Here we are, 3 months into our life here in France, and it is hard to believe it has only been 3 months. I honestly feel that the day we boarded the plane feels more like 6 months ago and we miss our friends and family so much, it feels like ages since we have seen or talked to many! I suspect that the lack of internet/wi-fi for 3 months has contributed to the distance we feel some days.
We have been living in our apartment for 2 months and with the exception of a few smaller boxes, we are finally settled in. We live on the 4th floor of a big, old apartment building one block back from the main square here in Clermont, Centre Jaude.
Jaude is a huge bustling square that is essentially the center of downtown, so there is all kinds of activities going on all the time- street performers, open air markets, art shows, sport fairs/expos, just to name a few. There are 2 malls, 3 movie theatres, along with tons of shops and restaurants/cafes on the square and so it draws big crowds most of the time. There is always some kind of cultural event or concert that we can often see from our living room window. What I love most about Jaude is that there is so much vibrancy and life there. It represents a central gathering spot for many who live here- it is always packed with people coming and going or just sitting at cafes sharing coffee or an aperitif. We love to open our windows and hear the noise!
One Saturday morning, we were walking through a activities fair in Jaude and found these people who had literally brought some couches/chairs, a rug (don’t forget the rug!), food and wine with them and were just sitting, chatting, having a good ole’ time!
As I’m typing this post, there is a huge ramp and landing pad on the street below us for a BMX expo. There was a huge race festival in Jaude this morning and they have all kinds of expos going on all day long- graffiti art, Judo, obstacle courses and others!
We absolutely love our apartment. It has been so much fun living life in a city and having all kinds of conveniences within walking distance, especially the grocery store on the bottom floor of our building! Somehow, we lucked into a reasonably priced apartment which is actually fairly large by French standards, and definitely allows the 5 of us to spread out a bit.
Charlie enjoys having his own room on the back of the apartment and Owen and Wells are living bunkbed life, which (most of the time) they love.
The kitchen, though smaller than what I had back home, is a decent size with plenty of storage space and still allows for a table where we eat most meals. I’m learning to adjust to much less counter space and one oven (that usually decides to cook one side of a dish much faster than the other). My most favorite part of our kitchen is the view from the window- it overlooks hundreds of rooftops and faces the hills. I’ve enjoyed many beautiful sunsets while cooking dinner!
When we moved here, we bought a car, which Chuck and I share, but often we keep it parked in the parking garage under Centre Jaude, because often by the time you walk down, get the car, exit the garage onto a one way street, which often requires you to drive a mile or two all the way around the square to get on many of the roads that take you to stores, schools, etc, it is much quicker to just walk!
The boys have been in school now for 1.5 months and we could not be more pleased with how things are going. We are settling into a nice routine and the boys seem very content. We spend a lot of time over meals (which often includes lunch!) as a family having open conversations about our day, the good, the bad, but most importantly, we are challenging ourselves to identify one thing daily we are thankful for with life here in France. Some days, that can be hard. There are numerous episodes daily that can be very frustrating (we call these “getting France-d”) and while I try to remember them to share, I think there have been too many! Honestly, I feel that the best way to learn how to live life here is by making mistakes. But feeling perpetually stupid all day most days can get old at times. Luckily, we are all sharing this experience equally and are able to build each other up on the days we need it most!