Happy New Year! Bonne Année!


These are the first snowdrops in the private woods behind the house we are buying in Blois, La Closerie Falaiseau. The photo was sent to us by the current owners. That, of course, is our big adventure for 2012. On 17th March, the house will be ours. We’re planning to spend Easter there with the family.

As we watched the Eiffel Tower shimmer and shake from our window in Paris at midnight and drank our champagne, we imagined ourselves at the same time the next year in the Closerie next to a roaring fire, snug inside our four-hundred-year-old walls!

The incredible Plitvice Falls

This has been an eventful year: a week in Seville in February and a week in Orthez in the Pyrenees in April, taking up again with my very first friend in France, Elizabeth. Relationnel went surf fishing for 10 days in May in Normandy, where I joined him both weekends to cycle. We then spent five days cycling in the Loire Valley in June. In the summer, we took four weeks off and drove to Eastern Europe, visiting (and cycling) in no less than nine countries (France, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia Herzogovina, Slovenia, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany and Switzerland), speaking four languages (French, Italian, Croatian and German), dealing in three currencies (euros, Liechtenstein marks and Swiss marks) and clocking up more than 5,000 kilometers. Highlights included the incredible Plitvice lakes and falls.

Relationnel then spent a week trekking in the Alps in September before we both went to eastern Champagne to cycle around the largest man-made lake in Europe and visit the eleven half-timbered churches in the region. In October, Relationnel turned sixty and Leonardo decided to pull up his roots and go to Australia to live and work, helping me to set up the blog before he left.

Relationnel and I then went went to the Loire Valley for a few days to start looking for a place to live when Relationnel retires in June 2014.  We fell hopelessly in love with the very first house we visited, built in 1584. Who could resist? Since then, we seem to be caught up in a whirlwind. 

Today, as we ate our oysters on Sunday, we talked about everything we need to do. It’s a little overwhelming to say the least. We want to divide La Closerie in two and rent out (or exchange) the ground floor. Once he retires, Relationnel is going to completely renovate the “Little House” next door which is part of the sale so that we can use it as a short-term holiday rental and invite friends to visit. This means furnishing La Closerie (dépôt-vente, here I come!), setting up a website and organising rental.

This year, we’ll also be going to Australia in September/October where I’ll be organising a big family reunion on my father’s side in Armidale (there are 39 cousins in my generation and 54 in the next generation!), the first in 50 years, and spending two weeks in Tasmania (on a home exchange!) plus a couple of weekends in Sydney and Brisbane. We hope to organise other home exchanges in Europe during the year.

I’m also giving up my university teaching in June after 16 years.  I’ve loved teaching and gained many friends among my graduates over the years, but I feel it’s time to move on to other things.

And, of course, I’ll be continuing my blog. Thank you to all my faithful readers for your encouragement.  Bonne lecture, as they say in French, for the year to come!

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10 Responses to Happy New Year! Bonne Année!

  1. CarolynB says:

    Lovely post and wow, what great plans for 2012!

    I’m sure you and your hubby will experience the classic/delightful ‘wonder how we ever had time to work’ syndrome — best of luck with everything and happy travels.

    PS I’ve added you as a link on my blog – hope that’s OK! Look forward to reading more in the new year. Cheers.

  2. Fraussie says:

    Thank you! Unfortunately, I still have a few years of work ahead of me, but it will be more relaxed than living in Paris. I’ve added your blog as well.

  3. Maple Leaf says:

    Happy New Year! I feel quite cheery now after reading your post despite the horrid weather outside. You’ve had quite an exciting year and 2012 looks set to be just as much fun! I can’t wait to read about all your new adventures here in your blog.

  4. Belle et heureuse annee 2012.

    I have only just discovered your wonderful blog so am catching up on your posts.

    What a small world. I lived in Armidale from 1965 to 1969 and again in 1972 after returning from Papua New Guinea. In 2010 I enrolled as an external student studying French at the University of New England.

    In 2007 my husband and I travelled to Croatia and we visited the Plitivice Lakes. It still remains one of the most beautiful places outside of France we have ever visited.

    • Fraussie says:

      Thank you, Femme Francophile. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.
      Maybe you knew the Caledonia Hotel in Armidale run by my aunt and uncle?
      I was terribly upset when we got to the Plitvice Lakes because I had to spend nearly two days indoors because of my “turista”. Relationnel went off to do the full tour (it was pointless both of us staying home!) and brought back the most unbelievable photos. I nearly didn’t see them at all, but Relationnel insisted on stopping at a lookout to show me the colours as we were leaving. The view was so wonderful that I decided to take the risk. I practically ran the whole way and took literally hundreds of photos. I agree that it’s one of the most beautiful places outside of France.

  5. Jane j says:

    Such lovely comments – I’ll have to add these places to my list of places to visit. At least I know I’m visiting Blois early Aug this year. Doing some cycling too!
    Does anyone out there have some stories for places in nth east France & up close to the Belgium border.

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