What you learn when you decide to move to France:
1. The French welcome humans and their animal companions (that’s what they call pets). No quarantine.
2. When you fly over on AirCanada and AirFrance you can have a cat in a carrier in the cabin with you. Limit one per person and only three animals in the cabin. We needed to make our reservations pronto to be sure our 3 were the chosen few and a reliable friend to go over with us so all the cats could be in the cabin.
3. We had a reliable friend in San Francisco, Pat, who wouldn’t let go of a cat even if it bit and scratched and went crazy in the Toronto Air Terminal when we changed planes.
4. Sandy Otter Hound would need a very big carrier and not be allowed in the cabin. Pat worried about this and when she arrived to accompany us she brought along infant pads like you use in cribs for babies to line Sandy’s very large travel carrier. Is that a reliable friend or what?
5. Reg also worried about the change of planes in the Toronto Terminal and wrote directly to the CEO of AirCanada about his concerns. As a result we were met by another reliable person, an Air Canada woman executive, who made everything much easier. Reg was allowed in a restricted area to pet Sandy before she moved to the AirFrance plane. A kind AirFrance staff person was walking Sandy so Reg tried to crawl into her carrier to make sure she had water and leave a few treats. Half way in an AirFrance captain walked by and remarked without smiling, “I don’t think you weel fit.” Ah, the French, you have to love ’em.
Of course there were other preparations like what we would rid ourselves of and how we would transport things we couldn’t bear to part with. It turned out that our Ford 150 pick up and the travel trailer that brought us to Canada could hold quite a lot of stuff and would fit in a container that would go on a train across Canada and eventual turn up in Havre de Grace, France. But these were minor concerns once we had our animals sorted.
Meanwhile, it had also become clear that you don’t buy a house (even a very small one) without actually seeing it in person. Reg would go over and check out the properties that we had seen via email that interested us. He promised daily phone calls with updates as Sandyand I tearfully kissed him goodbye.
Long story short: After many calls and narrowing the field of candidates, one tiny cottage was his choice and I agreed (with some trepidation). It was within our budget and a man and a dog were presently living in it. Obviously it was habitable. So Reg came home and we began to rid ourselves of stuff and packing.
At last, it was happening – WE WERE ON OUR WAY TO FRANCE– without knowing the French language. Well, we did know “Bon jour” and “Au revoir” and “Merci.” Visions of Gene Kelly hanging onto a Paris lamp post and strains of “Singing In the Rain” ran through my head. Nothing, absolutely nothing could stop us now.
And Pat, our fearless friend, had worked for an airline and been to Europe many times. So I assured My Beloved on our way to Vancouver International, “Pat speaks French!”
He gave me The Look.
What more did we need than that??? Quite a lot, as it turned out.
Reg had arranged through our agent in Brittany to rent a gite (a gite is someplace to live until the place you bought is ready to be lived in.)
“I thought you said it was habitable?”
“It is, but I’m having an electrician, a carpenter and a plumber check it out before we move in… just in case.”
“Oh.” said I for want of a more profound way of expressing the turmoil in my head. Like: maybe the tiny cottage wasn’t habitable?
Pat flew up from San Francisco to meet us at the terminal the night before our early morning flight to Paris, France the next day. We had a lovely suite and were well prepared with soft sided carriers for the cats and Sandy’s enormous carrier lined with Pat’s baby pads. We even had a kitty litter box designed for travel.
What could possibly go wrong?