If we left France, Where we could move...
Mudita: The Secret to Happiness in France...and Denver, Portland, Bozeman?

Jean-Marc's open letter


TODAY'S WORD: avoir la niaque (also: avoir la gnaque)

French: Être très motivé, être capable de soulever des montagnes. (Wikipedia)

    English : To be very motivated, to be capable of moving mountains

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:

Download MP3:  Avoir-la-niaque

Avoir la niaque. Aujourd'hui, je n'ai pas la niaque pour continuer ce projet de vignoble au Mas des Brun.
To be motivated. Today, I am no longer motivated to continue this vineyard project as Mas des Brun.


Kristi's last post about our interrogations on our future have generated a lot of comments and we would like to thank you for the kindness and thoughtfulness of all of them. Even if some of you have supported us in our thoughts, true is that some of you did not understand the reasons of a potential move to the US which can actually be questioned and debated for many reasons.

But first things first : Why do I feel the high need to discontinue this wonderful venture with Mas des Brun ? Well, to summarize it, this is the story of somebody who somehow thought that most difficult part of the job had been done when we moved here (after a lot of searching, we had finally found the right place) and who has been totally blinded by the enormous amount of work needed to create this winery. I have so wanted to root down in this area that once we found this "promise land" and had the chance to create a vineyard, I did not see the immensity of the work needed. Because I was in a sort of "euphoria" phase, I kept telling myself that one way or another, I would find the solutions, all the while discovering the immensity of the tasks. After 4 years of working hard, most of the time taking bad decisions on problems to solve, I have the feeling that I totally burned my wings, especially when, since last year, we are having to face a very difficult and potentially very big problem with administration after the decision I took to clear a parcel (removing many trees) in order to plant vineyards so as to move on with this difficult project to build a vineyard. This case has also corresponded to when I broke my elbow and when the first signs of depression hit me as I started to realize that I was meeting more and more problematic issues on my project.

After almost a year of thinking black and even some very low moments, I now realize that I am 50 years old, that I don't have the financial means to make this project happen (at least to reach its initial goal which is to plant 10 acres of vines), I would need to hire somebody to help me which I can't (I am not paying myself already) and that it will take me another 10 years to eventually put this vineyard to orbit. By then, I will probably have totally broken my back, worried most of the time, praying for sun when rain comes in the Spring, for rain while the summer drought hits the vines... And then, I tell myself : I hopefully have 25 years to enjoy life on this beautiful planet... Of course France, and especially where we live, is gorgeous but there are so much more places that I would like to discover. Since I certainly don't want to continue being depressed and anxious ("je n'ai ni la niaque, ni les moyens), I now feel the need to turn the page, while staying positive, which explains our decision to sell. After all, the sweat, the broken back, the worries might be compensated by a little profit since we did pick our first grapes this year, built a small winemaking facility and made our first official wine to now have on the ground 10 000 vines when there was nothing growing 4 years ago.

Now, why the US ? Well, because this is also our family's culture. Even if we have always lived in France, we feel the US is home too. Kristi's family live there and we have not seen them often. We want to be able to enjoy them more often. We also have very good friends and it is indeed a country where I could express my wine knowledge. I only had great times while visiting with our family or touring the different States with Domaine Rouge-Bleu.

I know well that social security is not the same but we have the chance to still benefit of the French social security in case of serious emergency. Some people tell us that USA is not secure. Well, I am not sure, which is safer: Europe (situated at the door of a potential third world war that can happen in Syria, Israel, Turkey...) or the US. I am not mentioning here the potential issues with war migrants and terrorism which I think is much more worrisome in France than in the US.

Some readers are concerned about our kids : Our plan to is to bring Jackie with us and find her an Art School to develop her fashion skills. Max is currently in a Business school with one year to spend overseas and he is almost 22... About my own family and my Mom, my sister now lives 30 mns away and my brother 1 hour away. I have taken care of my Mom since I was 20 and I don't feel bad if I have leave her, coming to visit her probably once or two times a year.

Colorado ? OK, no more sea urchins but Nature is just splendid there and I love the mountains as much as I love the sea. Also, global warming will certainly make the winters smoother. Heidi and her kids live there and it is very central to go visit family in other States with even a direct flight to Puerto Vallarta where Jules lives. But if it was my call, I would choose Portland, OR which is my preferred city in the US. The only restriction for not moving to the US would be a total unexpected and very worrisome election result on November 8th....

But we are still here, thinking about options in our lives and so far nobody has made an offer to buy our place. You, Dear readers with your kind comments are helping us make the eventual decision. Nothing will happen if we don't sell this place and we might not sell it if we don't get the price we want. We also might ending up 2 miles away if we sell (see this update written 10 months later...) and we also might live here forever. Only God knows, let Him guide us.

In a field of ancient olive trees, Jean-Marc waters his baby vines during the drought

RELATED POSTS: Click on the titles, below, to read the blog entries

If We Left France, Where We Could Move

To Come to a Decision: On Turning the Page of Our Vineyard Dream

Accidental Cassoulet : An update on Depression

Photo of me and our daughter, Jackie, taken behind our home.

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Thank you Jean-Marc for sharing the many events & difficulties and your thought process as you have come to your decisions. We all make decisions that seem perfect, the culmination of a lifelong dream only to discover the problems overwhelm the dream. As much as I love the south of France, I am currently considering other options as well. One option might be to join Jules and relocate to Mexico, although a different part of the country. Good luck in selling the vineyard and all the very best to each of you as you turn the next page in your book of life!

Anne Umphrey

Dear Jean-Marc, your words have touched me deeply. I was forced to reinvent my life at age 51. You can do it. You have the love of your family and your health. Your knowledge of wines and viniculture will be an asset and well received in the US.
I am sending you all good wishes for the future. And God bless.
Anne Umphrey


thank you so much Jean -Mark for your sharing ….you speak for "many " …I love hearing other people's stories as it helps me too…
we were in France some years ago…and close to you , in Lourmarin ….did not know about "you" then…would have been wonderful to see you …all the best to you all…Zanna

Linda Casey

Such a heartfelt story. I'm also evaluating my own options, so I empathize wholly with you. Blessings.

Edwina Roberts

Expressive and heartfelt.
So much in life depends on timing ... and a bit of happenstance😉


What a lovely letter Jean-Marc. I read through many of the comments following Kristn's post about moving. Most were very supportive but there were a few which I thought were not helpful! There are many of Kristin's readers who have great life experience ..... And it is always helpful to listen to different views, although we have to follow our own hearts in the end.

Jean Marc, you has clearly followed his dream .... But things change and adjustments are necessary. I know I have followed a dream several times in my life but later realised it wasnt the best thing for me and changed tack, sometimes fairly quickly. No experience in life is ever wasted, we benefit from every experience. In fact I have learned more from my mistakes than I have from my successes.

Nothing is forever. So whatever decisions one makes in life, if they don't work out as you want them, you can make a change. My mother used to say, 'The only difference between a rut and the grave is the depth!'

A new chapter means growth and exciting changes ..... Go for it! You have clearly thought it all through. As you say you could have a chapter in the US and then return to France at a later date .....

I think Jean Marc, you will have to become the writer and start a new blog called, ' A Frenchman abroad!'

Its a great idea to make the move. But if the vineyard doesn't sell ... You can think again .... Whatever happens things will work out.
One of my favourite sayings is, ' if life hands you a lemon ...... You can always make lemonade'.

Best wishes to you and your family.


Dear Jean-Marc

. I am viscerally moved by your story. I too am facing similar decisions, and at a much advanced age. I feel in my heart you will come to have peace with whatever decision you make. You have the love and support of your fine family and that is the bedrock to a life of contentment.

Good luck to you and Kristi. Empathetically yours, Ronni

Patty Cargill

Dearest Kristi & Jean-Marc
I tried to write a response to Kristi's last post and found myself unable to do it...my words sounded too "preachy" as if I somehow knew what YOU should do! Behind all comments there is one true message: we hold you all in our hearts and wish the very best for you wherever that may be. Having followed your life in France for so many years, we francophiles feel a deep connection with you and your beautiful country. Best to you, toujours, and cheers to you, Chief Grape, for sharing your thoughts!

Toujours dans nos coeurs...is there a French expression for saying that?! Love from a chilly, sunny Fall day in Roanoke, Va. xxx


Jean-Marc, you certainly don't owe us any explanations for the important decisions facing you and your family, but it is good to hear from you and know that you are keeping well. This is obviously a stressful time for you, with so many factors to consider for the road ahead of you. I know that you and Kristi will make wise choices, and I am absolutely sure that the next chapter of your life together will be interesting, frustrating, challenging, funny, and ultimately happy--because you'll be writing that chapter together. Lots of people out here cheering you on!

Julie Farrar

What a beautiful message, Jean Marc. Whatever decision your family makes, it will be a good one because YOU are making the decision and not waiting until circumstances make it for you. The best part is that you are still young enough to enjoy many years living this new life you choose, whether here in the U.S. or in your home country. Not many people have the opportunity or courage to follow multiple dreams in their lives. You and Kristi have lived more than most. Bon chance whichever way you turn.

Marie LaSalle

First of all, despite the recent nuttiness the US is a good place to live. One of the beauties of this blog is that both of you have always so openly shared your life with people who do you are strangers but at the same time intimate friends. Thank you for laying out your experience. It will help so many people who read it say yes I can admit this was harder than I thought and there are always next steps in life. And it takes meditation and being gentle with yourself to determine what the next step is. My husband started a brand-new business at the age of 53 it has brought him joy and a totally different perspective on life for the last 25 years. I started an unexpected career in my early 40s and again it changed my life. Good luck Bonne chance et bon courage

Eileen deCamp

Hi Jean Marc and Kristi,

We are all thinking about you and wishing the best for you all! I remember meeting you Jean Marc in Charlottesville when you brought your lovely wines from Domaine Rouge Bleu. We still have some Lunatique! :-)

God will guide your decision and everything will work out how it is supposed to. :-)


It takes a lot of courage to admit things are not working and a big change is needed. I am sure your wine experience, couples with the french accent, would make you a very valuable asset to many wineries here in the US. And we have wineries everywhere! I live in the mid-Atlantic region and can tell you the wineries in Maryland and Virginia are thriving. Colorado is gorgeous and Portland is also. No matter where you choose to live,I wish you success ad happiness.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Beautifully written, Jean-Marc! It all makes sense. You and Kristi have good judgement. Arianna Huffington who founded The Huffington Post says it this way: “Don’t just climb the ladder of success – a ladder that leads, after all, to higher and higher levels of stress and burnout – but chart a new path to success, remaking it in a way that includes not just the conventional metrics of money and power, but a third metric that includes well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving, so that the goal is not just to succeed but to thrive.” – Arianna Huffington

Mary liz

What is more moving than sheer humble honesty? Your forthright letter was powerful. You and your family are in my prayers. As a previous comment said ....you have the most powerful weapon ....a good family that loves you.
Mary Liz

Julie Mautner

Dear Jean Marc,

You're very brave: for taking on this challenge in the first place...for giving it your all especially in the face of physical and then emotional pain...and for sharing your story with all with us here. Wherever your lives take you, I wish you and your family nothing but happiness!


Suzanne Codi

Cher Jean-Marc,
I cannot add much to all the heartfelt and wise wishes of your and Kristi's many readers except to say bon courage, and patience, I'm certain your hard work will pay off, and that your next adventure will be as wonderful as the last ones. Every day counts, and dreams do come true, even if for just a few years. as proven with your latest accomplishment, much admired by so many!
We look forward to what comes next, you are both a real inspiration for a life well lived.
Bien amicalement, Suzanne


Great letter, Jean Marc.

Courage for The Journey.


Dearest Kristi And Jean-Marc, I must say that I had a chuckle when I read the first thing> Is Jean-Marc single? OK, on with the rest of the story. This Jean-Marc is a Very difficult decision that 'you' must make at this(or Any time)in your life/marriage. I only know that what ever you decide must/should be made along with your wife and prayers for Our Lord to help guide you along the way. You will NEVER please 100% of the people, just remember Only you know (and God) what you are truly going through, don't let pride/guilt seep in and take over and have a hand at your decision making. Kristi also, should be aware of your thoughts, feelings, fears>you are both one and MUST Help, Hold be Patient and Love each other at All times(Which is not always easy). Life is NOT easy(as you both have found out). Be there for each other(and be the role models for your lovely children)no matter what happens and lift each one up. Hold each other in your arms, a simply touch, kiss helps to remind us that we are here for the other. I have said the rose has thorns and we still seem to look for and enjoy her. Life is a bumpy ride, so hold on. Pray, pray, pray with each other-no matter where or how silly it may seem. Our Lord loves us to ask for help and Not necessarily in a church/chapel-remember the earth is His and we can stop and pray/talk to Him from ANY place. Even from the USA, as a mother and grandmother>Yes, I would love to see my children ALL the time but I would gladly give that up in order for them to live happily elsewhere. I hope this helps a wee bit. Take care, God Bless> Love, prayers to ya'll. Mollie

Joyce White

Your letter made me remember two inspirational notes attached to my bathroom mirror that I would like to share with you and Kristi.
"There are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths." (Mark Nepo)
"Where there's life, there's hope." (Terrence, comic dramatist)
Whether or not you move to the US, you might enjoy visiting the Finger Lakes Region of New York. It's a spectacularly beautiful area with charming towns, waterfalls, gorges, hiking trails, and many wineries. In fact, Domaine Leseurre, on Keuka Lake is owned by a French couple.
I'm looking forward to spending a month in Aix next spring with Smithsonian Journeys "Living in France" program. It's a dream come true. I wish you the best of luck wherever your paths lead.

Eileen Kelly

I applaud you both! Change is not easy! As we age our needs and perspectives change! It is a time for us to evaluate our situation and determine what is important for us and our families...as we get older, many of us realize that we will be better "travellers" if we lighten our load! By lightening our load, our arms and hands are open and free to give and accept love and assistance! When our earthly journey comes to an end, we will be able to carry our love with us for our next journey! Alas, the avocados, gardens, and houses must remain for others to enjoy!

I highly recommend these two books by Margaret Silf:

The Other Side of Chaos: breaking through when life is breaking down


Jeanne Asakura

May I just say you are truly a remarkable man? You have communicated your feelings more eloquently than any man I have ever known. Expressing your deepest fears and hopes is hard, but harder to pen them to people you have never known, but whom you know really care for and support you. Decisions are choices made between or among many options. It is obvious you have not only given your best to Mas de Brun but also to the decision on your future. You and Kristi are a wonderful team. Your extended family wants what's best for your continued health and happiness. And we, your extended-extended family (!) want the same for all of you. Bon courage!

Elizabeth M

Bonne Courage, Jean-Marc! You should not have to explain, but what you've written is very thoughtful. I wish you and your family much happiness with whatever path you take.

diane green

Life is one continuous change full of ups and downs. You and your children are healthy and together. Family is support. Embrace your new adventure and best of luck.

Maureen Winterhager

What a beautiful letter; I feel very privileged being able to read it. Thank you Jean-Marc
You are such beautiful people, inside and out......so reflective and sane!!
I hope you find your way and that we can keep up with your doings.
Many blessings and love, Maureen


Doing my bit for Gippsland tourism :) http://www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/southern-gippsland-wine-trail/ though I know you'd probably never consider such ends of the earth! I love it here where I live on Phillip Island ; Purple Hen makes good wine! :) G

Alyssa Eppich

Thank you, Jean-Marc, for your looking forward and your looking up, and your real view of your life.! Thank you, Kristi for your flexibility, your fortitude and your support of Jean-Marc. It takes great courage to pull up roots and move to another country, even if you already have family here. Now that you might be a bit closer-come consider visiting us in Maine-you have a place to stay here!

R. Jimison..."Jim"

You are the age at which some very realistic decisions should be made. Your acquired wisdom plus a mature awareness of the present should guide you to answer, "What is my best prediction of the next ten or twenty years and where do I want to be in that scenario?" The question is inappropriate before age 50.


Oh my God..do what is good for you..I wonder why people question your thoughts about leaving..you have worked so hard..I don't comment often..but I have read..you have a beautiful family..
life can change in one instant..so do what will make you and yours happy..life is too short to spend it troubled about things.
When I was in my fories..and we moved to this home..once or twice I thought should we buy a home with way more land?
I am 62 now..still active but so glad we don't have more than our half acre lot and it's perennial gardens and 100 year old trees to look after..and these 16 years have flown by.
Things change with age..things you do not even expect..I never thought I would say that..but it is true..not everyone ages in perfect health and stamina.
So well written.
Bonne chance ..vous deux..c'est tellement beau de vous voir ensemble.Votre amour vous suivra partout.

PJ Albert

Being a very private person, I am however grateful that you both have opened up your lives, your highs and lows to the rest of us who have vicariously had our "French adventure" through you. You have shared the good, the bad and the ugly while other bloggers make us think they live in a paradise without day to day worries.

My parents took up farming one hundred acres when they were in their mid-50s. I thought they were crazy. Forty years later, the farm is one of our favorite places to visit. That being said, my parents managed to farm for 10 years but then it too became to much so they rented out the land. Have you thought of that option?

Also, you spoke of migrants. I'm sure there are many among them who would be willing to work hard for a roof over their heads and 3 meals a day. Is that a possibility?

Also, have you thought of a "staycation" where people actually pay you for the opportunity to work on the vinyard? It's a crazy world out there between the haves and the have nots.

In any event, all the best to you and your family. Let's raise a glass to all of us making the right decisions as we move forward.


It takes a strong man to reveal the conflicts in his heart. Thank you for your courage to tell us about what lead you and Kristi to this step. I wish you both much happiness wherever the road takes you.


Dear Jean-Marc, Your letter arrived on a day when I too have multiple problems and yet when I read your words - je compatis. How could one not, when you and Kristi are so open and deserving? I will never meet either of you but you have shared with me some wonderful memories of the south of France where I once lived for a year aged 21 (now 77). One night I got almost drunk on the collection of Kristi's wonderful photos and viewed them til the small hours. Such beauty and so generous to share what is so personal. I am so sorry that things have not turned out well for you. You are right to call a halt. And to be proactive as well as trusting in God. I have family in Oregon and have visited twice. It's a great place - apart from the rather like Yorkshire weather! I wish you both well from the bottom of my heart. Do not be slow to get some advice and support, even medication (it doesn't have to be for ever) for the depression. It can hit all of us and sometimes we need a hand to help us. A warm hug from Margaret.


We will follow you where ever you land! And many prayers for the sale of the vineyard property. We are midlife movers too, now in Scotland but will return to the US after a few more years here. As you know, the US is a great place to live, so huge with so much variety of things and people. Blessings on the next few months of transition. Colorado will be amazing.
(We loved our bottle of Domaine Rouge Bleu - we met you in DC a few years ago)


Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Jean-Marc and Kristi,

Neither of you owe us an explanation, but we appreciate your sharing, and it also helps those who are experiencing similar situations.

An old saying (Danish? Dutch?) - do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Often hindsight is 20/20, but we can only make our decisions with what we know at the time.

You all have done wonderfully, and now it's time to change direction. For me, too - and this time at 61! when I'm finally excited again about the adventure, but concerned about being able to rebuild at this age.

But, in life as in sailing, we may need to tack to and fro to get to our destination, not all journeys are straight lines. Most are not.

Bon courage! To you and all of us who are recreating, reinventing, rewriting the next chapter of our lives!


(Oooh, I can't believe I revealed my number; usually it remains unlisted!)


Good luck to you on your decisions ahead. As a recommendation, Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa (the middle of the USA) has an excellent fashion program.

Nancy Stilwagen

I really appreciate your letter, Jean-Marc. It is your inner wisdom that tells you when it is time to change paths. Once you are in alignment with it, you may find your depression will lift. I know, as I have been through the same. It also takes courage to step forward in a new direction.

There are some very good schools in NYC - Parson's School of Design, and the Fashion Institute of Technology (my alma mater). They are, in my opinion, the best of the best, not to mention being situated in the heart of fashion for the US.

If this blog continues, I look forward to your new adventures!

Phyllis Bratton

It takes great courage to recognize the need to make a change and even more to carry through with it. Blessings to you all!


What do any of us know, really - except that you will end up doing what is the right thing for you and your family, and it will all work out for the best.
Thank you for sharing with all of us today. I think we needed to hear from you, as you and your family, whom most of us have never met, are important to us and we care about them.

Diane Scott

Dear Jean Marc and Kristin,
My heart goes out to you both. Jean-Marc, Kristi, you have honored us by sharing your entwined heart and soul with us all these years. Now it is time we share ours with you. Come. Come to America. We welcome you with open arms.


Thank you for your candid letter. You folks have a large following and live a portion of your life on the internet - very public. Colorado is AMAZING! I am sure you all would love it there. Best wishes as you make this next transition.


Jean-Marc, thank you for this sincere letter. I hope that neither you nor Kristi feel that you owe your readers an explanation. I think sometimes loyal readers might feel so invested in your lives, having read this journal for many years, that they start to live vicariously through you. It's easy to project one's fears onto someone else whose thoughts and decisions might take an unexpected turn.

I'm in awe of the work and dedication you both have put into Mas des Brun. I remember reading Kristi's stories about your move. At the time, to me, it felt that you both had to make a few major sacrifices to realize your new dream, and you have continued to work diligently over the years. Dreams evolve and often change entirely. Nothing is static and it sounds like you are most certainly ready to move on. It also feels that this time is right for you to make a change.

I wish you both great success with your journey and I know that you will do well, regardless of where God's guidance takes you. I wrote this in my previous comment and will say it again: As long as you have each other's love and support, everything else will fit into place. Bon courage!

Dean Smith

Hi Jean-Marc
Several years I shared your experience with depression. For quite a period of time, I resisted my doctors advice about taking a drug to combat it. Big mistake! I finally took his advice. He prescribed a very low dose of generic Prozac for three months. After a month I was perfectly fine I told him I was cured and was going to quit taking the drug. He told me that was a lousy idea and to follow his advice. I did and have had no problems since. This occured some years ago when we moved from Paris to Antibes. We're back in Paris and enjoying life again. By the way, we are ex West Coast people from the U.S. We've lived in Portland, (my wife was born there), Bend, Oregon and Seattle. Anywhere in the Northwest will be a good choice. Washington, Oregon and California are all left leaning politically. In other words, mostly sane.

What ever you finally decide to do, my wife and I wish the best for you and yours.

Sh'reen Morrison

Dear Jean-Marc and Kristi,
First, the questions - Is Jean-Marc single ? and. Is your property for sale ?
Should have been - Is Jean-Marc for sale ? and. Is your property single
( In the sense of - do I have to buy it all or may I buy this part or that one ?
You know I live in Yuma, AZ. You also know the election this year is a horrible comedy that keeps playing over and over but keeps selling
tickets nonetheless.
I like you cannot move unless I sell my house. So now I am moving into a small space on the property leaving behind an empty three bedroom house which would be delighted with your company. Just a thought while you regroup.
Yuma is within hours driving distance to : Mexico ( 7 minutes ), LA, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, and maybe 10 hours to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. You may already know this.
In terms of wineries ( so you can stay in touch at least ) is Sam Pillsbury and Victor Alvarez. Sam's vinyards are in Wilcox, AZ - met him years ago at a tasting in Phoenix. He has several tasting rooms one of which I go to as often as possible in Cottonwood, AZ. He is a delightful transplant from New Zealand. Victor came to Yuma from Columbia in 1974. He is the only physician you don't get to see until you are dead. He also has a great accent and his winery Miraflores is in Placerville, CA. Several years ago one of his wines received a 92 or so rating in the Wine Spectator. Both of men would be delighted to meet you both.
Also there is a small winery as you drive into Cottonwood called Alcantara owned by Barbara. She comes from a Napa Valley winery family but wanted to start her own. I always stop there on my way to see friends.
As always - Blue Butterflies to you,
Sh'reen Morrison


Jean Marc,

Because I have been reading Kristi's blog for at least ten years I feel I know your family even though we have never met. For that reason I thank you for your honest message. I wish you and your family the best of luck, whatever you do.

Libbie in North Carolina

P.S. Don't worry about Donald Trump -- he's NOT going to win this election!

Jeannine Aderhold

You wrote about him becoming a writer. After reading the letter, I agree. There is more than one writer in the family!

Petrina in Brittany

Hello Kristi & Jean-Marc,
Just to say that I wish you every happiness & good health in whatever you do and wherever your futures lie. I hope you will perhaps both continue with the blog as we look forward to hearing of your next adventures and how Jackie & Max are progressing. Take care & much love.


Thank you Jean-Marc for your heartfelt honesty. I just would like to point out that I hope you have more than 25 years left. I am 75 and I hope that I have 20 or 25 good years left. I do live each day fully just to make sure. Good luck wherever you land. The Wine Country in California is quite delicious!!! A 3 hour flight to PV, Mexico, a few hours to Colorado and bathed in beauty every day.

Tom McCullough

Jean-Marc and Kristi,
It has been ages since I've posted a comment. It is not because I've lost interest in or stopped reading your posts. It's only because I've gone through a "dark night of the soul" and serious medical problems myself. It was so good to read the message from your heart, Jean-Marc. I'm praying the next step you take in life will be clear to all involved. You have well-said yourself, "Only God knows, let Him guide us." You can't go wrong with an attitude and prayer like that. Many blessings, Tom from Detroit

Nan Hyere

Best wishes for whatever you decide.

“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you . . . Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use.”
― Carlos Castaneda


Jean-Marc and Kristi,

Lovely words and I know how hard this is for you. My husband and I, too, are having to make a life change soon and it isn't easy. But, if you don't try, you will never know. You have wonderful family and you will never lose that. I suffer from depression and while under control, it lurks in the background, making decisions that much more difficult. Nothing you've done is a failure but rather an adventure that others may not have had the courage to take. Best of luck wherever you land!

Raisa Berriz

That was a beautiful and sincere letter Jean-Marc. As you say, only God knows where we will eventually end up...wherever it may be, I know that God will bless you, Kristi and your family.

Kim Rebecca

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Very brave of you. I am just curious... what is the price you are asking for your house and vineyard? Do you have it listed on the internet?
To you and your family, all the best.


OMG! Life is complicated! Just sending you all best wishes.

Joan L.

Jean_Marc and Kristi:
Thanks for your awesome letter. I would just lack to add my voice to those who would be disappointed if you end up leaving France, but please know that you are NOT letting down your readers, who wish only the best for you and your family. Whatever you decide, God bless...

Judith Dunn

Dear Jean-Marc.... so soulfully expressed! I truly believe that you will succeed in whatever place you two decide to go. We are both 75 and have been married 55 years and during that time we made 18 moves , including to Hong Kong, France, Hawaii and Alaska. All were upward moves for my husband, an architect and urban planner. We have 2 children, 11 years apart and it was not easy on them. They are 55 and 43 now and look back on their youth as a grand adventure. They are both nomads like we were also! Life is and adventure each and every day and one must take their chances and hope and pray for the best. If you decide to come to the USA, we welcome you all with open arms and wish you all the happiness and success in the world. There are many opportunities for all of you here, just waiting to be discovered! Keep your courage and resolve up and there is nothing you cannot do! My fave saying is ..'Man plans, God laughs'!, however, he will look after you and your family and a year from now, you will see and understand that life is change and it can be wonderful! Carpe Diem! Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.


May I encourage you to check out Oregon? The Willamette Valley has a temperate climate and is only 2 hrs. from the coast. Colorado is not far for a visit.

Gerry Orme

I applaud you for having the sense to realize what an endeavor that you undertook in creating a vineyard, and to take pride in the vines that are in the ground.
My earlier comments about the Willamette Valley still stand and the area around Salem is beautiful. My granddaughter graduated this year from Willamette University and I visited often. Plenty of moisture there.
My family will be attending a dinner on Friday night with a dear friend from Balleroy, and of course we will be full of questions about her safety concerns. I do not think she would leave France but her only son just married and her grandchildren are here in California.
From your writing and Kristin's I feel that, together , obstacles will be overcome.


Dear Jean-Marc & Kristi - God's blessing and covering to you and your family. He will provide a way when you put your trust in him. It sounds like you are seeing this as an adventure instead of a loss - what a wonderful outlook! It's ok to change your mind and your plans - run with it!! And if you end up moving to America - Bienvenue aux États-Unis. ♥

grazielle m.

You guys are wonderful! Totally understand! Can't help but mention that I have seen the film Jean de Florette probably 20+ times and there are some reminders here in your post of Jean Cadoret's plight which did NOT end well! If you haven't seen it recently I recommend to watch it!
You know yourself better than anyone else! Follow your instincts, guided by your own inner light! Just because it is "un reve" for some Americans/English folks to set up house + a magical farm in France doesn't mean it has to be your "reve" anymore!
Much love, encouragement, and all the best from this world and world after to you all!
-a reader from Seattle


Such a thoughtful, contemplative, measured letter. Thank you, Jean-Marc and Kristi for the gorgeous language, the heartfelt message and the absolute candor.

Together, JeanClaude and I (who still split our time between la belle France and NY because of family and financial ties) wish you all of the elements necessary to arrive at an informed decision for your family and for yourselves.

You are young, healthy, talented and inspired: you will be successful and find happiness no matter where you settle and what you next undertake.

Ayez la frite!

amy stell


Ce n'est pas necessaire d'expliquer vos intentions de faire quelque chose. Nous sommes les lecteurs du blog, pas votre famille.

Je vais prier pour vous et votre famille...Kristi et vos enfants. La vie est difficile. Dieu vous benisse.


75 years ago my parents and I were living in France when the Nazis invaded. My mother thought the French would protect us,but my father felt we had to leave. It is true that those were horrible times for Jews but had we not followed my father's advice I would not be alive today. I believe that you will know exactly what your next move will
be and not question it. You will make the right decision. My Dad always said "follow your gut" and you will make the right decision.
I am sending you and your family my heartfelt thoughts and prayers.


Dear Jean-Marc,
Change is good. Those of us who have come to feel we know you and Kristi wish you the best--you are both still young, why not try something different??? Oh, and I live in Portland OR--I remember when you came to our little wine shop near me--you would both love it here!!!
Wishing you well in a new adventure

Russ W., Livermore, CA 94550

Even though you are a total stranger to me. I've followed you and your family for about 4 years. I am happy that you have regained your focus on life and charted a new course. It must be difficult to leave France. It's such a beautiful country. I live in California and we love to visit Oregon too, Ashland area of Oregon. Lots of wine making in the Applegate Valley and that area. If Trump is elected on 8 Nov, then I will move to France! Salut!

Karen Cafarella

It is truly wonderful that you want to share your decisions and why you are deciding to move. But in reality you both don't owe us any explanation. It is your life and you have to do what is right for your family. I must admit I find it "sad" that people have to question what you both want to do. I know sharing your life on this blog opens up to comments, yet I always hope that it would only be supportive. Wherever your family goes I will be here to read the adventures.

Sending love


What a beautiful, heartfelt, open letter - we are all wishing your family the best


Others have commented on emotional and spiritual issues. I'll make some practical comments.

Nothing like getting sea urchins directly from the sea, but Denver (and I'm sure Portland) has many restaurants with good sea urchins on offer: https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Sea+Urchin&find_loc=Denver%2C+CO
and Seafood Landing (https://www.yelp.com/biz/seafood-landing-denver) sells fresh ones.

Ironically, in my opinion, there is more difficulty finding good Provencal rosés.

Mary Eggleston

It appears you have thoughtfully considered your options and are
waiting on direction. You are in a good place. You said, "God knows..and
"may He help me". You have turned to the right source and perhaps are
asking, "What is God up to?"
Jeremiah 29:11 has helped me personally in guidance for the future when
it seems my dreams have been dashed to enlarge my vision.."For I know the
plans I have for you, "declares the Lord,"plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I have forwarded a study on Jeremiah to the web site and possibly you would
enjoy walking through it. It is poetic, like you and Kristin, and talks of lands, crops,
joys and losses!
You two have been a blessing in my life as you have allowed your personal journeys
to encourage my life..Thank you for your transparency! It is a great gift!! Of course I
love France too😘
Grandma Mary from Colorado
(We would love you to come to our favorite place👍)

Trish Pegram

Kristin, you may remember me, and my friend Alice. We had lunch with you 3 years ago when I was in St. Saturnin for an extended stay. I live in Colorado, in the far SW corner in Durango. If you make the decision to move to the US, this is a wonderful place to be. And Denver is so vibrant, if you want a large city it is one of the best. If you want a smaller town, with a wonderful, welcoming community, but still big enough to have a college and many restaurants, come see us down here in the 4Corners area. We have spectacular scenery, welcoming people, and local vineyards

Good luck with whatever you decide. You can be happy wherever you choose to be, and have a life that is full of friends, commitment and community. Trish

Sue Lennox

JM, bien dit. ; )

Linda Nichols

Wishing you the best where ever you land! Don't leave your blog
behind, I do look forward to your words and insight! Love
That you share with us! Perhaps the best is yet to come!


Jeff Sully

Dear Jean-Marc
Your note left me a little unsettled, in a good way, as it hit very close to home. I am a little older than you are, and have been in the wine industry most of my adult life. I can think of no other business to be in. To take a product of nature and create something that could bring joyful memories to people's lives was a gift.

I was a winemaker in the Napa Valley during the crazy days, only to eventually open a small winery in southeastern Washington in 2004. It was growing until the financial crisis hit. It was clear that this project was not going to make it. It hurt. I was a casualty of the recession, but never a victim.

As I took some time away from it to heal my wounds and regroup, I noticed that my country was not what it once was. I questioned whether I still wanted to be surrounded by the division and hate that I saw (we're currently in Florida). We had planned to move to Dordogne once we sold our house, hoping to find a nice village to grow old in. We wanted to escape the dark times that seemed to be looming, the suppression of freedom that could come with a Supreme Court that would take us back to the Stone Age. Then Bataclan occurred. My fiance, who had never been to France, said she would not go until it is safe - whenever that would be.

After much soul-searching, we came up with criteria that would satisfy our concerns. (1) We had to be near the wine industry, even tangentially. We love the business, and we love the people associated with it. This is Life with a capital "L". (2) We had to be in a location that was viscerally appealing. That meant hills, trees, agriculture and small towns. (3) For business reasons, we had to have an accessible airport within an hour or so. (4) Housing prices had to be reasonable. (5) It had to be socially accepting of different viewpoints. (6) and most important - there had to be room for a terrain. There a couple of Petanque clubs in the Portland area.

As it turned out, we found McMinnville, Oregon as the place to move to. It is about an hour south of Portland. The area can be gloomy from the rain, but as long as you are with the ones you love, and have plenty of firewood, it can be a rich and fulfilling life. Please be informed however, that the dominant cepage is Pinot Noir as opposed to Mouvedre. Always one to literally keep his hands dirty and stained, we can legally make three barrels of wine a year for home consumption.

It is a hard lesson to realize that not all of your dreams can materialize. I know it was for me. Your dream in Bandol sounded absolutely wonderful! I am sorry that you could not finish it, but I also feel that maybe the next adventure will be even better.

With best wishes, and hopefully we will see you in Oregon.


grace park

i strongly wish you would not move to france!

Diane Stout

Dear Jean-Marc,
It was good to read your story. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes life brings unexpected choices. It's interesting that you and your family may move to the US and I am moving to Southern France next year! I am sure everything will be okay for you and yours and for me!
Take care!

GwenEllyn Anderson

Come to Oregon! You can be surrounded by vineyards and the wine culture and get involved at many levels...or just sip and enjoy the wine, the beer, the sake ... in gorgeous surroundings.

grace park

thank you for sharing your heartfelt story, you don't have to though.
whatever you decide, by now most of the readers all come to know, you will do your best wherever you are.

again, really appreciate your open letter.
glad to know i am not the only one that is struggling with life.


Jean-Marc, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Best of luck to you. Good wishes to you both and bon courage! It is daunting, I am sure, but it is also exciting. A new chapter. Whereever you "land", you will find happiness and comfort in each other as you have shown us through these little peeks into your life.


Cher Jean-Marc...Thank you for your clear, heartfelt explanation of your family's situation. You do have many difficult decisions to make. I live in Portland, Oregon and I highly recommend it. My husband and I decided to move here in 2008 from Paris where we had lived for 12 years. We moved to Paris from Texas. I love Paris..and the beauty that is France, but we needed to come "home" to be with family and chose Portland to be near friends. Family are in different states, but we can travel easily to see them. We also love the wealth of beauty the state offers. We are about 1 hour from forests where we can hike and about 2 hours from the Pacific coast and beautiful beaches. There are beautiful vineyards all around Portland--the Willamette Valley is especially good for vineyards. There are a lot of French who live here already! You need to make a decision that is best for your family, of course. I wish you and your family the best in making a decision whatever it may be. Again, thank you for your story.


Dear Jean-Marc,I was really touched by your letter.
My husband is a professional counsellor and psychotherapist who,in spite of all his training, suffered anxiety and depression for some time.Thus, it was in desperation, that we trialled some specially created music for children and adults with auditory sensory dysfunction - a relatively unknown learning disorder. Why am I telling you this? Well, my husband began listening to a CD of this exquisite music (free on Youtube) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzuKM7RjPMA&list=RDRzuKM7RjPMA#t=26 for 20-30 minutes per day - and within a day or so, he was a new person - no anger, crankiness, or depression. Mr Nice Guy was back. However, if he stops listening for a few days, he is prone to regress... hmm, we are all wired differently, n'est-ce pas? He subsequently has had similar great results with clients and several other adults and children. It has to be the most effortless option if you are at all interested in giving it a try through this time of uncertainty and decision-making. The process is said to work best with head-phones, while sitting quietly. However, my husband, the rule-breaker, often listens on an iPod while going for walk.Bonne Chance - if you decide to give it a go: it has transformed our lives.Warmest regards, M.

Jan Acorn

Bonne courage to you both. Keep asking for guidance and I am confident the way will be shown to you. New chapters in life can be very exciting and revitalizing.


Yes, we are all affraid of another 4 years of Obama ...................

Ruth Hoppin

Dear Jean-Marc and Kristi,

Tenacity is considered a virtue, but knowing when to change direction is a higher form of wisdom. I wish you both all the best, and by the way, Portland Oregon is a beautiful city with many cultural amenities. Welcome home, Kristi.

G. Perrier

What an honest and heartfelt letter. Only you two can say what is best for you, and I think it's an exciting life change! (I always hear the greatest things about Portland, if you really are considering it.) For sure, if you are going to be in the wine business, being French has a huge benefit in terms of how you're viewed and accepted. :-) Bonne chance à vous tous, ne lâchez pas - vous méritez le meilleur !


After reading the above comments I realize that what i was going to say has been said many times so I will just say that after following you and your family through this site, I care about all of you and know that you will make the right decisions for you as you are all brave, loyal, loving and truly dedicated to each other. Hugs all around.

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Merci from the bottom of my heart for your openness with us, Jean-Marc, in sharing all that has led to this exciting hope of relocating in America. Midlife is so often a bittersweet time of new realizations and major shifts. I believe that all will go very well indeed for you and Kristi to 'make it so'. Since, as Kristi's readers, we feel like extended family, it is no wonder there have been so many 'nosy' questions! In speaking to us with such candour and clarity, you honour us. A warm embrace to you ... with welcome in it for your choice of destination. The change you are creating, whatever the result, is a strong and beautiful thing. May you have many more than just 25 years of renewed vitality and joie de vivre. We love, admire, and respect you all.

Bill Miller

The link to the COMMENT button for Marc's letter is broken : Cannot find server.

That being so, if you move to the Etats Unis, I hope you will make Sonoma County, California your wine home. Portland is a good choice also, with lots of nearby wine regions.

Bon chance, a votre sante...


Thank you, Jean-Marc, for your lovely and heartfelt letter. I wish you and Krisi the best in whatever you decide. You all will be in my prayers!


Oops, I meant to type Kristi!

P Hadfield

A beautiful letter.
Perhaps you could lease your land/house to another wine company or a person looking for such an opportunity (you have done all the hard part already!)
I live on the Central Coast of California which has a relatively new but very productive wine-making industry.There are many young winemakers who graduate from UC Davis or Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo who are looking for options and opportunities; or even seasoned winemakers at vineyards who would love the experience of working on a vineyard in France. There are a couple of wineries owned by French citizens or co-owned with Americans. One I believe is is Tablas Creek in Paso Robles. Perhaps you could contact them and find out if they know of anyone with such an interest (and of course backing). There are, I am sure, other French-owned properties in Napa or Sonoma.This way you could keep the property and have it pay for itself and still enjoy a respite in the US. (I agree Portland is great). Perhaps you have traveled the West Coast of the US on previous occasions selling your wine so perhaps tap on some of your contacts made while doing that.I wish you luck. PS I have a similar situation of a dream brought up short in Italy (sans vignes) so I empathize.

Nadine Feldman

I ran across this post on Facebook and feel compelled to comment. I believe we met briefly at a wine dinner in Houston several years ago. Sometime after that, we moved to a "paradise" on the Olympic Peninsula. Though our circumstances were different, I too took on way too much. I understand the euphoria at first, followed by overwhelm as the work takes over. We are also in the process of making a big change in order to enjoy life more.

We wish you the best in making what must have been a difficult decision. Congratulations on your willingness to remain true to yourselves and to recognize when change is needed.

Chris Allin

Dear Jean-Marc,

George and I have admired your élan, your joie de vivre and your courage and believe that you will approach the next opportunity with the same energy and enthusiasm. As we move through the stages of our lives change is inevitable, defined by the evolution of who we are becoming. New possibilities are born from change and with your education, work/life experiences and work ethic you have a lot to offer. This will be life changing for your whole family and I am confident you will all thrive.
Understanding when change is necessary is a strength in itself that can carry us through the transition. Our hearts are with you as we are experiencing a change ourselves...sudden to me but after a long, well thought out process for George, he is retiring from his second career and more than 47 years of committed hard work. We well understand the uncertainties and the delicate process of moving forward.

Thank you for your reassuring candor. We pray that the ultimate decision ahead for you all will bring peace.

Chris and George


Dear Kristi and Jean Marc,
What has kept me devotedly reading the French Word a Day blog all these years (besides being a Francophile and a gardener like you both) is the tender honesty you have exhibited when sharing your lives. It is a "real" story with all the good, the bad, the ugly and the imperfect. I remember when Kristi posted a photo of her "post cancer scar" on her beautiful face and I thought how vulnerable and brave this was -- no vanity there. It helped me with some things i was dealing with in my personal life, and endeared me to her.
So Jean Marc, thank you for being brutally honest about feeling overwhelmed with the workload of planting, building and creating a vineyard in the south of France. Some dreams in life become too heavy to carry and have to be let go. It was very courageous and I honor you. So many times my husband and i have thought about buying land with a peach or apple orchard, and then we realize we would never be able to do the work ourselves or hire the help we would need (we are in our 60s). One great piece of advice I had to swallow is this: a person has got to know their limitations (physically, emotionally and financially)
That said, I want to share that my husband Paul met Kristi's lovely sister, Heidi, here in Denver for coffee (he is a mortgage loan officer and she is a Realtor). She gave him a copy of Kristi's book which was so sweet of her! Love it!
I have lived in many places in the U.S.-- back east in New Jersey near NYC, Ashland, Oregon (we love Portland too!), and nearly 40 years in Colorado. I want to assure you Denver, Colorado is a great place -- sunny and liberal and full of outdoor activities. The skiing or snowboarding is superb in the mountains, and there are bike/walking paths everywhere you turn in town. There are many wineries and vineyards (most are located on the warmer "western slope" of the Rocky Mountains near the Grand Valley).
The "zone" for gardening here in town is a "4-5" depending on the elevation (5280 ft--a mile high and above), but you will get used to it. There is a great botanic gardens here as well. Anyway, I just wanted to put in a good word for Denver.
Sorry i ran on and on here. I wish you the absolute very best (and clear) decision making coming up over the next year. It can be an exciting adventure -- and of course with all transitions there will be a tiny bit of sadness in letting go. You have a community out here delighted to support you in any decision you make.
Blessings to you, Heather

joie in Carmel

You are a man with much depth and wisdom. To be able to face your foes and make the decisions necessary for you and your family takes courage. I applaud you. Denver is nice. I have close family in Boulder which I love. Portland is a great city as is Seattle. I was sort of hoping for North/Central California as a settling point. Even found a job that could use both your wine knowledge and your accounting background.
And Kristi, even though the growing season is shorter at the high elevations, everything seems to grow fast and big up there. Learn to freeze and can because you will have lots of veggies.
Whatever your final decision turns out to be I know that life will treat you well. Remember the "journey" is more important than the destination.


Thank you for your honesty and openness in your letter. The important thing is that you attempted your dream and worked hard to achieve it. I am 53 and will be quitting my job this year. It pays well but I am ready for a new challenge and there is no growth for me at this company. It is a little scary but I believe we are never too old for adventure! Best of luck to you and Kristi, wherever you decide to settle!

Lorna Peterson

Salut JM & Kristi,

wherever your hearts take you, enjoy the journey and your time with loved ones……..


South Portland, Oegon

Art Bervin

As a native Oregonian and one whose growing up years were spent in Portland OR, I was pleased to read that Marc's favorite city is Portland. Alas, it is also an expensive place to live. Perhaps too many people move there who want to "keep Portland weird"? But the whole of the Willamette Valley is a beautiful place to live (I have lived in Corvallis for 51 years), and it is also great wine country. I am a newcomer to wine, but everything I read and taste praises our pinot noir. The valley puts you close to the ocean (from Corvallis to Newport is about a 45 minute drive), to the mountains (great skiing, I'm told) two to three hours to the east. The Columbia River gorge is one of my favorite places, and we have traveled in much of western Europe and spent a year in Denmark.

I'm sure everyone has offered recommendations, and only because I noted Marc's love for Portland did I offer my support for my native state. Portland does have art schools, though I do not know much about them. The city itself has many art venues. Better schools would likely be in Seattle, San Francisco or Los Angeles (not my favorite city). Portland State University (my alma mater) is a robust urban school; Corvallis has Oregon State University (oriented toward engineering and agriculture, but offers liberal arts as well); the U of Oregon in Eugene is more a class liberal arts school as well as the sciences.

We often complain of the rain, but as immigrants from the colder Midwest say, "You don't have to shovel it." We avoid the humidity during summer heat and really cold temperatures in the winter. So what's not to like.

Marti Hinman

Kristi and Marc,
Best wishes for the next chapter of your lives
together. You both have a lot to offer to wherever you
decide to move. Change is good.
Thank you for sharing your journey with
your readers. Love your sincerity and candor.
With love and admiration.

Linda Karber

Dear Jean-Marc,

I had a hard time reading your beautiful heart-felt letter through my tears. Your positive realistic attitude will help you make the right decision as to where to relocate. My prayer is that will God guide you and your family on this journey.


Ruth, Carlsbad, CA

Dear Jean-Marc,

Thank you for trusting us with your fears, your disappointments, and your hope and continued spirit of adventure as you consider gracing the U.S. with your very special family. You have exhibited more courage and determination than most of us with your previous choices and your willingness to reconsider your path. Thank you for sharing this journey, and be assured that your character will pave the way to future successes and much happiness. As others have said, with your health and your beautiful family, the hardest part is already in place.

Fully understand your concern with our elections; mercifully, the problem seems to be imploding on itself (the only question being 'how on earth did it take so long?'), but should worse come to worst, we will head to New Zealand. Another great wine country with great beaches and mountains!


Dear Jean-Marc and Kristi,

You are so brave to look clearly and realize that changes must needs be made. God will show you as you said. Step by step with Him.

God bless you dearly, C-Marie

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