Countdown to my French departure ….

December 20, 2011

Ahhhh... now THIS lovely breakfast-on-the-balcony (at the charming Hotel Welcome in lovely Villefranche-sur-Mer) says France to me! I need to think of scenes like these when I start stressing and obsessing about my upcoming move.

Ahhhh... now THIS lovely breakfast-on-the-balcony (at the waterfront Hotel Welcome in lovely Villefranche-sur-Mer) says France to me! I need to think of scenes like these when I start stressing and obsessing about my upcoming move.

So I’m headed to France in a little over one week, and am alternately super-psyched, nervous, thrilled, stressed to the max, giddy with excitement, and worried. While part of me cannot WAIT to board that Iberia flight headed for Europe, my evil twin fears that I’ll spend all those trans-Atlantic hours obsessing about … STUFF.

Will my limited French-speaking skills make me feel (literally) like the “village idiot” when I get to Samois-sur-Seine, the picturesque place south of Paris where I’ll be living? Will I find enough freelance writing and consulting work to keep me challenged—but not so much that I end up overstretched and fall back into my workaholic ways? Will I finally meet a decent man who is what he claims to be—or will the language gap (and his sure-to-be-charming French ways and accent) make it that much tougher to figure it out?

When you decide to pull up stakes and move by yourself to the other side of the world, the tasks you need to handle before leaving home are LEGION. Everything from dealing with bank account transfers, long-stay French visa applications, endless doctor-dentist-optometrist visits, prescription orders, searching for international health insurance, laptop backups—not to mention the terribly stressful task of sorting, packing, and storing. What do I need to carry in the three suitcases I’ll take with me to France? What needs to be boxed up and shipped by the U.S. Post Office—and when? What needs to be banished to storage—and what do I need to get FROM storage and send overseas? It’s enough to make a chica lose her ever-lovin’ mind! (Usually, I just stop thinking about it and take a nap.)

I’ve even spent early Chicago mornings on Skype, calling black hairstylists at Parisian salons to find out if they can handle my hair while I’m in France. You UrbanTravelGirls KNOW there’s NO way a sister’s heading overseas without figuring out on the front end what she’s going to do with her ‘do!

If all this wasn’t enough, I needed to make an American Airlines “mileage run” out to San Francisco and back last Friday—all in one day. I know it sounds crazy, but I needed about 3,500 extra airline miles to maintain my elite status on American, which will be especially important next year when I’m traveling internationally—so I flew from Chicago O’Hare to San Fran Friday morning and less than two hours later jumped on a flight back home. I’m often rushing when I get to the airport and ALWAYS overpack, so I need the perks that come with being a “Gold” flyer—being able to check in at the always-shorter First and Business Class lines, to get on standby lists for earlier flights, to check bags for free. (Of course, it would be way easier to earn benefits without leaving the ground by racking up miles with something like an Aeroplan credit card that hooks you up with flight rewards, access to worldwide airline VIP lounges, and lets you sprint through priority check-in at airports. But that would be simple—and as you can tell, “simple” seems to be against my religion!)

I’m one of those strange people who actually ENJOYS moving—and I should, as I’ve lived all over the United States because of various newspaper reporting and corporate jobs. In the past, I’ve loved the process of researching where I’m going (it’s the journalist in me, I’m sure). Meeting new people. Starting a new routine. Discovering all the great things about my new surroundings. Maybe I’m getting older, but relocating is not nearly as easy-breezy as it used to feel. (Perhaps it just seemed way simpler because my corporate employers often were footing the bill for the entire move, complete with packing and unpacking all the stuff I transported back and forth across the country. Hmmm….)

But what I’m trying to remember—and take time for—during this hectic move-to-France process are PEOPLE. What I’m regretting is that I won’t have time to grab coffee, sit down over drinks, or relax over lunch or dinner with many of the folks that I’m truly going to miss during my time in Europe. Where I can, I’m trying to catch them at their offices—or even during workday coffee or smoking breaks—rather than miss seeing them at all. And with Christmas falling just before I leave—and many pals already heading home for the holidays—I’ll have to meet up with these travelers next year during my visits back home.

Before I moved to Florence, Italy, back in 2004, some of my good girlfriends threw a fabulous “Buon Viaggio” party for me at one’s downtown condo—and I got to say arrivederci to dozens of friends, colleagues and relatives at one time. But I didn’t want any such farewell for France (to me, it’s like I already had the big church wedding with the white gown … no sense in doing that twice!). So I’m hoping that when folks make their way to Paris or elsewhere in the French Republic, they’ll let me know in advance and we’ll get together on the other side of the pond instead.

Now THAT’S a rendezvous to get excited about!

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33 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Vivian  |  December 20, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Wowww I’m so excited for you….please make sure you post pictures!

  • 2. urbantravelgirl  |  December 20, 2011 at 10:39 am

    MERCI, Vivian — I promise I shall!


  • 3. Monique  |  December 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Good for you. It sounds wonderful. Although you should be used to the overseas moving process. I am right behind you headed to Rome to live. My mother shares amazing stories of her frequent overseas travel so I thought hey, why not live there! I can relate to all the ‘prep’ work before moving overseas. I am going through it myself. WOW is all I could say. :-) Like you, yesterday I became overwhelmed for a quick moment by all the ‘prep’ I stopped and took a nap. LOL Many blessings to you on your move to France.

  • 4. Rah  |  December 20, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Hi Urbangirl,

    I too am moving to the south of France. January 26th I depart NY to attend Midem in Cannes, and after the four Midem event I’m settling in Nice, France.

    Moving alone across seas surprisingly makes me feel exhilirated. I don’t know anyone, my french is choppy. But I think I’ll find my tribe.

  • 5. cindy Harding  |  December 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Maureen, All I can say is YEAH!!! You will finally be on this side of the pond. Coffee, lunch or dinner together will be a lot easier now. Ryan Air-Pisa to Paris is a great and economical way to spend a day or two together…. See you soon, either in France or here in Florence. Happy Holidays and safe travelling. Cindy

  • 6. Monetta  |  December 20, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Sounds like lots of work taking place to get ready for the big move to France, but you’ll be just fine. Just remember to plan for how you will get to “see” NALA (our Dog Sister) over the coming months!

  • 7. tonya  |  December 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

    we black girls need to learn how to do our own hair abroad,so that we may have hair when we come back.

  • 8. Bryan Pirolli  |  December 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    You sound like you’re ready :) I’m a friend of Doreen Baker and I live in Paris. She already suggested we connect, so let’s!!!

  • 9. Oneika the Traveller  |  December 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    So very very excited for you! Hopefully we can meet in person in Paris!

  • 10. Doreen  |  December 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    So excited for you! Just remember in the stress brought on by “stuff” — there’s almost nothing you really need that you can’t get there! Bon voyage & bises!

  • 11. Aisha G(of Hartlyn Kids)  |  December 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Very exciting and I am uber jealous of you.

  • 12. LaShawn Williams  |  December 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    **TEARS OF JOY** – I am excited for you–I really am…

  • 13. Yvonne D. Hawkins  |  December 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    So, so, so happy for you, Maureen! This sounds so exciting.

    So, are planning to stay permanently or is this another extended year or two stay?

    Either way, I’m terribly excited for you. Praying for your safe travels and wonderful experience!

  • 14. Ellen W Brown  |  December 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    So exciting. A group of friends and I will be in Paris for a few days in July. Will you be there? We plan to do the Black Paris Tour and, among other things, go to Champagne. We are all out of Las Vegas, so the uncertainty of the trip is a bit daunting. My first trip to Paris, most of the other girls have been at least once. We will follow your blogs to know what to do!

  • 15. Vivian  |  December 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Wow ladies! So glad I found this blog. Just returned from the Middle East (UAE) this past March and fell in love with it. I am trying to relocate to the Middle East soon, working with an organization call TeachAway. I will keep you all in my prayers.

  • 16. DartmouthDiva  |  December 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Girl, I am soooo thrilled to have stumbled across your blog. I truly believe we are kindred spirits. Just like for Hans Christian Anderson, for me “to travel is to live.” As soon as I wrap up this PhD (third career) I hope to head overseas for an extended stay. Have a great time in France. I hope to meet you someday along our travels!

  • 17. Sharon  |  December 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Gook luck! I hope the Euro stays agreeable. I traveled to France in September. I started in Paris and ended my trip in Nice. So far I’m thinking about spending a month in the South of France, somewhere around Nice. I loved it. I’ve also been to Italy twice, Greece and India three times. I love whipping out the passport LOL. Reading some of the comments, there is some good fun traveling going on. Happy travels.

  • 18. Lola  |  December 26, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    How exciting! Wishing you a safe move to France and hope we cross paths in 2012.

  • 19. Rhona  |  December 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I know I am late at this point as I am sure you are already ensconsed in your new home. But, I wanted to say congrats and WOW! I am super excited see France through your eyes. I am not a lover of Paris really but I am sure I will experience some new things while reading your blog. I am beyond excited for you. Getting ready and prepping for such a grand move is part of the fun.

  • 20. Carmel  |  December 30, 2011 at 3:40 am


    I stumbled upon your blog while searching for black tours in Paris. This year I decided to take my travels abroad for the holidays, visiting Franfurt, Germany..London…Paris…and Amsterdam – all by my lonesome :-). Many asked why would I do such a thing alone, my response was why not! The same precautions I use back in the states, are the same I have used while traveling abroad. At 41 I am certainly tired of asking others to accompany me only to get the old “hem-haw” response. I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed myself, and am looking forward to my next excursion. From one sister to another, I applaud you and wish you continued blessings on your life’s journey. Who knows what the future holds….perhaps I’ll end end up on this side of the pond again one day to live & I can take care of your “crown of glory”. All the best!!

  • 21. Dina  |  December 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Wow! I am also so glad I found this blog! I am so excited for you. And if you are from Chicago, you are from my hometown. I live in Columbus, Ohio now and I went to Paris last year for the first time. Loved it! I really want to take my sons there. What made you decide to move there. I also saw that you lived in Italy for a while. That is my dream trip and I look forward to getting over there also. When you get settled, I would love to connect via email or something. I’m hoping to get back to Paris in 2012 and would love to get some insider insight. I wish you the best on your move. And Happy New Year!!

  • 22. Dina  |  December 31, 2011 at 7:33 am

    Carmel, wow that is awesome! I know what you mean about asking others to go with you and getting that same old response. I haven’t embraced the idea of traveling alone yet, but I might be changing my mind about that. I still have one more child at home though. Please share about your trip! Sounds so exciting. What was your experience like being a back woman alone in those places?

  • 23. Dina  |  December 31, 2011 at 7:53 am

    After reading all of these posts, I am truly inspired! I had no idea my sisters were out there doing it like this. Thanks so much to everyone for sharing. Do your thing ladies! I hope to meet some of you on the other side of the pond one day. Safe and happy travels to you. Maureen, thank you for starting this blog. I am so happy I found it. I was beginning to think I was the only black woman wanting to travel and see the world. Lol.

  • 24. roni faida  |  January 2, 2012 at 8:16 am

    So glad to hear you are moving to France. It’s a wonderful place (I lived there for 3 years). I have some great restaurant recommendations in Paris that I’d be happy to share with you. A few of them are on my blog. trilingual

  • 25. Diana  |  January 9, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Hello or should I say “bonjour”?! I can’t remember how I found your blog, but I’ve been reading it for the past year and I absolutely love it! I wish you the best with your new life in Paris! I was just in Europe recently for my winter vacation, but I’ll definitely set foot in Paris sooner rather than later. :D

  • 26. Social Networking Guru  |  January 12, 2012 at 3:22 am

    A very interesting read, thanks for that. If you ever write a follow-up, i’ll be sure to read it!

  • 27. Kelly E. Carter  |  January 12, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Oh, how reading this post brought such fond and hellacious memories of when I prepared for my first (and sadly only) move abroad.
    i nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to figure out how to ship things cheaply, how I was going to get my mail, packing, renting my townhouse. Getting my 7 suitcases and dog to the airport. And then I got on the plane and relaxed.
    By now Marine, you too are hopefully relaxing as you soak up the French culture and take your village by storm. I can’t wait to visit you in Samois-sur-Seine and your new surroundings.
    (And I know a way for NALA to visit without being treated like luggage!)
    Please post soon to let us know how you’re adjusting.

  • 28. michel  |  January 17, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Really great Post! I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy. I have a blog on travel theme. If you’re interested, we would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  • 29. Colette'  |  January 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Bonjour Urbangirl,

    I hope you are settled into lovely France by now. I along with a group of seven ladies from a US travel group will be traveling on the 26th of May to Amsterdam, then Bruges, then Paris for a total of 8 days. We would love to connect with you or others there during that time. Please share any suggestions for “newbies” traveling there for the first time, like “where to go, what to see, where to shop.”

    Looking forward to hearding back,


  • 30. Occupy Melbourne  |  January 18, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Interesting… Thanks for this post!

  • 31. Carmelita  |  January 20, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    How fascinating! It’s so wonderful to live vicariously through your postings! My goal is to follow your footsteps, travelling countries I’ve only read about….first stop, Paris! The earth is too large with so much to explore, to not appreciate it up close. My last child graduates from high school this year….and then it’s on like Donkey Kong! lol

  • 32. Pasta Machine Maker  |  January 29, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Say, you got a nice blog article.Thanks Again. Keep writing.

  • 33. Domenic Young&hellip  |  February 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Domenic Young…

    Im obliged for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more….

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