Saying 'au revoir' to the French Dream

I have just read the following article on the Telegraph Expat site.

I came to live here because my husband is French, not to escape life in the UK, but I do have to agree with Melanie Jones (the writer of the article).

What about you ? Is the dream still there ?

I wouldn’t have dared implying otherwise :wink:

Oh forgot to say… i like HOT showers too! did the camping in the snow thing and running up and down mountains when I was in the services. Have to admit I like my creature comforts now, well at least the basics!

a pansy who works from home on the computer so doesn’t move a muscle for hours on end, has two kids under four and whose other half likes her creature comforts, well at least a warm house in the depths of winter :wink:

I’m with you on that - I’m a Manchester girl and I’ve moved to the country rather than to France, specifically - I wish I could afford what we have here in England, alongside the good food, the quiet towns, the sleepy supermarkets and the sunshine!!

Hayley, I totally understand that sentiment. Mind you, I’ve been here a year and I’m beginning to get an idealised view of England being all royal weddings and street parties. I just remind myself I was mugged outside my own home in a suburb in a not-very-bad town by teenagers… the police caught them and CPS wouldn’t deal with it. I’m sure my 3 weeks worth of work in Manchester in a couple of weeks will reaffirm everything I’ve moved here for!

Interesting but I have to say that anyone who moves to an area then complains about the weather and local facilities didn’t do their homework properly! (someone bought near my in-laws’ farm on the ségala in the Aveyron – yes it’s the south of France on a map but at over 2000 feet the winters are a bit “cool” they saw the place in August in 35°C+, bought and didn’t bother putting in central heating thinking it was like that all year round…(we hit -15° that winter!)).

Too many people come on holiday and see the French on holiday, the whole country for that matter in July and August, and think it’s like that all the time. At the end of the day you still have to earn a living, bring the kids up, take them to school, do the shopping, housework… you know what I’m saying. I still maintain that I have a better life here in France than in the UK, and I spent over a decade in the West country – I wouldn’t go back to 9 months of drizzle a year for anything!

Most of my other thoughts have been well expressed by other members so I won’t go on!

The dream is still here if the dream was real in the first place. If it was just an unfounded dream then it never existed anyway!

Here’s a bit of food for thought as well.

You sound very positive about your move, and that’s a good place to be.

The expression “Famous last words…” springs to mind here.

Just kidding, Hayley. You’ve chosen a nice place for it, anyway. I think you can even buy bitter oranges in Antibes (if you’re into marmalade making).

Thank you, Irene. We’re very happy here and are so glad we made the move.

Bon Courage Hilde.

The theme of most of these messages has been, “do the research” which I totally agree with but you cannot see into the future no matter how well you have prepared which is probably just as well!
We decided to move to France when our children had all left home, which finally happened 3 years ago. We didn’t have a vast amount of savings and I had been a stay at home Mum bringing up 4 children. So we sold our house and bought a beautiful mobile home here in the Gironde within walking distance of a lovely mediaeval town. Our neighbours are a mixture of French and English and, I assure you, we don’t live in a trailer park ! (Stephen take note!!)
Shortly after arriving ie within 6 weeks my husband was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer which had been symptom-less until he began to suffer severe back pain which we attributed to the move. He is receiving first rate care and my post isn’t about his condition. We had some French but were thrown in the deep end having to master medical terms and understand consultations we attended in the various hospitals and clinics which have been such a part of our life since.
At first there were many times when I wanted to go back to family and friends in the UK for their moral support but there’s always Skype and the internet.
We’ve made both French and English friends here and are going to the wedding of a French friend later this year. Our second wedding invitation from French people since we arrived.
The euro has fluctuated so much life is difficult when you’re living on your savings BUT we love it here, the weather, the area, the people we know, our home,the way of life where you can sit outside your favourite cafe and watch the world go by… I could go on but my point is really that wherever you go in the world you take yourself with you and if you are determined to make a good life the chances are you will!

After following this discussion for a few weeks, I have to say that it seems in most instances that people made the decision to move to France based on a “dream” of some sort.
As did I.
Amost 40 years ago I went to Paris on a class trip at Easter time and as soon as we landed at Orly that je ne sais quois hit me. I wandered around Montmarte and the Louvre like a person possessed. I did note that the classmates with me were not as smitten, but, I digress.
I grew up in an area 45 minutes from both NYC and Philadelphia. Crowded, never-ending road construction, frigid winters, virtually constant rush-hour type traffic. I recall promising myself when I was around 10 or 11 that I was going to get out of NJ. Just a few months before my 17th birthday I knew where I was eventually going to wind up: France.
As I say, it took almost 40 years, but I’m here. A dream realized, and the only regret is that my kids can’t be here to experience this wonderful country.
Perfect? Of course not. As my pastor used to say, all of the perfect people are in Heaven. But the quality of life here is, to me, unquestioningly superior. Can I go to the supermarket (or anywhere else) on Sunday? No. Can I get a huge steak with all the trimmings at an all-night diner for $12? No. Do I need to have a McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, Hardees, or Roy Rodger’s at every other corner, just in case I feel the need to stuff my face with grease and fat? No.
As mentioned by others in this discussion, whatever problems you had in the old country, your’e going to have here. History tailgates. I chose NOT to entertain the stressed-out life with the stressed-out problems that come from living in a stressful place. This is a new time, a new place, and to make the best of what you have is a very healthy way to live.
Oh, did I mention that I love it here?

1 Like

I have to agree. In Paris and in the close suburbs and cities we are incredibly spoiled with trains, tramways, metros, buses and so on. From Versailles I have at least two options for getting into the city center relatively quickly. But when I go to the Limousin or the southern coast of Bretagne the options are quite limited. A real problem for my mother-in-law who doesn’t drive. To get from the nearest train station to the summer house it is taxi or…nothing!

To this day I don’t understand why people buy massive estates in the middle of nowhere and then complain about the time and money it costs for the upkeep, and the isolation in winter. Most of France gets weather - including snow, fog, ice - conditions in which people don’t want to drive at night. We live in a small village which at least has a bistro, so you can have drink with friends and neighbours and don’t have to drive for miles to buy your bread. But I do find the lack of public transport annoying - not for myself so much as for the fact that a country that thinks nothing of spending billions on pretty marginal subsidies (all the ‘associations’ for a start) won’t spend it on something useful and environmentally friendly like public transport. But then its Parisians who decide these things and they’re alright in Paris.

Well put Gill. I agree entirely…there are BAD days (especially the paperwork bit) but on balance I think we are better off here in France.

I sometimes question whether I should go back (especially since my husband suddenly died 2 years ago) but I can’t see what the UK has to offer me and my two young children. Life would probably be easier in the UK but then we wouldn’t have the sunshine and all the sports that the Alps has to offer us. It is wonderful to see my children growing up in this environment and that they are becoming billingual. :slight_smile:

An interesting article. What I don’t understand with these types of articles, or life decisions is that they are never using comparative situations. Living in a remote location here in France cannot be compared to living in Surrey - what were they expecting? I too have lived in a litte village, 30 kms from the nearest town and would agree that activities and opportunities are limited, but rather than head back to the U.K. moved to the wonderful city of Montpellier and we haven’t looked back. There is no utopia so why would we expect anywhere to fulfill all, and dare I say, mostly unrealistic dreams that we have.

My, that is a depressing article. However, it’s not so surprising - an enormous number of migrants head home fairly soon after landing in their new home. Just look at some of the stats for ex-pats sent by companies to all parts of the world - they are sent out at enormous expense and they end up coming home because it just doesn’t work (kids are miserable, spouse can’t find a job, life is just too different).

I’ve lived in France for a long time and I will admit (and I’ve written about it on my blog) that there are have been moments where I have been crying in my kitchen and vowing to take the next plane out to Seattle. First reason to stay is sheer stubbornness - going back is giving up and I refuse to give up. I WILL make my life here and have a career and a life. Second reason is that leaving would mean leaving my children. Their country of residence is France and I am not allowed to take them out the country without my French spouse’s permission (hell, even though they were born in the US, they can’t even have a US passport without his signature). Last reason (perhaps the most important) is that I have so many people here that I love that I can’t imagine a life without them.

To Susan Jeanbrun, (loved your reply) - That last description sounds exactly like me :slight_smile:

Does that mean I should take care where I walk, and avoid everyone that looks British ?