It is official: we have a place to live in Tours (that doesn't include the Holiday Inn near the train station or a cardboard box in the park)! And everybody raise your hands up high - it has a washing machine! No Laundromat for me!
I'm not going to tell you exactly where it is, because putting your address on the Internet is creepy, but I will tell you it's in the vicinity of Place Plumereau. "Place Plume," as it's called, is a lovely medieval square with all sorts of restaurants, creperies, and bars - basically, every reason we're excited about living in France. I think in our week in Tours last time, we visited five different establishments in Place Plume alone. So to be within walking distance of this little square is tres bien.
Our new apartment, as I mentioned, has a washing machine. It also comes fully furnished with a TV and DVD player, free Wi-Fi (woo hoo!), and all kinds of kitchen-y things. The only downside? It's a one-bedroom. That's going to make having visitors really difficult, but otherwise we couldn't be more excited. I can't wait to get there and take pictures to show you - and, of course, to see it for myself.
We also have an official moving date - April 6th! While the rest of the world is watching the NCAA basketball championship, we're going to be on a plane to PARIS! Holy potatoes, Batman...it's getting REAL.
In the meantime, here are some pictures I took of Place Plume the last time we were there. I hope it hasn't changed too much, because it's so beautiful! Enjoy!
I can see your face(s) now. "Wait...what the...where AM I?!"
Sorry about that. I do hate to confuse you like this, but it was time for the ol' blog to get a little re-brand. For starters, I wanted to make it more inclusive. This is about OUR (aka mine and B's) trip, not just MINE. That's one thing you learn when you get married - how to start thinking as a "we."
I really wanted to choose a new web address. I feel like it's hard for my regulars to follow along because nobody actually knows/remembers how to spell Sous Mon Parapluie to look up the blog unless I put a post on Facebook. Not everyone is as Rain Man-like with spelling as I am.
But if I change the web address/domain name, I will lose any and all links posted to Sous Mon Parapluie. And that just got too confusing. Plus, those of you who are used to finding me via old posts would struggle. So I decided to keep the web address, but do a little makeover.
I wrestled and fought with what to re-title the blog. I wanted it to encompass and definitely point toward our trip to France, but I also wanted it to generic and lasting enough that I could continue the blog when we returned and it not be weird. Here are a few of my discarded ideas:
Lessons in French Living
Bonjourney: Saying Hello to our New Life in France
E & B Do France
Carolina Heart, French Soul
Hot French Mess
You can see why none of them made it to the finals. Our new title, "Something New, Something Different," actually came from hubby himself. This man, a die-hard engineer who never read until he met me, has a serious creative streak. And "something new, something different" is something he says to me frequently. I do not do change well. At ALL. So when he's trying to get me to do something, even as simple as try a new restaurant for dinner, he always says, "Let's do something new, something different." It's one of our catchphrases. It was part of his proposal speech. And it's wildly embarrassing I didn't think of using it myself. I'm the reader, the writer, the word person. I guess that's the mark of a good husband and marriage - humbling you and inspiring you in the same breath.
So here we are. Something new, something different - but with the same ol' hard-to-spell web address. So bookmark it. Add it to your RSS feed, sign up for email delivery of posts above, just be sure to stick around. It's about to get new and different...and GOOD.
When you're preparing to ship your belongings to Europe in a trunk and a suitcase or two, you really start to question the amount of stuff you've managed to acquire.
It doesn't feel like we own this much. We each did a huge clean-out last year before getting married in preparation for B moving into my condo. We did another clean-out as he was moving in and we were replacing some old belongings with new wedding gifts. And we did a huge end-of-year clean-out this past December in anticipation of moving to France. Our 2014 tax deductions from Goodwill are unbelievable. But we still have a ton of stuff!
And the really scary thing is that we're not bringing furniture, household goods, or kitchen stuff with us to France; we're only taking clothes, shoes and toiletries. I've even been limited to bringing just a few books (The only way I'm surviving this is that I purchased a tablet and will use it as an e-reader. Grudgingly. More on that later).
But stuff. Once we realized things were really getting serious, I went through my closet and started separating my clothes: things to Leave in America on the Left, things that are going Right to France with us on the Right. I went through my dresses, my pants, skirts, shirts, cardigans, workout clothes and shoes. Pretty much the only thing I didn't inventory and sort was underwear and socks.
When I finished, I was blown away. It wasn't that I had too much stuff set aside to take with me. It was that I had much more stuff on the left side of my closets to leave behind.
Granted, a lot of the left-behind stuff is work clothes that I won't really need. But an awful lot of the left-behind stuff is comprised of everyday items that don't fit, are stained/ripped/worn, or that I'm just not that into anymore.
You'd think I'd be packing everything I could, but it's not choice I crave: it's simplicity. Clutter deeply, deeply stresses me out. Back in college, I used to not be able to study if even so much as a hairbrush was out of place. So I don't want our tiny French apartment to be a disaster area. I don't want to stand in front of the closet and hem and haw every morning. I want to go, to live, to DO...not to be tied up in things.
Sure, I'll buy a few things here and there in France, and throughout Europe (you know, like a Longchamp purse). But I know from experience that most souvenirs are eventually forgotten. I'll outgrow or wear out clothes, and jewelry, trinkets, and knickknacks will become old and outdated. I'd much rather accumulate memories and photographs, so that when I'm back at a job, stuck at a desk all day, or a few years down the road when I'm up all night with a screaming baby, I can think back to this trip, this time in our lives, and enjoy it a second time. In my opinion, that's one of the greatest reasons to travel, and to travel light.
That, and I'm really, really glad I don't have to worry about whether or not my outfit is "work appropriate."
P.S. - Happy St. Paddy's Day!
To say it's been a crazy couple of weeks is a severe understatement. We knew this France thing was coming, but all of a sudden it kind of got put into overdrive. So I'm going to take a brief break from the crazy and give you a book review. I've had this one for a few months and haven't gotten around to reading/reviewing it due to the crazy, but it seems like time, since I'm so not lugging this book with me to France. So here goes.
If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to transport myself and live in the setting of a book I was reading, I could afford the psychiatric help I so obviously need. Now, much to the chagrin of my husband, I can (sort of), thanks to "Novel Interiors: Living in Enchanted Rooms Inspired by Literature." The book is a beautiful hardback with lovely, lovely pictures.
Except it would be a whole lot more appealing if I had actually read any of these books. Make my home look like Sons and Lovers? Um, what? No. I want Vianne's little apartment above the chocolaterie in France a la the book Chocolat (okay, actually this one might sort of be happening). I want Rachel's New York City apartment in Something Borrowed. Hell, I want to convert my two-bedroom condo into Hogwarts castle in its entirety, with every last ghost, ghoul, and trick staircase. Is that so much to ask?
Plus, the tips were just kind of useless: Open shelving. Earthy palettes. Utilize metallics. The tips are either completely obvious, or completely a matter of taste. There weren't any great secrets. No hints or secrets to turn our house into a book. It's a pretty coffee table book, but not good for much more than decoration.
The Verdict: The idea of this was so, so good. The execution falls so flat. Guess I'll just keep living at Hogwarts in my mind.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my (brutally) honest review.
Wow. You guys are...wow. I can't even put it into words. You're amazing. Thank you to each of you for your support and enthusiasm. It means the world to B and me that you're so excited for us as we embark on this new adventure. I think you legitimately may have broken the internet with my last post...or at least slowed down Facebook and Weebly for most of Friday. I have a stats tracker on my Weebly phone app, and Friday's data made me laugh out loud. Here's a snapshot of the past month. There was just a teensy bit of a jump in readership on Friday. Just a smidgen.
And in addition to all of your sweet well-wishes, you all had tons of terrific questions. Since inquiring minds want to know, I will now attempt to answer most of them.
Frequently Asked France Questions:
Q: What are you going to do with Luna??!
A: To those of you that asked this, thank you. Seriously. We love our furry girl to pieces, and it means a lot to us that she was your first thought. Unfortunately, our furry peanut won't be going with us. We decided an 8-hour plane ride was just too much for our 7-year-old girl. Also, we plan to do a LOT of traveling around Europe while we're there, and it wouldn't be fair to board her every other weekend. Instead, she'll be going on an extended trip to her Pennsylvania country estate, aka her paternal grandparents' house (not to be confused with her North Carolina country estate/maternal grandparents' house). Her Nana and Grandpa are retired, so she'll have someone to hang out with all day. Even though we will miss her silly self like crazy and wish we could bring our chien noir with us, she'll be loved, well taken-care of, and spoiled to bits. And of course the minute we return to the U.S. we'll take her back!
P.S. - Fun bit of trivia here: B's company has been telling him he might be going abroad for an extended period of time since January of 2013...when we fostered Luna for two weeks. For those of you who remember that time, that's why we didn't adopt her at first. But when she kept showing back up at Greenville Humane Society, we decided that it didn't matter if/when we might live abroad because Luna was clearly meant to be our furry daughter. Just look at that face. I can't believe we were able to resist her even once!
Q: When exactly are you leaving?
A: This is a terrific question, one that I would really like to know the answer to myself. We're going to the French consulate in Atlanta today. Our visa applications were approved, but they have to meet with us in person. If they get what they need today, then we might be leaving as soon as mid-April. If not, it will likely be mid-May. Stay tuned. I mean, y'all know we're pretty shady characters, so who knows if they'll actually let us in...I mean, crazy Americans who want to eat ALL the cheese and macarons and Nutella crepes and drink ALL the wine? I'd be afraid of us, too.
Q: How long will you be gone?
A: This is also a terrific question, and also one that I would like to know the answer to. Right now, the answer is, "We don't know." It's a minimum six-month assignment, but the "maximum" is open-ended. It depends on the projects B is assigned to once he gets there. I'm voting to stay there as long as we can possibly manage. Duh. But rest assured, we will be returning to the U.S.
Q: So you're going to live in Paris, right?
A: In case you skipped this section of my last post, we're going to be living in Tours. It's in the Loire Valley, which is known for its chateaux (castles; think Biltmore Estate) and wine. It's about an hour southwest of Paris by TGV, the high-speed train, and it's about 1.5-2 hours from Paris via regular train. The railway system there is great, and Tours is a super convenient place to live. It's much, much smaller and quieter than Paris, which I love. When we went in 2011, I felt SUPER safe walking around the city by myself, taking trains to the chateaux by myself, generally doing everything by myself while B worked. It's situated on a river, and it's just really lovely. See a few pics below of city.
Q: What do your parents think about this?
A: At first they were a little hesitant and nervous, especially after the terror attacks in Paris. But after they had time to get used to the idea, and after I swore to my mother I wouldn't mock Muhammed on my blog, they relaxed. Now they're really excited to come visit. Dad can't wait to eat and drink his way through the countryside, and Mom can't wait to see the beautiful churches and architecture, and, of course, go buy Longchamp purses with me. When in doubt, bribe the nervous mama with shopping - it works wonders.
Q: Uhh, so, B is going to work. What are you going to do?
A: The short answer is: write blog posts! Work visas are pretty much impossible to get in France because of the high unemployment rate; they don't want outsiders taking potential jobs (and, well, can you blame them?). B is getting around this because he's already an employee of a French company - the company he works for now is based in Tours. He just happens to work in the North American headquarters. Fun little technicality there. But I just get to be a French housewife. I am SUPER excited about getting to go shop for fresh, organic, farm-to-table produce at farmers' markets. I'm TERRIFIED about having to do laundry: pretty sure we'll have to use a Laundromat, which I have never used before in my life. The closest I've ever been is the laundry room at the bottom of Granville Towers East my freshman year of college. So this ought to be fun.
Q: Where exactly are you going to live? A house? An apartment? A cardboard box in the plaza in front of the Hotel de Ville (town hall)...?
A: Okay, let's say it all in unison now: "This is also a terrific question and one I would like the answer to." Are we seeing a pattern here? We don't know exactly where we'll live, but it will most likely be an apartment in the city of Tours proper (since we likely won't have a car). We may live in a hotel for a couple of weeks until we find something. That's still up in the air.
Q: Are you going to travel around while you're there?
A: YES! We are really thrilled about this opportunity to see SO many places that we've wanted to go, all in one extended trip. Here are some places we'll DEFINITELY visit (and who wants to go there) are:
Florence, Italy (B and me)
Belgium (B and me)
the Greek islands (me)
*We're SUPER thrilled because we're going to Oktoberfest with my brother and sister-in-law. We SERIOUSLY cannot wait for that.
I hope this at least sort of answers some of the many questions we've been asked. A lot is still up in the air, but we're slowly figuring things out. We will, of course, keep you posted as we learn more.
I've thought a long time about how I want to say this. I've chewed it over and over and over in my head. It's the curse of the writer, or the introvert, or maybe just me. I (thought I) had it all planned out, complete with a slightly altered rendition of Sinatra's "New York, New York" that would make Ol' Blue Eyes spin circles in his grave. But as usual, nothing compares to the truth.
B and I are moving to France. B and I are MOVING...to France. B and I are moving to FRANCE. Oh my heavens, my still-new husband and I are moving to France. It doesn't matter where you place the emphasis. It still boggles the mind.
We're being relocated for B's job, and we'll be living in Tours, smack in the heart of the Loire Valley (aka wine and chateaux country), about an hour and a half southwest of Paris by train. It's the same place we visited for a week in 2011. I immediately fell in love, but I never dreamed I'd get to come back, much less as a resident.
Like I said: doesn't matter where you put the emphasis. Still completely insane. Still boggling the mind. Still giving me (happy) heart palpitations at the mere thought of living in the land of Nutella crepes and pistachio macarons, of bicycles and baguettes, of trains and chateaux, of art and architecture, of café au lait and sparkling Vouvray. A hop, skip, and jump from my old stomping grounds in Florence, Italy. I've told B a hundred thousand times that one day I would to take him to Florence and show him around the place that changed me so much. I just didn't realize it would less than a YEAR after we got married.
And guess what? I'm bringing you all with me, too! Bookmark this blog, add me to your RSS feed, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest and everywhere else. For the sake of my Facebook friends, I'm not going to put most of my posts on my News Feed (since I plan to blog nearly ever day), so enter your email address in the box below my Author bio to stay up to date. It will deliver each new post right to your inbox - no effort required! You'll have front row seats for all of it, from the craziness of packing/moving to our new travel adventures.
Last year at this time, we figured maybe we'd be buying a house right now. Maybe. We had no idea that this was in the cards. We are beyond blessed with this amazing new adventure and opportunity, and I can't wait to share it with you. Happy new dreams, sweet readers!
P.S - A hearty and massive thanks to our family and close friends who have kept our secret while we waited (in my case, rather impatiently) for plans to finalize, especially both sets of our incredibly supportive, loving, and helpful parents. We love you all.