Rent Our French farmhouse? Your Year in Provence? + Faire des courses
Le Changement d'heure : do you like it or dread it?

Pumpkin in French - And "Plan C" (living in an RV?)

La Citrouille Pumpkin

Une citrouille, in French, is a pumpkin (and a pumpkin is also a potiron). But in today's story, une citrouille  is a mode of transportation...and we're not talking about a Citroën!

TODAY'S WORD: Une Citrouille

    : pumpkin
    : head (synonym, in French, for citrouille)

la citrouille d'Halloween = jack-o'-lantern
la tarte à la citrouille = pumpkin pie

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Une Citrouille. Et si Kristi et moi, on vous rendait visite dans un RV ou dans une citrouille?
Pumpkin. And what if Kristi and I visited you in an RV or in a pumpkin?

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    by Kristi Espinasse

A realtor and some interested buyers showed up Saturday, to visit our home and vineyard. This latest development threatens to throw a clog, or sabot,  into Plan B
--sabotaging my chance to rent this farmhouse, and so keep it for ourselves!

Standing beside our withering bougainvillea which once boasted bright fuchsia leaves,  I pasted a welcoming smile on my face as I studied the buyers. She was a brunette,  a natural beauty à la Jacqueline Bisset. He was a tall, boyishly handsome CEO. Both around our age (not yet 50).  The Parisians spent an hour visiting our home and vineyard at which point the man looked at me and said, 

"Vous avez fait de très très bon travail ici! You have done some very good work here!"

I wished Jean-Marc were around to hear that compliment! It might have revived his dream of creating this vineyard in Bandol. Hélas, my husband was away working part-time at a wine shop in Marseilles. (Most people don't earn a living owning vineyard. It helps to have a side job. Jean-Marc has two of them!)

The couple  turned to leave. I watched them walk happily down the driveway,  past the row of blueberries I planted last spring, past the lilacs and the felled mimosa (which reappeared last year in a most hopeful display of new growth). The buyers disappeared behind the burgeoning mimosa and I  could not see what kind of car they got into. But it might as well have been a golden carriage! For I was keenly aware of just how quickly my fairy tale French dream could be given to another to enjoy endlessly! 

I needed to sit down. The edge of the garden beds offered a familiar perch. As I rested beside the strawberries, carrots, and ciboulette, I inhaled the familiar earthy perfume and ran my hand over the green leafy bed. "This is an experimental garden," I had offered, earlier, as the couple looked around the unruly jungle. All those "experiments" were my joie de vivre, my new-found raison d'être. Like Willy Wonka in his Chocolate Factory,  I thrived among my garden's quirks, wonders and grand possibilities! With its backdrop of a stone farmhouse and, beyond, the sea, this environment has been, for four years now, a real life fantasy.

 I was staring at one of the pumpkins which had wrapped its vine around an antique chair of my belle-mère's... when a Willy Wonkian possibility came to me: PLAN C !

("C" for Citrouille!)

Plan C honors Jean-Marc's need to see new horizons--along with my need to be anchored to the sweet-scented earth.

Plan "C" rhymes with  RV (and, come to think of it, with "citrouille")!

Staring into my garden pumpkin, it became at once a globe and a vehicle (it worked for Cinderella, could it work for JM, Smokey and me?). I could see us traveling across America, as you readers have suggested. Because I will miss my organic garden and the fruits of the harvest, why not make GARDEN HOPPING the theme of our voyage?

My dream would then be to visit organic gardens across the USA! Jean-Marc and I could stop by your garden or potager and sink our hands into the good earth.  Would you let us take a few supplies for the road? An apple? Some parsley? A rutabaga (something I've never grown!) And therein lies the magic - to continue to grow and learn. To expand this experimental garden from one end of the States to the other!

Can you just picture our RV with a row of plants (aloe vera, rosemary, and why not a lemon and an avocado seedling?) tied behind the windshield and a smiling driver and copilots just beyond?  Can you see Smokey, buckled into the back seat?)

So what do you say, Dear Reader? Can we come dig in your garden? (We want to see you even if you don't have a garden, in which case we'll share some canned green-beans from the previous garden visit!)

Now to deck out this pumpkin-on-wheels, below, with some plants, some cots, a shower, a W.-C., and my dear family! In the comments (link below) let me know your thoughts. Mille mercis! In case I haven't told you lately, That's a thousand thanks in French!


Kristi driving ape truck

hélas = unfortunately
la ciboulette = chives
joie de vivre = joy of life
raison d'être = reason for being
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also step-mother)
le potager = kitchen garden, vegetable garden

Smokey sheep
Smokey, on the road. "Oh the things we will see!"

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Jean Marc

Beautiful, like my lovely wife

Geraldine Ventura

Kristen, I cannot imagine life in an RV after the wonderful life you have had while Jean Marc pursued his dreams and you became an organic gardener. BUT maybe for a month of traveling across the USA wouldn't be too bad. You can always stop at our home in Indiana. We have entertained our French friends when they visited the States, so we are experienced in hosting. Whatever you decide to do, may God bless you and guide you on your journey!

Rupert SUREN

Kristen, the idiots presently running Washington may make Plan C of living in a RV illegal.


You are welcome to visit us in Grayson Georgia. I can promise you roses and dahlias, southern hospitality, a precious german shepherd named Max to pet, amazing food prepared by my husband and warm fellowship! We might even break out a bottle of wine saved from our trips to France!
Blessings over you and your family as you determine your path.

Oh dear Kristi, you have really put your roots down where you are ........ I know how that feels ......
But whatever you do it will all work out. It's just the being in limbo period ...... Then the transitional period ...... That are so hard.

I have a friend who never, ever plans anything. She 'just wings it' ...... she does not worry if she loses a job .... Something will turn up she says .... And it always does.

So perhaps my advice to you and Jean Marc should be ........ 'just wing it'!

Tammy straub

Not much gardening here, but i would be so disappointed if you didnt come spend some time with us here on lake powell, the colorado river, & canyon lands. Drive what you want, but you'll stay inside with us, As long as you like, so you can take your time seeing the american southwest! We are 4-5 hours from phx, vegas, durango, colorado.

Trudy Ramirez

Traveling through the States in an RV and visiting people along the way could be quite wonderful. But, in terms of taking growing plants along with you, it could prove problematic. There are laws about not taking live plants over State borders. I would be worth checking into.


Love plan C. Internally working on that option myself (the rental part-26 years in Paris raising my daughter -with 2 months back in USA per year-a bit torn between the two...identifying with your moments angst). My first reflex was to sell sweet abode in Paris but now thinking in terms of renting it out. Hard to let go and maybe not necessary, or maybe better in mini steps? Have been following your blog, attending book signings, but always behind the curtains....wishing you a grand tour in your citrouille, with hopes that you will return so that I will have the pleasure of meeting you both in your garden one day.

Chris De Ville

No gardens at my townhouse in North Carolina, but you are welcome to come and visit. I enjoy reading your posts and would love to meet you!

Susan & Dewey

We’re experiencing the same feelings as you & Jean-Marc about leaving our “forever” home. We bought a house in the AZ Biltmore Estates 14 years ago and lovingly remodeled it. Knowing that we are ready to rest more (called retirement) and learning the value of being close to shopping after years of living in Paris 4-5 months each year, we bought a house in Scottsdale. We took possession in September gutting it for a complete renovation. The first of October we put our Biltmore house on the market so it would be sold by the time the other house was ready. The Biltmore house sold in 3 days! From that moment I’ve had a sadness about leaving our “forever” home that is crushing my heart. I’d secretly hoped it wouldn’t sell and that we’d have to remain there and sell the other house but someone above overruled my thinking. I’m trying to believe that we’ll love the new house and area as much and hope that you all find contentment in the next chapter of your life. Susan

David Caldwell

A mon avis, restez en la belle France!


Meredith Entin

Bonjour Kristi, Living in an RV? Oui, and here is the family you need to contact/friend: They know everything about living in an RV; they have been doing it with 12 kids! Susie grew up in Virginia across the street from my sister. They are an amazing family, and I think can tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about travelling across American in and RV. They are also on FB: Susie McGrath Kellogg, Dan Kellogg, and the Kellogg Show! Have fun checking them out! They are awesome and so are you!

Meredith Entin

P.D. Kristi, Here is Susie's FB address: Be sure to check out the latest photos/adventures on FB

Kate and Bill

Anyone interested in "organic" must come to Vermont, but first see about visiting Eliot Coleman in Maine! He has worked internationally, as you may know, and been inspired by sustainable French gardening methods and I feel sure he would love to meet you.

I do my gardening ''organically'-- feeding a garden with compost from chickens fed a mixed organic-non-organic diet disqualifies it as "organic."

On a side note--do you know what rutabagas taste like and, worse, their texture? What you want are the breed of turnip that is white and violet and never grows larger than a couple of inches.

Come visit. Kate by the lake in Vermont -- Lac Champlain

Leslie Ficcaglia

I have a garden and you're welcome to visit me here in southern NJ along my little river, but my dear, you need roots! I don't see you being happy without a plot of land of your own. I do hope that the two of you can come to some sort of accommodation that will feed both of your souls! Bisous -

Debbie Houston

Live fearlessly, Kristin. You will land on your feet. Change is hard, but we were created to explore. We make our nest wherever we roam.


Absolutely you are invited to stop here. Our solar-only house and garden are hand-built, by our hands, in a clearing we cleared in the woods in western Massachusetts. So you see I have marvelled at, and been sympathetic with, the challenges and level of work you do, though we never had a vineyard! It would be such fun to meet you both, so don't come when I am in France!

Alice Halliday

hi Kristi
How about coming via UK to visit us on the south coast, near Portsmouth? We are in the same situation, having to sell to repay a loan and leave the house we've worked on and called home for 20 years! Lots of garden and veggie plot to inspect and tempt you. Like you we don't know where to go to - a big wrench for you. We spent seven years in France and I have followed your FWAD for years!


You are a very lucky man! But, then again, you already knew that. 😊


I know Jean-Marc has been to Asheville NC before, so I'm sure he can find his way back here for another visit. Besides visiting organic gardens, another fun thing would be to make contact with all the French conversation meetup groups. There are at least three of these groups in Asheville, maybe more. One of them meets at MetroWines, a wine store. So you both would feel right at home.


... and you can stop by our home, also in Indiana! Cheers to you and whatever path God leads you! Fun and exciting times ahead.


Kristin, you are welcome here at my place in northern Virginia. I'm 5 miles from interstate 95 so you have access to all along there in a short time as well as some other beautiful parts of the state. You would love Charlottesville and the road that takes you there. Or along 66. Both areas have become wine country. Fertile land, the ocean to the east and the mountains to the west.


Just remembered - there is a site where people trade houses for periods of time. Listings from all over the world. Could be interesting. No garden but you are all welcome to visit as long as necessary to visit with organic gardeners in the area. Yogi and Goldie love golden retriever. Winter is so mild here lots of fresh produce.


Before believing (much less helping to perpetuate) the scare stories on RV or small home bans being irresponsibly peddled around the Internet, it's worth checking the facts on Snopes, which researches the truth -- if any -- behind all the Internet rumors and conspiracy theories that circulate endlessly.

Check It's a long article that quotes the various versions of the false rumor, so here's the summary in last paragraph:

In short, while a number of confused commenters flooded HUD's proposal page based on inaccurate rumors, the proposed rules were seen as a net positive by tiny home experts, RV enthusiasts, RV trade groups, and anyone deeply involved with full-time RVing or tiny house living. A handful of blogs broadly misinterpreted the proposed rule changes as HUD "outlawing" tiny homes, despite the fact HUD doesn't possess the authority to pass such laws. The proposed rule rumored to be a "tiny house ban" was in fact simply a clarification of classifications for RVs and similar dwellings and in no way banned or criminalized tiny home ownership or building.

Karen W (Parkton, Md)

I like your C Plan. Do it while you can! Logical me says to sock away enough to buy a small home first but "Il faut que" you watch and read this about living and traveling in an off-the-grid RV so that you aren't limited to overnights in RV parks: This couple also manages to help people and earn a little living while traveling.

Beth Bright

Your always welcome in Okoboji! I don't garden but, maybe you can share some of your pointers to start one! Of course you must come in the summer / fall as it's the best time of the year in our little resort village in the Midwest! PS we have a 1962 Avigon we love to camp in ~ go for it!
Beth ~ Okoboji


Puet-etre nous viendrons de vous voir. Ma femme et moi serions au Montsoreau por Nov, Dec et Jan. C'est possible. Pensez vous?

Phyllis Bratton

Come and visit us in North Dakota! We have apple and pear trees, but they grow in spite of me - I have the opposite of a green thumb. But I know lots of farmers and where all the local vineyards are!


Hi Kristi, Central Texas has many vineyards and there are many urban gardens in our city. No problem having a place to stay.
I'll keep reading to keep aware of what is going on.
Good luck and I know things will work out.

My husband and I recently got the RV bug and have traveled over 10,000 miles in it in less than a year visiting over 20 states. So, yes, it can be done, though ours is a small Sprinter and not full time living friendly. But we do have a neighborhood CSA for you to sink you hands into when you arrive in Ohio. Organic gardening travel sounds like a great plan. Let us know when you will be here.

Barbara Brown

You and your family are most welcome to our home and gardens in Virginia. We have friends who have taken the plunge and sold everything to travel across the USA. Their journey plan involves always going to places that are warm. When it is hot in Florida where they lived, they go to Maine, for example. Unlike the South of France, many gardens in the US have to be put to bed in the Winter. We spend our Winter planning next years garden, pursuing seed catalogues and drawing new beds. Of course, we continue composting all Winter for the black gold that will nourish the gardens next Spring.
Oh, Kristi, we would love to entertain you, as you did Don and I last year.


Dear Kristi, So much to think of and so much good advice! To me it seems that you are rooted by your heavenly earth! To pull up from that seems wrong for you. Could you buy/rent a smaller place, wherever, so you could garden, be able to see the children and feel connected to loving tasks? In any case we would welcome you to Cape Cod! Bless on on your journey of decision making!

John H Abeles MD

I still advise incorporating the (guest) house and vineyard. Take in investors. Run it as a business And rent or buy a smaller house nearby.


Great article! I'm a long time reader of your blog! Question, or maybe a topic for a future post: how do French children celebrate Halloween? Is there trick-or-treat'ing? Are costume parties common for children and/or adults? Is there any connection to the next day, November 1 - All Souls Day? Curious! Thank you again for all your amazing writing!


This made me smile. :) Jean Marc and Kristi, you are such a wonderful couple!

Patricia Sands

Dear Kristi, you are being a true possibilitarian! I know how wrenching it is to leave a property where you have invested time, energy and tons of love. We have just sold our home (winter home) in Florida and are suffering some "seller's remorse". C'est normal! But we are planning to spend far less time here and it's the sensible thing to do. Do what makes sense for you and J-M and everything will fall into place. Je t'assure!

Wendy and Billy Atwell

HI Kristy! I'm in Texas, too. I think you would love Fredricksburg. And I had an idea that you could speak at garden clubs about your gardening passion. There are SO many garden clubs around the US filled with women who would love to hear your stories.


You will not enjoy life in an RV. I think the place for you is a piece of property south of Portland, Oregon. In a wine producing area, near a nice city. The Pacific Ocean is a day trip away. You can grow a fine garden. The place is very livable. It's a long day's drive but you can drive to San Francisco area from there. Politically it's a very progressive region. Sorry with all the times I've spent inTaradeau I never ran into you and Jean-Marc.


What a wonderful idea, Kristi! I think RV living is absolutely feasible, especially for those who are not yet sure where they might want to settle. It creates room for so many possibilities!

As an aside, I wanted to give you the proverbial pat on the back for mentioning that Jean Marc works two part-time jobs on the side. It's a great reminder that fairy tale lives might only appear glorious to the outsiders who don't see the long days of hard work that you have invested in the creation of your dream.

Julie Farrar

I was just catching up with reading about Plan B when this post on Plan C popped up. I think it would be a great idea to combine both. Rent your place for a year and then travel across the U.S. in an RV during that time to get a feel for a more permanent move. Touring gardens is a great way to guide your journey. You absolutely would have to include the organic farm of Brad's uncle in Georgia. Check out Elm Street Gardens Then you could come to St. Louis because we have one of the best botanical gardens in the world. And you could stay in our guest space on our third floor and poke around in the new garden I'm shaping at our new place. Meanwhile Jean-Marc could visit the wine country just outside of St. Louis.

And I loved your "running errands" joke.


Should you come through the midwest in your RV, you should definitely visit The Toledo Botanical Garden. In fact, taking a tour of US botanical gardens would be a good way to provide a framework for your travels. I'd bet many botanical gardens would construct an event coinciding with your visit (since you have such a following). You could also sell your books. Alternately, a tour of wineries, again coinciding with events could be a good plan.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

True. When I drove into AZ on my way to CA from FL, I was stopped at the border and had my trunk checked ... for plants, particularly citrus that might bring in disease of a new variety.


Hi Kristi, I have an artist friend who travels throughout the US in a really cool, renovated RV. She enjoys her freedom, loves meeting new people, sells her lovely art and does very, very well. I will share a quote with you that she shared with many years ago -- "If it doesn't open, it's not your door. What is meant for me will never miss me, and that which misses me was never meant for me. That's what faith is all about: trusting the process."

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

One tip if driving across America ... become a member of AAA auto club. Of course, now there is GPS, but when driving cross country I found their up to date info on road detours, and how far the next gas station was!, very helpful. I'm sure there are places on the road where WiFi is sketchy and that info, on paper, might come in handy. :)


Bonjour from the coast of Maine. If you're RVing you must come for lobster and rose on our deck overlooking the Pemaquid River. Talk will be of all things French as we have a vacation home in the Languedoc!

Gwyn Ganjeau

Kristi, i love how your brain is working now -- you've thrown wide open the windows to new ideas. I can absolutely see you jumping from garden to garden like a bee pollenating ideas -- yours and those of others. and what are gardens but growth. it's all happening very organically. delicious.

Robert Prescott Ford

Bonjour! Je m'appelle Robert. Ma femme, elle nom est Amber.

You and your husband sound a lot like my wife and I. She loves to read and write and she recently finished writing her first fiction novel. Plus, my boys and I love to make fun of her rural eastern Kentucky accent. That alone should give you a break from being teased about your American accent!

So, let me ask you this: Does Jean-Marc simply need some extra help with the farm or does he truly need a "change of scenery?" If it's the former, maybe you could offer an immersion opportunity for French language learners at your home in exchange for some help around the farm? If it's the latter, and you opt for Plan C, then you are most welcome to stay at our home in the Louisville, Kentucky metro area and play in our garden (your experimental garden sounds as though it looks like my wife's herb garden).

We live only a half mile from the Ohio River and there is a lot to do and enjoy here. Plus, there are several wineries in the area and, of course, the bourbon industry is centered here as well. Last, but not least, we have the KENTUCKY DERBY and all of its festival events including the largest annual fireworks display in north America.

In closing, let me say bonne chance!

Robert Prescott Ford

I agree, the botanical garden in St. Louis is awesome. Plus, you can take a tour to the top of the Gateway Arch while you are there!

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Kristi, I suspect readers who are a bit negative about traveling in an RV have never done so. We ADORE spending weeks or even months in ours traveling around Europe. This type of life allows total freedom and flexibility, no packing and unpacking, and you can take all your stuff with you! In France and Italy there are thousands of farms who welcome RVs onto their land, offering a safe and extremely enjoyable experience for travelers as the family usually loves to chat about their farm and products. Interested readers can check out "France Passion". But your target is the US, where this type of travel, especially interspersed with some of the intriguing stops your blog friends have suggested, could also be absolutely exhilarating. What have you and JM got to lose? If you keep the house you can return when the time feels right.

Judith Dunn

.... It made me weep to imagine you there at your lovely home and garden which you both have worked so very hard to create.... having to show it to potential buyers and/or renters. You have created yours and Jean-Marc's 'bit of heaven on earth', and the thought of you having to leave it breaks my heart in two. We once had to leave a place we dreamed of, found, lived in and loved so very much and suddenly after seven years of bliss we had to move. It was heart-wrenching ..... but, we got over it and moved on. The move became one more of life's challenges we had to meet. Often, in life these changes end up being very positive experiences! We became extremely happy where we 'landed' and life is good. I am not a RV person, but know many who love that mode of life and travel! I think with your combined charm and knowledge you both would love traveling across country and 'learning and growing' along the way! Renting your home... you would always have a place to come home to. I would suggest hiring an agent to handle the affairs of renting, as you will not want to be bothered with that on Plan C adventure! Love and hugs to all, Judi D. Tallahassee, Fl.


Here are some fun ideas for vineyard help -- fun to consider, if not realistic. A world tour of organic wineries might be fun, but Smokey might prefer this option:

Linda Hampton Smith

A thousand bienvenues to you and Jean-Marc. You are always welcome at our home in Vermont. You've given me so much reading pleasure over these many years. Thank you. I've been touched and inspired by your dreams and brave hearts. Much love to you as you seek to broaden your horizons! Thrilling possibilities abound.

"Love is the bridge between you and everything." - Rumi


Oh so many thoughts of where you could be at certain times of the year in an RV. Here collecting mushrooms in the Autumn, in the south during the colder months of winter, Colorado for Spring skiing and visiting New England once the snows melt for a wonderful beginning of summer's bounty. So many places with beautiful gardens. And lots of garden events you could speak at. I know how you feel about staying (I am the same about staying up here on our mountain), but this could be a beautiful way to see what speaks to your heart in the next chapter.

Nyla Witmore

Tthe "happy mobile"....the "HEAL mobile", (the latter rhymes) sounds like a winner of an idea. And what fodder and fuel for many more blogs! It thus becomes not only a plan for discovering America, (and telling us about it in your inimitable way) ....ibut a time for self discovery. To know ourselves, who we truly are, who we envision we could be often becomes more accessible when we step away from who we WERE.

Bruce Lane

Kristi, Do not limit yourself to the US. You and Jean-Marc would be welcome at our home in British Columbia, Canada where we have about a half acre of organic garden amidst our two acres of mountainside. Not as steep as the Cévennes where we recently visited, not as sunny as Arles or as hot as Aix en Provence. Wine grapes may grow here but do not ripen before the cold and wet of October. Next time in Aix visiting Jacquie Jean-Marc may like to visit Mademoiselle Wine at 10 rue des Marseillais, off of Place Richelme. It is a small shop but mademoiselle served some wonderful cheeses and saucisson with the wine samples.

Best of luck with all your plans, including those which have yet to bud.
Bruce Lane, Procter, BC


Well, geez, it's time for central coastal California to weigh in here -- the veritable "salad bowl" of the world!!!!!By all means, swing by the Santa Cruz area. You can check out organic farms and gardens to your heart's delight while Jean-Marc surfs and visits local wineries. Not bad, no? On a more serious note.....if moving to the US is still a possible option for you, this is an excellent way to not only see the country and visit all the lovely people (and gardens) in the previous relies to your post, but it also would open your eyes, hearts, and minds to new locations to consider to potentially put down roots.


Yes please do stop in!! Stay for dinner - or a day - or a week. You and JM are welcome in Arizona! We only have an herb garden, but you will not leave hungry!

Janet Kight Porter

Hi Kristi,
You might like to read the ‘Spark your Dream’ By Herman Zapp, or check out his FaceBook page ‘Spark your Dream’.
It’s about 1 Couple | 4 Kids | 40+ Countries | 11 Years | Still on the road traveling in a An extended family holiday, crossing borders and continents in an 84 year old Graham Paige model car in search of adventure! I say Kristi, go for it!!! Know doubt you will meet some fantastic people along the just think of the amazing adventure you will have!

edie schmidt


Please keep all your fans posted on your plans for the future.
If you do come to the US I hope you'll visit Savannah, Georgia.
We have a young Frenchman in the neighborhood who has his own wine shop up the street
right across from a beautiful park that looks its' best on the Spring when all the azaleas are out.

Edie from Savannah

Ingrid Sheets

Hi Kristi,
Plan C sounds very interesting and really as Cynthia said, could be exhilarating too. You would be most welcome to come to Sonoma, CA and dig in our big vegetable garden, take what you want, shower up and then get out and enjoy the vines and wine in this and Napa Valley. There are lots of "farm trail" operations around here where you can pick your own fruit/veg as well. I am sure you can find that all along the west coast! Our daughter and son-in-law live in the Oregon pinot region and are both in the wine business, our son on the vineyard management side and daughter a winery manager. They are about your ages. On your travels, we would be happy to set you up for a visit with them!
Plans A, B, C and more do stretch the imagination and I am wishing you both clear thinking and good luck with any decision you make!
Bonne chance!

Marie La Salle

Here is what I would say to my clients who asked this question. Rent the place out for a year... Maybe those Parisians would want to test the waters, especially if it will eventually be a second home.
If you can afford it,RV through the US for a year. I suspect you would pay for few meals and little lodging... or buy a cheap car and a tent and just drive. There are 10,000 people who would love have you as house guests.

After a year, decide.

Marie La Salle
RE/MAX Greater Atlanta


My husband, 70# Samoyed/Husky mix, and I have traveled cross-country USA 3 times in a 21' foot Class C, the first time without a permanent nest (AND with two cats!). We loved most of it and recommend it if you, JM, and Smoky a) don't mind being in tight spaces days on end (my dog would get cranky at times being jammed in even less space than we humans had---also, when weather is hot, or freezing, it is not safe/possible to leave a dog in a vehicle alone, which will limit your options), b) can sit comfortably for hours on end, either in the coach or in the cab, c) you can happily manage to live closely with your large dog when he goes outside into mud, sand, snow and bounds back into the wee living space of your coach, dirty paws and all, d) are willing to camp in all kinds of facilities---campgrounds, full-timer trailer parks, Walmart parking lots---because sometimes those are all that are available (and size and configuration of your vehicle will impact/limit your options----also, many residential communities, at least in CA, won't allow overnight parking of RV's on the street, or even in a driveway, where we live).
Before buying a vehicle, maybe try renting one for a month, to learn what it's really like to live in such a way for an extended time, and as others have suggested, read/research blogs and forums of RV'ers. As a gardener like you, seeing others's gardens, especially food-oriented ones, made me long for one of my own--- plants in the window helped a bit, but only if within a given state due to ag regulations (but I did love having four spathyphyllums in the shower pan under the skylight to help clear toxic formaldehyde from the interior---a nasty thing about RV's, especially when new.)
Ah, not much good in these comments, but these are also true: RVing is a wonderful way to travel and see far and wide, with the freedom for short or extended stays; to minimize your expenses (so long as you aren't carrying a heavy financial cost of a separate residence or vehicle loan); to learn how to live with less, etc. Some of our most amusing and sweetest memories are of our trips. We sold our RV a few months is time for a different kind of travel for us, but already miss the "idea" of it. Bonne chance!


Come to Canada and dig in my garden, please.

Robert Prescott Ford

P.S.: We also make awesome moussaka (Lebanese style) and tobouli. C'est tres bien!!!

Kristi, Old man that I am, lodged agreeably with my wife in a reirement community outside Philadelphia, I regrettably cannot offer you and Jean-Marc a garden stop invitation. Yet I continue to read with admiration your messages, aware of the courage it takes to approach change of the order you are contemplating. I feel confident that you will continue to cultivate your garden -- n'importe ou.


Anne Peterson

Hi Kristi et Jean Marc,
You are warmly welcome to visit Sonoma County and experience our Farm-to-Table restaurants, Slo Food Movement, Cere's Project, and acres of organic gardens- both commercial and residential- and our Farmer's Markets that run from May through October every year.. You would find yourselves "chez vous". You would be welcome to park your RV, depending on its size: it must fit through two BIG redwood trees on either side of the lane!

Would you ever consider renting your home to your readers possibly if we were to work in your garden and vineyard along side you?

Please see my website. Once there, go to the page titled: "Graton Guest House". You will get an idea of my surroundings.
Kindest thoughts to you on your journey.

Tracy Isham

From your journals it seems as if you will be traveling west BUT if you get anywhere near Cape Cod we would be happy to have you visit. Our garden is small but you should visit the Heritage Musumes and Gardens in Sandwich, MA. It is 100 glorious acres! I would be happy to be your guide.


You are welcome to visit and stay with us for a few days in Nicasio (West Marin County), California. We have a small garden!

Kristi, I know the confusion and remorse of having sold a dream home, and would only advise as others have that taking time off to travel while renting your home out might be the best way to go. Even just a couple of months of exploration might make it easier to come to a good decision. If you do travel to the US, I hope you'll add us to the list of Vermonters with open doors. My place is on the lake on Shelburne Point, near Shelburne Farms. There's a healthy farm and food culture here, and even interesting wineries to check out!

Diane Covington-Carter

You are so welcome here at our organic farm in the foothills of the Sierras in Northern California. You can help me in the garden as I always need help! In the summer we have tons of veggies, berries and herbs and in the fall, apples, figs, pears and plums.

Sounds like an adventure coming up!



Hi Kristen:

Perhaps this is worth a look?

Visitors, or 'WWOOFers', spend about half a day helping out on a host farm, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture, and receive room and board during their visit - with no money exchanged between hosts and WWOOFers.

Best wishes!


If you decide to come to Oregon, please visit us on the Oregon Coast. We are three hours from Portland and less than 2 from wine country. We have acres of woods and fields and an out of control semi-permaculture garden. Lots of wildlife and 3 miles from the beach. We'd love to see you both. Good luck.


Hi Kristin,

I have enjoyed your posts for years. If I might suggest this option to consider? Please see this website: WWOOF - World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Perhaps you are already aware of it.

Best of luck to you and your family.



Love that quote

Phyllis Abbott Sigmond

I know how you feel. I spent some of the best years of my life sharing Plan X with our family on the idyllic shores of a beautiful lake in Wisconsin. We encouraged our children to dream and fly; and "flew" they did. What good is paradise without those one loves? A new possibility began to ferment. Could we leave Plan X for Plan Y? Now we live on Bainbridge Island, Washington not far from two sons and their families in Port Townsend, and quick flight to sunny Denver where our daughter and family live. Life is good. Embrace the change. Each day we open a new chapter in Plan Y. Going from Zone 5 to Zone 8 is a challenge, but what a challenge! If one loves abundant green space, unending flowering gardens, lots of water via Puget Sound and the Straits of San Juan de Fuega, the immediacy of the Olympic Mountains and stunning views of the Cascade Mountains, then imagine a life here on the Olympic Peninsula, just a 35 minute ferry ride from Seattle, and FULL of new possibilities. Please visit us as you make your own Plan Y. Off to watch the little ones in Port Townsend - It is Monday. (I have read your blog for years, but this is the first time to respond. You spoke to my heart - once again)

joie in Carmel

Cela me fait sourire!

Diane Young

I can't relate to your thoughts of RV living as I'm an elderly widow, but I think you two could pull it off for a while. Interesting idea. Don't think you'd want to carry plants around USA with the state laws, differing climates, etc.Visit the National Parks for real beauty.

Sheryl in Denver

You know you are welcome chez nous in Denver, although I suspect you would stay at your sister's. I'd love to give you a tour of our little garden, as you did in May (though ours does not come close to your creation). I give two thumbs up to the road trip idea. You have so many friends awaiting you here in the US. Connect the dots and see what picture emerges. I am seeing a lighter glow in JM's face, maybe a sign of the heaviness lifting and joy returning. Take his hand and show him the amazing US. Imagine your blog from a whole new travel perspective. Bienvenue, mes amis!

PS - there are some great websites for renting an RV - small, medium or large. Let me know if you want some ideas.


We don't have a garden, but you are very welcome to visit us here north of Denver! Taking some time to visit before you make a decision on location sounds like a lovely plan!


No garden. But our house would be a welcoming stop for you both/all. Keep it in mind!


Kristen, Regarding comment from Rupert Suren. See Snopes link for the facts:

HUD does not have the authority to pass such laws.

There are many RV enthusiasts who travel the USA, no problem.

Lin Powell

You can come to beautiful Victoria BC Canada and work in my garden any time you want. It is an "experimental garden" gone wrong so anything done would be an improvement.
I love your pumpkin decoration. It is so eye catching.

Dawn Johnson

Dear Kristi,I could feel you in this post having seen your lovely place overlooking the sea. I have such lovely photos to remember one of my favorite days last October at one of your wine tastings. I love that you keep exploring options, I am praying that the Lord will open the right doors and shut the ones that are not. My pastor always says, "God always give us His best when we leave the deciding to Him". If in fact you do decide to do the RV thing, of course we would LOVE to have you visit. We have 40 acres, and plenty of room for you to park. We are located halfway between SanFrancisco and Portland. Out in the middle of nowhere but with the Lava Beds national monument literally in our back yard. Also near Crater Lake, and many other lovely natural sites. I do grow a garden and it is organic but I would love to learn more about permaculture. Mine is pretty simple. Our dear.neighbors grow a spectacular garden that I would love to show you, they love showing it off, He is a fellow Francophile that speaks fluent French and grows quite a bit of French produce from imported seeds. I know they would enjoy your visit as well. It would be great to see you again.

joie in Carmel

You are only on plan C. Not to worry until you get to around Plan M. This is a possibility. It would take some planning as to which route you might take given the time of year you decide to do this. North or South. But when you reach California coming to Carmel, Carmel Valley is a must. You will go through the Salinas Valley(known as The Salad Bowl of the World), the ocean is just 4 blocks from my house in Carmel(cold waters, but beautiful and wonderful fresh seafood all year). Oh, and on Carmel Beach there is no leash law....Smokey can run to his hearts content with all the other Goldens, Labs, and mutts. And then there is Carmel Valley...5-10 minutes away. There is an RV park out there that rents by the month.....and I may know of someone who has enough property for you to park it on. In the valley there is one of the very first commercial organic farms started in the US. Earthbound Farms, started with 2 acres. Look them up on the net, read the story....I bet they would hire you to work at the stand. Follow them on FB. Between my little garden and friends gardens we can supply you with Meyer lemons, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, garlic, squash, onions and other goodies. And what we can't supply, well there is a Farmers Market each day of the week at a different town all within a 15 mile radius that pride themselves in organic. And finally, Carmel Valley is also a micro wine growing haven. I am sure many of the owners and wine makers would be delighted to talk with Jean-Marc. Who knows, maybe even a job given his background in accounting and oenology. Rather than a large RV.....something like a VW camper might work just fine and better gas mileage. And if you do go that way....check out getting one in Germany and shipping it over....might be cheaper....and you could easily sell here I think for a profit.
And in the end, plan A,B, and C are all good.

Should you decide to do your cross-country visit to the States, I would be so happy to see you here in southern CA. I'll feed you well, but I no longer garden anymore. I speak French and love your country. I hope you would plan to visit me. I'll send the address when you do this Plan C. Mary Lou


Dear Kristi, an Australian perspective here - the constant rumination on different options, whilst creative, seems to be taking alot of emotional energy and seeming to not create positive energy.
Perhaps reflect on....if we really chose to trust ourselves and each other, what choice rises to the top and then leave it. Give yourself a period of not thinking about options and just be - perhaps set a date when you can next think about this conundrum but until then, stay present, relish where you are and what you have...otherwise, this period will ply by and, should you leave your French home, the final months/year will have been a whirl of option generation and worrying.
The right thing will come. Trust yourselves.
With love

Darcey Fugman-Small

You two would be welcome to come dig in our organic garden! We could send you down the road with some Walla Walla Sweet Onions for a taste of here and a Petit Gris melon to remind you of Bandol.

Angie George

I'd say "Go for Plan C!" My husband & I traveled in a 16ft van, camping, for over 10 years throughout the US, Mexico, Guatemala, and Canada. We did have a house to go back to. We also lived on a sailboat, twice, for a year at a time. There is this great sense of freedom to be able to go anywhere you want, and when, depending on weather. I feel very fortunate to have experienced the "gypsy" life. We are now writing a book about our adventures and have many stories to tell. We now have a Grand Piano instead of a boat. I dream of putting pontoons on the piano, and playing into the sunset!


I am always touched by your writing. While being real, it has taught me much about the French language in an authentic way. It is timely and touching. My husband and I live in Napa Valley and are familiar with your vineyard work and struggles. We would be interested to learn more about your home and vineyard. Would it be too forward to ask for you to email me your realtor's information on your property?
Kind regards - Susan


This is old news and irrelevant. The regulation IF implemented wouldn't have stopped you from living in an RV. It would require the manufacturer to notify you that the vehicle is "not intended for use as a permanent dwelling". Yeah, ok, got it.


Kristi, I wish you could combine Plans B and C, renting out your house but traveling the U.S. in an RV for as long as you want. But whatever you decide, I know you will thrive. If you do end up traveling here in the U.S., I hope you make a stop in Orange County, CA. While I don't have a garden, I could at least provide a meal. It would be so fun to meet you both! Prayers continue as you make this decision.

Marion Harris


Good luck in dealing with Jean-Marc's mid-life crisis, but don't let yourself be dragged from your wonderful home on some improbable "adventure" that you will end up hating.

Marion Harris
San Francisco Bay Area

lou bogue

SINCE I plan on visiting you next Sept to celebrate my 90, I selfishly wish you stay right where you are at, if you need to vacation in the U S, by all meanes, go ahead, you are more than welcome to dip your toes in the BEAUTIFUL white sands of Clearwater Beach, I can conceive the scenario of starting a co op of all many readers chipping in, providing the where-with-all of JEAN- MARC continuing with his dream and making that dream a reality!!!!!!, love to all the family from old LOU


It may sound exciting going from place to place in a nomadic kind of way, however, after reading your blog for several years, I just cannot imagine
It would suit you or your family for very long. Just one opinion I know.


Back in the 1970's I lived in beautiful Marin County north of San Francisco and loved it. During a very difficult divorce, I tried so hard to be able to stay and the more I tried it seemed, the worse things became. Finally my attorney advised me to sell the house and leave, as (among other things) the 'ex' would continue to harass me whenever possible. I felt shoe-horned out of my home, with 2 children, and no career to which I wanted to return. One option was, at age 40, to go to graduate school for a different degree. It turned out to be the best 'dumb' decision that I ever made! My international business degree required learning a 2nd language (you know which one I chose!) and within a year I 'fell' into a career I'd never considered, knew little about, that fit me perfectly. After a 23 year career, with a good salary and solid investments, I retired comfortably. Several years ago I discovered a town in the Vaucluse that also seemed to 'fit' my needs. After spending 7 summers there, I just bought an apartment in the magnificent 'hotel particulier' where I've spent the summers. Just self-published my first novel (historic fiction) and am looking forward to renovating and decorating what I call 'Le Caprice.' I look back at how hard I tried to stay in Marin and realize that only by leaving and moving forward, exploring new and various optons, that my life 'bloomed.' Sometimes there is a force that unwillingly makes us open doors that would have been forever closed. Be open to the bon chance sur la route.

Jan Leishman

A wonderful friend of mine was granted a Churchill Fellowship to study herb growing and travelled through USA and France meeting various farmers. She returned to Australia and established a Rosemary Farm (Glenelg River Rosemary) - then wrote a book about her travels. It's called The Great Herb Tour by Christina Hindhaugh (published by Hardie Grant Books). Not sure if it's on Amazon. It's a great read - AND a great idea for you to document your 'growing' travels! Maybe a(nother) book in it for you, too. Best wishes for whatever you both do.


Kristi, if you and Jean-Marc do decide to take on the RV life, please visit us in Louisville, KY. You'll be surrounded by my loving family of Francophiles right down to our outdoor Tour Eiffel! If timing is right, we can even be your hosts at the Kentucky Derby!


Clearly you would have many, many friendly faces to visit all over this country! We are in the western suburbs of Chicago where I mostly flower garden, though I manage herbs and tomatoes too. If the garden is not a draw maybe my husbands wine cellar would be! We are partial to French wines, especially those of Bordeaux, and would enjoy sharing un verre ou deux sur la terrace. We'd love to welcome you. Your Plan C sounds like a great way to enjoy life while you discern the next steps. God is clearly opening up some new and creative possibilities for you!


Our dear Kristi,
So many times we must walk by faith and nor by sight.
This is one of those times.
All will be well.
Bon courage and blessings always.
Natalia XO


A road trip in an RV sounds like a dream, but one that will end sooner or later.
If you do come to northern California I will show you my tiny eatable garden, and what you can do in a small space.
I have about 38 roses, 6 fruit trees, countless berry bushes and in between it all my vegetables.

With the skills you and Jean-Marc have, I think you would like it here in wine country and passionate organic growers, as well as pasture raised eggs, chicken, cattle, etc. One of the towns a bit north is Healdsburg, the center of hundreds of vineyards.
Probably Jean-Marc has been here.

Alors, bon courage,

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