Part 1 Moving day – a little journey with expats-to-be Terry and Jackie – Gite owners at Domaine du Sourire


Excitement or fear, we are not sure which it is, the feelings seem similar!

Packing complete, it was time to bring all our belongings from Ireland to France. It was a return trip as the final move to our new life in France is the end of April. So we did not spend long on goodbyes.


We decided, for us, it was best to hire a van and act as professional house movers ourselves. Of course this meant a lot of hard work for Terry and the boys, who managed to get a few moving bruises to remember the experience by.
Thankfully no one got pinned beneath a heavy sofa or bounced of their feet by wayward mattresses. I did reflect on whether it might have been wise to hire movers as I sipped my green tea giving instructions.  Ah well, too late, the boys did a grand job though and I managed to carry a bag or two.



We set off mid-afternoon from the North of Ireland to the port of Rosslare in the South – about a 4 hour journey.  Then, following an overnight boat trip, an 8 hour drive to our new home in Champagne et Fontaine. A long, long journey!
This was no holiday for us but on board Irish Ferries The Oscar Wilde we had 18 hours to pass.
I am hungry!
“come on Jackie eat those chips luv”.
After a restful night in our little berth Terry asked for tour of the bridge, and while we were having the navigation system explained to us I noticed a pod of dolphins racing to keep neck and neck with the ferry for quite some time. It was amazing to see but I didn’t get any good photos, it was raining.
Late afternoon the day after setting off we docked in Cherbourg and we were on the road again.
Driving in France is not like driving in Ireland but the beauty of the country made us wish we had more time to enjoy it. As it was we had only a few days to transport our belongings, finalise the sale and return back to Ireland.
not our photo – courtesy flickr
Travelling along the N13 we bypassed Bayeux, a place of historic interest because of its tapestry of events from 1064 to 1066 culminating in the Battle of Hastings. It is 230ft long and depicts events leading to William the conqueror’s victory over Harold to the English throne. Sadly we did not have time to stop but perhaps on this occasion driving our big removal van through the narrow streets would not have been such a great diversion in any case, so we stayed on our course along the N13.
Getting close to Le Mans it was time for a rest break and service stop to refuel which was all a bit dicey. The lanes were just too narrow for the van and pulling out onto the roundabout I forgot I was in France and went round the wrong way! Ooops, but thankfully it was a time of late evening and there was no traffic.
It was now dark and arriving in Champagne at well after midnight we looked forward to parking up and getting to bed. Alas it was not to be, there was not a streetlight and in the blackness I could not find the turn for our gites so after a few detours and Bonnie Tyler’s rendition of “Lost in France playing in my head, I finally spotted the turn off as I passed it. Reversing back up the narrow lanes with a heavy van in the pitch black was not fun at the time.
Lost in France at midnight
I would not recommend driving in rural France at night with a large removal van.
The journey back, after unloading our worldly goods and completing the official handover, was uneventful until we reached Cherbourg. Could we find our B&B? The detours we made because of low bridges and too narrow streets sent not only us crazy but our sat nav nearly had a breakdown! Finally managed to navigate the van and park for the night. Phew! Thank goodness I’ll be driving a car next time.
Although the journey was fairly uneventful that is more than can be said for the official contract exchange but that is for another day. Come back and read about that story soon, if I can face the stress again long enough to blog about it.
“what’s so funny Terry? ” ” you navigating the tight, tight, turns Jackie”
This is us.. join us at Domaine du Sourire