Living the dream phase three – that little chateau in France

Remember this post? Remember this bit from that post:

What is my life dream? It is to get rid of all unnecessary stress in my life and spend my days doing things I enjoy. Things that give me the time I need to enjoy my family and have time for myself. Oh and I want to go and live in a provincial French town with my family for six months before our kids are of school age and write a book about it.

Well I can happily report that I am living the first part of the life dream above at the moment.

All the unnecessary stress in my life … gone.

Spending my days doing things I enjoy … tick.

Having time both for myself and to enjoy my family … oh yes.

It’s safe to say that life is being very good to me at the moment! So now it is time to activate the final part of the dream above – living in a little French village before our kids go to school. I have actually shortened the dream to three months instead of six and gawd, I am not going to write a book about it because I think that’s been done. And done. And done!

So now – lots of things to consider and I am calling on the collective wisdom of you all to help give my plan shape.

First of all – timing

The first thing is … the Berlin Marathon is on my bucket list. It would be really silly of me to go to Europe and not time it to co-incide with the Berlin Marathon right? So that means we need to go around September. So I am thinking September/October/November. Is this a good time of year to be in the North of France?

The second thing is schooling. I have just checked and my poor little July baby (who is going to be a GIANT when he finally gets to start school) won’t start Kindy until 2014 and Pre-Primary until 2015.

I think I would prefer to activate this dream in 2015 for a few reasons. The first is that the baby in my belly will be two and a half in September 2015 as opposed to 18 months in 2014. I am thinking it would be better to travel with a 2.5 year old than an 18 month old?! Also, I wouldn’t mind an extra year of training so I can do Berlin ‘properly’. Also, it gives us an extra year to save up.

But 2015 will be Jaden’s Pre-Primary year as opposed to his Kindy year. Is it a big no no to miss three months of Pre-Primary?

Second of all – where

In the perfect world we’d love to do a house swap so that might have some bearing on where we go. I have in mind to stay in the north-east of France for relatively easy access to Germany and Switzerland? Ant on the other wants to stay in Spain because he reckons that would be cheaper. If we go with France he insists that we find a castle to live in. Umm … anyone have any thoughts on this matter?! Wherever we stay needs to have room for guests because we have already told both sets of our parents that we expect one set to travel over there with us (not because we think we’ll need help with the kids on the plane or anything – we just love our parents) and one set to travel home with us!

Third of all – language

From the reading I have done, there seems to be little point learning French because the French we will learn won’t resemble the French that is spoken in any provincial village?! Is this right?

Fourth – reading

I know there are lots of people who have lived this dream … so what books and blogs should I be reading to get all clued up and excited?

And finally …

I think that’s all the questions I have got for now folks! Can’t wait to hear all your thoughts and advice on what will hopefully be a very fun future chapter in our lives!



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  1. Meggsie says

    France. Dordogne valley. Most people speak English tolerably well and in some cases really well. Food is incredibly cheap as there is a fresh food market every day somewhere nearby. Have just stayed at a 6 bedroom 16th century chateau for 4000euros a week. But you can get a nice house for much much less than that. For example check out this house

    I am going to buy a house like this one day !!

  2. Lacey says

    Pre-primary is more than it used to be these days. It’s where kids learn to read and write and it’s compulsory soon, it’s more like year one! You may have to home school him there.

    • says

      That’s what I thought someone might say Lacey!! I definitely don’t mind homeschooling him over there … so long as it won’t ruin his life to miss 3 months of Pre-Primary!

  3. says

    Oh my God, Kelly! HOW EXCITING! I am green with envy… I’ve always wanted to visit France since I studied French in high school. Hope it all works out for you and your family – that would be an amazing adventure!


  4. says

    Wow! What an amazing dream to have and not only dream, but you are making it a reality. Very inspiring Kel. I adore France and can’t wait to go back. Now all I need to do is coincide my next visit with when you are there!

  5. says

    Hi Kelly, what a great dream to have and now turn into reality. I haven’t spent a lot of time in France (but Italy!) but have a few thoughts.

    Maybe decouple the Berlin marathon?? The summer is SO the time to be in Europe, the food, the fruit, the sun, the lovely, lovely fields of crops, etc etc Especially if in northern France which would have a more British type climate. Summer is so very gorgeous, autumn and winter can be grey, grey, grey. You could go July-September of course.

    I’d say it’s a good idea to learn French as ‘high school’ French might be better understood than English, locals love it and it’s good for the brain!

    House swap would be so the go, and you’ve got lots of time to look for a nice, big place so all of you can stay, grandparents etc etc How wonderful. And maybe exactly where isn’t such a big deal as everything is relatively close anyway compared to Australia. Being close to Spain or Italy is a huge plus of course, but anywhere in France you’d be pretty close.

    Lastly, to end this epic comment, I LOVE how you write:
    ‘All the unnecessary stress in my life … gone.
    Spending my days doing things I enjoy … tick.
    Having time both for myself and to enjoy my family … oh yes.’
    It’s one of the best things I’ve read in a blog for a long time. Too often I read ‘so much to do, so much work etc etc’ and I can feel like that at times but totally don’t want that feeling in my life. Less work, less hassle, more fun. Well done you.

    • says

      So Summer in Europe is not too hot? That’s the only reason I am thinking Autumn (bar wanting to run the marathon in September … but I could always run Paris instead in April!) As you say – we don’t really NEED to be in NE France.

      And as for the end of your comment – thank you. I have worked really hard over the last year to get to this lovely point in my life and I have to say … it is lovely!

  6. says

    Definitely doable. My hairdresser did what you’re proposing – did a house share and stayed for 3 months. They had a ball. You can make it happen – go for it!

  7. says

    Have a look if he can do some school over there – no kids yet but we dream of doing something similar, and I know in Belgium they start from a little over two years old!

    • says

      Wow – two years old!! Although I guess my J did start daycare at 1 and that is kind of like school – with structured and unstructured learning.

  8. says

    honestly, all these questions seem to be obstacles getting in the way of this dream – i would say – JUST GO FOR IT!
    the schooling issue – its 3 months! not 3 years
    where to stay? i think the house swap would be perfect! surely there are a few travel/house swap blogs out there that know all about this
    you can speak English – that’s a great start to getting by over there!
    go for it!
    absolutely wonderful, life changing experience

  9. says

    What a fab idea – we plan to be doing this in a few years (minus the marathon) :) I would go July, August, September – the summer is much milder than Perth, more like the weather we have had the last few weeks. Also consider would it be better with. 1.5 yr old that is perhaps not as mobile as a 2.5 into everything year old? Sometimes life is just easier when they are happy to sit in a pram :)
    Would also consider missing 4 yr old rather than pre-primary – what they are learning in pre-primary is phenomenal – reading and fractions!!!!!!!! 4 year old would be easier to miss.

    Anywhere in France is awesome (or Italy, or Germany :)) language wont be a problem, but they do appreciate it if you at least try – boulangerie and patisserie are pretty important :)
    How exciting, please keep us up to date with your plans xx

    • says

      LOL – but marathons are so fun!! And your feedback about months and ages of the kids and pre-primary matches in with what a few others have said so it’s nice that there is a bit of consensus there! It is definitely helping the plan take shape!

      And yes, I know Sarah P’s parents did a house swap … I am definitely going to be pumping her for info!

  10. says

    Stop analysing and keep dreaming ie let your dreams make the decisions. Missing 3 mths of school will pale in comparison to the education he’ll get in France!

    Also, do you really need to do the marathon at the same time? Just enjoy your dream. You can always pop over to Germany without the family to focus on the marathon another time ;)

    • says

      Ha ha yes I DO want to do the marathon at the same time. I am well used to combining sporting events with overseas trips. It almost seems a waste to go overseas and not work a marathon into the trip!

  11. says

    My two bob’s worth – go earlier rather than later. Pre-Primary IS school – probably the biggest foundation year of all, and if your Mr J is anything like my Munchkin, a teacher is able to teach when a Mum just can’t. I cannot believe the progress he has made this year. And besides, then it will be done and you’ll get to have another BIG dream to move onto. Pack ‘em in, I say! (Somewhat envious too…)

  12. says

    Sounds beyond wonderful!
    I’d say go sooner rather than later. I previously would have scoffed at being worried about kids missing any Pre-Primary, but these days it’s ridiculous how much they miss out on in one week! It’s all about reading, writing, pencil grip – compound words, FFS!!! I believe J would gain so much more from travelling abroad in his overall development, I just see how much pressure goes on in PP classrooms, so it’s fair enough to think it through.
    I also think July-September for weather. I’ve been in April and it was freaking cold!
    Look forward to your updates on this marvellous plan! xx

  13. says


    love the clear goals you’re setting and it really helps to make it real! I’d add another suggestion (a boring one) and that’s to think about the budget you have for your accommodation as this can vary widely depending on the area you choose (ie a rental in Provence is going to be on the more expensive side potentially whereas something in the Dordogne may be more affordable).

    Try these 2 great sites for looking at rentals across different regions of France – does rentals and home swaps – this website is for expats and covers a number of countries. You can select the country of your choice, then the region of your choice and review properties for rent in the classifieds.

    Transport – will you be driving whilsyt you’re there? Maybe look at car leasing although if you go home swap you may get access to a car – which is a great benefit.

    And one other thing – just in case you look at renting a house with a pool – just be careful – pool fences are not common at all in France/Europe so something to watch out for with young ones.

    I’d vote for making an attempt to learn some French as it will always come in handy – even if you don’t feel confident to engage in a full on conversation, you’ll understand a lot more of what’s discussed, signs, forms etc

    Good luck! Look forward to hearing how the plans develop.


  14. says

    Oh good for you Kelly! I would love to do something similar. I don’t think substituting a little of schooling for overseas travel is ever anything to worry too much about x

    • says

      It’s been this vague dream of mine forever and I was thinking to myself recently … time to make this thing happen because it’s not going to mysteriously happen on its own!!

  15. says

    On the language front; I’ve travelled round France a lot (I grew up in the UK), most French people speak excellent English… but having a basic grasp of the language goes a long way. September-November might be getting a little on the chilly side – if it were me, I’d look at the South of France. Utterly stunning and warmer weather xx

    • says

      Oh that is good to know Catherine. I had been told that in the villages the French don’t know English at all and that was kind of freaking me out. As for the months we do, I have definitely been dissuaded from the September to November option. I don’t like chilly!

  16. says

    Great dreams Kel!

    Until the kids hit High School anytime is fine … Really. What they’ll experience and learn will be irreplaceable. That said, language acquisition comes before age 6, so taking them while they are young is a definite consideration. It will be amazing what they will pick up.

    Any place in France is brilliant, except I’d keep away from the heavily British-purchased areas. It can be disappointing to live in your little French ville and not have any French locals.

    Learn some French, definitely. French country dwellers love you talking to them in their own language as bad as you may be. It is a different matter in Pairis.

    I lived in Paris, and this is where my daughter was born. I’d go live in France in a heartbeat!!

  17. Ink Paper Pen says

    We share this dream Kelly! I haven’t done my homework like you have though. I agree with Laney, I think the experience of France for three-six months is far more valuable for learning. Yes there is a strong focus on literacy in PP now but you could probably provide this (and so much more) on your journey. Speak with the teacher before you go and find out what they will be covering. How exciting!