Escape FROM France!

Escape FROM France!

Christine's fave French food was bought at the Belgerie, a little Belgian waffle shack half way down the piste.

Loulabelle's FrancoFiles episode 72

Guest: Christine Sheehy

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Christine Sheehy is a copy writer, ghost writer and a book coach now living in New Zealand. She has wanted to have a stint living in France ever since she spent some time there as an exchange student when she was 16. France remained unfinished business for her, with only a few visits between that early age and 2019.

Christine says there are so many reasons why France kept getting put off – kids, mortgage, career, money… all valid reasons. But eventually Christine realised she was letting all the excuses get in the way and if it was ever going to happen she would have to MAKE it happen. She knew the obstacles could be overcome if she really wanted to find a way, she knew a year in France was achievable. So her family all put forward the things that were important to each of them for life in France and Christine set about making arrangements.

After settling in the south west of France in the Pyrenees near a little ski village, Christine put her children into school and found activities they all loved to keep them occupied. She had fortunately found a house through a New Zealand-French Facebook page. She ended up renting directly from an owner for 6 months with the second 6 months being month to month. Christine recommends researching other options apart from just approaching French rental agencies when looking for homes in France, as more informal arrangements can sometimes be reached.

The area of France Christine had chosen, purposefully didn’t have many English speakers and required the family to completely immerse themselves in the language. They got used to a new routine over the first six months and then Christine’s husband returned to NZ with her staying on in France with their three children.

Recently the world has faced extreme difficulties with COVID and Christine and her family were still in France as the COVID-19 situation unfolded. Christine found the French around her area were very relaxed about the virus at first. Christine’s husband was back in NZ but she wasn’t ready to give up her dream and wanted to stay. Slowly the world closed down and shut all borders. Christine’s  little idyllic village in France was not immune. When France announced remote learning was to start for children, Christine shopped for a month worth of groceries and took her children on a hike incase they went into a total lock down for a while. At the top of the mountain during their hike, Christine and her kids reached a village. They read a plaque that was there, dedicated to the deaths in the village from the cholera outbreak in 1850. The similarities were striking and it must have seemed like a sign to start making plans to go.

Christine swiftly set about getting back to NZ which was not without dramas. Border closures, lock down measures, full flights… Christine was not to be thwarted though and made it home to NZ for lockdown.

Whilst the dream was cut short, this is clearly an experience that made many lifetime memories for the whole family and one Christine says they all agree they are glad they embarked on. Whilst going back as a family unit might not be on the cards anytime soon, Christine says France is still unfinished business in some ways for her.


Les Yeux Revolver – Gustine & Marc Lavoine

When in France Christine and her young daughter watched the French version of The Voice. There was one act by a girl (Christine describes her as a skater girl type). Gustine played a song that was originally performed by one of the judges. She sang like and angel and played the harp. It is such a beautiful song which can be viewed on YouTube via the links below:

Gustine’s audition (& duet avec Marc Lavoine)

Gustine in the finale



I found a version of this on the web with a slightly different name, called a Gaufrette, which is made with potato and resembles a waffle potato crisp. But Christine describes a larger waffle made with red onion, Reblochon cheese and jambon mixed into the batter before being cooked in the waffle maker. This was a wonderful snack the kids loved to grab half way down the mountain when skiing. I’ll be giving Christine’s version a go and then placing it on the FrancoFile Fix YouTube channel!

Christine Sheehy’s website

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