In The Beginning…

Perhaps some of you will humor me. WordPress has just notified me that it is the ninth anniversary of beginning this blog. A special shout-out to Cindy Knoke who gave me my first like, and to all who have stopped and commented on this journey. Here is a re-blog of that original post with only a quote that was just added. I am grateful to the new friends I’ve made along the way and my love for France simply digs deeper into the soil around me. Thirteen years after moving here, I can state that this is, indeed, where I belong.

“I don’t even remember the season. I just remember walking between them and feeling for the first time, that I belonged somewhere.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

In The Beginning…

While I was born and grew up in California and had some family in different states and across western Canada, I never felt a part of the country that claimed my allegiance. The desire or perhaps need to travel beyond these boundaries was intense. There was an insatiable hunger for foreign films, stories and I wanted it all. While I have been to a few countries and enjoyed them tremendously, nothing but Europe would ever be home.

When an automobile accident cut short my career, I had to decide what to do with the rest of my life. As I did not have the income to continue my mortgage payments, the house would have to be sold. However, I would have to find a house that I could afford without a mortgage with whatever I could obtain. Although the market was spiraling downward, I was fortunate to have bought the property when things were more affordable and made enough, that if careful, I just might survive. With what I did make, there was no way to buy another property in California and I did not want to be there anyway. Dare I hope?

The advent of the internet made many things possible or at least much easier. I quickly became addicted to looking at property in Europe. Not only property but I could investigate many of the questions that would aid me in my decision, questions about the experience and day-to-day living. As the focus become clear, there was but one thing left to do. Armed with the information I had discovered and the advice of a dear friend, the search was over. I knew it in my bones that I would love France before I ever even saw it and I learned long ago to trust my instincts.

On May 9, 2006, I flew to France for the first time. I came armed with a rail pass and a return ticket in six weeks. During that time, I traveled around France and made some new friends that I kept in contact with by email and snail mail. The only difficulty was in leaving. It was heartbreaking to get on that plane back to California. My heart I left behind.

On October 31, 2007, I finally arrived back in Paris. The short flight to Toulouse was followed by a train ride to Carcassonne. Exhausted but supremely happy, I collapsed into the bed at the hostel in La Cite. I was finally home.




46 thoughts on “In The Beginning…

  1. We became blogging friends almost immediately and I’ve followed you ever since – happy 9th anniversary 🙂 x

    1. Absolutely. I noticed your “like” photo in some of the earlier posts and a few others that are still stopping by. I try to keep up with all your work and sometimes, I manage to do so. I’m afraid there are a few too many gremlins around just now. 🙂 x

      1. We both post only intermittently, these days, so very different from when we first started. Life gets in the way sometimes, ‘eh? 😘

      1. And I have enjoyed your posts so very much for a number of those years. I love the fact that you focus on nature and often the road less traveled. I’ve no doubt that Dublin and other large cities there are amazing, but I’ve had my fill of the cities and prefer to surround myself with nature.

      2. Please forgive me. I have spent little time in London but enough to know that all England is not London anymore than all France is not Paris. I did spend a month in Leeds back in the 90s and took several day trips from there but little was as spectacular as what you share. Thanks for opening up and sharing so much of your natural beauty and once again, I hope you will forgive me.

      3. Nothing to forgive, Léa 🙂
        Leeds was my home city…where I was born. Many of the places I share are not far from there, but you really need someome who knows the area well to tell you where to go to find the best places 🙂

      4. I enjoyed my time in Leeds and took several day trips. I was impressed with the people who were so very friendly. I’ve heard that the people up there were more friendly and in my experience it was certainly true. However, if I do get back over in that direction, I am more interested in seeing some of the natural wonders and one in particular. Ever since I read Remarkable Creatures, I have longed to visit a place called Lyme Regis. My imagination would go wild. However, I would also want to get to Cardiff where my grandmother came from. Thank you again. 🙂

      5. Lyme Regis is a favourite place for many… and Cardiff has plenty to see, though you need to get beyond the cty and out into the mountains to really appreciate Wales.

      6. I was intrigued after reading that book as I’ve no doubt there is a poem or two lying around on the shore… Yes, a short while in town for a quick peek and then off to see the real country. Thanks again.

  2. Bonjour et bienvenu en France 😊 un peu tard, probablement, mais ….. thanks for sharing this story (again) I wasn’t aware of it. But, you were one of the first couple of people following my blog, which grew 10 in September. Great, that you found me 😊

    1. I’ve enjoyed each of your posts. Alas, I do miss some. My current belief is that some cyber gremlins have taken hold of my laptop… 😉

  3. What a great share. I love your spirit of adventure and that you followed your heart and just knew that you belonged in France. No denying it. Congrats on 13 years in France and 9 years sharing your love of your home. Your post made me happy, Lea.

  4. It never seemed like an adventure. It was a simple homecoming. In the early research stage (where in Europe do I belong) a dear friend (who knew me well, and she knew France well) looked at me point-blank and said “You will go to France.” I actually hadn’t thought of it but it didn’t take long to know how right she was. Thank you for all your support and the inspiration in each of your posts.

  5. And a great nine years it has been, Léa. And it is also great to hear some of your backstory with your move to France, and the courage you found to make the move which could not have been easy. And the happiness, after thirteen years of you moving, you found a place perfect just for you. Cheers, and wishing you many more wonderful years. Take care ~

  6. Oh wow – so interesting to hear your story – what a brave step to move to a new country – Carcassone is def. a beautiful and also very historical place to be. Such a good choice

    1. There was nothing brave about it. I knew as a young child I belonged in the EU. I was right. It fit like a glove from the first day. No regrets. It is lovely to hear from you and to be able to read your work again.

  7. Actually, I’m not in Carcassonne. It is about 60k northwest of me. I’m near the sea between Narbonne and Perpignan. Parts of Spain are a frequent day trip, once Covid moves on…

  8. How very strange Lea tht after your visit this morning I decided to drop in on you and I chose this post. The strangeness is because you tell me the Wales is somwhere you want to visit and there you are settling in Carcassonne, a place I’ve had a longing to see because of the Cathars. I would normally say I’m truly sorry about a car accident ending your career but it sounds as though it was happenstance and helped you on a journey you needed to take.
    Many Hugs

    1. In my experience, many things happen for a reason. I have spent time in Carcassonne but found my house much closer to the sea. I ended up in a small village which I adore and the border to Spain is under an hour from here. The nearest beach is about fifteen minutes away. I am truly on the route des Cathars and have a lovely old Cathar cross that was made as a gift by a former neighbor. Armand is gone now as is his late wife. She was my first friend in our village of 700. Armand was the village ironmonger, his son worked alongside him and has only recently semi-retired. I believe that Jeanne and Armande feature in at least one of the earlier posts. I recently had a lovely visit from his great-grandson who is nearly seven and lives in Paris with his parents. A lovely family. If we keep our hearts and minds open, wonderful things often come our way.
      My love to Wales and hugs to you.

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