Introduction and need advice on what to do

My husband and I are intending on making the move to France in the new year with our 15 year old daughter.

We have a cottage to move into already being sorted.

But need advice regarding self employment, disability and health care.

Our daughter has severe physical and learning disabilities including health needs - epilepsy, cerebal palsy, blind, wheelchair user etc. In the UK we home school her and would continue this in France. Our questions are regarding her health care - will her care be covered under the carte vital? Will she get physio, equipment and nappies like she does in the UK? Will she still be entitled to DLA or is there an equivalent benefit in France.

In the UK my husband and I both run business but only my husband''s online business will be coming with us. He makes plastic replacement parts for airrifles and I am also involved in the making, packaging and administration of the business. Can we transfer the business to France or is it classed as starting a new business?

Our French isn't yet fluent, but we are working hard on it.

Many thanks


The big question for you should now probably be something like "What kind of future will we, as British subjects have living in the EU ?" The future is uncertain and things like healthcare which were accessible to UK expats in another EU member state will probably change.

Maybe it would be wiser to put your plans on hold until the situation becomes clearer ?

Sorry to appear negative but we all need to be realistic at the moment maybe ?

We are intending to apply for residency and therefore access health care through the french system. As we will be paying into the french system through the micro enterprise that will surely entitle us to do so.

My question was more aimed at what services are available for disabled children.

I am struggling to find this out.

Karen, I understand your question regarding your daughter and as the system is at present she will receive excellent medical care within a superb (my opinion) French health service. My fear is that this may change dramatically if the French authorities change the rules. Nobody knows what will happen when the Brexit comes into full effect, that will depend on what is negotiated between the two countries no doubt. But to re answer your question, with the UK as a EU member i'm certain your daughter will receive excellent treatment.

I have a good friend who has a daughter with very severe health issues, just like your daughter it seems. I lost contact with him a few years back when he had to move away for personal reasons (divorce etc). He claimed custody of their daughter and continued to get fantastic service from the French system with financial assistance to modify the property to suit the daughters needs etc etc. I can try to track him down if you wish so you may be able to learn more about help available though I don't really know where he may be nowadays. Maybe I still have a phone number etc ?

Dear Karen,

You could try contacting this not for profit organisation for advice:

I also know of an online forum (in French) for parents of special needs children if that interests you.

Good luck,

Sophie Dingemans

Karen, if your daughter is still in education and has no french, then wait till she doesn't need to enter the french system.

Vincent, I don't imagine there's a school local to us which can cater for her needs. What age are children expected to stay in school until? I was expecting to continue home educating her, is this still an option in France?

Thank you Sophie. I will contact sprint and see what advice they give :-)

That's such a nice offer Peter.

I am concerned over the Brexit situation, it's come at the worst time for us as we are just about to sign contracts on our cottage!

We are still going ahead, but are working on a back up plan too.

Hello Karen,

You are correct that if you set up a micro-entreprise, then the person this is attributed to, and their children, will be entitled to health care which is included in the 'social contributions' you will make under the micro-entreprise scheme. (Of course, make sure you state your children name's on the form when you apply.) You also have an option when you set up your business, to include your spouse as a 'conjoint' (in this context the term refers to a regular contributor to your business) and in this way, they will also receive health benefits.



having known a family caring for a disabled child they felt that care was nowhere near the level that they would expect in UK and left to go home


Just to say I found this site helpful

It costs €99 to have personal questions answered. We retired here & needed advice about working as a psychotherapist here. Can only call myself a counsellor here!

I don't know where in France your cottage is, but here in Aquitaine there are a number of Facebook forums like 'Aquitaine Chit Chat' that have lots of good info.

All the best,


Karen, home schooling is no problem in France. Until recently, there was a family in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, Charente 16, who home schooled both their daughters, up to university level. As to local schools, it depends on the teachers and their experience with expats. Some schools have had serious problems with disruptive expat teenagers, and are wary of taking on more of them. Secondary school, called Middle School/College, ie to 11 to 15-16. After that, it is the Lysée system that finishes the education cycle. Once a pupil has reached the required age, 15-16, they can stop their education. Your girl is of course an exception, and my best advice is to go straight to the mairie and talk to the maire, if you know where you're going to settle. You may even find the equivalent of Camphill, though the only one in France is in Provence, from what I can see. I notice you mentioned the auto E system, but not what you intend doing. Don't hold your breath, when thinking about a good income. Many expats have enrolled in the scheme, but find that working within the expat system, doesn't always bring in much money. To succeed in the french market, you need perfect French or something the french want, such as fish and chip shops and english tearooms! They're absolute suckers for Harrods and Fortnums stuff!

This is the text with reference to home education although your daughter might well be viewed as a special case and so the rules might be different:

I know that when my friends (before they split) were living in the middle of nowhere virtually , the local authority arranged for the daughter to be picked up, taken to the special school in Limoges about 50 kms away, looked after for the day and returned home early evening. The service they received was amazing. He moved, with his daughter to the Brive region and had received the same service up to the last time we had contact about three years ago. I believe the little girl has cerebral palsy.

I assume your nearest special needs school would be in the Guingamp area..

Vincent, we already have an online business up and running and will be transferring that with us. As we post products all over the world, we were a bit concerned with the postal system, but have carried on with business when we've been over decorating and other than changing the size of 2 of our boxes (la poste doesn't like postal tubes!) Everything has gone well.

We make and sell replacement parts for target air rifles. As it's online, I don't forsee a huge issue.

My little business will have to stop as the postage costs for weighted products is prohibitive. But fortunately my husband's business is enough to keep us both very busy.

I'm not sure there's a local ex-pat community to us, but I guess lannion is our closest big town (we are in louannec)

Hubby and I are over on our own next month so will aim to see the mairie then. Will he/she be offended at our limited french? We are trying, but we're still pretty basic!

We are currently in Cornwall and the services here have had huge cuts.

Her respite centre has been closed down and the alternative couldn't deal with her epilepsy. We do receive direct payments with which we pay a carer to come in and help with personal care or stay to give us a break.

We see a physio twice a year, paediatrician twice a year, no access to speech and language or visual impairments team or ed psych.

Equipment provision has been pretty good though, but that's about it!

So all in all, the main thing we'll miss is our amazing carer.

I've struggled to find out about the DLA situation. The DWP in UK have said it'll stop, we will need to apply for equivalent in France and if she's turned down we can reapply in UK. Seems a bit of a palaver, especially since we've been told by French residents there isn't an equivalent!

We have 6 months to get all of these things sorted, but the list is getting longer each day!

Keren, I replied to your last post, but don't see it.

I came online this morning to say that it won't be until next week that I discuss the topic on the programme. I'd forgotten that the list for this week was already full.

I paste my last post:

Karen, when you go to the mairie, you need to take your daughter, as well to get the right reception and reaction. When it comes to family matters, children and those in need, the French are very considerate, when dealing with you. You need to take your daughter if possible to make it personal. A lot of expats, not just Brits, are very surly and rude, expecting everyone to be able to speak English, and this has soured a lot of relations, in high level expat areas.

I see Lannion is twinned with Caërphilly, so there is probably quite a few Welsh there. The French like the Welsh, especially the Bretons, who are fellow Celts.

Being part of the autoE, gets you a carte vitale, which covers most of your medical, but not all. One problem with that is that the french system connects with the NHS, and a friend of mine told me yesterday the the brexit problem could sever that link. This is mostly to do with OAPs.

Rules for joining the autoE system have changed, due to members (mostly expats) abusing the system and misrepresenting themselves. This applies to artisanal activities, and proof of ability is now required. The misrepresented were encroaching on the french artisans, who are mostly members of the” Micro system”, which requires certs (e.g City and Guilds etc) and have to pay considerable cotisations to the health system (they get full coverage). Friends of mine were "micros", and when the wife's pregnancy became complicated, she was hospitalized for several weeks, which was covered by the micro cotisations. I visited on a few occasions, and the service was superb!

To improve your French, listen to french radio, especially France Inter or Culture. It helps with inflection and pronunciation, even though you mightn’t understand half of it!

Since I’m about to record my next edition of Culture Gap, I’m going to do a piece on moving to France, and will address the topics discussed here. It will go out on Mercredi 16.00 hrs fr time: The programme has just moved to a new station, due to govt subventions being reduced to the station I’ve used for the past ten years ( based in the Dordogne). The new venue is based in the Vendee.(internet only)+

Vincent said, "Being part of the autoE, gets you a carte vitale, which covers most of your medical, but not all."

Could you elaborate please, Vincent?

For the micro-entreprise scheme, as far as I'm aware, you (and your children) are eligible to full health benefits as soon as you've made your first 'contribution social' ie. your first online payment to l'URSSAF.

If your Chiffres d'Affaires is less than 3745 euros, or if you've been registered for less than one year, then you don't get maternity benefits. That's the only benefit problem which I'm aware of.

(For the regime de retraite, there are certain thresholds of Chiffres d'Affaires to attain for each trimestre, to make that trimestre valid for pension benefits.)

best, Ann

Now that I read your post again, Vincent, I realise that maybe you are referring to having a mutuelle in addition to the Carte Vitale?