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(Debra Lee) #1

Hi...


I will be moving to Quillan, Aude, Languedoc in early 2017. I am a divorced retiree who receives benefits from my stint in "the real world of employment". I am also a professional fine artist who has earned most of my living from my art.


I have been on SFN for a while now. I even started my own group here, Art Without Limits. I notice that many of the groups...including my own...have very little activity. I didn't want to be the one who posted most in my group (not into the ego thing) so I have been quiet in that group as well.


I am especially interested in the experiences of American expats. There are definitely more members here who are originally from the UK. Sometimes their concerns would not affect me. I have been given advice as to what I need to do...as a self-employed artist...when I arrive in France. I also have no problem being on my own once I do relocate. Spending time with myself is quite enjoyable even though I interact well with people.


I plan to live out the rest of my life in France. My daughter, who is my only family, is encouraging me all the way. She plans to live outside the US, also. Anyway, could anyone share what it was like for you when you first moved to France?


Smiles,


Debra


(James Kearney 2) #2

Cory, Americans have to wait only three years of living in France before they get the 10 year Carte de Residence. My wife is a Brazilian and she had to wait 10 years.


(Debra Lee) #3

Hi Suzy...

Thank you for the advice. I will take care to watch the mouth movements of the actors in the French films I am watching and put more emphasis on the vowels than I am doing now. :)


(suzy davis) #4

Hello Debra,just another thought on pronounciation. If you watch a french person talking you'll notice they move their mouth a lot.They articulate,especially the vowels,which we english speakers tend to swallow.We don't even have to move our mouths,french can't be spoken that way.Its fascinating watching french women having a chat,and,en plus, its great exercise for the face.


(Debra Lee) #5

Bonjour Nancy,

Thank you for the recommendation. I will view her site and see what she offers. I assume you and she have conversations so that she can help you with your pronunciation. That is my weak area as I have no one in my area with who can converse with me and correct my pronunciation.

Wishing you a lovely day...


(Nancy Steinhardt) #6

Bonjour Debra,

Would you consider taking a French class via skype? With Skype you can be anywhere there is an internet connection. I adore my French Skype teacher! Her name is Céline, her company is learnfrenchathome.com. She is always fun and upbeat. She is fluent in both English and French so when I ask her about American English idioms, she can tell me if there is or isn't a French equivalent. She knows what Americans have problems with and why. And she knows what Americans get wrong that causes confusion for French people. She orients the lessons to you and your goals. I recommend her highly!!!

I think watching movies, listening to music, reading books is great; yet it supportive material-- and peripheral to learning a language. I think speaking and dialoging with people -- is key to your transforming your book knowledge in to a French experience that will allow you to meld into the culture.

You can start that process now, while living in Ohio. Just use skype.


(suzy davis) #7

Hi Debra,for some reason I can't reply under your last post.

Hearing the language is as important as speaking it so if you can get french radio or watch lots of french films that'll help.That way you'll pick up on phrases that are often repeated.The French do talk as if they have to get as much out in as little time. Good luck.


(Debra Lee) #8

Hi Suzy, My reading of French is going well, my writing is not too bad, I am understanding more but when someone is talking quickly, I sometimes have trouble keeping up. I am sure my pronunciation is atrocious. I really have no one with whom I might practice...or who can correct me...so I feel very unsure in that area. The local community college offers classes in French but they are online. When they offer the course on the campus, they are fortunate if six people enroll. I live in a working class area. Even American English is mutilated. People have limited vocabularies, misuse words, and don't even get me started on spelling and grammar. I was an "English" major as well as art major in high school.


(suzy davis) #9

Hello Debra,Yes you should be able to get accepted by La Maison des artistes,however don't expect it to be easy.I've been here 28 years and still don't understand the system.I'm classed as an illustrator as I do commercial work.You will of course need to speak French;how's that going?


(Debra Lee) #10

Thank you so much for your gracious offer. I will definitely contact you for assistance in the future...or maybe earlier. It is very nice to "meet" you.


(Cory Bixler) #11

Hi Debra, I live in Cournanel about 20 km from Qullian. Please let me know if you need any assistance.


(Caroline Aronson-van Berkel) #12

You are welcome, i understand the price can be a turn off though so many questions can be answered in less than 15 minutes which costs 20euros and saves a lot of frustration and mistakes. anyway i wish you all the best!!!


(Debra Lee) #13

Hi Cory... I will be registering with La Maison des Artistes upon my move. I was advised by another artist that it was both required and helpful to do so. I am sure that I will be given all the information I need to work as an artist in France...even online...through that agency. As to taxes, I am aware that the US taxes its citizens worldwide. It is actually a rare procedure with few countries engaging in it. The bureaucracy in the States isn't exactly user-friendly, either.


(Debra Lee) #14

Thank you for the recommendation, Charles. I did check the website and saw that she offers quite a few services. Her background also looks good. However, her fees are higher than I...being a frugal artist...am willing to pay. I do have friends in France who have offered to help me with any problems that might crop up. I am also extremely patient and willing to work through any challenges. I suppose that is due to running my own business and serving on the board of several arts organizations. I often face new or complex situations which require me to "fly by the seat of my pants". I adhere to the Japanese proverb, "Fall down seven times, get up eight". If, however, I find myself in totally over my head, I will consider using her services. Thank you once again for your advice. :)


(Caroline Aronson-van Berkel) #15

Hi Debra and Cory once again id like to repeat that to find an experienced specialist in much of the beaurocratic aspects of this big move is essential in my mind. As you have some time before you leave, locate such a person where you can be totally prepared prior to arrival I used Palma B. www.feetinfrance.fr even before i moved out here with many of my questions answered prior to moving it gave us a strong optimistic feeling that we were prepared Good luck!!


(Cory Bixler) #16

Hi Debra, I not sure about working on line or being an Artist. I'm suspect the French would view any income earned (whether online or through a job) while living in France is subject to French Tax. As an American you are subject to Worldwide income so you would have to file with both Countries however any tax paid in France would be credited toward your US. When I referred to the Carte de Sejour I was talking about after your 12 month long stay VISA expires. You are right there are a lot of Brits in France. At present they do not need a VISA with the UK being a member of the EU. I think your US Drivers License is good overseas for a year.


(Debra Lee) #17

Hi Cory... I do not depend on Medicare so that shouldn't be an issue. I had originally planned on the Retirement Visa. However, selling my paintings online is a growing source of income. Soon I will be teaching art online. So, I guess that means I would need a work visa. I will contact the Consulate General of France in Chicago with questions about which visa would be the right one for me. Working as an artist has it's own peculiarities as opposed to a day job in a brick-and-mortar setting. Selling and teaching art online is a fairly recent way to earn a living as an artist. I am not certain how I will be categorized. As to the Carte de Sejour, based on the following that I have copied from the Consulate General of France in Chicago website, acquiring one...at least for under a full 12 months residency...seems to be unnecessary now. - long stay visa holders are allowed to reside in France for up to 12 months according to the validity of their visa and purpose of stay. They are no longer required to obtain a residence permit ("carte de séjour") from the French local authorities ("Préfecture") as long as their visa is valid. http://www.consulfrance-chicago.org/Long-stay-visa-for-visitors I will be researching all of this very carefully. There is a decent expat community there although most of them seem to be from the UK and own holiday homes there. Ohio, where I reside, has the drivers license agreement with France (a bonus). I might obtain an international drivers license through AAA. Thank you so much for your help. I will be sure to contact you with anymore questions I may have. Have a lovely week.


(Debra Lee) #18

Hi Charles... I have been studying French for a couple months now. My reading and writing of it is much better than my speech. I watch French films (love them!) and listen to French radio (love Shy'm!). I have no one with whom I might practice although I understand Duolingo which is a free, online course. I did take a class at my local community college but it was also online. I have no one to let me know if I pronounced a word correctly or not. I seems there are not enough students who wish to take French in my blue collar county of Ohio. I have already become Facebook friends with artists in France. They have made me feel that I will be welcome there. I also have a friend who teaches pastel painting at various locations in France. She has introduced me to some of her friends there, also through Facebook. I appreciate your advice and will certainly take advantage of your kind offer.


(Cory Bixler) #19

Hi, I'm an American living in Aude. I guess the first most important questions are (Income and Medical Insurance, keep in mind Medicare does not cover you outside the US). What type of VISA do you plan to come to France on? You are fortunate France does offer a Retirement VISA however this does not allow you to work. For this you must show 2000 euros monthly income and you must show Private Medical Insurance Coverage. You must apply for a Long Term VISA whilst in the US. After you arrive you will need to go to the French OFII and have a medical exam. If this goes well you can apply for a Carte de Sejour (I think the cost is about 349 euros). The Carte de Sejour must be renewed annually. This requires a visit to the closest Prefecture, in the case of Quillan it is Carcassone. You pay 106 euros a year to renew theCarte de Sejour. I've heard after five years you can be issued a ten year Carte de Sejour but I do not know this as fact. Some US States have an agreement with France where you can exchange your US drivers license for a French one. In my case Texas does have this agreement. I hope this helps please do not hesitate to contact me if you require additional information.


(Nancy Steinhardt) #20

Bonjour Debra,

Thank you for your kind words of being an artist! I agree with you about the Languedoc-Roussillan area. It sounds wonderful. I am not familiar with it personally, but I've heard good things!

I am not so sure that I chose our city, La Rochelle, or it chose me. ;) I haven't been there. Ever. And I am rather unfamiliar with the west coast of France. Never been there either. But I was talking with my French teacher from "Learn French at Home", and after telling her what was most important to me that I do in my personal life, that I do regularly, she suggested La Rochelle. What I do most regularly is bicycle. Love it! I do it 4-5 hours a week, so I wanted a weather climate (lots of sun and not hot) and a city culture and infrastructure that would support it. I also want a town large enough to have a diversity in restaurants and a liveliness that comes from maybe a university or visitors. Yet I also want it to have the charm of its history reflected in the architecture.

My final thought before deciding was, "beaches, bicycling and living in France"-- how could this be bad? ;)