When I was a girl, I dreamed of living in two very different places – Australia and France. I wrote all my elementary school book reports and high school term papers on one of these countries. As I developed a love for food and food culture, these are the places I explored via books and the internet.
I studied French language in high school and college. As life happened all around me, my inexplicable adoration for all things French lingered. I held tight to my dream of living in the French countryside, nibbling baguettes and sipping ridiculously inexpensive (and ridiculously high quality) French wine while I did whatever it is that one must do to sustain such a lifestyle. What can I say, I was young and a bit naive.
In the midst of my francophile dreams, my other dream – to live in Australia – came true! The opportunity presented itself seemingly out of the blue. I left without looking back, then returned to the US several years later to resume life as I previously knew it. I felt so grateful to have one major childhood dream fulfilled that I didn’t give too much thought to living in France. At least not serious thought. France seemed so distant, even for dreams.
After I met Mr. Dreamy and we had our little family, we would discuss it and swirl fantasies over glasses of vouvray, but it did not seem to be something we could pull off. After all, there was his career as a horticulturist, and mine as a scientist. Of course, I still dabbled in the French language and cooked from my stacks of French cookbooks. Part of me held on.
Fast forward to 2014, when, at the beginning of the year, I announced, “this is THE year we will travel more than ever and dreams will become my reality”.
This proclamation had little to do with past dreams and was really centered around my brother’s tragic death in January 2013. After a year of grieving and questioning the loss, I decided that instead of continuing to mourn that I would honor his life by adventuring more and living deeply while I am able. Little did I know when I made my call to the Universe that we would travel to the Florida Keys for the New year, Puerto Rico for Easter, return to Asheville, NC four times to film with Ingles Markets and film a TV show there, and end up in Europe in the early autumn.
The trip to Europe was something we almost did on a whim (as much as you can plan for three weeks in Europe on a whim). I did most of the planning the month prior to our leaving, and my friends who were just back from a honeymoon in Paris (and who just happen to be gluten-free) were kind enough to provide me with more than enough information on navigating Paris on a gluten-free diet. Before I knew it, just like that, I found myself right in the heart of Paris in a rooftop apartment, windows flung open and all the pâté and rosé a girl can stand (which is quite a lot because I absolutely adore both!).
If you read my previous travel post about traveling gluten-free in London, you already know we went there first, then on to the City of Light. These iconic cities reminds me of what Hemingway said, “London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.” I believe, if you visit both, you will agree. Paris is unlike any city I’ve visited before. It can be moody and even harsh at times, but there is an indescribable allure that when you least expect it, will reach into your chest and grab hold of your heart, never letting go. I was lucky enough to capture this shot in le jardin des Tuileries, when Paris officially crept under my skin and into my blood. At some point if you visit there and are paying attention, listening to your heart, you will have what I refer to as that “Paris Moment”.
This image became instantly significant to me because it was the precise moment I realized my dream of living in France was still there, intact and ready to be realized.
In fact, the Universe knew before I did that my dream was waiting in my heart until I was ready for the adventure. Just two weeks prior to our departure, we found ourselves standing at the door where opportunity was knocking. (Not this specific door, but the doors in Paris are so captivating, I couldn’t resist.)
In short, an opportunity presented itself for us to work in Normandy for six months in the spring of 2015. The. French. Countryside. Dreams do come true!
I will spare you the details of rushing from London to Paris to Normandy and back all in a single day to see our new future home. I will also omit the perils of our drive through the Avenue des Champs-Élysées at rush hour on a Friday to get to Normandy in time to meet the owners of the chateau where Dreamy will be working. It was a harrowing 18-hour day. We traveled via Eurostar under the English Channel (love!!), rented a car in Paris (did NOT love!!) and drove to Normandy (love!!) and (finally) found the tiniest most lovely town that we will soon call home, at least for a while.
After that whirlwind day, we spent more time in London before returning to Paris for a longer stay. We celebrated.
I cooked with the freshest ingredients from the amazing markets of Paris. This is our first night in Paris, after a long day of travel. Dinner served… at 10PM!
Of course, we did plenty of sight-seeing and dining out, too! Passages des Panoramas was captivating! It was hard to believe this indoor shopping area opened in 1800. We discovered one of our favorite café upstairs here.
The most interesting part of seeing the city was seeing it knowing we are soon to return. It allowed us to take our time and realize what Paris has to offer, to travel deeply as I say, without rushing and worrying we wouldn’t fit it all in. So, instead of au revoir, we simply said à bientôt, Paris as we made our way back to London, and eventually back home to Atlanta.
As 2014 comes to a close and we prepare to greet a bright New Year, I feel grateful for dreams that have already come true, and for those still being fulfilled. It is never too late, regardless of your dreams. That applies to every aspect of your life. I may not be able to help you fulfill childhood fantasies of living in foreign lands, but I do work each day to help you achieve your goals and dreams related to health, wellness and nutrition to live your best gluten-free, allergen-free life! That is why I wrote The Gluten-Free Solution: Your Ultimate Guide to Positive Gluten-Free Living, to inspire you and to show you it is possible to make this gluten-free journey work for you! So whether optimal health is an old dream or a new one, know that it is possible and 2015 is YOUR year!
And I will be right here to help you, just like always! I will carry on business as usual with GlutenFreeGigi.com, Food Solutions Magazine and all my other projects (thank goodness for the internet and a great team here in the States!). In fact, we are expanding in the New Year with a fantastic project in France and a couple in the US, so stay tuned for those!
You will still regularly receive all my free Smart Nutrition Backed by Science articles, recipes and other content I share with you here about living gluten and allergen-free, as well as your weekly eNewsletter updates!
And for those of you who are interested, I invite you to follow along as we prepare to make a temporary home for ourselves in Normandy. I will provide regular updates on life, adventure and of course gluten-free FOOD via a new section here on the site (see the France tab up top). It sure would be nice to have some familiar faces along for this adventure, so I hope you’ll join me and cheer me on! (Be sure to follow in Instagram, too, as that is where many, many updates will be posted!!)
From my family to all of you, Happy New Year!