Just a few words of advice


(Cathy Holmes) #1

I don’t participate too much here, but have noticed a bit of a pattern from some of the forums asking for advice.



My advice for anything you are unsure of is go to the Mairie. For newcomers, you probably don’t realise how powerful they are. Most paperwork starts and probably stops with them, and if not they can certainly advise you on the procedures. French driving licence - Mairie. Getting married - Mairie. Getting divorced - Mairie. Need financial help - Mairie. Building permissions - Mairie. Putting a window where there wasn’t one before - Mairie. Problems with hunters, neigbours etc. - Mairie.



For an example, there was a very disruptive family in the village. A petition was signed with 100 names and then taken to the Mairie. The family in question were living in a HLM. The Mairie had them moved. Not that I for one minute would suggest or recommend getting involved with that sort of thing, but do make sure you recognise your Mayor, and make sure he knows you know who he is. Always greet him.



If you are living in a small community, he will know who you are, its his job.


(steve Clinton) #2

just read your post could not agree more I was befriended by a couple who’s kids are the same age and very quickly they became close friends without us really knowing them I got her a gardening job with a friend of mine who is an American multi millionaire and she set about remodelling his garden as she said she had been trained in the botanical gardens of Edinburgh €60,000 later she was sacked had a breakdown serious mental health problems blamed us for her dismissal we now do not speak and the only ones who suffered was the kids and my friends wallet…nightmare I am very wary of meeting new people now .


(Nick Ord) #3

Well said Cathy. Your advice “if you wouldn’t socialize with them in the UK, don’t socialize with them here” is excellent. I’ve been here a fair while now and one common denominator I have seen is how people become embroiled in each others’ lives - as if it’s their business. My main friends here are French, and the total number of British friends, well you can count them on one hand. So once again, well said.


(Vivien Barrow Clegnac) #4

Have to agree too, I had a total stranger who happened to be English call me up and ask me for all sorts of things just because she presumed that we were automatically best buddies because we spoke the same language. Not to mention the neighbor from hell who knocked on my door several times a day asking what this or that meant. Also as soon as any new comers know that you speak French they assume that you will spend hours translating for them, speaking to their builder and gynecologist and getting their kids in the local school. Not to mention translating their bills, business documents etc; I stopped saying those seemingly innocent words, “well if you need any help?” years ago, sad really because I do like helping people generally.


(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #5

I agree strongly. We also experience that every french person assumes you know every British person in the village. Not true!

Generally in villages you get a real mix of people, especially migrants like us…we all have very different backgrounds and interests which doesn’t mean you will automatically get on with or like the other Brits in your village. There are a couple of other young couples like ourselves though who we do get on with ok and have common interests.

I don’t have a problem with anyone in particular in my village but I also don’t have a British Best Friend (new meaning for BBF). We have seen some embarrasing Brits though when it makes you ashamed to be English (one woman was so drunk she urinated in her chair - NICE!)

There are clique groups about & I try not to get involved in them as from what I can see they often spend their time moaning about their life in France…not my bag. I love it here (especially when my hubby is here too :slight_smile:

There are more and more younger expats now so I am finding more Anglo-speakers with interests in common but I don’t seek them out more than other French friends with similar interests. Our best french friends (BFF!) are from different backgrounds to us but have a very similar outlook on life and for this reason we get on really well (regardless of language but it helps that they both speak good English for when we get stuck!)


(Catharine Higginson) #6

Brilliant advice on the Mairie and something that can’t be stressed often enough.