Why I (Really) Moved to France
If I’m asked once, I’m asked a hundred times: “Why did you move to France?
At first I used a smart-alec answer: “Because I could.”
After saying it a few times, I realised it was not portraying exactly what I meant. Besides, I sounded haughty and, well … “smart-alec-y.”
Now I respond to the question “why did you move to France” with “because I visited the town of Uzès and fell in love with it.”
In fact, I remember the exact day I made up my mind to make the big step. It was July 5, 2013, the day after an expat party I was invited to in Sète. It was my first visit to Sète and I was staying in the AIRBNB apartment of Nancy McGee who’s now one of my best friends in Sète. I was leaving Sète the next day to travel south along the Costa Brava before ending up in Barcelona to fly back to the States. All my reservations had been made and I was set to go. Then I said to myself:
“If I leave France now, I will never come back.” I knew I had to turn around and go back to Uzès. I cancelled all but my return flight from Barcelona and I headed north.
The moment I hit Uzès I stopped at the real estate office where I’d talked to an agency about apartments before I’d left, just on a lark. When the agent saw me at walk in the door, he said: “I was just thinking about you.” Really? I thought. “An apartment just became available that I knew you’d love,” he added.
We went over to see the place right away, and, just as quickly, I said, “Yes, yes, yes and yes!” An apartment three stories up in a tower in the middle of Uzès? How could I resist? I was enchanted. Literally. In less than an hour I was on my way to signing a lease with a move-date that was less than three months away!
Now that the big move is behind me, I look back and wonder if I would have made the same decision knowing what I know today, I might have thought a bit more about the fact that I don’t speak French. I might have considered that not knowing the language would make everything about moving a lot harder. I might have thought about being so far away from my family and friends. I might have considered that I was going empty-handed and that I’d have to find and buy everything I needed to live with, from a kitchen spoon to a refrigerator.
If I’d thought about it harder, I’d still be in South Carolina.
When people say to me: “you’re so brave to move to France on your own,” I’m always taken back. It doesn’t seem “brave” to me at all. I was single. Or, I should say, recently divorced. I was retired and my children were well settled into their lives. What did I have to lose? I could always go back.
Now when I’m asked how I got so “brave,” I respond: “I just took one step at a time.” Then I add: “If I can do it, anyone can.”
What I’m thankful for today is that I made the move to France. If it was the “hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life” I really didn’t notice it. Raising children, moving from town to town for a job, keeping a job, caring for an ageing parent and making a home for your family — those are the hardest things in life.
Compared to any of that, moving to France has been a piece of cake.
And while you dream of moving to the South of France, perhaps you can first enjoy a taste of France in one of our French cooking classes.