Just joined........hello!

A move to France has been on my wish (to do?) list for 30 years or more, so this is a tangible step closer to making it a reality I hope!

I'm married to Lisa, have 3 children and a very large dog.

The 3 "children" have grown up and are setting their own course now. So the time is fast approaching when we need to get on and do something about our (yes mutual) desire to make the move across the Channel.

Now I've got lots of questions, and the more I read the more I find!

I'll try and ration them as best I can, hope you can help!

Hi Doreen, yes I'd agree strongly on your last point. We were taught French from age 7, so I was quite good (well by O level / GCSE standards) in my early teens. Sadly I never followed that up formally though have been through copious self teaching books and courses over the years. Even worse was the fact that my repeat attempts to pick it up again always got swamped with "other" demands that we all have in our daily life with work / house / family etc. The long and short is that my comprehension (spoken or written) is not too bad, writing non existent and speaking, well a "petit peu" !!

So, aside from checking out the where, what and how when we are renting in France, I'll be doing as much speaking as possible, ie being amongst and interacting with the French. All of which must mean I strongly agree with your first point as well! :-}


Good to hear from you Martin, I have fond memories of Chichester, I worked there for a few years in the mid 80's and met Lisa (my wife) there. Her family lived in Yapton near Arundel though originally from London.

I rather like the idea of strawberry planting over there in October particularly as winter has arrived big time here - not so much cold as very windy and wet!


Thanks Elaine, This is an area of interest to us as we intend to move to France, once the house is sold, but not sure which area yet. Warm summers and mild winters would suit us, but I am sure here the warm summers will make-up for chillier winters. We love the French countryside and people and hope we can integrate quite quickly once we settle in. We are looking to find a smallish village with few amenities, a few Km from larger town. Any information on climate and area would be most appreciated.

couldn't agree more on the builders front ! 7 coupes we know have had houses or extentions built all when builders are ready agree dates or money lost to the builder!!

Mine was only a daily commute to somewhere within MK at the north, Margate the East and Salisbury the South and my wife’s was to Leigh Park. We lived in Chichester. No regrets currently and well ensconced in the Aude between Carcassonne and Narbonne. MOD pension, teachers pension and the interest from our property sale fund our life here with ease. We first thought of the Massive Central until we exited the tunnel above Lodeve and then boom, as the advert says, we were hooked. Just taken on an allotment with guidance from the village. Strawberry planting in October along with lettuces! Madness.
No issues entering the French car and tax system. However, don’t plan on getting builders to start when YOU want. They will start when they are ready!

Hi again, Adrian. We live in the South of France, in the Aude département. Summers can get hot here and last winter, it dropped to -15C - however, the sun shone every day, and the cold snap (which made the news) only lasted about two weeks. The sunshine average is 300 days per year. We chose this area having made many, many visits to France over the last 20 years. Top of my list originally was Aix-en-Provence, and then we took a holiday on the Canal du Midi, and re-thought everything.

We sold up in Dublin and are here in our little village (roughly half-way between Carcassonne and Narbonne) since March 2011. My husband is an artist (for more than 40 years) - however my legal qualifications are useless here, so I trained as a TEFL teacher. We run weekly courses here, painting and/or English. If we've no-one booked in for a weekly course, we will do B&B. Our village is small (last census = 650) but we have a Tourist office, boulangerie, pharmacie, hairdresser, 7 restaurants and a pizza place, tabac/newsagent, two wine shops, two doctors, three nurses and an ATM machine. We are surrounded by vineyards - part of the Corbieres. We are 20 minutes from the motorway, 45 minutes from Carcassonne airport, two hours from Toulouse airport, about 60 minutes from Spain, and 35 minutes from the Med.

We are still renting, which suits us at the moment. If we see THE house, we are in a position to buy. I joined the AutoEntrepreneur scheme, which gave us a tax number and got us into the health system, so we have our Carte Vitale (I am 57 and Henry is 64 so no State pensions just yet). Kids all grown up and doing their own thing. We are very happy here and I'm glad we did it now, when we are still (relatively) young to enjoy our adventure. As of today, neither of us has any wish to go back to Ireland - yes the kids are there but most of our friends have gone, to Japan, Portugal, Spain and France. We use Skype a lot! We are complete rugby nuts so brought our Sky box with us - speaking of which, must go - England about to take on Australia. I hope you are building a good picture from the experiences of other members. France isn't for everybody, but if you are prepared to speak French and integrate somewhat, I've no doubt that it will be a great experience for you.

Hi Adrian,

We have been here nearly 7 years and in live in a small village in Burgundy, very rural surrounded by agriculture, forests and vines. We are retired and both speak reasonable French. Not that many brits here but that is what initially attracted us so that we would have to immerse ourselves in the culture. I was voted onto the local council 5 years ago and have enjoyed being an active member of the community. Should you want to know more about this area I would be happy to answer any questions. We do have 2 sets of British friends who have B&B's and they are very busy most of the year round. Good luck with your venture.

Thank you Karen, fantastic to hear (especially re the BC) from you.

Your set up sounds something along the lines of how we envisage things for ourselves so I'm heartened by what you say. We are hanging on to our 4x4 that's for sure. My Waterloo train used to be even earlier than yours so against that backdrop anything is possible for us :-)

Thanks again


Welcome Adrian

We've been here 9 years, and never look back. we have to work, by hubby does computer work, and has now taken on DIY and gardening as we're not yet at retirement ages (young early 50's) and I help out and we have a gite and I started B&B when we renovated our farmhouse. It's hard work, very lonely too sometimes.....we are 6k from the nearest village and our hamlet is a 1km away with only a handful of houses. we live on a very rural track too. But if I ever get down I just think of the 0700 train into Waterloo that I used to catch!!

it's hot in the summer, lots of tourists and very cold, but sunny in the winter. last winter we were stuck up here for 4 days before we could get the car out (with chains) Tarn & Garonne. You have to plan your shopping if you are rural that's for sure.

everyone here is nice and welcoming, which we like, and if you don't speak the lingo, best get into classes - it all helps.

Health matters are easily dealt with - I have BC and until last year (I was given the OK) I was in and out of hospital with fantastic treatment.

Good luck with our searching, it's a wonderful and LARGE country.

Thanks Doreen, you paint a lovely picture.

I must have looked at thousands of French properties via the internet over the years - it amazes me how little info' agents provide online, and for that matter how little they know when I enquire - is that the norm?

Interested to hear your point about security out in the sticks, always the case I guess where ever you are.


Hi Annie, thanks for that, certainly getting a lot of support and feedback already.


Thanks Elaine, appreciate your open door.


Hi Elaine

Thanks for your very positive thoughts :-) Always good to hear.

Over caution? Yep certainly - on everything probably, not just the health side! Think its first night nerves, so long on my mind and so many accumulated demons! Getting my initial concerns answered via SFN has already soothed (some of) the nerves though.


Welcome to SFN Adrian.
This was me exactly one year ago. Be careful of fences, they collapse after a while.
Well done on the decision to come over anyway, even temporarily at first. After a few reccie trips, we came down to Aude (11) to find a place to buy, exactly for the reasons posted by someone else earlier,(castles, scenery etc etc)
We looked in oct so to see France in low season. In the SW it rarely gets overcrowded in summer, exept for obvious spots (Carcassonne, beaches etc).
Biggest difference between here and back home (Ireland) is the nights. Shutters are closed and houses are locked down. Literally! We live on the edge of a small village and boy does it get quiet, so don’t worry too much about looking for isolation. But day time is different, always a strummer or chainsaw going, esp in summer. Church bells and dogs barking, sounds of the village, so a little bit out is good for that sake.
Your car is not an issue for the 5 months and 3 weeks. Either are your tax affairs, don’t even worry about when you come down permanently, that’s another time. You don’t need a carte de sejour I think and for your temp stay, I wonder are you being over cautious about health? You can still use the services here, as Sheila mentioned, unless you have ongoing health issues.
We are not retired, my husband left his very secure and good job, I gave up self employment, we bought our house off the Internet (I hadn’t even seen it!) and put our faith in a lot of things. We had researched the area, and the rest we left to chance, as you can research till your head is spinning (as I did) but ultimately, it’s up to you how you get on once here.
As you can see, everyone loves the place they live, it’s down to personal choice, but you can never pre-empty things like noisy neighbours, micro climates, local beaurocracy, and the hidden gems you only discover once moved in and settled a bit. Why? Because your focus changes, away from the pre move anxiety (peri feral vision) to really seeing and feeling your new surroundings.
If you’ve been thinking about this for so long, don’t change your mind! Just do it! The pre move is the hardest emotional part.
Bon courage et Bon chance.


We are in the system and have our CV and associated paperwork. Could you explain how we get a French EHIC card?

Thank you in anticipation.

If you have been here for five years you need to join the French health system. You will need to have carte Vitale etc.

Thank-you Terry that's just what we have been looking for!

Hi I live in Pyrenees Atlantiques which is as far South and West as you can get. Any questions about this area please ask.

Hi Adrian! nice to see you here, fire away, there is a wealth of wisdom in so many of the members here they will all do their best to help i"m sure! X