Seven myths about British expats living in France


Although there’s always the exception that proves the rule :grinning::grinning::grinning:
I’m sure I’ve come across one or two that tick all 7 boxes…

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Answer me this: Are the Brits living here mostly Francophiles or are they all just here for the weather and the wine? I’ve found that when I write anything at all approving of the French way of life here in the south - which I find agreeably slower, more casual, and more concerned about quality of life than quantity in the bank - I’m told that I’m wearing rose colored glasses. That in fact the French are lazy, not at all entrepreneurial, and therefore some sort of lesser species. It’s an attitude that many Americans from the north of the country have when they retire to warmer climates in the southern United States. Having done so myself, being a northerner who has spent time in southern climates, I found it necessary to adjust my attitude about the proper pace of life, or at least the pace of life to which southerners are accustomed. I suppose that I’m really asking if Brits have that same problem.

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You say Are they MOSTLY Francophiles or are the ALL just here for the weather and the wine but I don’t think it’s possible to generalise to that extent. There certainly do seem to be some very unhappy Brits here who seem to hold France 100 per cent responsible for having failed big time to meet their expectations, and no way are going to adjust their expectations to accord with reality. Maybe they’re not the biggest group but just the ones who shout the loudest, as we all tend to do when we have a gripe. I hope so because I would hate to think there are many people who feel like that.

I think you’re right when you mention attitude - that has to be the key, but if you’ve grown up with a particular attitude and held it for 20, 30 or 40 years, I don’t think you can just decide to change it like that. The change has to happen inside, and it takes time to gradually start to understand and appreciate the advantages of a different approach and let go of certain values you’ve held all your life. But you’re right that sometimes you do have to make a conscious effort to open your mind and be prepared to question your own attitude and allow it to change.

In my case it was easy for me because my natural attitude is more in line with the French than the English - I felt a misfit because I didn’t work 9 to 5 and change my car every 3 to 5 years and wash it every Sunday and saddle myself with home improvement loans to keep up with the neighbours (mine was eventually the only house in the street without a new conservatory, letting the neighbourhood down, shocking!). But I understand the problem in reverse because, even living in a very materialistic environment where appearances matter, I couldn’t adjust my attitude to match. I’m just not materialistic, I don’t get fulfillment from “things”. Which, of course, is a big part of why I moved here, I hoped I’d feel more “bien dans ma peau” here, and I do.

Interesting, innit, well I think so.

Where are you from originally, Ira, if I may ask?

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That made me laugh out loud even though it’s ridiculous!

There are many great things about living in France - see the discussion I started on this very subject Your Top 3 Things You Love About France

Great quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any

I love that and take from it that it’s important to adapt but not necessarily adopt!

As an aside I think it’s pretty rude of you to imply that the French are some sort of lesser species (your words - no one elses!). Not appropriate for this forum. :frowning:


I have a troll. First time. And love the criticism from the guy who characterized French as lazy. Mellow out!

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Please don’t misquote to enhance your argument - I did not characterise the French as lazy. I said restaurant owners who go on holiday during the peak holiday season were lazy - that’s all! Chill man…

And - you don’t have a troll - you simply have someone who disagrees with you. Maybe that’s a new experience ?

Sorry, Simon. Now that I look at your feed I can see how often you ‘simply disagree’ with people. Well, that’s the way some people pass the day. Enjoy


She didn’t say ‘the french are a lesser species’, she said ‘I am told that…’, and it is clear she does not agree. So either you did’t read her post very well, or you pretend not to understand and are in fact trolling.


It would be nice if we could stick to the topic instead of making personal attacks. I’ve provided my input, I’m aware a couple of you don’t like it but that’s the way it is. :slight_smile:

What I don’t really understand is - are the Seven Myths held by the French or other Brits?

Hi Anna. I’m from the northeast United States, New Jersey. But even though I grew up within an hour’s drive from both New York City and Philadelphia, we lived on a dirt road surrounded by cow pastures and corn fields. So I’m sort of a country mouse. And I married a southern woman, a Texan born in New Orleans. So I’ve spent a lot of time in the American south. And so I’ve seen first hand the difference that often separates north and south, cold and warm, busy and laid back. So I get where you’re coming from. And I definitely prefer laid back.

I am a French person, I don’t work 9 - 5, I work 8 - 6, officially, plus several hours more at home. Lots of us work longer hours than I do…


An interesting point. Do you work 8 to 6 with a two hour break in the middle of it? We expats call this time of day “the Black Hole” when you can hear the sound of tools dropping to the floor as all the French people stop for lunch. My last job in UK had me doing ten hour days, six days a week with only a half hour for lunch in the middle of the shift. Not because I was a workaholic, but because it was the only way to make enough money to survive as a lowly “manual” worker.

No, theoretically it is 12 to 1.30 but it is usually more like 12.15 to 1 o’clock because there is fixed stuff to do 3 days a week, people to sort out, usually, and then other stuff to do the other days. So actual ‘down-time’ is 45 minutes.

It’s a myth that we in the UK work ‘harder’. We might work longer hours but we are just not as productive as the French.

We could learn alot from our French colleagues, I think?



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I’m so glad that your statement is not true. The very expensive surgical equipment that I was taking advantage of at 13.30 last Wednesday looked much too delicate to be dropped anywhere, let alone on the floor. I was very, very impressed, the doctor’s secretary was working at her desk at 12.35 when she phoned through to the doctor to see if I could be fitted in as an emergency and I was seen less than an hour later. When I was back in the waiting room waiting to complete the paperwork the doctor passed by carrying a microwaved lunch tray apologising to her next patient that she might be another five minutes.
I suggest you forget the myths and look at the reality.


“I suggest you forget the myths and look at the reality.”

In the last 16 years of living here I’ve seen a lot of both.

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Treating workers like that is unlikely to achieve maximum productivity in any country, I would have thought…

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If you’ve been here that long I presume that you have adapted your lifestyle to ensure that you are not inconvenienced by the ‘black hole’ that you see as a negative part of French life. It’s really easy to make sure that you plan your day around opening times after all. Not really worth worrying about, or in your case trying to make into something that you imagine other people will laugh at. I’d have thought you would have got used to it about fifteen years and fifty weeks ago.


Totally agreed Anna. This is from my own experience.

I thought by working longer hours from my previous job in retail, I would achieve more. Turns out I just burnt myself out and set a bad example to my junior colleagues. Soon learnt and made sure my team did not do the same. I got more respect from them and got also more back from them.

Same example with the UK and comparing it to France. We think we work harder but we achieve less… We Just need to work ‘cleverer’.



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