What do you LOVE about living in France?

For those that don’t already know, I’ve recently started writing a book about life in France. It’s very easy to find lots of material about things that aren’t quite as we’d hoped or expected. What do you love about your lives over here? It’s nice to have a gentle reminder from time to time.

Back home again now, thank you but Having been trapped in bed for 11 days my poor old hip has seized up and I now, however temporarily, need a stick to get around.

Have nothing but praise though for all the staff, well nearly all, they were not only competent and efficient but carried out their duties in a very cheerful manner.


I can well sympathise with you now, they have just moved me to another hospital and this one closely mirrors UK one for care and cleanliness (greasy dust nearly quarter inch thick on ceiling light fittings) Have, for the first time experienced this disregard for elderly patients that was recently reported in the UK press.

The d0ctors shouting in broken English, where, if they spoke normally but a little slower I would understand perfectly.

However, my last entry was by no means a complaint, rather praise and the humerous content to cheer my family. And finally, my sense of humour only rises at time of adversity. I do wish it would stay.

I'm so sorry to hear that you have been hospitalised but.....that did make me smile!

Hope you are now well on the way to recovery!

Catharine x

I only have experience of UK hospitals, but I can assure you that even in private clinics where you think you would be allowed some peace, it often doesn't happen.

I was recovering from a major operation and could hardly hear my radio, too ill to follow tv., because of the noise from a tv in the room across the corridor. I was put in my place when I asked could they not turn it down, the guy was being visited by his wife and both of them were deaf. OK, when she had left could he not use headphones, no!

Just a minute, are we not all ill here and, I am not annoying anybody else, why should I be "put in my place" for asking for a little peace and quiet.

Then to make things worse, they took my pain driver away.

I am sorry you are having a hard time, but you have obviously not lost your sense of humour, or it could just be if you don't laugh you will cry.

I wish you well.

It's the attittude of the French way of life that I love. The following was written by me recently for my family but it perfectly illustrates what I mean. Hope you enjoy:-

I really didn't mean to pen something like this but I can't conceive of anyone having the imagination to write a play (farce) like this.

It all started this afternoon following my wife’s visit to me in hospital where I've been imprisoned since last Thursday (Remembrance Day). I'm here waiting for my kidneys to get better so that they can put two stents into a couple of blood vessels in my heart. Every day the cardiologist says cheerfully, "Seul un autre couple de jours." (Only another couple of days). I was lying on my bed happily reading a Clive Custler novel when in come a couple of nurses to change my sheets (three times a day I get this service!) So I'm turfed out of bed onto a chair while they do it. Even that simple action involves some strenuous contortions on my part. You see, I can only imagine that they are trying to save money as all the pipes and wires which are connected seem to be carefully measured so that there is no waste. Consequently the nurses have to carefully knit all these together to get enough freeway for me to move.

Bed completed, the nurses depart; so quickly that I'm unable to say "can I get back into bed?" So I'm left in the chair, trying to get comfortable and ease my back pain which had just about gone away following my sojourn in bed after Freda left.

Next a pretty young thing comes in and asks if she can have some of my blood. Why not! Everyone else is getting a bit of me. She is a student nurse and she tells me that this is the first time she has done it unsupervised, on a human. (She also speaks very good English.) She did it perfectly, finding veins where others could not and completing the operation with no pain to me at all.

Then the tube falls off the blood pressure thingy, this happens almost every ten minutes and I usually ignore it but this time they decide they actually want to see if I have any pressure.

Then back again comes my little student, this time to teach another little student (who, incidentally, is the spitting image of my Granddaughter) to prick my finger for a diabetes blood test.

Then, heaven forbid, I need the loo. Ring for a nurse and what do you know? A male nurse turns up. Tell him what I want and he gets the commode. Now this has to be manoeuvred into the little space where the other chair is and believe me it's tiny. I have to get out of the chair, turn round and start knitting again with all the wires and tubes before getting installed on the throne. Male nurse helps and in the process knocks over the pee bottle which happened to be full! So there's me all enthroned trying to do my business with some bloke crawling round the floor cleaning up.

Finally, I'm given peace to get on with it. Nah! Wouldn't be a French hospital if I was given peace. Just getting into the swing of things when two nurses barge in. One of my wires has come off and the computer in the office thinks I'm dead! They see me straining, hesitate, then, you can see their minds working – ‘sod it we'll sort it anyway’. So, dignity by now well out the window they rip my only bit of protection away from me, an ill fitting hospital gown and proceed to rummage through my nether regions looking for a lost wire.

This of course took away all my incentive to do anything so calling back the nurse, told him I had finished and that was that -- or was it. Nah again.

Couple of minutes later I started to feel my arm getting wet. Looked around for leak in the roof, splashes from the spilt bottle etc. and found nothing. Then remembered more tubes running inside my sleeve. Yes, it was leaking stuff that was supposed to be going into me. Get another nurse who looks at the leaky junction and says what's wrong - or the French equivalent. Then a drop falls on her hand. Out she rushes to get a sterile repair kit and meanwhile the leaky joint decides to separate altogether. I didn't notice anything untoward, I promise. Anyway when she came back her jaw nearly hit bottom. She rushed across shouting "Merde" and looking down I saw that I had been leaking. A massive puddle of blood lay at my feet. Squeezing the tube tightly I managed to stop the flow while she, poor dear, found a replacement valve and everything finished well.

This all took place in the space of two hours after my wife left. Who says lying around in hospital is boring?????

Watch out, mother and father in law always left the keys in the car on the farm until someone borrowed the car to get home! No damage, no hassle, they left it in the next village with the keys in it!

I don't have to lock the car up at night - sometimes I even forget to remove the keys!

Oh! - and there is a mountain range to look at, at the end of the valley!

Where was this photo taken?

My garden and the peace and quiet that rules the area of Deux Sevres where I live. It is amazing to have so much birdlife around ranging from sparrowhawks to wrens. The climate is usually better than the UK and I can grow exotic vegetables outside. I also enjoy going to almost empty supermarkets and like the good manners everyone seems to display.

The link didn't work for me either.

Each time I leave France and I am in the plane I make a 2-column table to ward off "le cafard". On one side I list here (in France) there (in the US). I always come up with things that are so different between the two countries. It helps the cafard a little; then when I happen to read my notes again in the hope of using them for writing I feel much better because I have been reminded of how I felt at that moment of reflection. Being reminded is important because one tends to take things for granted after a while.

Maîtrise FLE is a qualification for French people to teach French to foreigners (plus the odd foreigner like me - obviously your French has to be good as a foreigner, pretty much native level to do the maîtrise). The actual maîtrise is not brilliant as a teaching qualification, it's what all the alliance française demand their teachers have, it's very theory based and very unlike a real hands-on teaching qualification like the PGCE.

Don't put me on a pedestal! I just pushed a lot and wasn't frightened to ask when looking for work. In fact all the work I've had in France was from asking direct, I've never answered a job advert - never found an advert for what I was looking for either! Just be positive - you can do it ;-)

Exeter, St Brieuc, Aix-en-Provence... this is getting very spooky!!!

The weather and scenery in SW France, closeness to ski-ing and beaches, but also that I can fly back to UK in under 90mins for some decent shopping and a pub lunch with friends and family!

I love living in France now I've got my life sorted out to suit me. Before my divorce, I Iiked it well enough, but I wasn't really living the life I expected to be living. It was full of problems which I dealt with but I was living the wrong life with, I eventually discovered, the wrong man.

When we divorced, I moved into a perfect little modern house in a peaceful village near the city. My boys can be independent and run about freely. The village centre is at walking distance so I'm not obliged to take the car the whole time. My job is 7 mins away which is a real luxury.

I love it here now because I've created the kind of life I want to live with the boys. I'm not sure this is specific to France, except for the weather, but it suits me. Basically, it's not the place, it's the style of living that I love.

Congratulations on the babies! I wrote to over 50 collèges and lycées to get the assistant's job, then taught English via the twinning committee in Langueux. Down here in the south it's just as hard but I've been here for 6 years now, I'm qualified : PGCE + maîtrise français langue étrangère, but it was hard going at first - a question of knocking on doors and sending CVs everywhere and anywhere, I've worked in a Lycée, primary school, CCI in Aurillac and Rodez and IUT in Figeac. mostly as a vacataire and now I'm freelance - never managed to get a CDI anywhere though, was offered a post in a lycée but turned it down as it was going to be way too much hassle but when things are quiet I wish I'd taken it! Bombard everyone with CVs and lettres de motivation and something will usually turn up ;-)

Bonne chance !

PS I was in QUeen's building all the time + I did the first couple of years from home in Torquay so wasn't around much.

Great comments Richard. Your last one is also so true... there are just as many problems, especially in inner city france as in the UK - I do sepak french, teach it at uni here, and my OH is french too, don't have UK TV as there's enough doom and gloom in the french news each night, to sch an extent that we often say we're going to stop watching it because there's almost always a killing, yesterday it was the 8 year old girl in the gard (sexual assualt i fear), saturday it was the sdf drowned in the Hérault, the number of deaths on french roads is still higher than in the uk and rural bliss... over 400 french farmers commit suicide each year but it's all hushed up yet when orange, renault or la poste have a handfull of suicides at work there's a national panic! add to that things like the french obcession of burning cars - especially on new year's eve - they usually top the 1000 mark with ease... I won't go on and despite knowing all about the darker side of French society and the hassles of working here I wouldn't go back to the UK for all the tea in china (I couldn't my OH doesn't speak English but it would be good for my kids - they understand but don't speak much YET!)

And the world's just got even smaller - I was an assistant at the horticultural lycée in St Ilan close to Langueux in 2001/2002, and I taught an evening class in Langueux too. Used to go to Lamballe a lot too - great pizzaria in the place centrale from memory.

So many people ask that question when, on the odd ocassions we return to the U.K for a VERY short visit.

We drive from the Charente, Ruffec, usually to Calais in order to use the Eurotunnel, it takes us around seven to eight hours, we don't rush, are quite happy to pay for the use of the Peages as the services -- Aire de repos's and the roads are clean and pleasant to use.

When arriving at Folkstone we make our way along the M20 to reach the M25, in that short distance we encounter more vehicles than we did on our entire journey from Ruffec to Calais, the roads are clogged with drivers intent only, or so it seems to me, driving as fast as they can, with scant respect or regard for other road users, bearing in mind the M20 is the first road a lot of foriegn drivers use, and basically from there on its downhill all the way, holdups --roadorks -- diversions -etc etc etcc.

Yes of course there are simlar things happening in France but from what I have seen when a motorway barrier is being repaired there is a 100 yard warning vehicle parked, flashing a ruddy great arrow indicating work ahead, there are approximately ten LITTLE red cones surrounding the workmen and then the road s clear again, two hundred yards at most of coned off roadway.

If I were to say hello to a complete stranger in the U.K. three things could happen, (A) I could get my "lights" punched out because someone might think I'm a nutter, (B) There would be no eye contact and an immediate increase in pace from the person i had just said hello to, because they think my intentions are from honourable, lastly (C) They would look at me in complete disbelief and call the police. In France, as you walk along minding your own business you see that someone is coming towards you, male or female, youngster or pensioner, eye contact is made, a nod of the head and a polite --- "Bonjour" -- is said, no problems and somehow I always get a little buzz when that happens.

Perhaps its because the U.K. is two and a half times smaller than France, so we tend to guard our space more aggressively, both have roughly the same population with the U.K.but having more cars per capita than France again in turn making for the assumption that the space I am driving in is MINE so keep out.

Ohhhhh I could bang on endlessly saying this and that about the joys of living here, weve heard them all before, but when the weather is more reliable, and there is a definate difference between the seasons, when pleasantries such as a handshake or a kiss on the cheek is a normal way of greeting, when you can sit, glass of wine /coffee in hand and watch the world go by from a seat on the pavement without getting lungfulls of car fumes, when you can walk, certainly where I live, anywhere, anytime, day or night, without the fear of getting mugged, then you begin to realise why I love living here.

As i said earlier, yes there are many social problems here in France, there are, I would in imagine similar "yobo" problems in big cities on both side of the channel, car parking, holdups etc etc but it doesn't seem to be rammed down your throat as much as it does in the U.K. mind you, perhaps if I spoke fluent French, watched French T.V. read French newspapers the practicalities of life would appear much the same as in my homeland, but hey ho I don't, so I live in blissful ignorance of whats going around me ----- AND I LOVE IT HERE.

It's a small world Emily, I was there as a "mature student" and did French and italian from '99 to 2003 - I discovered languages rather late! Did our paths cross - always difficult to tell from a photo!