EX pat regrets from living in France

Hi,Do you wish you had done something differently when you first moved to France? Or have you done something you regret in your new French life?

Maybe it was falling in love with a local or spending all your money on a property?

We are looking for Ex-pats to contribute to an article we are doing at The Local France (www.thelocal.fr) All we need is to get a short story of some regret you have related to your French life or move to France and a photo of yourself.

You can email me at ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com

Hope to hear from you,


Like some of the others who have commented i would far prefer to read positive stories than negative ones ! I moved here 4 and half years ago from wimbledon and it was definatly the best move i have ever made and ive made alot! but no moving now life in lege cap ferret is great! thats not to say we haven't had problems but life would not have been plain sailing in the uk either! i feel when you make a move you have to embrace it and go whole hog!! which we did and have settled very very well, we have a great bunch of friends and find this community perfect for the life we wanted ! I am starting a small business and even if that doesnt work i would rather try and fail than never try! so my story is one of success and im happy with that!!

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Ignorant bliss is what we're talking about here, Nadine. But if it works for those in the ex-pat bubble then why not, they don't need to know what's really going on and would probably be horrified if they did :-O

If you want some realism just pop up the road to Carmaux where I own and run Le Jean Guillaume (tabac-loto), place Gambetta, where we see everything aspect imaginable of life in any country - the mines may have closed but germinal still exists in certain pockets of France...!

As for le couple franco-allemand... it's all wearing a bit thin now although they still go on and on about it in the media as if it's the only way forward and the only road to success. allez, encore un petit café et je retourne au comptoir et mes sacrés clients ;-)

I think you have a good point about the 'expat bubble', but I can understand this as for many coming to France is/was/will be an 'escape' and not a replacement lifestyle to the one they are leaving.

Many have had the hard times, finding the ways to survive in their countries, and probably/possibly don't want to be reminded of how difficult things are/can be anywhere. Do they really want to know that French politicians are just as inadequate as English ones? I doubt it. I feel that most want a way of life that eases the pain not just replaces it. Naive almost certainly - but we all have our dreams don't we?

The approach from the French correspondent was boorish, and these people exist everywhere in my experience. Anyway are there any people out there who take journos seriously any more? They have spent so many years debasing their own profession with their trashy and often illiterate and prejudiced reports I'm surprised that anyone should find their views worthy of consideration.

I too am now going for my cuppa and 'once a week' English breakfast.

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Yes I understand what you are saying....and it is always possible to find good French people if you try hard enough!... but don’t you think also that many British living in France (lots in an Expat bubble), are totally unaware of what is really going on in France (… and perhaps that is a good thing!!!)

To give you one small example, I was listening to various French commentaries over the Olympics in London and couldn’t believe how badly the actual French correspondent in London for “le Monde” spoke about the UK: “The London streets had been cleaned up because there are filthy normally ….! (Hey! had he forgotten that in France, it is impossible to look up at any house façade or architecture without stepping into dog poo!), he then went on to say that the British were scared of their police! (He called it “la peur du gendarme” which in fact is a typical French thing!) etc… That is just a minute example of the false information which is relayed to the French masses, and it goes on and on!

By the way, don’t you find it rather perturbing the way the French look up to the Germans, calling for “Le couple Franco-Allemand” … ? (although the Germans totally ignore this idea of “coupling up” with the French!!!)

Anyhow, enough said, perhaps it is time I stopped and made myself a nice cup of tea…!!! lol

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Sorry to hear that Nadine, but what puzzles me is how did this subject suddenly rear it's (ugly) head?

I am a Brit. and I have to admit finding the 'ideal UK citizen' you have come across as very hard to identify with. Maybe I should get out more?

One thing I DO know is the old 'seek and ye shall find' ethos.

Want good people - you'll find them, find bad ones - ditto. Anywhere.

I’m French and went over to the UK in the late 70’s. For twenty years, I lived in England, worked and got married over there. When I divorced, I decided to make a clean break and return to France… Well after a couple of months of enjoying the good weather and wine, I quickly disenchanted!

The French are still as arrogant and rude. They just haven’t got a clue about customer service… and they have a tendency to think themselves superior to everyone especially… to the English. I have spent hours with neighbours in endless arguments trying to defend the British, their natural optimism, their get-up- and- go attitude, their kindness and compassion (the Brits are the biggest givers to charities in Europe). I’m certain many of you will find stories of the odd nice French person and surely there are some out there!!!!

However to get back to the subject, if there is one thing in my life which I regret … it is coming back to France!

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Actually Tracy I think things have disimproved in some ways, though that could just be a normal part of getting older and nostalgia getting a grip. When we moved to France for the first time in '81 it was a lot more, well, French. The headlights were yellow and of course the visibility from them was appalling. The cars were French not euro boxes and nobody would dream of buying a Japanese car. Now Renault own half of Nissan! The smell of Gitanes and Gaulois was everywhere and the bars reverberated to the cheerful sound of people coughing up their lungs.I had little contact with fonctionnaires then but I feel there was less of them and with less rules. They were also less well dressed as well (an indicator of where or taxes are going). I was in the hotel des impots in Fréjus this morning and noticed that the people gathering the taxes were much better dressed than those paying them. That reminded me of thirty years ago when I also noticed how well dressed the staff in my local bank (Société Générale) were and how indifferent they were to customer service. Thank goodness that at least hasn't changed :-)

Well said Tracey!

Hi Mike,

Its an interesting one. Any chance you could send a picture over, of you and the barn? ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com



I regret buying a barn to convert, if I my time again I would have purchased a house that required modernisation other than a complete build.

I love France and always have.


Stolen ;)

OK howabout, procrastinating on SFN:) I'm brill at that.

How about headlining it 'Top Tips for moving to France from those who made the mistakes'? You'd get loads of answers then

Hi Everyone,

Just to clarify. We are not looking for people who regret coming here. Just little things that you might regret or wish you had done differently. Learn the language first, keep a house back home, meet some French people straight off etc etc.

Cheers, Ben

Agree, Vivien. My glass remains nearly full, despite as Tracy said, spilling it a few times. We are relative "newbies", here for just two years. Je ne regrette rien! Well, I would like to see a bit more of the grandchildren and I wish I had paid more attention in French classes 40 years ago. However, life in the Languedoc is good, but no blue skies today.

I know exactly how she feels the same happened to me..

and even doing a 80 to 90 hr week I still find the time to "waste" time here :-O

Time spent on SFN is never wasted Tracy :)

love the last comment and can relate to it so much, Tracy. Mine are fleeting breaks from the counter and it's market day so got to get back and help the better half out!