Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Farewell, Ain!

In case you’ve been wondering why I’ve suddenly vanished, I’m in the middle of a transcontinental move with my husband. We’ve been planning to move from a little French village in Ain to Michigan for quite some time, so it feels a little surreal now that it’s actually happening. 

Goodbye, Ain! I'll miss the views!
As we approached the actual move date, things began to get more and more chaotic, and it seemed like tons of disasters started to pop up out of nowhere.  A water pipe in our bathroom broke, and we had to somehow move a harpsichord down three flights of stairs with less than 48 hours notice.  Some of the folks who planned to take our furniture backed out, so we spent more time than expected sawing apart large wood and metal structures for disposal.  During all of this, we were trying to prepare our stuff for the movers, sort through what we would ship and replace, inventory and value all our belongings, clean the apartment, and also try to keep up with work.  It was a nightmare, but at least one that had a definite end.

Finally, it was move-out day!  This was the day where we had to cancel all our services, close bank accounts, and move out the remainder of our belongings in our tiny car.  Soon afterward, we realized that our plan for departure might have been a little more ambitious than anticipated.  We were heading down to Monaco for a week, and had planned to drive all the way through southern France instead of taking the usual Mont Blanc tunnel. 

Our first evening featured a drive to Lyon and a dinner at a traditional bouchon restaurant.  Unfortunately, we made the reservation by phone and somehow managed to forget the name of the place.  That wouldn’t have been a major problem, except the highway was closed, and the mountainous countryside through which we were detouring did not feature any kind of cell phone network.  It took several hours to search our phone history and find the name of the restaurant, but at least we found it before we arrived.  

The bouchon was lovely, and we had some excellent tablier de sapeur and quenelle.  We also had a kir and a glass of wine, which in our hungry, dehydrated, physically and mentally exhausted state, was enough to make us more than usually tipsy. As we finally made our way to the hotel, I managed to catch a nice photograph of what our experience of moving was so far:

Moving is about as easy as swimming while encased in rock.

The next morning, we were well rested, stocked up on sunscreen for the drive ahead, and ready to face the day… or so we thought, until the car didn’t start.  I still have no idea what was up with the car, but it managed to give us a nice 15 minutes of raw panic before it mysteriously started working again.  From there, all we had left was the drive to Monaco, but that carried with it a few unexpected quirks.

Arguably, all we had to do was follow the highway, but traffic was horrific.  We relied on Google maps to find our fastest route, and it often sent us on whimsical trips in the countryside.  At one point, the ‘optimal route’ involved driving directly through Crozes-Hermitage, an appellation that we both love.  We were surprised to see how tiny a village it really is, given how much wine they seem to produce.  

It was so tempting to just stop here for a day...

The other thing we didn’t take into account was exactly how grueling it would be to drive through south of France in July, in a car without AC or tinted windows.  We both crisped a bit, even with the sunscreen, and the heat and sweat was just torture.  Finally, though, we arrived in Monaco, and our journey is now on pause as we rest and recover for a week.  More adventures lie ahead!

Monaco, the land of peace and rest!