We live in a village with around 1000 habitants in le Midi, it’s great and we have learnt lots of French by interacting daily with the villagers. Our neighbours include the local cafe which hosts live music events throughout summer which is fantastic & creates a great atmosphere. Last night our little one was dancing to the music & loved it (we broke the usual bedtime as it’s summer holidays of course We are well integrated into our village and I’m sure this is because we speak to people every day. We don’t live in each others pockets though, we’ve made friends with other people similar ages to us (one thing about moving to France is so many of the other anglo speakers are retired so don’t have the same interests as us) but we have made great French friends and this has further helped our development in speaking French and understanding the way of life in France.
When we go away we have a number of people who look after our house and one lady who takes great pleasure in looking after our cat, in fact he now has 2 homes!
There are downsides, the noise of one group of neighbours who have 8 kids can be a bit tiresome on some days when they play their music too loud (we unfortunately don’t have the same taste in dodgy 80’s french music) but generally the bustle of village life is a comfort to know we’re not isolated & we really feel part of the community.
We were away recently and 2 people went to collect bin liners from the Mairie for us (an occasion which happens once a year & would be whilst we were away)…people are just like that, thoughtful.
We’ve only had the odd problem with a not so close neighbour & one with a rental neighbour who has now moved in the past 5 years and we think the benefits of living in the village far outweigh the cons.
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I’ve lived in a remote farm house with a few surrounding fermettes and now in the centre of a village. Everyone is pretty ancient, but all very sweet. One or two nut cases, but they are similarly regarded by the village, so no real problems. There are younger families, and we even have a village school with 19 pupils in it. My sister still lives in the fermette, which is a few minutes away on my bike.
I suppose choosing where you live can be a bit of a lottery - very much like the UK.
I’ve never lived in a really small village and never wanted to. I like to enjoy a certain degree of anonymity where I live.
That said, I live in a house in a cul de sac designed for families, so there are children. Then one day a couple bought one of the houses thinking it would be peaceful and calm (or that’s what the agent told them anyway). They don’t like children, don’t want any of their own and object to the kids already sur place.
On one occasion they overheard my son moan about his dad to his friend, found out where the dad lives (in Paris) rang him up and told him! I went to the police who told me if it happened again to porter plainte. Unbelievable. Needless to say I don’t speak to this couple of bloody-minded sods and ignore them pointedly if they cross my path.
My other neighbours are fine, and most of the neighbours I’ve had in France have been fine, and if they are a bit off, I just keep my distance.