An Aussie Family in France

Australians in France

It’s hard to believe that we have been living in France for six weeks now. I know that we have been a bit quiet on the blog as we’ve settled in, so it’s time for an update on what we’ve been up to, and how things are going on Our Global Adventure. After all, it’s not every day that you find an Aussie family in France.

Australians in France

“Hey Oscar look at that castle.” “Hey Dad look at those fish!”

Those who have been following Our Global Adventure will know that we came to live here in early September. We’re at a Housesitting opportunity at a Chateau near the city of Chatellerault in Western France. This housesit is probably more like a Wwoofing or Helpx situation, as the owners of the Chateau are still here, working beside us every day.

Australians in France

The work arrangement here is very fair and we are enjoying it very much. There are no start or finish times. Whilst we roughly work 10 – 6 with an hour stop for lunch, this is quite enjoyable, with plenty of time to stop and chat with our French hosts or another Australian couple that are staying here in the Gate House. Our day is also broken up with doing the school drop off and pick-ups, our grocery shopping, baking, washing and other family duties like homework with the kids. If it’s cold and raining outside, we may have a slower start to the day, if I want to spend the afternoon baking a cake, then I do. There are no hard and fast rules about how many hours we do each day.

Australians in France

Bottling wine at the Chateau. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!

For the past six weeks we have been involved in a variety of jobs. Simon has enjoyed getting back into some metal work repairing and replacing the gates on the six wells around the property. He has also cut grass, levelled ground and planted more lawn seed. Right now he is enjoying sitting on a small earth mover digging trenches to replace pipes. I have rubbed back and painted a section of fence, done weeding in the vegetable patch and garden, picked all the apples from the orchard, and collected the walnuts to be stored for the Autumn.

We’ve also spent our days visiting a local produce market with an amazing selection of local specialties. The monthly market at Lencloitre sells everything from fruit and vegetables to baked goods, cheese, chickens and ducks, and Simon’s favourite the cured sausages called saucisson. Of course, this is France so a visit to the Boulangerie (bakery) or Patisserie is also a treat. We are lucky enough to have a car to use, shared with the other housesitters staying at the chateau. As autumn has settled in we have also been blessed with Chestnuts falling from trees, (Oscar’s new favourite) and a warm fire to roast them over.

Australians in France

Mmmmm. Fresh eels anyone? Yes you can choose your own live eel to BBQ at a market in France.

Australians in France

How about a duck to fatten up for Christmas?

Whilst we are not getting out to explore as much as we did in Ireland, no one seems to mind this slower paced rural lifestyle, (it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s all work and no play!). We have had a few day trips out to nearby towns of Chinon, Saumur and Poitier and also a recent weekend in Paris. Simon and Lucy returned to Dublin for a couple of days as well, for a concert that Lucy had received tickets for as a birthday present.

Australians in France

Australians in France

So what have the children been up to whilst mum and dad are busy maintaining the grounds of a Chateau in the French countryside? You may recall, that the children who have been homeschooled for the past 18 months were enrolled in the local school to attend with the French children here at the property. Whilst all of us entered into this with some trepidation, I am pleased to say that despite speaking barely a word of French when they began, both children are enjoying the experience and learning more French every day. Lucy settled quite quickly. Within a couple of days she was lucky enough to have a couple of girls who spoke a little English take her under their wing. English is the second language of the school (there is also Spanish, German and Latin offered) and there are a couple of kind English Teachers who have also helped Lucy out when language barriers arose. Oscar took a few weeks to settle in. His teacher speaks less English, and there are no English speaking children in his class, so he was quite literally thrown in the deep end! In the beginning there were a few tears in the morning when it all became too much because he’d also picked up a cold at school and was feeling low. But with lots of encouragement he has stuck it out, made some friends and now leaves in the morning, and comes home a happy boy. A saving grace has been that children in primary school in France only attend four days a week. Each week Oscar has Wednesday off (even Lucy only does a half day) and this break has helped Oscar who needs the down-time after a couple of days of brain strain at school! Initially we’d asked the children to give school four weeks before making any decisions about staying or giving it up. Now that we’ve reached the six week mark, and half term break, they are both settled in and happy to return for another six weeks until Christmas.

Australians in France

French picnics must include a baguette!

Which brings us to our plans for Christmas and beyond. At the moment we have requested to stay at the Chateau until January. We are all thoroughly enjoying our stay here, and our gorgeous little farm house is the perfect setting for a warm and cosy French Christmas celebration. We are looking forward to experiencing Christmas markets and tasty sweet treats like Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) and Galette des rois (King’s Cake). Our Christmas dinner will be a mixture of Traditional French and English dishes. Can you tell how much we are enjoying French food?!

Australians in France

As for 2016, well, we are thinking of finally making our way toward the United Kingdom. These months in France without an income will make a dent in our savings, so picking up some work in England is on the cards if we hope to continue travelling beyond that. But, as always, our plans are loose, and we are confident that just the right move will present itself. Right now we are busy looking for another housesit (or similar situation to the one that we are in) in England, so that we can ‘test the waters’ before committing to staying long term in a rental property.

Australians in France

“Look honey take my picture, I’ve got the pyramid in my hands”. Oscar having his “Despicable Me” moment.

All in all, life is good for this Aussie Family in France. All four of us are happy, relaxed and well settled in. Our Global Adventure took a surprise turn bringing us this way, but it has turned out to be a wonderfully fulfilling experience.

Australians in France

“Where’s mum going?” “Oh she’s off to look in another church.”

4 thoughts on “An Aussie Family in France

  1. I enjoyed reading this post soooooooooo much and can’t wait to “experience” your French Christmas. Well done family. Bravo!!

  2. certainly looks like you are enjoying life to the fullest,maybe simon requires some more brogo hills walking after getting into the french sweets,actually you all look to be in pretty good nick,i loved the french language when i was in high school but unfortunately i have forgotten most of it now,maybe oscar and lucy good give me a few lessons one day when you return,our house is at the fixout stage and the kitchen is ready to go in,the plaster is all finished and the painter will star inside next week,they are trying to get us in for xmas so we are keeping our fingers crossed ,we have our caravan set up in shed at marlo so we spend more time up there now,just come back to sale for a few days to pickup more plants and stuff,oscar will be happy to know that we have ticks at marlo although we havent picked any up yet the locals know that they are around,we have met some great people at marlo and already have been having dinners and get togethers for drinks with some of our neighbours,plenty of offers to go fishing offshore in good boats as well as lake fishing,we also have some redneck wallabies and easter greys visting our block and quite alot of birds,i have made some possum boxes and microbat boxes to hang in the few large trees that we have,so they will find there new homes eventually we are both keeping fit and minut is in good nick,we are loving living near the ocean and hearing the waves crashing of an evening,we still miss youall lots and hope you enjoy xmas,great pics keep them coming,luv and hugs len,mina and a lick from minutxxxxoooo

    • Thanks Len! It’s great to hear from you and Mina. Wow! Sounds like your house is really coming on, and that a LOT can happen in a year. Perhaps we will need to return to your gorgeous little corner of Australia one day so that we can see the finished product 🙂 We know that you and Mina will make it a wonderful eco-friendly home – although I’m sure no one swill mind if you can figure out a way to eradicate the ticks! There must be some in the forest behind our house here in France as well because the dog we are caring for gets them occasionally. They don’t seem to bother her though, but of course we use the tick-remover to take them off. Luckily Oscar has not managed to attract any yet, which is surprising given his record at Brogo! It’s a lovely big property with plenty of space to stretch our legs, which is helpful when we are eating far too much yummy French food. We’re looking forward to Christmas here, and then we’re off to England in 2016 for more housesitting, so we’ll keep you all posted on how we’re getting on. Give our love to Mina and of course little Minut,
      Love from The Nitschke Clan xx

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