Lessons in Living a French Life

Bringing a touch of French culture to everyday life

Our Journey | Creating a New Life in France

It started with a trip to see Mary Magdalene...

When you approach Vézelay from the road below, you are instantly captivated. Set atop a hill in a peaceful, rolling Burgundian countryside just an hour and a half from Paris, the village beacons you to her basilica and you have no choice but to go. You make the climb through her medieval streets on foot, allowing yourself the time to take in the architecture, the aromas of dejuner cooking in petite local restaurants, and mingle with other pilgrims walking the Camino and travelers who have found themselves drawn to the village for the day. For me, I was so enchanted that I finally decided to make a childhood dream come true and move to France.

The search for our forever home continues. Like her medieval villages, our journey is a winding path. We must find the right restoration project in the right location and at the right price. We desire a historic property and relish a challenging project. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, the demands on a small bank account require creative thinking. But old neglected homes call out to me. I want to give one more a new life and feel the walls comfort my family in its continued history. From an original 18th-century Quercy stone sink to 15th-century hand-tooled stone stairs, I want to create an elegant, yet comfortable home in a private setting with plenty of warmth and authentic character that I can share with others. I envision guest rooms beautifully appointed and public gathering spaces offering a relaxing spot to knit or read or become acquainted with soon to be new friends. The heart of the home will be the artist atelier or studio that seeks to inspire creativity and provide an intimate and relaxing setting to learn, create, and share with others. My vision includes: Dining al fresco on delicious homemade meals prepared using fresh ingredients gathered at the weekly farmer's market. Savoring local wines collected on a bike ride through the rolling hills of the region. Touring historical sites and learning the source of the village's rich culture. Discovering local brocantes and shops and finding a treasure that must accompany you home. French culture understands the need to do simple daily tasks with care and intention. I want to share that characteristic of living a French life with others.

I’m going to find my way to our new home. We continue the search this fall in southwestern France. It’s a long way from Vézelay, but we’ve been smitten by its sunshine and sunflowers, limestone cliffs and unspoiled rivers, and forgotten stone cottages in need of new life. I hope Mary Magdalene watches over us. One needs a bit of faith that everything works out while one strives to pull together all the pieces of an ambitious project. Faith and determination are both necessary for living a life abroad. Sometimes, there is a lifetime between a dream and making it real.

We’ll share our continued journey through our Weekly Voilàs.  Be sure to subscribe to learn more about our adventure as the details unfold.

À bientôt,

Karen and Tim


If you would like to share in the details of our journey, add your email to the box below and we'll keep in touch via our Weekly Voilà. Think of it as a bit of France in your inbox every Friday.