nous sommes arrives

Arriving in Montpellier

We had a wonderful last few days in Texas, selling our car, moving out of our last Airbnb, getting all the final tasks done, and getting our negative Covid tests for travel (yay!). To use up some hotel points we spent our last three nights in three different hotels, allowing us to experience yet more Austin neighborhoods.

We had a special retirement day lunch at one of our favorite Austin restaurants, North. I will definitely copy the beautiful veggie and bean board I enjoyed.

Beautiful and delicious!

You may recall that I’ve had a retirement countdown clock on my phone for almost a year. At last, on Friday afternoon, we counted down the last 20 seconds, just before I joined a Zoom farewell happy hour with my colleagues. I’ve had a wonderful career, and while I’ll miss my amazing work friends, I had no regrets–just a bit of a bittersweet feeling as I said farewell. OK, there may have been a few tears.

Celebrating my retirement with Phil!

And then it was finally time to go! Our flight from Austin to JFK was uneventful, and when we landed with less than an hour before our next flight, we were relieved to find that our connecting gate was very close. We were both excited to experience Delta One, with top-notch service and lie-flat seats in our “suites.” Since this was a one-way trip of a lifetime, I’d splurged with points on first class.

The Roamers in their suites

Although it was quite a treat, we agreed that the experience really isn’t worth the points (it took 120,000 Delta miles EACH for the whole trip!!), and we won’t do it again. 

We arrived at CDG on time and made it through customs without incident. The airport was super crowded, much more so than the US airports we’ve visited since the pandemic began. We boarded our final flight and in about an hour, we were in Montpellier!

Arriving in Montpellier

Our Renestance consultant, Lizzie, had arranged for a taxi to take us to our apartment. The driver was very kind and complimented me on my French! I’m sure he was just being kind; my French is horrible. And then we were home.

Lizzie met us at the gate (you have to go through three locked gates to get to our courtyard; very private!) and welcomed us into our new home. Our landlord, Monsieur Khalil, was also there to greet us and show us how everything works. Lizzie and the Renestance team had prepared a lovely welcome for us, with locally produced olives, tapenades, olive oil, baguette, sausage, herbed salt, nibbles, wine, and coffee.

Beautiful and delicious welcome gift from Renestance

Our first order of business was to secure the passe sanitaire, which verifies that you’ve been vaccinated. The passe is required to enter restaurants, museums, and many other public places. It was Sunday, when many businesses are closed, but Lizzie was able to find an open pharmacy where we could get them. After standing in line 10 minutes to enter the pharmacy, and standing in line 30 minutes to get to the register, we were instructed to stand aside and wait 30 minutes to get the passes. Sure enough, it was 1:30; obviously the person who could give us our passes was at lunch! In France most workers get two hours for lunch. By 2:15 we were able to show our credentials, pay about $80, and get the precious QR code. We immediately walked across the Place de la Comedie to the nearest restaurant to celebrate with a late lunch.

One of the gorgeous buildings on the Place de la Comedie

After lunch we picked up some essentials for the night and took an Uber back home to unpack. We love our apartment! It has everything we need and we’re excited to be in one place for a while. Our landlord and his wife are kind and accommodating (we didn’t have sheets, so they loaned us a set–and Madame Khalil ironed them for us so they’d be fresh!).

We’ve now been in Montpellier for two full days, and both days were packed with errands. We made a rookie mistake by shopping for sheets and towels at Galleries Lafayette, which is super expensive. And as I write this I’m sipping the first cappucino made on our new espresso machine. We have our priorities. and coffee comes first!

One step down from our old Breville, but still wonderful!

Today we will be meeting with our banker to finalize our French bank account. That’s right, in France you have to meet in person before they will approve you! Lizzie will be there to help, as the meeting will be conducted in French. After that, more shopping!

One of many beautiful churches in our neighborhood

We have lots to do–enroll in French language lessons, equip our apartment, learn our neighborhood, and more–but already we feel at home. We are so very grateful to be fulfilling our dream. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

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