When my husband received a job opportunity in the south of France we couldn’t pass it up. We knew we would spend the rest of our lives wondering “what if?”. So I quit my corporate job, we packed up our life including our two dogs and arrived in Montpellier, France. Life was great exploring Europe but looming was the notion that we were also ready to start our family and didn’t want to delay that just because we were living in another country. But were we really going to have a baby with no family, very little language or understanding of how it would all work here?! It seemed daunting, but in our hearts we knew we were ready and so we braved the process (which was amazing). I hope sharing our story provides an interesting perspective and guidance to those of you who may also be considering or in the midst of having a baby in France!
I do want to preface that this is just my personal experience. While I’m sure it would be fairly similar to others or standard French practice, I cannot speak for other moms or families! Also, this was my first baby, so while I have knowledge from plenty of friends and family in the USA, I cannot speak from personal experience on some of the differences so these are just my interpretations and what my experience was like.
Is the aromatics tour at Maison Veuve Clicquot worth it? The answer is 1000% YES. As much as I love Veuve and knew I wanted to tour regardless, I wasn’t sure what the experience would be like because honestly so many of the higher end champagne and wine tours can be stuffy or underwhelming. Our experience was anything but, it was truly incredible and possibly my favorite wine tour I’ve ever done. We did pay the premium for the aromatics tour, which was $150 euro pp, but we didn’t just learn about the aromas in a boring speech… we went the the garden and actually smelled and tasted, had a whole aroma presentation as well as a sensory video experience in the chalk caves which was all before our actual tasting began. The whole experience was very laid back, our guide was informative and promised us no questions were bad questions. We learned about the history (side note, Madame Clicquot is a bad b*tch who pioneered so many champagne production practices), we drank lots of champagne, we laughed and honestly just had the best time. So many tours leave you feeling a sense of that was fun but now I’ve “been there done that” and both Jason and I left saying we can’t wait to go back. Hopefully next time we’ll get some sunshine and be able to explore the vineyards!
If you’re just here to find out the highlights and if you should go, I hope you got your answer above as I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises, but if you want more information or just to read more about our experience keep reading below for lots more detail and photos!
If you’re here to find out if you should stay at the Renaissance Hotel while in Aix-en-Provence, I’m here to tell you the answer is yes. The lobby and rooms are clean, modern and spacious. The restaurant food is fabulous. The pool is heavenly. Sadly I didn’t get to check out the spa this trip as they were booked up prior to me booking a room, but I did check out the area, and it also seemed heavenly ~ a very valid reason to make a return trip, am I right?
–Walking Distance into Downtown – the hotel is in a great location with an easy walk to shops and other restaurants, as well as the tourism office.
–English Speaking Staff – if you’re travelling from the USA, speaking French can be intimidating. You’ll feel at home at this hotel. Everyone is very bilingual and friendly.
I’m still pinching myself a little that it’s real, we actually live in France now!!! The conversation started early 2020 when my husband was recruited for an intracompany role based in Uchaud (south of France, near our new home in Montpellier). Things were progressing but nothing was finalized in mid march when the pandemic hit. I had a career to consider and we knew it would be a huge life change (in a year that we were already planning our wedding, no less). Then came covid — I was furloughed, borders closed and life got a lot more complicated. Even though things were put on hold the more we thought about it the more it excited us and we were sure that if we could get to France, we wanted to do it. We spent months communicating back and forth with agents and teams that Jason’s company put us in contact with that helped us with navigating the visa process. With travel rules changing what felt like weekly and global delays in government processing we were optimistic, but really unsure for a while how things would play out. I am a planner, so living a full year in a pandemic while also being in a complete state of limbo that we couldn’t exactly talk about openly was HARD. I know that life isn’t always in control and that you can’t predict the future, but I think it’s a little impossible not to try. Every day I’d wake up wondering will we have more information today, is it okay to get excited yet? I liked my job, but was on furlough due to COVID unsure of when I’d be called back, would it be before we knew for sure? It wasn’t, so I went back to work after five months off and then we finally found out visas would be able to be processed. It was a whirlwind. Three months later I left my job and two months after that we were finally on the plane. The process to get here was a long one, we went through waves of excitement and months long periods of limbo trying to live our normal life. Some days if felt like this wasn’t even really happening but WE ARE HERE and so grateful for that.
I think it is safe to say that whatever you envisioned 2020 would be for you, you were wrong. For me, 2020 was the year that I was going to get married in another country, it was the year I was going to travel lots for both work and personal plans, it was a year that I was going to continue to be a very “busy” person. Between my commute, my job, my travels, my plans with friends and family, planning a destination wedding, not to mention trying to do the right things like stay active, eat well, hydrate and follow that skin care routine every single day, I can assure you that 2020 was not a year I was going to slow down. Then COVID-19 hit, and just like that 2020 changed.