Les Landais - Its time to speak up

I am appealing to all of the expat community living in the landais area to defend themselves and their French entourage!!

It would seam that the Landais are under attack from expats using this site (yes incredible but true) and not fortunate enough to live in our beautiful part of the country.

With the protection of their computer screens and no-one in front of them they are casting disparaging remarks across different discussion forums accusing Landais People of being backwater, interbreeding and the likes. NO NO NO!!!

Over the last few days it seams to be the Montpellians. Why they should have an inferiorty complex I am not quite sure.... they have beaches likes us ( though less sandy, and less long and only a timid meek sea!) They have good food (but not the canard nor the foie gras). They have forests (though a lot less of it because they just cant stop building on it.....They have good quality properties (though twice the price) and clean air (admittedly with their own bit of human additives!)

So come on expats in Landes lets defend ourselves and our French neighbours.....one persons bad experience does not equate to interbreeding nor backwater.....

Having married into one of the said soi-disant in-bred local farming families (not in les landes but the aveyron) - they simply can't understand why on earth people leave the uk to buy up complete ruins that no-one else wants to then spend all their time renovating/employing people to renovate etc. they also think expats are all a bit mafia like, very few have normal lives, normal jobs etc and that adds to the foreigner effect.

I think thats what we noticed in our area. The locals all grew up there...went to school etc. so they are in a community for life, with friends and family all around them. Must seem strange to have us incomers as add ons, though I guess we have added value, as we buy up the old houses and use locals to do the work who buy their materials locally. Its something we noticed in the Dordogne, the richest towns tend to be the ones with a lot of foreigners, the investment invariably helps keep the businesses afloat.

Not at all, I was one of the spirit little brothers . I had hopes and daring, and light was acting in and out . Slowly heaviness pervades, nearly everywhere, and in the last decade I had the surprise to see rugby players, ferias styled youngsters, and TV watchers families with their cute little children . What a shock ! Too crowdy in the same time, I fled . In the same time, organizers made the choice of famous and expensive bands ( though the first one, Groundation was great ) . After a few years I came back and surprise ! it was acceptable again .

But well, street performers start about 5 PM and that's what I love now, including their kind of audience . Concerts start at night, you may rummage some pearls, but not every night is worthy in my eyes . To get out and avoid the cops I know the right small roads if you're interested

and Philippe - you just contributed to its downfall - i'll be putting it on my calendar!

Paul, speaking of concerts, do you know the festival Musicalarue, in Luxey every August ? A 4 days festival in a tiny village, with many different stages, most of them under the trees ? Music of course, but mainly a lot of " spectacles de rue ", ie non musical. It's a kind of things that happen in different parts of France, but this one was a "wild" one from the beginning . Of course now its fame has corrupted it a litlle, but it's stil worthy .

Hi Nikki

I am sorry you are having a difficult time and i assure you this thread was not in any way intended to be personal.

The thread was set up following a number of anti landes comments across different threads and was intended to generate debate on the good and bad experiencs of the Landais expats.

Whilst some of your experiences are negative, some of the points you mention above can be easily explained away. For example, your employer only paying you 151 hours per month is related to the maximum working hours of 35 hours per week. If she pays you for more than 151 hours then she would have to pay you an overtime rate. So she was effectively trying to carry forward your hours to the following month to avoid additional salary and social charges. Whether this is right or wrong is another issue and perhaps she did not make this clear.

In any case unscrupulous employers are the world over. Hence the importance of this forum to seek help and advise from fellow willing members.

I'd like to put the other side of the story. We bought in a tiny village in the Gers. When we moved in I made it my business to speak to everyone in the village, make and accept invitations for aperitifs, chat about the weather etc etc. Six weeks after we moved in a huge tree was blown down destroying our electricity installation and fence, and blocking the main road. We were back in the UK. Despite the fact that we were total newbies, the villagers cut up the tree, stacked the wood in our barn, cleared the road, contacted EDF, and replaced the fence. They would not accept any money for the work except the cost of the fence posts. These are genuine French peasant farmers, for whom an English barrister is as alien as you can get, but they have welcomed us with open arms. Like someone has already said, people are people across the world, good and bad, but in my opinion much depends on your own attitude: if you are open, friendly, you engage with village life as much as you can, and above all you struggle on even in appalling French, you are likely to be welcomed. Where this thread started was with the malicious bullying of a child by a teacher. That is a wholly different story, and unforgivable, but not the fault of Les Landais generally.

I'm with you. Its my top 5 too....

I'm in the deep forest of the Landes and that's what I like : nobody around but wild animals, straight roads with nearly no villages and nearly no cops radars so I can feel like when life was free . This area was chosen by several communities in the Hippies time because of that , plus very low prices for an old house at the end of a 3 miles track . You still can find sandy beaches with nobody visible around if you dare driving on tracks which are now forbidden of course and hide your car in the woods .

I never had difficulties with indigenous, not more than in any continent . I think it depends a lot on your external attitude regarding what you get, and a lot on your internal attitude regarding what you expect .

I chose this land because I thought it would be the last one to be corrupted by commercial/business greed and spirit from human vultures and the last to be polluted by authorities caution/surveillance welcomed by human sheep . It was so, but of course even the villages landais are now disfigured by those ugly concrete pavements, roundabouts and traffic bumps . Unfortunately Western Europe has become all the same, even central Spain is no more wild . The last place I know is the central Southern Italy, far from beaches . People there still don't care about political and traffic correctness, and the weight of the modern Brave New World is not really perceptible . But well, les Landes are in my Top 5 in the Western world .

Good morning.

Having started the discussion on education, let me fill you in (Paul in particular) about our experiences in the Landes.

My husband was brought out by a French company, promised year round work, french contract etc. In brief, French company set up UK agency to employ under UK law - what this means is the UK employees are put on rolling 6month contracts with no rights in either country, the company threatens employees with the sack if they deregister with UK tax authorities and register with French system, because after 6 months here you become resident etc.etc. So my hubby is stuck between 2 systems....no rights here whatsoever. Any question or query the company gets rid and brings another sucker out from the UK. There a several employees here who have been here 10+years working for this company and they have 'avoided' becoming resident...no carte vitale etc.

Me, I worked for friends my first summer here, putting together a business plan for their restaurant and then waitressed high season for them. I was harassed continually by a 19 year old local boy who was a colleague, who followed me around suggesting I return to where I came etc etc. You get the picture. I put up with him for 2 month before telling him to F... off! He is from a prominent local family who owns half the village.

Last year I worked for the only 4* hotel in the village. Madame took me on as a Receptionist (4 languages) yet when presented with contract several days after starting it was for Femme de Menage (I rolled up my sleeves, got on with it and said 'oui Madame whenever she wanted anything). The contract didn't specify hours, although it was supposed to be full-time. So I worked when she called (usually at short notice) part time until July. At the end of July she chose not to pay (all 4 staff) the hours they'd worked she held back the hours over 151 to be paid the following month, and again the same August and September. Not sure about other folk but when paid hourly I expected to be paid at the end of the month, particularly given the fact she chose not to specify hours in contract. Oh and by the way she didn't bother signing or giving us a copy of our contracts. Only when I asked for the correct paperwork at the end of September and mentioned Pole Emploi did she come up paperwork and pay me for what I had worked.

So, yes Paul, I do think I have the right to complain. We have made many good friends here but not one is local. I fell in love, a true 'coup de foudre' with France 30 years ago on a school exchange. I changed my plans and studied languages at Uni and since have worked many years here. I have not experienced anything like the situation we have encountered here. I tell our French friends that we come from the equivalent region in Scotland, ie no cities, 2 larges towns like Mont de Marsan et Dax and lots of rugby!! The difference is we are much more open and welcoming to incomers (read nosey!!) and like to meet people who have chosen to live in our area.

So....there you go, got all that off my chest. Not bad for a Forum virgin!!!

Bonne journée à tous!

I left Northern Ireland 50 years ago because my family were considered 'outsiders': they had been living in Ulster since 1604.

Hi Derek

My sentiments exactly. People are people the world over.

Yes it really is a fantastic area, relatively undiscovered 'for now and hopefully thats the way it will stay.

What I like is that on top of the sea, the beaches, the forests and the lakes, and because the local authorities have lots and lots of taxe d'habitation sloshing around, (they all have wonderful mairies built in the last 5 years!!) we have wonderful infrastructure like cycle routes, recycling facilities and leasure activities in our neighbourhoods. OK, if concerts, theatre, music is your thing, its definitely not the place for you....but if its peace, security, space, climate, being outside - its a boom ...

Wow - this was unlucky. It must be sooo nice to be soo in love with your region that you already have everything you need already all around you !!!

But surely looking back to your old school mates, the ones that didn't go on to college and the like, i guess many of those 'stayed put ' and are living perfectly content lives within a few KM of mum and dad???

Although our experience has been in the far south Dordogne...2 kms short of the Lot, we can bear out the comment by Vero above. Our experience was when trying to sell our house. A French family came, they viewed, they fell in love, they put in an offer. We were delighted, a large family with children and grandparents all moving in together. They came with their surveyor to decide where to place their pool, then all went quiet. We nudged our agent who in turn nudged our would be buyers. They had apparently been going through turmoil deciding whether or not they could make the 'big move'. Eventually after much soul searching they came back to us and told us they were 'desole' (no accents on my UK typeface) but they felt they couldnt tear themselves away from their local community. It turned out they lived around 11 kms away.

"However, this attitude is not restricted to one region. It happens everywhere. "

Note keyword EVERYWHERE.

What makes you think that these reactions are restricted to France? I was born in Surrey, have lived in Scotland (foreigner) Yorkshire (foreigner) Norfolk (foreigner) Cornwall (extra-terrestrial) This is leaving out India (where I did not feel like a foreigner, but was) and various bits of the Middle East (where I knew I was really a foreigner). France, overture and beginners please!

If you mean me, as I live near Montpellier, and happened to empathise with the poor family who are being bullied by a backwater group of ignorant types, then yes, and I stand by what I wrote. However, I don't believe I included the whole French population of the Landes in my comment. I restricted it to those who are making the lives of a family miserable.

I also know of another family (half French) who were ostracised because they were not locals. My friend said that she knew someone in the village who'd lived there for 20years and was still considered an outsider. However, this attitude is not restricted to one region. It happens everywhere. The example posted on this site just happened to refer to the Landes.

I think your cry of anguish was an over-reaction. No one is being attacked, and the Montpellier crowd are quite happy where they are, ta. No inferiority complexes here.

I live in Toulouse and unfortunately not the Landes. I've been spending several weeks every summer for the past twenty years camping in the Linxe, Leon, St. Girons area. There are times where I've felt a little too isolated there especially when we have to go all the way to Dax to drop off and pick up our kids but I wouldn't trade the tranquillity for the world. The ocean is unleashed , the beaches are large enough to always find a quiet place to spend the day (nude if you want) and the forests are wonderful when you've had enough of the sun with bike or walking paths everwhere. My husband and I are planning to move there once he retires.