Well it finally happened. Our time in France came to an end after 21 wonderful months and sadly, we packed up and made the journey back to Australia.
I put off my packing as long as I could, but with only a week until departure day, I could not delay any longer. I must be the queen of procrastination, as it has taken me just as long to write about our departure as it took me to face up to the packing! Thankfully, TC and I devised a future plan to have us back in our region, the Languedoc-Roussillon, before too long so we do have great things to look forward to. We have some very kind friends who offered to store belongings for us so that when we do return, we have some household items and clothes to begin with, so that certainly made our sorting and packing easier.
Saying “au revoir” to our village friends was very sad and I admit to shedding a few tears… but at the other end of the journey was to be the reunion with all our family members and the friends we left behind two years ago, so it was a time of very mixed emotions.
When the day came, more wonderful friends drove us to Agde for our early train bound for Paris. The weather fitted our mood as the morning was cool and grey with a few drops of rain – the first we had seen for weeks after a lovely Mediterranean summer. Loaded up with all our baggage and some last bottles of wine from friends, our instructions were to enjoy a glass or two on the train and a picnic on the banks of the Seine before leaving France. After a teary farewell on the platform, we were off, taking long last looks at the countryside we will miss so much.
We arrived to a balmy Paris, left everything at the hotel and set off to enjoy the beautiful City of Lights one more time. This time, we discovered the area along the Canal Saint-Martin in the 4th and enjoyed looking at all the boats moored there, before doing some last-minute souvenir shopping, then heading off to the Seine for our little picnic of wine and nibbles. As usual, I waved madly at all the tourists on the boats – one simply MUST when one is picnicking on the banks of the Seine! After sunset we strolled through St Germaine des Pris and went for dinner at the very popular La Jacobine in the 6th.
Then it was back to the hotel for a decent night’s sleep before the long trip. For those who have never travelled between Europe and Australia, you’ve probably heard that it is a long journey. If so, you’ve heard correctly – it’s very long!
The trip began with a private car transfer to Charles de Gaulle that I had pre-booked for 8am Friday (fantastic value and highly recommended), a nice quick check-in followed by breakfast in an airport lounge then boarding the flight for Singapore (around 12 hours in total). We had a quick transit through Changi airport in Singapore with enough time for a refreshing shower, some cold drinks and a quick internet check, then boarded our second flight, to Perth (around 5 hours in total), finally arriving at 1.30pm Saturday afternoon.
I wore two things that were important to me on my journey. One was my new Croix du Languedoc pendant to remind me of our little corner of France. This cross is one of the emblems of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, which is where we have lived for 16 months. I am not a big buyer of souvenirs, so this beautiful silver pendant is one of the only true souvenirs of our time in France that I have taken back with me. Another of course being a bottle of perfume from the Fragonard range that I love, a memento of a day in Grasse and a scent that will always take me back.
The other thing I wore for the journey was my football scarf. By this I mean Aussie Rules football, or AFL to us.
Our flight landed at a time that was right in the middle of the AFL grand final match, which my team was playing in for the first time in history, so of course I wore my team scarf on the journey all the way from Paris. We arrived home just in time to watch the final quarter on TV, but my team lost, so there is nothing more to be said about that.
Except that on arrival at Perth airport, we rushed into the immigration queue to have our passports checked then went off to the baggage claim area – and a number of airport officials, one after the other, kept coming up to me with very serious looking faces… I was quite startled thinking “What do they want me for, what have I done??” until I realised I was still sporting the scarf – and they were just checking whether I was aware of the (dismal) score! And unfortunately I was, thanks to other passengers checking news on their phones as soon as our flight landed.
On to the next stage – a hectic schedule of reunions with family and friends… but for now it’s au revoir to the countryside we have grown to love.
Here are a selection of our last photographs around the area, and before I fill you in on our activities in Australia, I have quite a few more French posts to catch up on, so you haven’t seen the last of my travel pics yet! Enjoy…
Au revoir mon village… à bientôt!