It’s World Tourism Day, and given I was supposed to be writing this as a mom traveling to France for the first time ever (in celebration of me turning 40), what better way to celebrate than by writing about an expat mom who lives in France! Natasha Delort and her achingly adorable family recently moved to France -which unfortunately ended up happening during the pandemic – and she gives you all the details in her blog American French Mom, an expat family and lifestyle blog. You can imagine how excited I was when she agreed to answer my questions on her reasons for moving, what it’s like being an inter-racial couple in France versus the United States, and tips on newborn travel!
Where are you originally from and what prompted your decision to move to France? I’m originally from a small suburban town outside of Philadelphia but moved to New York City in 2015. I’ve always wanted to live in France, mainly because I grew up thinking I was part, French. You see, my parents met in a French high school class and would always say, “we’re part French.” Turns out, we’re English. When my now French husband I told him we are moving to France one day. Five years later, it came to fruition.
During your time in the New York lockdown, what were some things you did to keep you and baby entertained? During my time in the New York lockdown, my baby and I stayed entertained by going on long walks with our dog. I have a small 3-year-old chihuahua mix who my baby absolutely loves. Whenever the dog is around, she lights up like a Christmas tree. We lived near a small dog park and would take adventures there during the off-peak time to avoid crowds.
When you’re stuck inside a small box apartment, it is crucial to have some natural light and fresh air. The dog park was the best place to get that plus a little bit of postpartum exercise. Apart from the dog park, we had mini dance parties in the living room. Blasting frozen, baby shark, and Peppa pig. Who can turn down a dance party?
What was the most memorable thing about your move from the US to France? The most memorable thing about my move from the US to France was the airport wait and flight. Our flight was canceled about 4 times before we finally made our journey. I was beginning to lose hope that we would even make it to France. We actually thought about moving to a different state in America if things didn’t plan out.
Arriving at the airport was surreal. We were basically the only ones there, so it felt like something out of a movie. We had three big suitcases, our baby bag, stroller, dog, and a newborn in tow. I’m sure the airport staff thought we were insane.
The flight was a once in a lifetime experience as well. Moving amidst the pandemic taught me that I can do anything as a mom. My baby was safe, and my family was safe. I’ll tell my little one about her first flight adventure and share the photos with her. She won’t remember any of it, but it will be a beautiful memory to share.
What is your number one tip for traveling internationally with a newborn? My number one tip for traveling internationally with a newborn is to book an evening take-off flight. Ideally, the take-off should be around the baby’s bedtime. This is the golden rule in my book. When we arrived at the airport, it was 4pm, and our take-off was 730pm. We had ample time to feed her a bottle and get her accumulated to the new environment.
Once the flight took off, she was near, ready to fall asleep. I sat my baby in my lap during take-off, and I gave her a bottle once the “fasten your seat-belt” sign was lifted. Reminder: airplane lights will stay on for an hour into the flight, so use the blanket provided (or yours) to block it. After that, the rhythm of the airplane will put your baby to bed. We transferred planes twice and noticed she was more relaxed on the evening flight than the morning flight. Pro-tip: Bring your baby to the airport in Pjs ahead of time. Babies don’t want to sleep in daytime clothes on an international flight.
Do you find that being an inter-racial couple differs in the United States than in France? If so, how? If not, why? I absolutely feel that being an inter-racial couple differs in the United States than in France. In my opinion, the USA is such a vast country that it differs from State to State how biracial couples will be perceived. In France, they are seen as a typical everyday couple.
For example, when my husband and I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, we mainly blended in with the community. The neighborhood was a healthy mix of diverse people. We would get the odd stare and the rare, “What are you doing with her.” To much surprise, these stares and comments came from black locals. This is a stark contrast to what we experienced in rural Pennsylvania.
In my hometown, people are known to be Christian and conservative. If they did secretly have an issue with you, they wouldn’t dare voice it.
I never would have guessed that my experience in small-town Pennsylvania would match our treatment in France. No one stares or acts like it’s some surprising thing. This is not unique to Paris either. We live in a rural part of France with virtually no black people, yet not one person bats an eyelash. I think this is because black people are categorized as French people first, not by their color.
“Oh, look at the cute French couple.”
“Oh, look at the white and black couple.”
Natasha Delort, mom, expat & lifestyle blogger
I prefer to be in France as a multicultural couple. There’s a feeling of acceptance without a hidden dislike.
What’s your favorite thing to do with your little one in your city? My favorite thing to do with my little one in my city is to go to the beach. We go to the beach every day since it’s virtually in front of our apartment. This is our bonding time together. We get to meet local and foreign moms while playing in the sand. Not to mention it’s an easy way to integrate into the new society and culture. The people in the town are super friendly and advise on how to meet other moms to connect with.
Share one of your favorite travel pics and tell me the story behind it! One of my favorite travel pics is from when Jeanne and I went to Monte-Carlo with my husband for his work trip. It was her first time in Monaco, and she was so excited that she became a little overwhelmed. We decided to stop and give her a bottle on the sidewalk ledge.
It was the first ordinary mom moment I had since moving to France. Just a mom feeding her baby on a sidewalk. It couldn’t have been more typical. This is something you crave when moving to a new country and traveling at the same time. She looked so cute just drinking her little bottle while I looked like “welp… this is mom life”. Meanwhile, my husband is in the back, snapping pictures.