Love, Laughter and Provence

For many people ‘home’ is a fixed notion – a house, a city, a state, a country… But for many others, including TCKs, home is a much more fluid, less tangible notion. Home is a place of comfort and solace, a safe haven. Home is the presence of loved ones, wherever in the world that may be. Home is those oft-read books with creased bindings that are lovingly unpacked from boxes time and time again. Home is the trinkets sitting on shelves – each one makes you smile and brings back fond memories. Home is not a geographically fixed location; throughout our lives we’ve called many places home, but really home moved with us every time. Home is where you love and laugh.

When we first arrived in France, I never thought I would grow to love it like I have. We had just left Sydney and I was very unhappy. I missed the rich blue sky of Australia, the ocean, and my friends. I felt I could never be as happy in another place, as TCKs often do, and I resented being in Paris. If someone had told me then that I would fall in love with Paris and with France as a whole, I would have dismissed that comment, saying it was impossible. I was so very wrong. France, especially Paris and Provence, has a hold on my heart that no other country has ever had. It is the country I lived in the longest, and it is home in so many ways, even if I’m not living there currently. I have loved and laughed more there than anywhere else in the world. Paris gave me the love of my life, and Provence sealed that love with our wedding.

I love Paris very much, and I’m so lucky to have spent many beautiful years there, but no place calms me and invigorates me quite like Provence.  From the first moment we visited, spending 3 weeks of summer exploring the gorgeous region, it had a hold on us. Perhaps it’s the rich green vineyards, heavy with their colored grapes, or the lavender fields filling the air with their sweet fragrance, or perhaps the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, or the culture, the history, the food…There are so many reasons to entice you to stay, that it is hard to tear yourself away.

When we first went to Provence, I never imagined that I would choose to get married there. I believed I would marry wherever I was living, wherever was ‘home’ at that time. But knowing I could get married somewhere I could go back to, somewhere that meant so much to me, but also to my husband and my family, was so special. It means that I can return to the beautiful church where we got married, that I can sleep in the house where we celebrated, that I can see the same views I saw on our beautiful wedding day.

When my parents decided to get a house in Provence, I thought it was a nice idea, but I didn’t know then that it would also become a home. It wasn’t just walls and a garden, it was a true safe haven, a place of love and laughter; a place to call our own. After so many years of packing up and moving home with us, we finally had somewhere to go back to. For the first time in my life, a fixed location could begin to define home.

Home is indeed where you love and laugh, but it turns out that home is also a house is the heart of Provence.

How do you not fall in love with this?
How do you not fall in love with this?
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16 thoughts on “Love, Laughter and Provence

  1. Oh you lucky girl … Provence!! But once again your words ring true, even though your experiences vary so greatly from mine. My home is a town and a house, but more specifically my parents. I lost my beloved Dad on Easter Sunday of this year, and I returned home for the first time since just a week ago. So your words have a special meaning to me, foreign but familiar, and I am happy that you have one place to go that you can call home. When will you go next? I’d love to see a post just on that! Your writing, once again, is beautiful. Have a happy, sunny weekend!

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    1. As always, thank you for a beautiful comment, Paige. I am very sorry to hear about your dad and I send you my sincerest (though belated) condolences. I hope that returning home and being surrounded by loved ones helped through what must have been quite a difficult time. I’m happy that my words mean something to you – I’ve noticed lately that even with vastly different experiences, there are still similar emotions felt, and that’s what allows such special connections to be made between people. And blogging allows the opportunity to meet those people when we otherwise may never have crossed paths! I am not sure when I’ll be heading back to Provence next, but I hope soon as I haven’t been back since the wedding (2 years ago!), and I miss it very much! Once I’m back there, you can be sure there will be posts, with lots of photos too! 🙂 I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the summer!

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  2. My dear Dounia, what a treat to read this post! We are justement in the South of France so your words are particularly meaningful. My parents decided we ought to have a house in France since we moved around and had no physical ties to our native country, so about thirty years ago they bought this little summer house that we go back to every year. At first my sister and I were kids playing in the sea, and now it’s our kids (well especially mine, since Flo’s little girl is only two months old!) that we watch cavorting in the waves. It feels so right to see this continuity. Will you be in France this summer? As always a delight to read, your words make me appreciate just how fortunate I am to be a teacher and work with wonderful students who enrich my life well after they’ve left my class. Merci Dounia!

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    1. This was such a lovely comment to read, Anne! I am not surprised that you would understand this post, but it was wonderful to read your story and see just how closely you could relate to what I wrote! Since we had always moved around growing up and we’d never had a fixed place to go back to, my parents wanted to give us that. We had only been in France a couple of years when they made the decision, but we all know it was the right one. We love that home and it’s such a special place for us. I can’t wait to see the continuity like you mentioned – when we’ll be returning with our children and sharing this beautiful home with them. Unfortunately I won’t be in France this summer; planning around vacation days here is SO different from vacation days in France!! But hopefully we’ll be able to come back soon as we both miss it very much! I hope you’re doing well and that all your adorable little boys are having fun cavorting in the waves! And a belated congratulations to your sister! 🙂

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      1. What’s really nice is that the boys are now at an age where they have friends they see again every summer and remember from one year to the next! I’ve often heard that there’s a lot less vacation time in the US compared to Europe- sounds like you’re having that experience! Luckily Provence will not move and you will certainly be able to come back some time.
        How is your year starting? ASP resumed this week for kids (as I’m sure you know) and it’s as always a treat to be here. What’s up with the possible teaching post? Bises and thanks for your wonderful posts- they give a lovely extra dimension to my day, almost like a mediation!

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        1. It must be nice for them (and you) to have that continuity, especially now that they have friends they see every year. 🙂 Yes, there are A LOT less vacation days in the US compared to Europe, which isn’t great at all, but as always you just make it work and make the best of it! Like I mentioned in my earlier comment to you (on another post), I definitely miss being around schools like ASP (and being in Paris and Provence!), but I hope that I’ll get chances to be back in the future, even if I don’t know when! I really wanted to thank you for all your comments – it’s so wonderful to get them and they never fail to make me smile. I’m really happy you enjoying the blog and that you take so much time to leave your thoughts; it really means a lot! 🙂

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  3. What a beautiful post, and what sweet sentiments! This line really hit home to me, “Home is those oft-read books with creased bindings that are lovingly unpacked from boxes time and time again.” That is exactly where we are right now! Unpacking our beloved books and making our house into a home. I so enjoyed your rosy view of the world, and what a beautiful photo!

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Melissa! I’ve read your latest posts and I smiled when I read the one about unpacking all the books because I know that feeling so well! It always feels so nice to open up those boxes and find all those things we love so much and that truly make our house into a home 🙂

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  4. Congrats on finding a home! It’s gorgeous! I’d love to see your wedding pics. I’m sure you looked stunning and the location was surely beautiful. I loved Australia, too. We had our honeymoon there. France is special. Paris is not always an easy place for Americans, but once you get passed that, it truly is a magical city. Thank you for sharing! Your words are so touching and you have an amazing talent to write. I love following along!

    Carmen

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    1. Thanks for such a sweet comment, Carmen! Australia for your honeymoon must have been amazing! Where did you go? I haven’t had a chance to go back since we left in 2000, but I would love to… Just another place on the list of where to visit! 🙂 I’m really happy you enjoyed this post; it means a lot to me that you’re following and commenting, so thank you again!

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