STEVE AND CAROLE IN VENCE

About

Carole

Grew up in Minneapolis. And some more in Austin, TX.

Lived in Minneapolis MN, Austin, San Marcos TX, Nashville TN, Glen Cove NY and Nashville again.

Worked as a nurse, Admininstrative Assistant/Bookkeeper at Dejadisc Records, E-Squared Records and The Americana Music Association, Lowes Garden Center cashier.

Loves cats, dogs & wildlife, music, books, the outdoors and Austin

Steve

Grew up in southern California.

Lived in Los Angeles CA, Key West FL, Syracuse NY, Austin TX, Cupertino CA, San Marcos TX, Nashville TN, Glen Cove NY and Nashville again.

Worked in retail, owned and operated the San Marcos Montessori school, owned the Dejadisc record label, worked for Eminent Records, owns Digital Vision Media, taught at Watkins College of Art.

Loves music, cycling, dogs, hiking and, of course, France.

How We Got Here
(The long story as told by Steve)

I have dreamed of living in France since I was 18 when I first visited and fell in love with the country. I dropped out of college (much to the dismay of my parents), flew to London and spent several months traveling around England, Holland, Belgium, Spain and France. France was where I spent the most time and where I felt a real connection. I lived in a youth hostel in Paris for awhile, paying the equivalent of $1 per night to stay there. I made some great friends, and believe it not, I played guitar in the metro to make enough money to eat from day to day. I took the train down to Arles, Marseilles and Nice for short visits. I loved everything about the country. But, I was 18 and didn’t even consider the idea that I could just stay there forever and so I returned to the US.

Check out my 1970’s attempt to change my birthdate from 1955 to 1953 using a typewriter.

For many years I would have dreams about France on a very consistent basis. I was finally able to return in 1993 when I came to Europe for a music conference in Berlin. I landed in Paris and everything about it still seemed absolutely amazing to me. I felt a pull that I just can not describe. A couple of years later Carole and I decided to get married and of course my first choice was for us to get married in France. Unfortunately, after talking to the consulate in Washington D.C., they said no and explained that there was a residency law that would require us to live in France for at least 90 days before the ceremony. Well, that wasn’t going to work. Eventually we got permission to get married in Geneva, Switzerland. We spent three weeks traveling around Europe before and after the wedding. London, Amsterdam, Paris, Cannes, Geneva and more. Driving across France was really something special and we came back over several subsequent years to attend the MIDEM music conference in Cannes. Each time we came we would explore more of the Côte d’Azur and the rest of France.

In 2002 I came over for a three week cycling trip with my friends Les and Theresa. I think that was when the fever really set in. We had such a fantastic time riding bikes in the Alpes, in Nice and in Paris that I was definitely, completely hooked. I started coming back every year for a few weeks in the summer to ride bikes and explore France. When I got a job teaching at Watkins College I started coming for longer periods since I had the summers off. I jokingly asked Carole how long I could come without her divorcing me. “Two months,” I asked?” “Two months!” she replied. “No, that’s too long.” “OK, how about six weeks.” We compromised. Keep in mind that Carole worked retail and so vacation time was not as abundant for her as it was for me. Additionally, she usually asked for time off several times a year to visit her mother in Minneapolis. So, she would often come with me in the summer for a week or ten days, but not always.

Steve And Carole In Vence - Cycling In Nice in 2003
My first cycling trip to France in 2003.

One year my friends Elliott and Françoise said I could come to Paris and housesit their apartment for two weeks while they went to New York for Christmas. Well, I had four weeks off from Watkins in December so I asked Carole. She said it was OK. I probably shouldn’t tell you that this meant I would leave Carole alone in Nashville for Christmas, New Years and her birthday! She really is the best wife anyone could ask for.

I knew that some day I wanted to move to France. In fact, I had told Carole just that when we first met. She told me that she was very close to her mother and that she wouldn’t even begin to consider moving that far away while her mom was still alive. Her mom lived in Minneapolis and Carole would go up from Nashville at least three or four times a year to visit her and help her out.

During this time I kept my France addiction in check with yearly visits during the summer and then again in December. Carole’s mom, Bernice, who I adored and who was always very kind to me, passed away at the very end of 2017. I waited a full year to even broach the subject of moving to France with Carole. I wanted to give her some time and space and show some respect. In January of 2019 I asked her one day if we could talk about France. She seemed a little surprised. “What about it,” she said, a little defensively. “You mean moving there?” I said yes. She didn’t seem very happy about having this conversation but as we talked and discussed the idea she seemed to soften a bit. Now, don’t get me wrong. Carole likes France, she doesn’t share the same passion for it that I do. We finally agreed that I could look into the idea, see exactly what was involved. I took that as an “OK, we can move to France.”

As Carole likes to tell everyone, I had a realtor at the house the next day to see about selling our home of 18 years in Nashville. I move fast.

Within two weeks we had purchased one-way airline tickets from Nashville to Nice for May 29th. We put our home on the market. There was a lot of drama with regards to the sale, but we eventually ended up closing the day after we left for France.

In March we found really cheap tickets and flew over to Vence for twelve days to begin looking for an apartment to buy. Amazingly, after looking at seventeen properties, we found one that was perfect for us. We made an offer and it was accepted. We talked to a loan broker in Nice about getting a small loan to cover some of the cost of the apartment and allow us to do some small renovations (Carole wanted to redo the bathroom). Shortly after flying back to Nashville we made the downpayment.

Steve And Carole In Vence - On Our Apartment Terrace
Carole on the terrace of our new apartment in Vence.

We applied for French Visas on line and then traveled down to Atlanta with all the paperwork that was required. We received our visas in the mail about ten days later.

We packed up sixteen large boxes of clothes, household items and other personal belongings and shipped those over a few days before we left. We sold both our cars. We had a huge moving sale and gave away everything that didn’t sell. We got a small storage unit and put a few things we needed to keep but didn’t need with us in France in there. We signed up for a virtual address and Google Voice. I sold my giant record collection. In retrospect, even I will admit that four months was not enough time to do all of this. But, somehow we managed.

We arrived in Vence on Wednesday, May 30, 2019. Since then it’s been a wild ride. They say the first year is the most difficult and I’m sure that’s true. It’s been a lot of work. We were not able to move into our new apartment until August 9th, so we spent a little over two months in Airbnbs. We had to visit the OFII office to have medical tests and get our visas officially accepted. We had to purchase all new furniture and appliances. We bought a new car. I think after the first year is over things should settle down a bit. Carole has her doubts.

I’m well aware that this was not my wife’s idea. She moved to France because she loves me, no other reason. I am grateful every single day. I am forever in her debt. I like to say now that we are in France, “What Carole wants, Carole gets.” I owe her everything. Her entire life changed because of my dream and I know that’s a lot to ask of anyone. I try to do everything I can to keep her happy. I’m hoping that one day she will come to love France as much as I do, but we’ll just have to wait and see about that. There’s going to be a lot more to this story and right here on this website is where I will tell you all about it.

Carole And Steve In Vence - Carole In A Field Of Lavendar
Shortly after moving here we visited the lavendar fields nearby.
Steve and Carole in Vence