When I went off to college in 1973 to study Spanish and inevitably other languages, it seemed logical that I was destined to travel. I had specific plans to do so but for various, sometimes personally complicated reasons they never worked out. I got as far as Mexico on many occasions, but never beyond that. To say the least, I was disappointed. My aspirations lay much farther afield in Europe — particularly Spain and, as one might assume, many other countries such as Italy and France. However, life intervened and twenty years went by without ever getting to travel off this continent.
Then, in 1994, I completely revamped my life and started fresh. This time I had a partner who not only had traveled much of the world but was willing and anxious to travel more and share it with me. For starters, he promised to take me to Paris in 1999. Considering all the things we had to deal with as we began our new life together, this was an admirable goal. Needless to say, we got a little sidetracked taking care of business so it wasn’t until 2006 when our dream finally took flight. April in Paris… I will never forget standing on the Pont des Arts and looking directly at the Tour Eiffel for the very first time. I was moved to tears — an uncommon reaction for me. I couldn’t believe I was (finally!!) actually there. We spent an amazing ten days touring the city. It was everything I had dreamed of and more.
After this experience, a little seed planted itself in our brains — one that would sprout and grow into the dream of retiring in France. So, in 2012, we decided it was time to get to know France beyond Paris because, as is often said, “Paris is not France and France is not Paris”. We planned a comprehensive 1700-mile, 7-week driving tour of France. At the same time, we started this blog. You can read all about our experiences in the 2012 posts and go to the Tour 2012 page to see all of our destinations. In the process, we came to know so much about the true France that most Americans never learn. Among other things, it possesses incredible diversity, many warm and welcoming people, and it is a veritable culinary heaven in countless ways. We were fascinated with it all but rather exhausted at the end of our long journey and definitely ready to return home — basically coming to the conclusion that retiring in France was not for us.
However, we were far from finished with France. While on our 2012 trip, we discovered southwestern France, specifically the Dordogne region and fell in love with it. In 2015, as our dream to retire in France surprisingly resurfaced, we realized it was time for a second tour focused on this area. Once again, I diligently planned a 600-mile, 8-week trip that would allow us to visit in depth potential retirement locations. We came away from an extremely successful experience with a very clear idea about where we wanted to live and totally ready to launch ourselves in that direction.
For the next year, we dedicated ourselves daily to extensive research about France, what it would take to move there, and an intensive study of the French language in order to prepare for our 2016 trip to our chosen retirement locale just outside of Périgueux about two hours from Bordeaux. As far as we were concerned, we already had one foot on French soil. At that point, just one year away from retirement, we seemed poised to make the leap across the pond. Well, if you have read any of the more recent posts here, you know how this trip turned out… not exactly as planned. Somewhere in all the chaos, between returning unexpectedly from France, seeking medical care, and getting resettled at home, we arrived at “Plan B”. More about that in our next post…
If you are purely a Francophile, you might not be so enthused about continuing to read this blog. But if you are curious about how people deal with major unexpected and sometimes dire circumstances in their lives, stay positive, move on, and still find excitement and adventure, then you might want to follow along. We hope you do.