From France to Ridgefield
The Matthews— Lainey, Lucas, Lucie, mom Emily, and dad Chris—have put down roots.
Photo Kelly Acs
“I honestly never would’ve imagined a town like Ridgefield still existed in America,” says Emily Matthews, who moved to town less than a year ago. Emily and her husband Chris, both originally from Atlanta, moved here with their three children from France where they had spent the last five years. They landed in Ridgefield for a job opportunity for Chris and decided initially to rent before buying.
Emily hadn’t even seen the house on Christopher Lane before moving in, but found a welcome gift from the homeowner: a large stack of past issues of Ridgefield Magazine. Emily poured through each copy, using the information to acquaint herself with town.
One of the first things they did was join Newcomers to meet other families new to town. Since then they have participated in activities such as hiking, tennis, and wine tastings. “Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly,” says Emily.
Although she was concerned about moving back to the states or repatriating, the transition, even for her children, has been surprisingly
easy. Daughter Lainey, 11, who has always enjoyed horseback riding, found a new stable at Summit Farms in North Salem. Emily is also hoping to join the National Charity League with Lainey. “People don’t really volunteer in France, but I think it’s important to give back to your community,” she says. Lucas, 9, tried “American” football for the first time and played basketball for RBA with dad as a coach. Youngest daughter Lucie, 6, has enrolled in tumbling classes at the Rec Center.
After living in France where Halloween isn’t celebrated, their first experience with Ridgefield’s version of the holiday completely enthralled them, “They loved the excitement on Main Street and all the decorated houses on New Street.”
Emily, who is a veterinarian currently transferring her license to Connecticut, was very active in animal rescue in Atlanta and wants to continue here. The family knew that they wanted to add another dog to their animal brood. One trip to ROAR (Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue) introduced them to Dewey, a lovable pointer, who seamlessly joined the Matthews’ other dog Ruby and two cats. Emily hopes to stay involved with ROAR once her license comes through.
Five years in France with its strict etiquette standards means they dine as a family at restaurants such as Luc’s, Bernard’s, and Bailey’s Backyard. “The kids have been exposed to a lot of different foods, and definitely know how to behave in a formal setting,” says Emily. On more casual nights, the family enjoys Prime Taco, Prime Burger, and Planet Pizza. For dessert, the children love Deborah Ann’s for ice cream and chocolates. Being a scotch connoisseur, Chris has enjoyed the tastings offered at Cheers. Overall, they are thrilled with the restaurant choices. “I love that there are so many restaurants owned by real people,” says Emily. The many options are a welcome change. Dining options in France were limited and in Atlanta consisted mainly of chain restaurants.
Moving into a new home means household projects so Chris has made many trips to Ridgefield Hardware to pick up supplies. Emily enjoys picking up things at Consign Envy for herself and the kids. The family also frequently donates and often shops at the Ridgefield Thrift Store.
For family entertainment, they usually head to The Prospector for a movie. Emily has a nephew with special needs so the mission of the theater is one dear to their family. “What a great resource in town, there’s so much joy in that building,” says Emily. Chris enjoys live performances as well so they frequent the Ridgefield Playhouse to catch a show. “They get some amazing acts there,” she acknowledges.
Although they are still renting, the Matthews family hopes to find a permanent spot in Ridgefield. “Our goal is to stay,” says Emily, “I’ve never felt more welcome in a town.”