made two trips to the D-Day beaches.

london tower HP7P2

Then, we took a family roadtrip to London, and saw the Harry Potter finale on opening night — here are photos of the city, and the Tower of London. Yes, Ben Blair drove on the opposite side of the road. (Would you dare? I don’t think I would!)

tour de france

And the finale of our first six months in France? We went to Paris for the Tour de France finish on the Champs Elysees. Fabulous!!

What do you think? London twice, Paris at least 4 times, Sweden, New Orleans, the Dordogne Region, the French Open… Could we have fit in anything else? : ) Does anything in particular stand out to you about the first 6 months?

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Emily July 16, 2013 at 6:10 am

So cool to see both the touristy parts of your trip and the average, every day life things that happened while you were there! Cannot wait to hear about the other 2 years, it is so fun to look back at old posts!


2 JO July 16, 2013 at 7:35 am

You know what stands out? How much dang stuff you did! This flies in the face of all the naysayers who claim you can’t travel/have fun/etc with kids. I mean, 6 kids! Doing all that! You guys are my heroes. I’m so inspired. I’m looking forward to the rest of the recaps. I never tire of your posts on France. :)


3 Lana Cole July 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm

YES! Can someone please explain to my husband that the birth of our daughter does not mean we can never travel again?


4 Shannon July 16, 2013 at 8:01 am

You did all of that in six months?! I don’t think you ever need to worry that you didn’t make the most of your time in France. Good luck with your final preparations and goodbyes!


5 Labrando un Hogar -Andreína- July 16, 2013 at 8:03 am

oH! cuantos bellos momentos, extrañaremos esos bellos paisajes :)


6 Lena July 16, 2013 at 10:45 am

Gabi, I will miss your time in France. What stands out the most to me, overall, is how much your kids grew up. Looking at them at the beginning of your journey and today.. So mature, culturally enriched. You gave them the best and you will treasure this part of your life forever. Can’t wait for your next adventure!


7 Louise July 16, 2013 at 1:47 pm

I totally agree with this – I cannot believe how young all of them look in those pictures you took your first time into Paris as a family. They have grown and blossomed beautifully.


8 The New Diplomat's Wife July 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

when we get caught up in the day to day, it’s easy to forget exactly how all of these individual days full of discoveries and adventures add up to a very exciting life lived…there were will always be things that we don’t get to, but my mom has always told me that “it’s important to leave something to come back for”, and that always helps me feel better. then I don’t feel like I missed something, I just feel like there is still more to discover…


9 Maureen July 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm

I have loved following your family’s adventures in France – thank you so very much for sharing them! I look forward to your future recaps, and best wishes on the next part of your journey in Oakland :)


10 Chris July 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Reading back on it all, it is amazing how fast it has gone but and if I feel that, I can’t imagine how you all feel! What an adventure…full of some many adventures! Jealous? Yes, a little because I would love to live abroad with my family like this but overall just so glad I could come along for the ride. Thanks and here’s to more stateside adventures!


11 Louise July 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I am so excited for this series – you really lived fully here! It’s inspiring. Good luck with the move home – I have lived abroad twice and those final nights both times I thought my heart would break in two saying goodbye! (dramatic much?!) It kind of did – but it simply means you have lived everything and it has changed you forever in the best way possible! Much love to you and your family.


12 Dominique July 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I could read about your adventures in France all day long – what a dream that must have been. What an adventure. I live in Marin, just across the Bay from Oakland. May your adventures continue in NorCal!


13 Mary reynolds July 16, 2013 at 10:20 pm

I was looking at the pictures of your kids’ rooms. We’re your beds comfortable? Are you looking forward to sleeping in beds with box springs?!


14 Tina Ramchandani July 17, 2013 at 6:40 am

I’m so jealous of your time in France. Even your first six months were exciting, I’m sure the rest of the time was just as wonderful. Can’t wait to hear about it all!


15 Kim July 17, 2013 at 7:18 am

All that in the first 6 months! Wow! You guys! I loved re-reading it all, and can’t wait for the next recap! x


16 TracieMcOB July 17, 2013 at 12:25 pm

All of that in six months! Whew! I’m exhausted just reading it :) Sounds dreamy. what an incredible adventure you have had.


17 Meredith Gibson July 17, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I am relatively new to your blog and I loved going back through and reading this recap. Thanks for doing this! I am looking forward to reading the recaps about the other 2 years. Good luck with your new move!!


18 Renee July 22, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I loved reading this recap and look forward to reading the rest! I only wish I had read of your time there before my honeymoon trip to Paris (back in 2007) – so much to learn! I feel like I have to plan another trip. Good luck with your move and I look forward to hearing about Oakland.


19 Ashley Keeth September 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I love to see another family on an international adventure. You have a fabulous family and life. I have four kids and we left the US for Mexico 4.5 years ago. We live in the Wild West in the High Sierra Madres. My 13 son is now a cowboy and my other kids are exploring their entrepreneurial artisitic side. It has been hard and rewarding and made us a very outlandish family!
Thanks for sharing. Ashley


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