International Family Reunion on the French Riviera

Family reunions across state lines may seem difficult, but imagine the complications trying to unite international ones like mine, living in 3 different countries. It is never easy for a French-Normand father and Norwegian-American mother sans home, in a mountain hut in Switzerland to meet up their Franco-American kids.

Our daughter settled in the land of 10,000 lakes. Our son married a pretty British-Irish-Ukrainian woman and moved to the countryside near Warwick, England. Recently, we united on the glamorous French Rivera. Whenever we gather, it is magical!

Our daughter flew to Europe for her spring vacation. We picked her up at the Geneva airport and drove south through France to La Croix-Valmer halfway between Le Lavandou and St. Tropez on the Cote D’Azur. Meanwhile, our son, Nic, and daughter-in-law, Larissa, flew to Nice from England to be with us.

Our Airbnb was perched on the cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea on the Blue Coast, one of the world’s most famous coastlines offering sunshine, blue skies and the sparkling sea.

We woke up in the morning to birds singing from flowering bushes and the famous umbrella trees so prolific in southern France and to a spectacular view of the Bay of Cavalaire and the islands.

Every day was a feast for the senses

Each meal was a party for the palate.

Every moment was a priceless celebration.

For breakfast, over coffee, we enjoyed pain au chocolat, pain au raisin and patisseries from the bakery down the hill. At lunch, we savored salads, while Nic scarfed down giant Dagwood sized sandwiches on fresh baguettes.

Every evening, Gerald, our favorite French chef, offered the region’s finest fare. One night, we savored succulent lamb with risotto, the next night we enjoyed a rib of beef with green beans and Lari’s rosemary baked potatoes. The last evening, we dined on a giant sea bass in white wine and lemon butter.

We started each dinner toasting one another with an aperitif of chilled Prosecco. We finished each meal with fresh fruits dipped in cream — currents, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, a go-go. One night we splurged and enjoy a rich chocolate lava cake. We are all confessed chocoholics.

How Nat endured sticking to gluten free diet everyday amazed me. Although, I am also gluten intolerant, I cheated every meal.

On sunny days, we hiked the rugged coastline, swam in the icy sea, read our Kindles and dozed on the beach.

On our last day, Nic hugged his big sister goodbye .

“See you soon,” he said. “Maybe this summer, maybe at Christmas, or maybe next year at this time?”

For us, family reunions can never be taken for granted. Surely, we must somehow make this first family trip a new tradition.

Who knows where or when we will meet up again? A Frenchman, Gerald, is only allowed to stay in the USA for 90 days, as a British citizen Lari, due to a quirk in rules had her ESTA revoked, will not be allowed to enter the states for a couple years.

I regret that we live so far apart in separate countries each with its’ own red tape. Yet, we are lucky to be open-minded enough to embrace one another cultures, to have the wherewithal to afford travel and the knowledge to navigate crazy rules limiting border crossing.

Even now with the conveniences of modern travel and connections of technology, many immigrants, like my Norwegian grandparents, never had the chance to return to their homelands, due to immigration status, political asylum rules, and economic constraints.

On the way to the airport, before flying back to England, our daughter-in-law, Larissa, bless her little cotton socks, insisted Gerald stop off to check out the local real estate, and begged him to buy a place in southern France for us to meet up regularly.

One way or another, in spite of the challenges, obstacles and inconveniences, we will gather together again, somewhere, some way, somehow.

I will move mountains to make it happen!

Because that’s what mom’s do.

Posted in family, travel.


  1. It’s so wonderful that you were all able to get together. It was 2020 when my kids were all here. In July they will all be here, minus my daughter-in- law. Seattle, Chicago, and Düsseldorf, Germany, make it a fine tuned schedule. Your family looks great! So glad your health has improved to enjoy this trip. Much love to you and the family!
    Joan Crossen

    • Oh Joanie, I know you know how precious those family moments are because it takes so much fine tuning to make it happen. Have a wonderful reunion with your boys in July. I hope you had a wonderful trip to Dusseldorf to see your new grandson. Lots of love coming right back at you!

  2. Oh so true! There’s just nothing like being with family. Every precious moment is to be treasured. Even though we are in the same country, we, as well, are separated by distance and it is always a chore to not only figure out where to meet up but when. The girls’ and their spouses’ occupations make timing difficult. The farmer cannot leave the cows in the summer except for one or two specific weeks, the school psychologist is constrained by education schedules and it is never a good time for the physician couple to get away. But you know what? We manage to do it and we will continue to do it once or twice a year come hell or high water. Because that’s what families who truly care about each other do, as you have just so eloquently pointed out.

    • Oh Tina, I thought of you and your beautiful family when I wrote this. I know how spread out you all are even if living in the same country. And I know how much everyone takes time & makes the effort amidst busy schedules to meet up. I hope you have a happy reunion somewhere, somehow this summer.

  3. Hi Pat! It is wonderful, isn’t it? I loved to hear about your family reunion. Our son Chris has been in Geneva for the month of May working and we laughed about the time Nic and Gerald treated Chris to a fancy dinner while he was a PhD student; and again at your home. What a coincidence! Here’s is another one—he now is on faculty at Uni of Warwick and lives in Kenilworth. Nic can’t be too far away from there!

    • It truly is a small world. Oh yes, we remember getting together with Chris. I can’t believe he is on faculty at Warwick and living in area. What a coincidence Nic and Larissa just got settled in the countryside about 45 minutes from there. We were just there visiting them, so stay tuned, that will one of my next posts. Warwick and the English countryside is just beautiful. I hope you will get a chance to visit him there. It was great to hear from you!

  4. Pat, what a magical time! I do hope you can enjoy a family gathering sooner rather than later!

    • Thanks Amy! I hope you are on summer holidays and enjoying time off from school. Any trips planned with Capt. Ben in the near future?

  5. We were there last summer when he still lived in Oxford but we visited the uni, Kenilworth, saw his flat, etc. This summer we are meeting in Scandinavia so not going to UK. Agree–the countryside is beautiful in the UK!

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