Notes from my journal on France, family and travels

France, family and travel

France, family and travels. Some notes from my journal.

Random insights

1. Wonder-full

France is full to the brim of wonders – around every corner, on every hill, in each and every patisserie. It is a country that is rich with culture, treats and such mouth watering goodness. So far we have seen 4 World Heritage Listed sites including Mont St Michel, Place Stanislaus in Nancy, Strasbourg and cave paintings from 17000 years ago. But what has made my jaw drop in wonder are the little things – the town squares, the rows of shuttered windows, the little villages and their market stalls, the church bells, the sheer age of it all. And then there are the remnants of war, the walled cities, the incredible history. I love that France seems to have a deep under current of community life. Small villages dot the landscape and they seem to be thriving. It is beautiful to see.


2. Food-loving

My kids and I are gluten free and dairy free back home but since we arrived in France we have been doing a little experiment to see if we are able to eat the grain here. We have eaten cakes, croissants, and baguettes, which make me salivate just at the thought. For 4 weeks or so we were feeling just fine, but 5 weeks in, it is time to call in the laxatives. All that bread has clogged us up.

As for the dairy, I am really pretty sensitive, but I started out hitting the goats cheese pretty hard. I could feel a slight reaction but I ignored it and ploughed on regardless, having found quite possibly the smoothest & creamiest cheese ever. All I needed was a cracker and I was in heaven. Unfortunately my run on the goats cheese came to a halt one night in Nantes, when I kept myself and my husband awake with my snoring and uncontrollable coughing. A cold that took me well over a week to shake off. So that was the end of the cheese for me.

My absolute foodie highlight so far is most definitely the Tarte au Mirabelle (blueberry tart), eaten high in the mountings of Les Vosges after a 3 hour hike. So exquisitely delicious and well deserved. See the photo of the mountain scene below.

3. Daily walk

Back in Brisbane I get up every morning and take my dog, Kenny, for a walk. This is a habit I have continued as I travel (sadly without my dog) exploring the local streets, markets, parks and townships. More recently my walk has turned into a jog due to the icky feeling of having eaten too many croissants, but getting out on my own and exploring has been so beautiful. It has given me a sense of freedom, space (from my family) and adventure that keeps me sane. I just love the early morning light and seeing the local area wake up and come to life.

4. Softness

This trip has really helped me relax and soften. I have had realisations flowing in  & showing me that being inflexible has been the root of my suffering. Certain ideas that I have held on to as I think they are serving me are often just holding me out of love. Often they are not even my own. It is really important for us to know the difference between what is serving us and what is just stiffness. (more on this in future blogs – much more!)

5. The highs and the lows

As a family, we have had moments of utter chaos and crankiness, days of disappointment and ickiness and rain, wind and cold. Picture this; a kind of theme park where all the rides were closed on the one day we visit – to the grumbling disappointment of our children. Lost toiletry bags and credit card pin numbers and getting lost with no phones charged and no GPS in deepest, darkest, peak hour London. And then there is the homeschooling……

But mostly it has just been great. We are so delighted to be hanging out together as a family and so keenly aware of how lucky we are to have this opportunity (at least the adults amongst us are). All in all we travel really well together. Every day gives us the ability to tune in to our own rhythms and find our own adventure. No complaints from me!
Below is me on the ramparts of Rocamadour.

France, family and travel

7. Kids

Travelling with kids is different. They appreciate things on a whole different realm. We go see something incredible, and they remember the ice cream or the playground outside. We go to the fine dining capital of Europe and they are repulsed by the pasta. (poor innocent pasta!) We are doing things (way) differently to  how we travelled as a couple, but that is all part of the fun. Seeing their interests perked, hearing the questions start to flow and the ideas percolating is extremely satisfying. I am incredibly proud of them. They have created their own ways of finding fun, comfort and companionship in this nomadic lifestyle. They are growing so much. This trip is changing them in ways I can’t even imagine and perhaps won’t even notice for years to come.

8. The toilets here!

I remember coming to France as a 17 year old and being horrified by the toilets. There were communal loos at the school I went to. No girls or boys, just toilets. This was challenging for me and my private girl school sensibilities, but I got used to it. This time around, I still feel shocked to come face-to-face with a urinal, but I can’t help but think that it is healthy for the people of France. Surely feeling less differentiated and more connected at the earthy, base level that toileting allows us can only be good for our sense of self and the connection between the sexes. Is this remnant of Victorian England serving us? Shall we start a movement?


9. Love & Marriage

Travel has a few ingredients that I believe are vital for a marriage;

Adventure – exploring and creating new paths together, getting out of the every day, changing it up, freshness & fun.

Time – attention, conversations, moments together, sharing experiences, caring for each other, affection.

No pressure – No responsibilities, stress, complications, distractions or shoulds.

My husband and I have been thoroughly enjoying the conditions that travel has offered up. It is reminiscent of the energy into which our romance was born when we travelled together through Scotland, Turkey and Spain. The question really is, how do we inject our every day life with these marriage inspiring qualities? How do we keep the adventure, the time and the no pressure alive even when there is work, life and stress? It is not easy. Perhaps adventure is the easiest one to inject. What do you think?


I would love to hear from you. Have you been travelling recently? Or are you desperate for an adventure? Please share your insights in the comments below.

Take care

Lots of love



  1. Judith on October 7, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Dear Nicole,
    Thank you for sharing your trip impressions with me. I enjoyed hearing about what you are doing, thinking and feeling. I think I get your head-space where you have gotten away from your work and spiritual quest and how that has made you more aware of ideas that are not working for you now. I assume that either you have reached the point of getting into your spiritual quest again or that you will soon. I am excited about my spiritual path right now and want to learn more about myself and expose myself to new ideas. I am growing, but there are days like Hannah’s day where I feel I am stepping backward. My mind always knows that this is not permanent, that it’s part of the path. I just stay with myself and love myself as best as I can. And I always come out the other side and life is wonderful and fulfilling again. It’s just a rocky road and I’m excited to be alive and grateful for the opportunity to work on myself and grow. And you have been a part of that growth. I thank you so much for sharing your insights. You are a big part of my inspiration!

    Enjoy yourself, lovely one,

    • hdgu556jdikb08 on October 10, 2015 at 3:57 am

      Hello Judith,
      Thank you so much for your comment, I am so pleased to hear that you are excited about your spiritual path. I know that feeling. It is a feeling of abundance.
      My spiritual quest is ever present. Actually by getting distance from it, it has not stopped, but it is maturing. And what is lovely is that now it is at a point where it does not need my constant attention but it continues to percolate in the background. When it comes back into focus, I am rewarded. My message is really that we do not have to put pressure on always walking a spiritual line. It is beneficial to be disciplined and to show up but it is also great to rest, relax, indulge and disconnect.
      Lots of love to you

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Nicole Mathieson

Hi, I'm Nicole Mathieson, a relationship and body image coach, couple therapist and author.

My relationships blog helps couples learn practical ways to cultivate a deeper understanding of one another, find safety and connection in relationships, navigate difficult conversations and repair after conflict.