May 10, 2016

Moving to Provence.

We are moving to Aix-en-Provence, France this summer.

The pace of the project is swifter than we expected; we put our house on the market a couple of weeks ago and within about a week it was done. Made it hard to decelerate what we had set in motion.

On our recent trip to Aix, we found a house. The trip was really a house treasure hunt and we walked away feeling like we had won. It took just 3 visits and then we knew it when we caught sight of it. It is a big old bastide (~17th c.) charged with all the charm of Provence.

We are all walking away from a New York City life: stirring in all the best and worst ways – our city streets have a pulse, dynamism and force all their own. The girls don’t know suburbia and they certainly don’t know pastoral life. Their loping is limited to stretches of grass in Central Park, which, in all its splendor, still isn’t sweeping. We are all accustomed to screeching sirens and horns honking just outside our windows. We want to get closer to nature – to wild things and raw sun. I want them to know those things by heart - as a constant, not just in summer patches.

That said, we love New York City. Wet eyes when I think about really leaving. A tribute to come. It is where Xavier and I met 10 years ago, it was where all the girls were born, it is where two of my brothers and our dearest friends live, it is where we bought our amazing house – it has been our place.

When we told her,
Colette said: “We won’t live in New York City anymore?”
I replied: “No, but we love New York and may come back some day.”
Colette: “Will we look different then?... Will our friends be gone?”
I choked back lament.

They are antipodes: New York and Aix-en-Provence. A move this radical requires some serious commitment, strategy and planning. Good thing I look at Xavier and think to myself, there is not one person on earth with whom I would rather partner for a move across an ocean with small children. Xavier is completely undaunted by this sort of thing.

I have been daydreaming for a long time about this move; pining for certain things in Provence. My list is something like:

Green green grass
Sun (over 300 days a year)
My girls in the sun
Marguerite in regular doses
Bicycling on streets without taxis
A swimming pool (lifelong dream)
Our own olives for pressing
Learning to cook à la provençal (or, at all, really)
Time - stretched out with my girls and Xavier:
Time to compose photographs
Time to write
Time to play
Time to train a puppy
Time to drop Colette off at school every day
Time to get Colette and Romy started on the piano
Time to teach them to swim
Time to study their little faces long enough to watch them grow before my eyes

I am ready to give up a finance/business lexicon I was never comfortable speaking. (Although I will admit I have ambitions to one day write a play about my experiences). I have felt disconnected from myself – stretched in bad and good ways too – working in that industry. I’ve become more rigorous and less fun (I hope to coax that side of me back out) and I’ve worn a serious expression far too much of the time I spent there (6 years!). Those years helped build structure for things to come – including some components of this move, so I don’t regret them.

Maybe we are pushing our luck with this whole thing - but we are 100%. Provence, here we come.


Unknown said...


A) I love the house so much. Just lovely.

B) I identify with much of what you've written (the disconnect with your corporate job, your desire for green and wildness, etc.)

C) We loved Provence so much when we visited. I hope we'll come be your neighbors someday.


Being a transplanted New Yorker ensconced in Paris, I find it hard to leave my little French world. I hear you, Emilie, and I think it's a great idea. You have each other and now a blue sky all year round, too! Bravo!

Marnie said...

What a stunning house! Good luck with the relocation. The girls will adjust and, really, there is nothing like growing up your kids in a slower, more pastoral environment. Exciting!!

Test said...

Hi Emilie! Memories of you in Paris, your girls are so lucky! Congrats on returning. xx Alanna

Shelli said...

Hi Emilie, I'm so excited you'll be back in France. It's always seemed to be where your heart was and having the girls together and so close to all the Jolys will be wonderful. Good for you for realizing you don't get time back, you need to use it when it's here.

I've been reading your blog since Paris and have really enjoyed seeing your family grow. Bonne chance!

Unknown said...

Emilie! "Time to study their little faces long enough to watch them grow before my eyes." brought tears to my own eyes. I wish you the very best in this new adventure! I so look forward to seeing updates on your blog. xx

fashion survivor said...

You guys certainly live the life. Aix will be wonderful and NYC will always be there.

RebeccaNYC said...

Oh how wonderful, and I look forward to following you via your blog on this next adventure! The house looks AMAZING. What a dream come true.

And as I mentioned on IG, after living around the corner from you here in Harlem for the past (?) years...I have lived here for 15 husband and I are moving to the area around Uzès when I retire from the Met in 3 years time. So I'll be "around the corner" from you once again.

Best wishes in your move!
RebeccaNYC @mybackstageopera

Sonja said...

Not many of us have the self-awareness to know what we need or the courage to make the changes necessary to achieve it. I'm so impressed you have both and I look forward to hearing about your new discoveries. The house is beautiful. Good luck!

Emilie said...

Thanks everyone! Such sweet thoughts and wishes. Packaging them up to take with us.

Quiana said...

So excited for you! I'm a longtime follower and former Hamilton Heights resident. Look forward to following your journey and if you don't follow her already, Design Mom's family of 6 kids and their experiences in France are quite exciting as well! They too used to live in NYC but are now in CA and own a home in France about to head there for the summer. Best wishes!

Michelle UK said...

Congratulations. Bravo. Bloody stupendous.

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