What makes for a successful/happy life in France

There seems to have been quite a few sad posts on here lately and it is true that many of us only post when we are having difficulties. This seems to have led to a few newcomers thinking we are moaning ex-pats for some reason, when for most of us it is the opposite. So, lets hear from those people who are thoroughly happy here and why do they think they have made life here a success? Come on, lets make this one of the biggest discussions but no comments from other people saying we say it through rose tinted glasses.

I'll post my reasons a bit later when I've had a think about what are the best bits of my life here.

Hi Frances, am really British but more Australian having lived in that country for 45 years.

Sorry to hear you had such bad luck but doing what you are doing will surely make you the stronger for it.

Work here is really hard I know from what others have written and the cost of living has risen dramatically in the last couple of years. Are you qualified in any profession? Not that that seems to be a help either but you never know. At least rents are more reasonable here than Aus or the Uk, NZ I know nothing about.

My spoken french is terribly limited but I can shop and make hospital appointments for my husband who benefits greatly from the french medical services. I find it hard to string sentences together in the different tenses and get in a right old pickle. My husband has spent all his spare time renovating the house to make it comfortable so he's had no time to learn and without going into details I have had a problem with my sight. However, we bumble through but must admit now the will to persist is slowing. We would love to live in a village where the people are welcoming and are considering trying (being the operative word in today's climate) to sell and then perhaps rent if that's possible. Anyway the sun is now shining and we feel more enthusiastic about life and hope the same is for you. Have you made a few friends? Don't hear about many kiwis settling but there are plenty of Aussies. Do you need a visa? As you say so much to see and look forward to. Best of luck.

Libby, are you Australian or British? Perhaps you underestimate how well you can use the language after 10 years. I've only been here 2 years but can get by if I don't have to do anything with suppliers of services (that includes administration). Coming over later in life makes things more difficult but if I'd stayed in NZ life would have been maybe worse. I'd have been unemployed and lost my home and been alone and destitute. Being in France has staved that off a bit thanks to an insecure job.

I too would like to see as much of this country as possible when time and money can allow. So much to see and do.

We have lived in Australia for more than half our lives and only intended to come to France for a holiday.

Ten years on! Unlike others we don't have a better house but it's of no importance we are comfortable.

There are many aspects of France I love but because we have failed (miserably) to learn the language to a level we can converse we have not integrated as well as we would have liked. Unfortunately the villagers don't have a lot of patience with our attempts to speak with them and believe me I have tried. If there is one thing people should understand before settling here is to learn to speak the lingo. I haven't found France as favourable as previous contributors but in our own funny way we are happy enough. Old age has crept upon us and not being able to just pop over the water to see our family doesn't help but we are not unhappy and continue to make plans to try and see as much of this country as possible. The lack of traffic is a big plus and make journeying far more pleasurable. One big minus is no public transport! For those of you who don't or can't drive will know how difficult it can be. Retaining one's sense of humour also helps. I'm sure everyone could relate a funny situation. I know we could!!!

We have had a house here for years and know the people, area etc. really well and I was quite pessimistic about the thought of living here while building a new house (strange thing to do when you are not quite sure about living here!). Anyway in two years we have grown to love the area, our french neighbours, the merchants (believe it or not) and even the really frustrating things just make us laugh now (afterwards). The weather, very hot and very cold are tolerable and better than constant rain/drizzle. More wildlife, wild flowers, peace and quite - but only in the countryside!

We have to go back to the UK but will definitely return soon.

Being positive is really easy today. The sun is shining and our French/English circle are here this morning and we are going to translate the "words"for our gite into French.
We are going to the hospital this afternoon and expect Jim to be totally discharged!

I am in favour of being positive and there is a l

Totally agree with you Jane. its about seeing your glass half full or half empty.

Hi Sheila, the dust is settling now as things take shape thanks ;-)

B2 is a pretty good level if it is a true B2. I've had foreign students who had passed tests at B1 but were really A2 at best in everyday situations, especially after a day at uni. I was using B1 stuff with them after 6 months (150 to 200 hours of FLE). Good to know you haven't fallen into the "ex-pat ghetto" trap ;-)

à +

Jane, I've been here since 1991, as a parent, working mum, tenant, landlord, employee and self employed, believe you me, there are no rose tinted glasses!

There are definitely downsides to living here, just as any other country but this is not the thread to discuss them.

Not trying to be difficult, but seeing things through rosé-tinted glasses is not really appreciating French life.
Having said that, I love e view from my window each morning!

Thanks, Julie. I'll remember that bit about not worrying about making mistakes the next time I speak French! I find it easy to be open to the locals as they are very open to us.

I love life here, even though now and again i grumble. It was very difficult in the beginning 18 years ago with no french and feeling alone and isolated, . since 10 years i have set up my buisness and employ 3 people(ok its difficult, as crafts are'nt especially valued) but i have loads of loyal customers who appreciate my work. i have been able to bring up my (french born ) daughter in a small pretty town, and cherry on the cake two years ago met the nicest ever french man.

Being Scottish is a complete bonus for me here as it makes me different .je suis la souffleuse de verre ecossaise. People say its complicated to start buisnesses etc here. i only know that, i wouldnt know where to start in britain. as mentioned earlier , you musnt compare, and of course speaking fluent french is a must . but above all i think the most important rule to being happy in france is being of a friendly cheery disposition and being open to locals not worrying about making mistakes.

Hi Andrew! Hope all is well with you, family, business, house..... :-)

B2 may be sufficient for French citizenship but not necessarily for daily life. Neither of us works in a French speaking environment as we both work from home, and tend to use English or Irish between us. However, all our friends here are French (with only one or two having any sort of English), and most are very patient with us when the lack of vocabulary lets us down.

I think that's what I've heard as well. I reached B1 level at the Alliance Française prior to moving here, and it will get you by if you are self-employed working with mostly English-speaking people. But it is far from being fluent and being able to work in an entirely French environment.

Consider living in a town or village where you will have to use whatever level of French you have when you arrive. If you end up in a hamlet with only English-speaking people around you, or holiday homes that are only occupied part of the time, your language skills will dwindle. You have to practice to keep it going.

Not always easy when you get nervous, like I do, and revert to beginners level when you speak...but it improves daily!

yes, Tracy, if i remember correctly...!

Isn't B2 the level you need for French citizenship?

Hi Marshall. Tracy is right about language skills. I was assessed in a French language school in Aix-en-Provence as being at level B2 which I thought was okay at the time. It is NOT! :-)

Americans in France link: http://www.survivefrance.com/group/americansinfrance

and Working in France: http://www.survivefrance.com/group/working-in-france

Saw it on Facebook this morning - still, go start a grumpy discussion if you dare -(please don't)!

Hi Marshall, there a couple of groups you should join 'Americans in France' is one and 'Working in France' is the other, post your questions there and you will get better responses. I live in a small rural town (pop 6000), in the past I worked in a wine cellar selling wine and now I am self employed as a tour guide. My husband is a carpenter (qualified) and is also self employed, we are both self employed by choice not necessity as we have both been employed here frequently.
I have commuted to near Dijon for work but now we both work locally, like the French - ie if it's too far to come home for lunch it's too far!
Please note, we both speak fairly fluent French which I think is one of the key factors and certainly wouldn't be able to manage without it.