Journey to France & House Swapping

October 2, 2015
Posted in Blog
October 2, 2015 Barbie Wong


I woke up this morning with unusual anxiety and excitement.  “We are going to France!” I thought.  But first, I needed to clean.  Not only were we going to France for the month of October; we were also swapping houses with a French family.  This was our first time swapping houses, so the task turned out to be bigger than I had anticipated.

We had some last-minute mishaps.  My computer completely crashed as I was printing out the 6 pages of instructions that detailed information such as WIFI passwords, how to use the television, and when to take out the trash. Then, the garage door stopped working properly.  All was solved as I thumb-typed on my iPhone on the way to the airport.

Two weeks.  It took two weeks to sort, clean, discard, organize, and wipe every surface imaginable in our house.  By the time we left for the airport, I secretly wished we could spend a day at home just to experience our house in this never-before pristine condition.

Plane travel with my girls has gotten easier throughout the years.  When we took our first overseas plane ride to Taiwan five years ago. Tenzin was 4 and Sierra was 2. Thirteen hours on the plane could easily make someone go mad. Luckily, that never happened to us during our four trips to Taiwan.  Our 10-hour plane ride to Paris was quite fun, especially now that everyone has a screen.  I am so thankful we restrict screen time so that these plane rides are easy.

The exchange rate at the airport ATM was not too good, but we used it to get us going with cash.  Plus, it was much better than changing actual dollars to Euros.  Our taxi ride to the house in Antony cost 86 Euros. Sierra kept looking for the Eiffel Tower, occasionally shouting out, “I think I see it!”

Our house in Antony is quaint, clean, and cozy.  The girls went to each room excitedly to explore.  We were shown around by Nadine, the mother of Sandrine (the house owner).  Nadine spoke English because she lived in America for 20 years.  My French is still incredibly rusty, so it was nice she spoke English.  Jeff and I were getting more and more tired but managed to stay awake as she explained how to work the alarm, the door (the lock seemed impossible!) and the car.

After Jeff and I napped, we walked down to Franprix, the local grocery store.  We found a rotisserie chicken and basics for our food supply.  Thanks to my sister Kelly, we now have the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card.  That means no transaction fees when we use it overseas.  We used it at Franprix and it worked!

We also found a BNP Paribas ATM, which is the sister bank to bank. That means we don’t have to pay the $5 withdrawal fee.  That ATM had a much better exchange rate than the one at the airport.

We came back to the house with all the provisions, made some rice and veggies, and ate a hearty meal.  After dinner clean-up, we explored the path to the RER, the metro line that serves the suburbs.  It was only a 5-minute walk, and we also found dessert.
It was definitely a fun-filled day.  I can’t wait for more