Bonjour and a question about natural health therapists en France!

Hello all,

My name is Chloe and I am based in the UK (Worthing) with my French husband and three children (three cats and a dog to boot).

We have been on the verge of moving to France a couple of times but one of the (many) things that have stopped us in our tracks is the fact that I am apparently virtually unemployable in France.I have done a good ten years as a medical secretary and with my standard of French (conversational but with terrible grammar) and lack of qualifications in the subject, oh and the fact that I am not French, pretty much puts paid to that sort of work. My trade is as a natural health therapist, i.e. I am qualified in therapeutic/sports massage, reflexology, aromatherapy and reiki. From what I have been told, it is nigh on impossible to practice in the same capacity as you can over here due to the very tight regulations the French have. I am also put off by the fact that the self-employed appear to have a tough time for at least the first three years.

Could anyone shed any light on this?

Thanks, Chloe

p.s. Great site by the way! We would still love to move to France and hope we will, just a few complications to iron out first!

Thank you for your lovely, positive comments.. I am really looking forward to coming over and having a look. I think, also, that coming over in February will dispel any 'oh I am sure it's lovely in the summer but have you thought about the winters there? comments... because I will be able to say 'HAH! Yes! That's when we visited to look at ner.'

Don't worry about the doomers and gloomers. Some people prefer to sit tight where they feel safe and don't always understand why others are slightly more adventurous or are willing to try new environments, lifestyles and more challenges. f you're of the mindset that you will simply deal with things as they crop up, enjoy the good, deal with the bad and the ugly, you'll make this work. I only queried the location because you'd mentioned perhaps northern France as well as the south west.

If it's the La Coquille in the Limousin National Park you're within easy reach of both Limoges and Bergerac airports which is good for the daddy visits. Limoges is the centre of the universe in the Haute Vienne with hospitals, universities, government departments, a huge 'family village' etc so civilization, if that's what you want to call it, is merely a stone's throw away. Once outside the city, you're surrounded by hills, trees and long winding roads.

I've just 'stood' in the high street on Google maps and it looks very pretty with a good range of daily needs shops. Also, being on the N21, you'll have easy access to Limoges, Perigueux and everywhere in between. Lovely.

Hi Valerie, we have considered renting, the only problem is that we have already moved our daughter a couple of times for various reasons and I think that we just want to make sure that we only move the once now. Everyone is on board apart from Mia. Her dad is upset but he isn't going to be obstructive. However, Mia isn't creating problems about it. I think that is partially because she is curious and secretly excited.

We know that we need to be within an hour's drive to a largish town/city for employment and that we need some good schools. As long as we can get out and experience some mayhem a couple of times a year, we will be fine :-) We have found a property in La Coquille which would fit the bill - of course we need to see it... but something along these lines is what we are looking for. I was just wondering what your opinion is on life around these 'ere parts as generally I seem to be sensing a slight feeling of doom and gloom when discussing our move with people here and in France.. I am aware that life is tough for France (but it ain't that rosy in the UK either) - but I do feel that having a 'native' as a husband should help. He is just returning to his home country after all! Thanks for taking the time to reply Valerie.. I shall look forward to hearing more :-)

Hi Chloe - so you're actually going for it! I hope everybody's getting on board with the idea of moving as the additional stress will definitely not be helpful. How are things progressing on the work front? The area around Limoges is so diverse it's difficult to offer much advice as so much depends on work, whether you'll you need to travel, transport, schools, city life -v- quiet hamlet etc etc. If you're undecided about some of these things or still unsure where to plant your roots, your best option by far is to rent, to give you time to adjust, settle in and take a good look around to see if it ticks all the boxes.

Hi Valerie.. 7 months down the line and it seems that we are actually going to do it! The whole daughter thing has been very difficult and she doesn't want to come but as she doesn't want to go to her dad's either (she doesn't really know what she wants other than to just stay here in Worthing), I have told her she will come with us until she is a bit older. We are going to have a look at some of the houses in the area surrounding Limoges etc (as well as looking at some places in the NE of France) - with the hope that my husband will find employment there. As he is French, I am hoping it won't be too difficult. I am hoping that I may find some clients if I head towards where there are some English living... not that I wouldn't like to treat French people, that would be great!

It would be lovely if you have any advice about the area etc.. :-)

I know that the aut entrepreneur scheme is being decimated under the new budget, but I would love to find a reflexologist near me, so expect there is business to be had if you network hard

Thank you Zoe and Brian for your replies.. I shall bear what you have said in mind.

Chloe, my physiotherapist works a half day at the practice where I have my sessions. The other half days she works 'independently'. Immediately next door to where she lives (in the Dordogne) there is a campsite where she does 'relaxation massage'. She has a poster and some cards at the bar/restaurant, has her regulars who use the same site every year and therefore word of mouth. She is Dutch, by the way.

Then there is a Scots woman, literally along the road from us, about five minutes away who does compilementary therapies part time. She does it on a similar basis, camps sites, hotels and so on.

In effect, I am simply adding to what Zoe is saying. The physio has the advantage of having French, English, Dutch and German speaking clients in both places, but the other with broken French is not doing so badly either, albeit seasonal work in her case.

Hi Chloe,

I would advise you to try among spa hotels, and mountain/lake resorts. I work in hotel and event management in Haute Savoie, and many of the hotels, both on the lakefronts, and up in the ski villages have a "wellness centre" as they call them. Often there is a full time massage/aromatherapy/reflexology/etc person to provide services to guests. Failing that, i know people who work on an "on call" basis for numerous hotels, and seem to keep quite busy.

If you got by on seasonal work, during summer/ski seasons, to get you started, might be a step in the right direction.

The best thing about working "seasonally" is.. if it doesn't work out, you can always leave at the end of the season.

Think you're dealing with this in such a great way. That's so funny you and Mia are taking time out from the boys. I think you'll have a great time, the two of you, and it could be exactly the right atmosphere you need to talk openly. Really hope it all goes well and puts your mind at rest about what you can or can't do. Let us know how it all goes.

We have spoken about moving and sometimes she likes the idea but she also hates the idea of seeing her dad less. To be honest I just don't think the time is quite right and when it is the opportunity will present itself. It's a 'suck it and see' thing! Funnily enough though, you mention a day out with just the two of us, we are already planning on our holiday in France in two weeks time that Mia and I are going to go and stay a couple of nights away on our own. Leave the boys with their dad and his rather large, sweet albeit overbearing family, although youngest will probably still be breast feeding so may have to figure that one out.. the idea is that I get to spend some time alone with Mia and go exploring, give us time to be girly and silly!

I do appreciate your thoughts though Valerie, thank you!

Not sure where the ex lives but flights from UK to some of the SW airports are 1.5 hours. Of course you're worried it may drive a wedge - and it shows you're a great mum for putting that into the equation (some I know what just say 'tough') - but it could be doable depending on where you settle. I'm not sure how old your daughter is but I think the two of you would maybe benefit from a day out, just the two of you, and have a good heart to heart. See whether she actually wants to move, how school is at the mo and what options she can think of that might work with her dad. Would do you both good.

It sounds like you have truly fallen on your feet. How lovely.

Well, it's because of the children that we are stalling. My eldest daughter has a different father otherwise we would just up and move. He hasn't said no to our taking her to France which is great... BUT I can't help feel that it is one hell of a wedge to drive between them. Despite never knowing us together she has a very strong relationship with him and she misses him enough even now. I just don't think I can uproot her again (I have just moved her to her third school - no spaces in the school we wanted in London and then had the same problem here, so she has been moved around too much already). She could, of course, go and live with him - however, I am not sure that would be the best option for her mentally either... so there is our conundrum... (add my problems with finding work etc... and it all looks a tad bleak!)

I imagine you need French clients/patients for income as well

Yes, I would indeed.. plus I am not a covert kind of person! Hmmm.. it's all food for thought.. Not sure on where we will eventually settle.. but if it's your way, you're on!

We did not discuss the bottom paragraph did we? Know what I mean? If the very, very rich can do it in their exclusive clinics, then why not you, and if a snoop came along would they know the difference if you kept your counsel. Since you propose to specialise you'd probably get away with it like sports clinics do but as for a retreat, different type of permission anyway, for overseas visitors you may run into deep waters and also I imagine you need French clients/patients for income as well.

Thank you for your replies. Brian, I am in shock, what a ludicrous system!! I knew that you had to stay away from using certain terms etc but the fact that you can't practice more than one therapy is so restrictive. As it happens, I really only do massage and reflexology as stand alone treatments and I use the reiki and aromatherapy alongside them when needed. I am hoping to specialise in maternity and infertility with regards to the reflexology but I can imagine that would cause even more of a storm..

So, if one were to use it as a 'retreat' for overseas visitors, how would that stand? Plus, how would they really know if you only advertised as one but practiced the other covertly! Does it look like any of this will change in the future?

Coincidence is great isn't it. I have to take some noxious pharmaceuticals in case (just in case) when I broke my shoulder it was caused by an epileptic fit. So far all the scans and so on do not provide evidence either way. So because I do not like 'drugs' and the medication I have with no choice is classified as a narcotic in some countries, I am uncertain about travelling with them. So I am looking for a holistic medicine practicioner. My physio-therapist who is also an alternative medicine user (she is Dutch, so no French 'attitude') is helping me through her network of contacts. I have even been to my insurance broker to find out about changing my complementary cover to include it this autumn.

Problem. Owing to strict regulations they cannot do more than one thing, which in fact a médecin traitant (GP) can. My one does osteopathy separately, for instance. So to use your list, as a licenced alternative medecin or therapy practicioner you cannot do therapeutic/sports massage, reflexology, aromatherapy and reiki in one practice. Each must be separate! Madness. I want some acupuncture and homeopathy but it means I have to travel 30 minutes to one and 40 minutes to the other as my local ones. My physio is opening her own clinic next year and leaving the practice where she is at present and wanted to be able to have her partner who does reflexology in the same clinic. But regulations forbade her doing that, she must have a separate premises. So holistic health clinics of the kind I used in the UK do not, cannot exist here although in fact they do, private and very exclusive for the very rich.

It is all so bloody unfair to both practicioners and patients, including the French ones of course, because it makes alternative medicine here quite close to the opposite of any kind of cooperation that makes genune holistic medicine. I am as frustrated as hell by this.

As for the AE bit, do not worry. As long as the government does not abolish it if you play your cards right (unlike our Sheila on SFN who has been shuffled excessively and beyond belief) starting up is not so hard and it is later when you are hit by taxation rather than at the beginning that it gets stiff going.

As Val says, lots of us will help with advice. Move anywhere near me, cheat the system and you may have an early patient!

Hi Chloe and welcome to SFN. Here's the link to the Auto-Entrepreneur group:

Here's the link to a discussion about moving to south France by another member, with interesting contributions.

As Val said, shout if you need help with anything. Kind regards, Sheila.

You're sort of caught in the middle aren't you - head or heart. And the distances involved in travelling through France wouldn't allow you to 'pop in' for a quick natter and a bit of support from the rellies unless you lived in the same department. I live in the South West as well, in the Limousin. It's only me and my 7yo (plus the dogs and cats of course). I must admit I had a bit of trepidation moving over to a 'strange' country, knowing no-one, but I'm more than being simply pleasantly surprised. We've been here just over 4 months, my little one has made friends at school despite the language barrier and we have very friendly French neighbours. Perhaps it was a little different for me as we were previously living in Malta so my mum/sister weren't available for support except by phone and my son's rellies in Malta played very little part - it's always been just him and me, but here in the SW we feel accepted and included which is all I wanted for my little one. Oh, plus it's really nice to have a garden and green stuff! You always have the option of renting first, whether following your head in the NE or your heart in the SW - you'll know where you feel the most happy for both you and the children.