Welcome to La Vie en Vosges!

We are Richard (English) and Anne-Sophie (French), we met in England and after too many years living the rat race in London we decided to finally take the jump and start a new life in the French countryside (Alsace). We moved to a small town called Cernay at the end of 2009. This blog is about us settling in, to keep in touch with our friends and hopefully also to give some inspiration to other people who are thinking of changing life!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas time

Happy Christmas everyone!

I'm very excited about Richard finally moving in on Sunday, a month apart has been too long. He finally decided to leave his job yesterday rather than following a potential work from home possibility that was looking more and more shabby.

So 2010, here we come! It will be a year of big changes for us. So far I have not regretted my choice of moving country once, although I miss everyone in the UK so much. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

See you next year!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Last weekend before Christmas

Back at my parents for the weekend, we finally got some snow last night. We must have been the last part of Europe to get any! I went for a quick Christmas shopping trip in Strasbourg this morning and found the ground very very slippery. Still, very pleased to have managed to get everything I wanted on the same day without too much stress.

Had a bit of a panic when I entered a shop that I believed to be Zara and did not like any of the clothes displayed. My world suddenly went upside down! Only when I left did I realise than it was not a Zara anymore. My Zara radar could never fool me! :)

Back home I helped my mum to prepare the tradional 'bredala', the little Alsatian Christmas cakes. It's a kind of military operation. There are some many different kind of bredala, and the whole point is to bake lots of different ones.

So you have to be very organised in the kitchen.

Then we like to put them in little bags and give them to people. It's like bredala swap time. Obvioulsy each family does special bredala so you can try different sorts each time.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


When I woke up this morning everything was covered of a bit of snow. Apparently next week we'll get as cold as -6 degrees!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

New Years Eve

I don't want to spend NYE here all on our own...

I want to go there: British Sea Power and Brakes hosting a NYE party at the Grand Central in Brighton, a pub that was once my local!!!

But there are no flights available anymore :((((((((((((((((((((

Please please Brighton friends, go and tell BSP their biggest French fan misses them. Still not sure how I'll survive with less than 10 BSP gigs a years!

Shocking discoveries

1) There's an advert for Jelly on French TV. So Richard won't be too lost after all.

2) There is a French X Factor too. And pretty much all participants play at least one instrument on stage. I'm not sure who the judges are though! I ended up crying at a cover of Against all Odds from Phil Collins the other night. Oops!

3) I missed Inspector Navarro an awfull lot during all those years. His daughter is all grown up now, she's even left home! Navarro is a little bit like the Charles Ingalls of the Little House in the Prairie: always strong, always right, always there for the ones he loves. I love french crime series!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tuesday the 8th of December

Yesterday evening I had my first horseriding lesson in 2 years . Ouch ouch ouch. I think I'll give up the idea of 2 hours a week for the time being! I'm really struggling to walk and my abs are killing me today. It looks like all the cycling I had done in London communiting to work did not help too much in the end! Perhaps I should have followed the advice of my local gym which kept texting / emailing / calling me to get me going again :)

I knew that moving would not be easy, and today I'm feeling pretty low. Being here on my own is very lonely. All my colleagues leave at 6pm on the dot, and I really miss the pub! In the UK colleagues would always invite new starters for a drink; I think it's a great way to get to know people. Certainly it worked in my previous workplace :) But here, the combination of missing Richard, not having any friends around, living in an empty flat and starting a new job is all a bit much. I feel like I'm on some kind of parallel universe isolated from all my friends. It's 6.24pm and the whole office is deserted... culture shock!

To kill time, I am planning a trip to my local supermarket, because it is still a novelty. Those of you who have been to a French 'hyper' before will know what I mean. They are huge, they sell lots and lots of yummy things, technology, books, decoration etc. (think along the lines of Waitrose/John Lewis ). My little town, Cernay, is already colonised by the Leclerc hypers. There's one for food, one for online shopping pick up, one for sport gear and another enormous one for DIY and decoration. Yet they are still building another one that will become one of the largest Leclerc in France; it will not only be HUGE supermarket but will also contain some kind of 'cultural center'.

I would usually complain against such things, however in my situation the presence of these big shops reassures me somehow. If they were not there, I would actually need to organise my weekly shopping; but having always lived in big cities I am completely unable to do so. And while I am so bored here it's nice to compensate with a little bit of compulsive shopping.

While I was typing these words, a nice lady from another department came to say hello; having moved from Paris recently herself, she understood the difficulties of relocating. It was such a nice thing to do, and already now I feel much better with plans for lunch later this week and the possibility of joining a weekly lunchtime gym session!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A few pics

Here is a little picture I took of a view from our balcony. Straight ahead one can see the pre-Alps and the Alps when the sky is clear; on the left there's the Black Forest and on the right the Vosges.

It's been snowing a bit last week and there are some patches of snow on the summits.

Every morning, the first thing I do is to open all the blinds to check if more snow has fallen; the excitement has not worn out yet, and I look forward to the morning when suddenly all the mountains will be covered in snow.
There is something really exciting about being back on the continent and thinking that no sea separates me from the rest of Europe anymore. Germany and Switzerland are only a few kilometers away, Italy, Luxebourg and Belgium are not too far either. I love thinking that I could just take my car and go.
There is a lot to do in the area, from outdoor sports to wine tasting and history. I just can't wait to start properly exploring, and have some friends visiting!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

First impressions

Today it's been my first weekend back in France and I've decided to drive back to my parents; after all, they've only seen me twice a year for the past 9 years and it's always nice being fed and taken care of every now and again.

My thoughts of the day so far:

1) Somehow when you drive a small car, every other driver on the road feels the need to overtake you, even when completely unecessary / dangerous. It seems that alpha-males feel really degraded driving behind a Smart.

2) Shopping at Ikea on your own is a great experience. Being able to get whatever you fancy without compromising or having to explain yourself (yes, I really need more perumed candles). The best being to observe that 90% of the couples / families around you are arguing; it's the Ikea / pre-Christmas combination that drives everyone mad.

Right, I'm off to watch a classic French TV programme. Unlike in the UK the Miss France election is broadcasted on national television here. The lady who organises the competition, Mme de Fontenay, wears amazing hats.


Hello and thanks for stopping at La Vie en Vosges!

This blog is the story of a little relocation adventure. Me and my fiancé Richard decided to leave London and the rat race for greener pastures in France.

I am French and had been in the UK for about 9 years, while Rich is English. We decided to move back to the Alsace, the area I'm from. After a few months planning things out we finally moved to Cernay, a big village near Basel/Mulhouse, last weekend.

From busy Hackney to the sleepy Alsatian countryside, this blog will be a way for us to keep in touch with friends and family, share our experiences and will also be at times, I'm sure, some kind of therapeutic exercise!

See you back soon I hope,