American Mom in Bordeaux - Blending Cultures

Our family moved to Bordeaux, France from NY State in October 2011. We are adjusting to French culture-living, loving & laughing each day! Love learning about Bordeaux & France - capturing it through writing and photography.

Jennifer is a winner of Top 25 European Moms - 2013

In what ways is your home town unique from other places you've lived or traveled?

The city of Bordeaux is an under-rated gem located in the South Western part of France. It is a medium-sized city and in the past 10 years has been modernized, cleaned-up and is now so welcoming to all who live here and visit. It's a vibrant city full of history, beautiful architecture and charm. What makes Bordeaux unique for me is it's splendor and vibrant nature. It's so easy as a family to be downtown in the city center and enjoy it's charm, waterfront, many parks and so many other wonderful things that are going on. There is always family friendly activities happening in and around this city!

It's location makes it a perfect place to live. We are located 45 minutes West from the Atlantic Coast. This makes heading to the beach in the summer, or enjoying the sea air during any season so easy to do for a day trip. The Pyrenees mountains are South of us about 3 hours - again - allowing easy access for weekend ski or hiking trips. To the East is the Dordogne region of France - the cradle of prehistoric man with it's many caves and museums dedicated our evolution as human beings. It is also home to many beautiful castles and fortresses dating back to before the Middle Ages. The natural river valleys of the Dordogne and Vezerve are just beautiful in their own right.

Bordeaux is also surrounded by wineries vineyards - and many famous wines come from this area. Bordeaux also allows easy access either by train or by plane to many places around Europe and beyond.

With all the being said about Bordeaux itself, for me it's also the French lifestyle. The slower pace of life - enjoying family time, being able to be outside pretty much year round. The ease of walking and biking where ever one needs to go. The markets and the fresh food. It's the whole package for us!

Also unique for my family is that since we are expats - we are able to live in "both worlds" here in Bordeaux. We immerse ourselves into daily French life but also enjoy our American roots and speak English as a family. We are able to truly live bi-culturally here. We have French friends and family but there is also a very active and diverse English-speaking population. Bordeaux allows my husband and I to raise world citizens - children who appreciate and learn about different cultures and how diverse the world is becoming. It's nice to be able to call it home.

What do your kids love most about living in the European Union?

This is actually a pretty tough question. I have 3 girls varying in age from 6 to almost 13. We have only lived in France for 2 years, and they all have strong memories and ties back to the States. Thank goodness for the Age of the Internet!

In asking them what they like most about living in France - for my older girls - it's visiting new places. The history, the unique architecture, and places are just different here. As compared to the States, buildings are much older and constructed differently. They find the castles and the manor homes just fascinating. Many times, these chateaux seem to them, like they came straight out of the fairy tale books.

They also very much enjoy living near the Atlantic Ocean and being able to go to the beach in the summer time. We had lakes near us in the States - but not the Ocean!

Another unique feature about living here in France is the numerous school trips to the either go skiing or hiking as a class for a week. These trips start as young as 7 years old. This is just part of the school culture and most schools do this. As they get older, the trips involve going further away - like Paris, or even into England, Spain, Germany or Italy. The proximity to so many different countries and cultures is very interesting to my kids.

What outdoor activity do you enjoy doing most with your kids?

The outdoor activity that I enjoy doing most with my kids is biking. One can bike so easily around here - there are so many bike paths and even bike lanes on many of the roads. Cars also seem more alert to cyclists. It's also so easy to bike to school, bike into town and/or get on our bikes and go to the market. It's all part of the lifestyle here in France.

I'm looking forward to biking more with my children - my youngest is only 6 - so her endurance is not as long - but she's working at it and enjoys shorter rides with us. I love to pack a picnic - ride our bikes to a park - hang out, eat and then ride home.

Additionally, I enjoy exploring with my girls. I enjoy taking them to small villages, town festivals or even other cities that are relatively close's a great way to get to know the area. It's also helped them to appreciate all that this area has to offer - so much history, beauty and pleasure. Sometimes it's just to explore and find a new public park and just enjoy walking and being outside together.

When we are away on vacation together, we do lots of walking around, exploring or even hiking - depending on where we are. We enjoy being outside and we love nature and what it has to offer!