Sooo, I Moved To France For A Year: A Very Irish Girl's Journey (Part One)

Sooo, I Moved To France For A Year: A Very Irish Girl's Journey (Part One)

It’s a cliché but I’m documenting my arrival into France and maybe more, should anything of interest happen. I’ve already been to the boulangerie and eaten my weight in bread so what’s another cliché?

Trying to stay awake until 1am Monday night/Tuesday morning I found hard. This was to catch the airport bus up to, ironically the airport. Tired as I was, what I found even harder was trying to sleep on that bloody airport bus. Because when your bus driver is a Midwest radio fanatic, there’s no way he’s not gonna blare that at 3am.

Between the coughing man opposite me with crutches that seemingly were for show rather than use and the country music disco up the front, I knew sleep was going to be an unobtainable luxury. The Polish couple arguing behind me added to my scene of bliss and we all rode off into the sunset Roscommon.

The next few hours of pulling into small towns lit only by a single lamp, then back onto the dark abyss lit only by a single airport bus, are a blur. That is until the crackle of Bus Éireann’s high tech intercom system announced we would shortly be arriving into Dublin Airport-first shtop Terminal 2. The haughty look of the Terminal 2 users created an immediate divide between all airport bus users. Whilst they got off an extra 3 minutes earlier to go use the new modern terminal, myself, crutches and the happy couple trundled over to Terminal 1.

4.45 am and I had arrived into bustling Dublin Airport. Delighted at the prospect of getting off the coach from hell (or Antartic considering the temperature) I was then reminded of the horror of my luggage. Look, I’m female. I’m moving away for the year. To the slightly unknown, may I add. So lol to weight restrictions. Two suitcases and a handbag similarly shaped and weighted to a sack of spuds…well it was great craic. I think I’m traumatised? I genuinely think it’s too soon for me to think about it?

My undercarriage suitcase was grand weight restriction wise. Well grand in the sense it was a liiiitle bit over but sure the check-in desk man said nathin’. I said nathin’. Well, I almost said marry me when I saw the bag disappear into the suitcase-shaped hole behind the desk. However the real fear was the carry on weight.

Now I’ve never had my carry on weighed.  Measured sure (that nerve wracking moment when you slot your carry on into the bag cage to see if it fits, only for it to jam as you try to take it back out again and so five minutes of jiggling, sweating and glancing nervously at the stewards ensues). However the fear of the Swiss airline’s weight restriction, 8kg for cabin luggage was real.


The fear was also right as I was at about 14kg.  Blame my laptop. Blame my boots…and Uggs.  Ugh blame yourself!  I didn’t know how strict Swiss air was going to be so I just chanced my arm.  Failing that I knew I could just…wear my laptop.  My lucky streak shone through as I wasn’t weighed! Hurrah.  Turns out crutches was on my flight too so I think he may have been a distraction for the crew.

Swiss Air.  Ahhhh Swiss.  I already have fond memories.  Now considering I boarded my flight at 7.30 am Wednesday morning and hadn’t slept since Monday night, it’s safe to assume I had become delirious.  Feverish even.  Manic?  Anyway, the plane journey flew (pun absolutely intended) where I slept for a glorious 40 minutes, genuinely glorious.  I’m fairly sure my rose tinted view on life at that stage was because my eyes were all red and bloodshot.

But anyways.  Swiss air offered us all complimentary tea/coffee and a breakfast pot of yoghurt and granola.  I probably scared the stewardess with my glazed over expression.   Words weren’t really formulating at this stage for me so nodding was all I had.  But Swiss air? Amazing.  I’m fairly sure anyways.

Landed into Geneva which was very beautiful, albeit slightly cloudy and drizzly.  Like a busy, populated Mayo really.  The airport is connected to a train station bizarrely, (or perhaps not?) and so trying to get a train ticket to just across the border into France proved more complicated than Avril Lavigne could ever have dreamed.  30 minutes after having entered, I finally left the ticket office with roughly 500 transport passes and about half an hour to make everything on time.

And somehow I managed just that.  Not without being laughed at by a bus worker when I asked him for directions to the bus stop…which I was already standing at.  Or when I asked the bus driver where the train station was…and he told me to turn my head.  Luckily my bus (I thought I was getting a train until ticket lady no.2 pointed to the word ‘bus’ on my pass) happened to be leaving 10 mins late which is exactly when I rocked up.  Ha, I say rocked.  I mean struggled.  Panting.  Crazy-eyed I’m sure.  Remember, its 1pm Wednesday this stage, still no full sleep since Monday night.


So I slip onto my waiting bus and sit next to a chewing gum-offering-lady who turns out to be a mother of one of my soon to be students!  However our friendship is short lived as she gets off a couple of stops before me.  So I arrive into Bonneville at 2pm to be greeted by a mountainous backdrop and clouds so low you could reach out and grab them.  It’s like a scene from a film the way the cloud clutches to the tops of the mountains, but then look to your right and there could be a tiny cloud hanging in the middle of the road.  It’s fairly beautiful.

Met with one of my soon to be colleagues and perhaps new bff to sort out the paperwork and accommodation logistics.  Got the keys to my €55 a month apartment.  Yep €55 a month.  (I have serious luck I know).

Beautiful old style apartment with three rooms, obviously I helped myself to the double bed/best wardrobe one.  Not sure what the suss is with other housemates but there will be other assistants in this town so I’m sure they will live here too.

Géraldine (bff) brought me to her house in the evening for dinner with her family where, hilariously, she served up bacon and cabbage.  Legit.  We had such a laugh when I explained to her that this is a quintessential, staple, oh-my-god-so-Irish twice weekly dish…and she had no idea.  Granted the frankfurters that accompanied it gave it a European twist, but spuds bacon and cabbage on my first night? The chances.

So it seems home is only a typical dish away in these parts, not a bad start to my new life in Bonneville.

There'll be more where that came from!



Isabel Conlon

You may also like

Facebook messenger