Bonjour, my name is Rachel and I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My first real connection to the world outside of Pittsburgh was when I was in third grade. Miss Sivonek had assigned us a project where we each had to pick a different country and create a piece that represented one of their Christmas traditions. I was one of the last to pick and got stuck with Denmark. The project turned out to be my first real "Ah ha!" moment... there are different kinds of life, cultures and languages outside of Pittsburgh? Little me's head could not really wrap itself around the concept, but I was definitely intrigued. It wasn't until a few years later that my grandfather would sit me on his lap and begin to recount all of these absolutely fabulous stories about his time spent in France as a young man. The pastries, the food, the cancan dancers, the beaches! His stories made France vibrate! It wasn't until I was much older that I realized he had left out a lot of the crucial details in his glamorous retellings from his time in Normandy and D Day. By then, he was gone and my fascination with France was so deeply rooted, I'm not sure any story could have swayed my interest. My curiosity and passion for the romanticized culture ended up taking me to a small town in the Oise region of Picardy. Located in northern France, I found myself teaching English by day at both the middle and professional schools in the small town of Breuil-le-Vert. In the evenings, I'd stumble back home to spend my nights studying and Skyping into lessons for my masters of teaching. There I spent a year learning French, immersing myself in the town's fascinating history and culture, traveling and finally understanding the pull that France had had on me for all of those years.
After that life changing year, I came home more determined than ever to find a job that included all things French. In Western Pennsylvania, there weren't too many offers and so I found a job as a middle and high school French teacher. It seemed like the best choice in order to indulge in the life style on a daily basis and share my addiction for all things French with a curious and interested audience. Enter Andy, a T.V. commercial director who didn't speak French, had never been to France and had not planned on going! Our budding relationship was the start of me sharing my passion inside and outside of the classroom, as I began sharing the food and customs I had learned during my year abroad with Andy.
Six years later, after our first date and him asking me if "France is something you flirt with from time-to-time or your full on side piece," (his words, not mine) we were signing our closing documents for our Maison à Vaison. Despite telling him that day that France was something that consumed my life, I don't think he ever assumed that it would soon encompass his and completely change his life!