Three of the Sadoine’s (l to r: Alain, Noeme and Sarah) in my yard in New Jersey
In January (2014), I received an enticing offer to exchange my home in Monmouth County, New Jersey for a French families home in the Rhone-Alps Region of France for several weeks in July (2014). Unfortunately, I had to decline their desireable offer of exchange. The reason being that my family only travels abroad every other summer and this was the odd summer that we stayed home.
Turning down fantastic offers of exchange is never easy for me. I receive dozens of wonderful home exchange offers each year, and I have to decline the majority of them for practical reasons – like timing and the too high cost of airfare. Some exchange offers are extremely hard to turn down; for me, offers from France, a country I love to spend time in, are particularly difficult.
The Sadoine families offer was for their home in the Rhône-Alpes region (Eastern France, bordering Switzerland and Italy) an area I definitely want to, but have not yet had the opportunity to visit; making the Sadoine’s offer ‘tres difficile’ to turn down. See, I can throw around French with the best of them – not really!
My family has had the great fortune to engage in three incredible home exchanges in France. In 2009, we experienced two wonderful exchanges, first in a 400 year old village home, in Tuchan, in the Languedoc-Roussilon Region in Southern France, followed by a second in Marnes La Coquette, a high end suburb minutes from Paris. During that summer, we also toured the Normandy Coast for several days, staying in a charming B&B (Le Mas Normande) and a hotel on Le Mont St. Michel. Then during the summer of 2011, we had a third exchange in Provence, this time in a pretty old village, Pelissanne, in a very desirable location between Aix, Arles & Avigon, for three fantastic weeks.
My son Matteo (16) left, then the Sadoine’s: Sarah, Lucas (15) and Noeme (18) and my husband, Angelo (front right)
As difficult as it was to turn down the Sadoine’s offer of exchange, something very positive has come out of it – a new friendship and something else too.
You see, as a passionate traveler, home exchanger and travel writer, I was immediately intrigued when I learned from Alain Sadoine that his family was about to embark on a trip around the world. What made the Sadoine’s trip even more exciting to me was that the Sadoine’s who had never before home exchanged were planning to include as many home exchanges as they could arrange, then fill in with rental properties as necessary.
Since last January when Alain contacted me for a potential home exchange (and I reluctantly declined) we have continued to communicate via e-mail. I invited Alain’s family to come to NJ to meet my family and to experience a typical American barbeque if/when they got to the New York City area. The Sadoines hoping to connect with locals on their year long journey, accepted my invitation and visited my family in July. So, while we did not get to home exchange, we got to spend a really nice day together and get to know one another. Our teenage boys even got to play on the x-box together. Matteo and Lucas did not share a spoken language, but the language of video games is universal!
So let me fill you in a little on the Sadoine family. Alain and his wife Sarah are both doctors. Alain currently works in a hospital and works with patients with drug dependencies, while Sarah is currently teaching in the medical field. Alain has taken a year off and Sarah will continue to teach on-line while she travels.
Alain and Sarah have two children. Noeme is 18 and she is taking a Gap year off from her studies. Lucas is 15 and will study on-line as he travels. Lucas will need to pass an exam, as required by the French public school system, in order not to have to repeat the year he misses while traveling.
Unable to secure a home exchange in NYC in July, the Sadoine’s ended up paying to rent an apartment from Airbnb. It was located across the Hudson River in NJ, and with that location came fantastic NYC views, unfortunately, unlike home exchange, it also came with a price tag!
On the day of our meeting, the Sadoine’s took the train from NY Penn Station to my local station in Red Bank, NJ, about an hour ride; my husband and I met them at the station and brought them home for the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny July day.
I had cooked up a really traditional American barbeque, which was not easy for me, because as Italian Americans and gourmands my family rarely eats traditional American dishes ourselves, favoring more ethnic variety. I did however make hamburgers, sliders actually, with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions, instead of a traditional burger. I also made a greek salad as opposed to a say a cobb salad! We had corn which my husband says Europeans look upon as food for cattle, and not real people food. I can’t recall if the Sadoines ate the corn, but they did enjoy the American barbeque; I can tell by how well Lucas ate – he managed to match my son Matteo’s appetite bite for bite! That was good, I would hate for them to leave us thinking of us as ‘those gluttonous Americans!’
Each of the Sadoine’s had varying levels of English fluency, but easily good enough to allow us to communicate well. Fortunately, I did not have to resort to my high school french, which would have been disastrous – although I did greet them ‘bonjour’ and see them off with ‘au revoir!’ Actually, I can muster a few more words, and I enjoy using my French language skills, when necessary, when in France.
Anyway, we had a really nice visit; got to know more about each others lives and careers. At the end of the day, we escorted our new friends back to the train station to see them off. So that was about two months ago. Sorry for the delay in posting this, I’ve gotten very busy since the Sadoine’s visit. You know, making my own home exchange arrangements for next summer.
I do plan to start reporting to you how the Sadoine’s home exchanges around the world have turned out. The Sadoine’s are blogging about their travels and this will allow me to follow them and report back to you. Plus, Alain and I remain in contact via e-mail, so I can contact him for more information as necessary.
That’s all for now, but I hope to post a follow up to this post soon.