Feb 212012
Image by kangshutters

Image by kangshutters

We recently made our big move to Aix-en-Provence France which included a 9 hour overseas flight to Frankfurt Germany followed by a 6 hour layover and another 1 hour flight to Marseille France. I have flown with the kids before but I learned a few additional things this time around…

Don’t expect that they will sleep on the plane.

  • Even if the flight occurs during their normal sleeping time and they are super tired they will still stay awake. You can make it a little easier for them by holding or nursing them but then they may need you to continue so that they can stay asleep. Also, if your small kiddo is used to sleeping in a bed then try to request the bulkhead seats. The airline has a bassinet that they can attach in front of you so that your little one can sleep. This made a big difference to our 14 month old who is used to putting himself to sleep in his crib every night.

No matter how many activities you bring on the plane they will want to watch videos instead.

  • So save your back and only bring a couple of things on the plane for your kids to do. The videos on my ipad were a big hit with our 3 year old and our 14 month old slept most of the time after I was able to get him to sleep in the first place (see above).

Bring lots of snacks from home because they won’t eat anything that is served on the plane.

  • We brought an entire bag of snacks from home and they were a lifesaver. Cheddar bunnies and yogurt melts were a big hit as were granola bars. We also continued to feed them these things after we arrived in Aix since Aaron and I survived on paninis for a couple of days and the kids didn’t like them.

If you are flying with another adult have one board early with the bags and the other board later with the kids.

  • Every airline that we have flown on allows people with children to board early. Take advantage of that and have one parent board with as much stuff as they can carry onto the plane. They can set up the carseat if you are bringing one and put all of the bags away in the overhead compartments without kids underfoot. Meanwhile the other parent can stay outside the plane until final boarding and let the kids run around a little more. The less time that the kids are on the plane, the better!

Keep your expectations in check because they are kids.

  • It’s tough to fly with kids and 9 hours is a long time. They will cry and they will have trouble but try to enjoy the experience as much as you can. The more that you keep your emotions in check the easier it will be to handle the inevitable meltdowns, whining and bickering that will happen during the flight. Happy flying!
Feb 192012

Week one in France is all about lack of sleep and rushing to get as many things done as possible because my work wants me to start so soon that we only have three week days before I start working. This includes finding an apartment, opening a bank account, going to the préfecture to continue the visa paperwork, getting cell phones, etc. Despite questions about settling in, this week isn’t really about settling in. We’re still in a hotel and we’re not doing any settling.

The apartments we’ve looked at have been okay and varied, as you can see from the pictures. The kids aren’t adjusted to the time change yet on day 3 here, obviously…

Lesson learned from moving: Open a bank account before you go, and get the check book and carte bleu before you go. This will facilitate buying things and may not be possible with some banks (like Crédit Agricole). BNP Paribas is probably a good one since they are a part of Bank of the West in the States.

Things we didn’t budget enough for:

  • The hotel stay in the states,
  • the hotel stay in France,
  • and Jen’s new iPhone (because AT&T sucks).

Things we did this week:

  • Looked at 6 apartments,
  • visited the OFII (l’office de l’immigration et de l’intégration) for the visas,
  • finished opening a bank account,
  • went grocery shopping twice,
  • bought a single stroller because a double wide is too big,
  • and got myself cell phone service (but not Jen because AT&T sucks).
Feb 012012
Airplane Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s actually happening. Almost 6 months after I was offered a job in France, we will actually be flying there to live. So much for the “it will take about a month” that I was told 6 months ago.

There was about a 2 month pause of not hearing anything new from my employer nor the OFII or consulate. Then out of the blue I received an email from the french consulate saying my visa was approved by the OFII and that I should come apply for the visa at the consulate. It’s ridiculous and expensive to go to the consulate for your state in person, but it’s also necessary as they insist on it. So we flew to California, handed in our paperwork, and 7 days later we received our visas in the mail. The only reason I can see that they have you show up in person is because they take your fingerprints. Obviously this could have been done locally and mailed in…

Now that we have our visas (the first part of them), we have to go to the prefecture after we arrive in France. They will also give us a medical exam apparently. I imagine this is to make sure we aren’t going to France just to take advantage of their health care system, but it’s just speculation.

My family’s visas were easier to get because mine was already approved. We did NOT use the “regroupement familial.” Although it might seem to make sense to use that to get my family a visa, one of the requirements is that someone has already lived in France for a minimum of one year. Nevertheless, getting the rest of my family a long stay visa was easier due to my visa having already been approved. We filled out the “retirement” type of long stay visa on the form, but they didn’t ask us for much of the paperwork (like proof of income) because they already had it.

We’ll be very busy over the next month or so. I’ve added most things to the to-do list page to track what was necessary. We’ll have about 5 days in France before I’ve agreed to start working. This probably won’t be enough with the time change and the two young kids, but I’m not too worried. Being in France will be AWESOME! I’m very excited about finding a new place and visiting my friends.