Showing posts with label Annecy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Annecy. Show all posts

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Amazing Annecy - Part One

What is it about France that attracts? Why do so many Australians feel such a connection to France, and why do so many push convention aside for a chance to experience first-hand what French living is all about?

In my occasional series on Australians in France, we have already met Jodie, Tahnee and Meredith, all with very different, but cherished, French stories. They go some way to answering these questions.

Today, I'd like you to meet Fiona and her family in the first slice of a two-part interview.

Fiona, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. You are originally from Melbourne but have been living for several years now in Annecy in the French Alps. Can you tell us a bit about your family and what it was that prompted you all to head to France?  

For us, moving to France is a good example of what can happen when you set an intention to do something. My husband, Paul, and I got together when we were quite young and after our university years, a lot of our friends went to live in London or took off on a year backpacking around Europe. By then, we were already immersed in building a business and couldn’t possibly leave for more than a few weeks. But at that time, before we were married or had children, we decided that when we had children of primary school age, we would go and live in either France or Italy for a year.

Having planted that seed of an idea, we kept it in mind and with our youngest child about to start school, we did a 2-week recce trip to Annecy and fell in love with the place. Paul was running a business with his brother but was primarily working online with a team of developers from around the globe, so he knew his work would be portable. On the other hand, I was running a different business (WordOfMouth.com.au) and, along with my co-founder, we were managing an office full of people. At that stage, my partner and I had been working on the business for 9 years and after some deep thinking and conversations, we decided to sell. A few months later, the business was acquired, and we started putting the wheels in motion to move to the other side of the globe.


To undertake a trip such as yours there must have been a fair amount of preparation? What were some of the things on your pre-departure to-do list and do you have any hints for families who might be thinking of doing the same thing?

There was a lot of preparation in terms of packing up our house, putting our affairs in order, selling our cars and various other things, and getting our house ready to rent, but for us, the hardest part was getting our visas. Neither of us had European nationality and while we knew we could easily get a one-year visa, we wanted the option to stay for longer. Eventually, after reading through all the options, we decided to apply for the “Competences et Talents” visa, a 3-year, renewable visa. We were unsure as the lawyers we were talking with strongly advised against this, saying that they’d never seen this type approved. But we seemed to tick the criteria, so we decided to apply ourselves. We were very nervous about whether this would be successful so put a lot of effort into our application. Then, Paul had to fly to Sydney to present our case - but fortunately, it worked, and we were granted the visa. It shows that the professional advice you receive is not always to be relied on!

How did you end up choosing Annecy and how long did you set off for?

Our very initial thought was to spend one year in France, but as we realised the logistics of packing everything up, we questioned why we should restrict ourselves to just one year. So we left with the intention of spending “a few years” in France. (It’s now been 3 and we’re still loving it here!)

Similarly, we initially thought to find a really small town in rural France. But then, we were driving through a very rural area of Victoria on the way back from a camping trip and we realised that we’d never live in such a tiny town in Australia, so why should we do that in France?

We still didn’t know where to live though so we started asking our friends for advice. We had a few criteria we were hoping to meet… somewhere near ski fields, near a large airport and a town that was not too big, and not too small. We have a lot of friends that are keen cyclists and several of those suggested Annecy. This area meets all those criteria and more! In fact, one of my favourite things is living on the lake.

You have two children. How easily have they made the transition into French living? Can you tell us a bit about their experiences of school, making friends, adjusting to new routines, food etc? 

We were worried about how our children would go, but like most people seem to say, this turned out to be nothing to worry about at all. Our daughter, Bianca was 7 years old and our son, Benjamin was 5 (almost 6). We’d tried to expose them to a bit of French language, but it was very difficult to do this from Australia and they (understandably) were not particularly interested. 

After a few months of school here, they were speaking French comfortably. Even the transition period was not too bad - there were never any tears or protests about going to school as I’d expected. We did notice that they were extremely tired though and it was a good thing there was no school on Wednesdays as after two days, they needed some recovery time. 

As I recall, Benjamin had decided that he “wasn’t going to learn French” so after a month or so of school, I asked him how he was going with the French. He replied saying that he still wasn’t learning French, but it was ok because his teacher was now speaking a lot more English. This puzzled us for a moment, but then we realised that his teacher was definitely not speaking English, but he was understanding her speaking French - so in his mind it was English!!

Before leaving, we also wondered whether we would have any friends or whether we’d just have to get used to our own company all the time! However, as it turned out, there are a lot of expats living in this region and very quickly, we were surrounded by great groups of interesting people. Of course, our intention was also to mix with French people, and we’ve now got some great friends through the school, and also through the first Airbnb that we rented.

In Part Two, Fiona shares a personal story. A must-read for those of you who have been thinking, dreaming, talking about your next step.
Until then. Thank-you Fiona.

And, of course, another French story for you ...ours... 'But you are in France, Madame'. Here for your Kindle or as a print copy.

Friday, 10 February 2017

My husband cycles. I don’t...







February 10 was a big day last year too. After a bit of persuasion to go down the ebook route, I succumbed and listed on Amazon. This year, it was the hottest February day on record in Sydney and France Today published an article that I had written. It was my birthday, too...but that's an annual, less unpredictable event.


Thanks for reading and sharing!


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Towards the title


A few things have brought a smile to my face recently.... I reached 100 K views on my Google plus page, there was a slowing down in the number of Instagram followers who were deserting me each day (my daughter keeps telling me to stop taking social media so personally), the banner and publicity material that I had ordered for my market stall arrived and looked, to me anyway, beautiful and exactly as I had hoped, the flyer for my book talk at the library was finalised, and the attendees for the talk itself ran to a waiting list with a full-house on the day. But, nothing compared to having 'But you are in France, Madame' placed on the shelves of a proper bookstore.

I'll be lucky to pocket a couple of dollars per book sold, so the thrill came not from the expectation of financial gain. It came from a sense of validation. The book industry is a tough industry to enter, understand and stand out in and the last three years (two for the writing and one since pushing the button on 'publish') have been hard, filled with self-doubt and disillusionment. I needed this small something to help keep me going.



For those who do not know my family's story, I began writing 'But you are in France, Madame' several months after arriving back in Australia after 3 1/2 years of living in the French Alps. The first few months for the family (years for me) were difficult. I talked a lot, in those early days, about what we had experienced in France. Eventually, talking was not enough and I started to write. Admittedly, I had no certainty of ever finishing something as enormous and unknown as a book and even less of publishing it. I wish I had known how things would turn out as I would have enjoyed the process so much more. Throughout the two years that I was writing, a long list of magnificent book titles presented themselves to me, revealed their unsuitability in the days that followed and were swiftly relegated.

You don't eat sushi outside Paris came, went, came back and stuck and was the title that I eventually used to submit my book to a selection of Australian publishing houses. It was a throw-away line from one of our French friends. We had met in Australia but caught up with him and his family in Italy, in the beautiful city of Florence at the end of our first year abroad. It was a joy to see them and to re-live the time that had passed since both families had undertaken their latest adventures. Affected by the difficulties that were stymying our transition to successful French living, we nonetheless tried to conversationally minimise our deceptions. Our host was not to be fooled. "You don't eat sushi outside Paris", he answered. This was his way of reassuring us and acknowledging that there were indeed rules to be followed but that it was particularly difficult to follow them if you didn't know that they even existed.

I see now that this first title was too obscure plus I didn't hear back from the publishers, so went back to work re-drafting the entire manuscript, including the title.

I loved my next attempt and even had a cover made up for Five go to France (see above). I don't have short hair and my husband is not blond, but the illustrator somehow captured a little of the personalities of the three children in her drawing, despite me giving her only the title and not much else to go on. Potential copyright issues from the publishers of Enid Blyton, whose books I loved as a child, made me pull the rug on that title too.

The story behind the next and final title But you are in France, Madame is one that I have recounted before. It was the conclusion to an actual conversation that I had and a subtle reminder of the existence of a special French something that we were learning to live and appreciate. It felt right, especially when coupled with the photo taken by my husband of our son, running through the streets of Noyers-sur-Serein on one of our family holidays.

My French friends, on the other hand, they smile and nod their heads when they first see the book in print. They require no further explanation of the title.



Tuesday, 30 August 2016

19ième Montée de La Tournette


Leaving at 7.30 am from the Talloires Port this Sun 4th September, if you are brave enough!

At 2351 m, La Tournette is the highest of the mountains around Lake Annecy. Many choose to drive to the Chalet de l'Aulp and complete the track to the top on foot (count on 3 hours). It is a strenuous enough walk, requiring the use of chains and ladders in the more difficult sections. Bravo, therefore, to all those who add speed and competition to the mix!

If spectating is more your thing, the celebratory buffet lunch will begin around 13h in Talloires... never an event without food and drink in this part of the world.






Monday, 18 July 2016

Tour de France beauty


The Tour de France is heading towards the Alps this week and will showcase our beautiful Haute Savoie region over three Stages. Take particular note of Stage 19 on Friday the 22nd July when the Tour will pass through our village of Talloires on the Annecy Lake. 

  • Stage 18. 21st July. Time trial from Sallanches to Megève
  • Stage 19.  22nd July. Mountain Stage from Albertville to St Gervais. Passing by Lake Annecy and through our village of Talloires before tackling the Col de La Forclaz
  • Stage 20.  23rd July. Mountain Stage from Megève to Avoriaz passing over the Col des Aravis that divides the Haute Savoie from the Savoie.

Here is an avant-goût (taster) of the beauty that you will see. For more images of the village and the area do take a look at our personal site: https://lecormorantalloires.wordpress.com


The bay of Talloires



Looking across the Annecy Lake to Duingt. Look closely to see the castle on the tip of the promontory.

The Dents de Lanfon are in the background

Hop off and on the ferry to visit the Annecy Lake

The Bauges Mountains with Talloires in the foreground.

Our gorgeous village of Talloires

The village



The Abbey - now a hotel but originally a monastery. Due to celebrate it's 1000 years in 2018!

The water of the lake is perfect for swimming, boating...




If you haven't visited - it really is worthwhile.

And, for more information about the Tour - click here http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2016/us/stage-19.html