Imagine a country where there are 35-hour work weeks, seven weeks of paid holidays, an hour and a half for lunch to go with multiple coffee breaks. Now imagine this in a country that has the 5th largest economy in the world. Imagine a country where the people eat the richest food in the world day in and day out, a place where you can buy duck fat by the kilogram, where smoking and drinking is pervasive and yet the people have some of the longest life expectancy in the world. Or a people who keep alive their mom-and-pop merchant class (2.4 million businesses in France but 2.25 million of them employ less than 10 people), who love nothing better than going to the public market on Sundays, and yet have some of the highest per capita rates of McDonald’s and is responsible for sharing with the world the concept of monster department stores a la Carrefour. This is the riddle that is France.
So why did we decide to move here? For one, these riddles are deeply interesting, and when the opportunity came up for my wife and I to try immerse ourselves into the living dichotomy, we decided it was an opportunity we shouldn’t pass up. I’ve always been one to try and gain new perspectives. As a family, we’ve always believed that exposing our children to multiple cultures and perspectives will help them become grow into well-rounded adults. As the world shrinks, we felt it was a good time in our lives to expose the four of us to new perspectives, different ways of thinking, and a whole new culture. For me personally, I’m excited to see these perspectives play out professionally at the office as well.
The fact that I took french immersion in school growing up helps, as I hope it’s only a matter of months before some sort of ‘fluency’ comes back to me. I know there will be huge challenges, from finding a place to live, to buying appliances and a car, to just integrating into the community. Having some grasp on the language is a big part of the reason we thought France would be a good option.
Of course, the thought of adventure was a big part in the decision. Annecy, France is an old lake town right in the alps, located near the Swiss border and not far from mountaineering and skiing classics. The smallness of Europe compared to Canada, with all it’s varying terrain and climates, played a big part in the decision to move. Our goal is to make sure we take advantage of these playgrounds during our stay in Europe, and so travel will be a big focus for us over the next 1,2,3, … ? years.
As for this blog, I’m hoping it lasts and that the entire family contributes to it. I’ve been bad at my attempts to write before. Time zones will make daily communication with family and friends a little harder, which I’m hoping will provide the impetuous to keep this thing going.
* Check out the book 60 Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong for more on what makes France so unique