Life in France

Some people say it’s hard to integrate and complain about feeling like outsiders for a long time. We are never going to be French (nor would I want to be) and we will always have different views on capitalism with most of our village and we’ll always be les jeunes anglais (even when we’re in our 60’s no doubt) but we do feel part of our community and here are some of recent experiences which put a smile on my face…

A good friend told us our house looked sad ‘toute triste’ without us being there & she thought of us everytime she passed (which is every day).

As usual the patron of our local cafe made a huge fuss of our eldest little girl and she responded by following him around and asking me every day ‘can we go to the cafe mummy?’ He always offers her du pain and she has now started asking for du pain sil t’plait which he was thrilled about (as well as La Glace stp!)

One evening whilst waiting for my hubby to come back from the airport (he’d been in the UK working ‘le pauvre’) I spent a lovely evening at the cafe with the girls with local after local greeting me, I must have fait la bise at least 30 times in about 3 hours and so I decided to eat there & enjoy the warm evening sun & gentle breeze.

I sat with a lovely lady (who has helped me in the past with CAF administration) & her 9 year old daughter and spent hours chatting about her elder daughter, life in our village & the kids. She told me that in 2 years there will be a new secondary school built in the next village only 5 mins away (fab news as the local town college is packed out now with the growth in the size of the villages) and lots of other funny stories.

At around 9.30pm I decided to take the girls off to bed (we had easily settled back into summer in France as the girls rarely went to bed before 9pm most nights but had 3-4hour siestas in the afternoon) and my hubby arrived back shortly after so we enjoyed an evening on the roof terrace watching the snowy owl that flies over every evening & is a delight to see.

My hubby mused about the fact he wanted to stay in France and I had to do my very best to be practical and reinforce all the positive aspects of him working in the UK whilst the kids are pre-school age (all very difficult as inside my heart was saying I’d love to stay here & have our 3rd baby in France just like the first 2).

We retired to bed around 1am (something we never do now in the UK but for some reason we have more energy in France).

The next day we had another surprise as the 9 year old daughter of the lady I’d dined with the night before called round with 2 gorgeous snow white dresses for the girls, one of them being ancienne embroidered and I was totally knocked for six. A total act of kindness and totally unexpected, my hubby and I were over the moon.

Later that day my very good neighbour called by (this is the lady who has adopted our cat) she’d been watering our plants, taking in our post & generally keeps a fantastic eye on our house whilst we’re away. No-one, not even my uncle gets in without her knowing & challenging!

We gave her 2 huge boxes of English tea (Tetley & PG Tips) for her husband as well as a pot of Strawberry Jam our daughter had made (with a little help) and chatted about our future plans & all the news we’d missed out on in our village (like the Allo Allo & church clock being struck by lightening a few weeks earlier & how it will cost 5000 euro to repair but it WILL be repaired as the Allo Allo & the hourly clock chiming are part of the character of our village). It was great to catch up and it made me realise what good friends we have made in such a short time.

From the chaotic lifestyle of Canary Wharf where people don’t really mix with each other to a bustling village in the Midi. Interestingly our apartment building in London probably has the same number of occupants as our whole village in France and we know not a single person (we’ve never seen 4 out of 5 neighbours on our floor of apartments).

Going home for a few weeks did make me realise how much our heart lies within our small village in France and how our life is there even if we are not always. We really are beginning to miss our life in France now and I think for all of you suffering, complaining & letting the petty things about France get to you, why not take a long holiday to the UK, rent for 2 months and then go back home to France, you might just realise why you really love your life in France.

Thanks Doha :slight_smile:

Hi Susanne
First of all I should say that you have such good writing talents :slight_smile:
Life is what you make of it. You like your happy life in France because you made it a happy and interesting life. The way you are living it will make it seem like a long holiday. I am sure if you did not like France then nothing would have made you feel good and everything and everybody will irritate you. Now that you like France, even bad weather and grumpy people will seem nice to you and that’s the good thing in loving your life. I use to live in Scotland with my husband, even if the weather was the worst I ever seen in my life, the lifestyle was not exactly what I liked, the school was hopeless… I just liked Scotland and always found reasons to defend this beautiful country and other foreigners never understood what I liked there. I understand your opinion because you are just in harmony with this country but I understand other people who can’t feel at home, feel home sick or can feel frustrated here. It’s all about the feeling you get
enjoy you life here

oh and I forgot to mention the stupid alimentation moths are back so I’ve had to clean out all my dry food store again & throw packets of food away. Luckily not as bad as last year though as most food was in lock & lock boxes which so far they can’t get into. Pesky moths

i really believe life is what you make it. I have lived in the savoie for 7 years now.I moved lock stock and barrel with my husband and 2 of our children 13yr and 16yr at the time. my other daughter had been married for a year and the day before we left told me she was pregnant. now we have 2 grandchildren 4&6 and they live in england.
our boy works as a chef/cuisiner and in a long term relationship,and is fluent in french. our daughter has just passed her bac,driving licience,and got herself a job,bought a car and is also
in a long term relationship.
we (ma and hubby) struggle badly with french but keep trying talk to anyone we can,work a little to keep in the system,have some very good friends.
life in france is not all a bed of roses and things are hard at times but then i read the news and talk to others in england Thats when i realise france is my home now and all the family love coming to our home.

and p.s. it was meant in a lighthearted way (as always) not a negative!

John, I didn’t choose my words carefully, you are right, I should have said for those of you…apologies!

‘‘We really are beginning to miss our life in France now and I think for all of you suffering, complaining & letting the petty things about France get to you, why not take…’’ I dont think we are all complaining, suffering or letting the petty get to us, if fact I should think very few are in my opinion.

Hi Suzanne
OK apologies for appearing to have a go, I didn’t realse from your first comments that you were old hands at the expat way of life.
Yes we all have gripes and yes we are all still here (well mostly anyway, I do know some who have been forced to go back because of the exchange rate) and yes we do reaolise how bad life seems in the UK at present.
I wasn’t the one who wanted to come, but now we’ve made the move to the smaller house, have some English as well as French round us, I must admit that I wouldn’t want to move back at al if it wasn’t for family there - parents, children and grandchildren.

I can thank the French heath system for having my husband around still. Last year he was diagnosed with cancer and put on chemo within days of the disgnosis. He is now clear and being watched very carefully by the lovely consultants at CHD in La Roche sur Yon.

You’re so right with the things that cause the moans - including the lack of after sales service, but we manage and the sun and wine do help!
Best regards

Hi June, I’m not knocking people at all, we did live in France full time for 2 years during which we decided to start a family & buy another house…requiring additional income which we couldn’t generate sufficient of in France in our first 2 years of web development. I have battled the french administration & moaned about it (only yesterday I spent half an hour trying to get through to RSI chasing up our Carte Vitales again) and we’ve been through the trials of tax returns, dealing with EDF, paying our taxe d’habitation twice which took a year to resolve etc. We had actually just got ourselves fully registered with everyone & sorted before we started living un pied dans 2 pays which itself brings problems that I don’t want to bore everyone with.

We lost the rose tinted glasses at least 2 years ago when we made the move, the winters are longer than you expect, having little commerce nearby is limiting when you have no car, days can be mundane especially if you are on your own all the time but when the sky is blue & the cicadas are chanting out their tunes, your spirits lift & you enjoy the clean air, the green vines & the warm sunshine. As I said I’m not knocking anyone just reminding people that whilst we can all get frustrated with the french administration (probably No1), lack of service in shops, isolation (depends where you have chosen to live) and occasionally the attitude towards les anglais , we can forget the reason we moved from the UK. Going back helps remind you of all the things you love about France. I’m not one to moan generally so you won’t get all my gripes on here, but I will rant occasionally (don’t get me started on some of the french builders/artisans we’ve had working for us!) but I do share my feelings on France & the UK.
All I’m saying I guess is that its good to experience both lives & know that nowhere is perfect but I’d rather be in France!!!

Yes I agree that certain things are sooo much better in France, but I have to say, you still aren’t actually living here full time. It’s when you do make that move that you start to realise it’s not the idyll we all thought. Things do go wrong, quite often in fact, and we all sort them out and get on with our lives.
BUT we have all lost the rose coloured spectacles and realise that life out here is better than in the UK but not perfect.
I go back to the UK regularly - I have very elderly parents there - and now am always glad to get back. Not home notice - my home is still the UK, which is where I was brought up and spent the first 60+ years of my life.
Don’t call us moaners until you’ve done it - and I hope you do soon. Yes it is great living here, even with the burocracy etc to deal with. And the medical system beats the UK’s hands down. And we have great friends both English and French and a really good social life.

That’s a bit of a rambling reply but I hope you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. Don’t knock us for realising that things aren’t perfect, but we are still here and in most cases wouldn’t move back.