What will you do?

OK, the results are in, done and dusted. England now has a Conservative Government - and also for the foreseeable future? The feared UKIP have been dismissed as has been the Front Nationale here in France.

So for all of us British expats in France the world is lubbly-jubbly - or is it?

Putting on my Jeremiah's hat, I am wondering.

Two things stand out in my mind, and they are a) the now unavoidable in/out vote of the Brits re.the EU. and b) The inescapable fact that no fewer than 67% (according to a recent poll of the French) believe 'there are too many foreigners in France'.

A very unscientific straw poll I have conducted of a few French, including family members would seem to indicate that the Brits are seen as a disruptive and not altogether welcome partners in the EU, so few would seem sorry to see them/us depart. The bRits in the UK for their part seem to think that those of us living in France are opportunistic at best, and tax dodgers at worse. Envy at our perceived lifestyles being well to the fore in this regard.

To my ancient eyes we have no allies in France nor in the UK, which leaves us exactly - where?

It is nice to think we are loved or even liked in France, but is this really true? Many years ago it was acknowledged in many areas that thanks to the Brits and Dutch many communities that were dying were recuscitated by the appearance of the Gites etc of the dreaded 'foreigners', but such memories are short.

So, in totally realistic terms and assuming, not altogether unrealistically, that Britain could/will leave the EU, what exactly would you do?

To me it would seem that at best we would be required to be Registered Aliens, and at worst Undesirable Aliens. Those of us with French partners might have a reasonable possibility of taking French Nationality, but that is not a 'given'.

How far have you gone in your thinking on this? If Britain DOES leave the EU an awful lot of options go with it - no shifting to other countries in the remaining EU as it hasn't, or wouldn't have been their choice.

So what are you considering YOUR options are in the event of a vote to leave the EU?

Thanks Andrew, I missed the blue 'here' on the way through.

Let us know Norman when your book is available - looks interesting. Thanks Andrew for info, and yes there are cons partout and we can't tar everyone with the same brosse ;-) Fun conversation though! We should maybe make a list of the 50 most cringe-making comments from Brits abroad, including stuff we have said ourselves! :-D

Norman - follow the link I gave below and it takes you straight to the gouv.fr page which explains about the carte résident de 10 ans

Rachael and Norman just remember that malheureusement, oĂą qu'on aille il y a des cons...!

Rachael, the examples abound, and I would love to see the reaction if French people walked into Tesco and said 'Do you speak French?' - in the standard British aggressive tone (usually loud as if the recipient is either deaf or stupid°) then in recation to the completely understandable look of incomprehension (often faked) deliver the British version of the Gallic Shrug, which is much more aggressive and the accompanying 'Oh my God it's impossible to talk to these people' comments - or something like. Dishing it out as opposed to taking it are two different things aren't they?

Yes, regarding thinking we are all rich - another hang over from the 'rich m'Lud' bit.

I have just completed my Memoirs 'The Accidental Ad-man' (soon to be available on amazon and Kindle (commercial break!), and I recall my time in the Middle East back in the '80s when young married women would often accompany their hubbies on contract. For the most part and purely coincidentally these seemed to be mainly from the North of England, which may be relevant but probably not. Hubbies were usually technical or trades people and for the sake of a descriptive and nothing more, were working class. One thing they never had back in the UK were servants.

It took five minutes flat for them all to revert to 'Colonial Mistress and slave' when they got a housemaid or more often houseboy! The superiority attitude ran through the whole British class system at that time, and I have seen little to convince me it has vanished.

Agree with all that Norman, especially the "God's gift" bit.

I have had to cringe on occasion, whilst listening to comments like "well I made the effort to come and live here..." (!) as if French society asked this person to come. And in a supermarket once to the cashier "speak plain english will you!" I have many examples... I think the French have a love/hate relationship with us, they laugh at us a lot and they also think we are all rich - ha ha!

Hi Andrew, you say 'it exists does that mean the '10-year Residence Card' or the' Carte de Sejour' or indeed both?

Apart from the UK Loonies and a few ill-informed 'Letters to the Editor', following equally ill-informed so-called 'journalism, few, if any in the brains departments around the place believe that leaving the EU would be a good thing for Britain. Mostly those these are non-Brits who do not vote, and have little exposure to the masses who do.

In the mix of comments here, one thing does crop up though and it seems to be the ambivalence of the French towards us, and let's face it that is hardly to be wondered at. Like everywhere when we, and the Dutch first moved in to live we accidentally helped revive villages - and more positively revive the tourist industry (again not altruistically), we were few in number and seen as a 'plus'. At the outset of this discussion I asked if that were still true, and suggested that maybe it was no longer the case. People have short memories and a new generation has grown up since then, plus a developing Nationalism at the same time. Without knowing the numbers I would think there easily could be some antipathy in the part-jokingly described Dordogneshire, and in Normandy and Brittany where the Brits are to be seen in considerable quantity.

I don't blame the French for this, and am sure (read positive) the Brits would be to the forefront of any antipathy in Britain if say Kent was subsumed by French expats. Until the Brits. really DO learn that they are not the Imperial Masters of the World anymore, and not God's gift to the poor ignorant 'foreigners', antipathy towards us will continue to exist.

My whole life has been as an expat in different countries and there has always been an element of suspicion and even jealousy 'why is he earning all this money?' etc. The Love/Hate relationship between Britain and France goes back centuries - with the 'love' bit being far more recent. When I see the moronic and imbecilic pomposity of UKIP attacking the EU, whilst they have their own noses firmly stuck in the very troughs they theoretically want to destroy, it annoys the crap out of me as it emphasises (albeit falsely) in many European minds - and even further, that 'Perfidious Albion' will never be trusted, and are total hypocrites. In case you haven't noticed people do tend to react in 'broad brush' terms.

In my travels the Brits have been respected but not quite understood, and certainly not loved, and why should we be when most of us, from the Diplomatic corps downwards have rarely made any efforts to understand the local populations? British enclaves appear everywhere the Brits go, often to the exclusion of the locals and unsurprisingly pisses people off. Even on SFN posts I see traces of 'We are British and Best' even when it is not stated so overtly. If anything we have 'superiority complex' that we simply don't deserve, and is a throwback to Empire mentality that most can't even remember.

It is a normal human reaction to try and find someone else to blame when things go wrong, but I often feel the Brits have developed this to a Fine Art. The current EU issue is one such time. EVERYTHING that is wrong in Britain from having (available!) Polish plumbers, to bendy-buses is the 'fault' of the EU.

Many citizens I know around the world find this a less than pleasing attitude - let alone an acceptable one. Once upon a time there used to be a study called 'Cause & Effect' - mostly used I accept in wargame planning, but the principles remain, but the understanding doesn't. Certainly the application of it seems to have disappeared.

Of all things that could possibly happen, this last one will be decisive, and as I say most people at all levels in the UK don't even know what it means. We as expats. should though, and recognise and consider it more often.

As my wife said to me a few years back 'You can't force someone to love you' and she was dead right about that. We would do well to put it in our individual Behaviour Banks as well.

End of rant?

Well...personally I think that having see Obama sitting down with Cameron and actively condoning our membership, that Mr C has a bit of a dilemma on his hands. It's not going to happen for 2 years so there's time now to gently persuade the British electorate that it's not really a good idea. In the meantime his grumbling back benchers will either melt away into the background or join UKIP. I might have felt jumpy when T Blair followed G Bush into war with Iraq as the French (and the rest of the world)were so vehemently against it, but honestly since then in my region without the Brits, most of the old houses would have fallen down by now, and Mr Bricolage would gone the same lamentable way as Woollies. No... they have grown to accept us...and grumbling away as we all do, still wave and say 'bonjour' in their delightful manner.

I would have a heck of a time getting some of the documentation. I simply do not know where to go in the UK, having 'lost' a lot over time. So the actual business of applying and the centralisation in the department is off putting. The difference is that persons of a certain age are let off some bits of it, the written language test I believe which is one of the things that would least worry me. I would learn la Marseillaise just to torture them with my total inability to string two notes together if I try to sing, right through to rub it in too. Whatever is my attitude, but going back 'there' is not an option. I live here, I have good friends, I like the pace of life and with the tome about to be published have done some of my best written work ever and have more lined up. So, by hook or by crook I ain't going.

Thanks for the info Andrew! :)

The way I look at it, I'll shift AFTER the French living and working in UK re-patriate...there are, according to latest statistics, more French living in London than there are Brits living in the whole of France! They call it the 6th French city....

On a more serious note, we began, 5 years ago when UKIP really started to become a more voluable and effective force, to take on board these creeping issues, and we decided to make big financial sacrifices to enable us to sell here (luckily at not too much of a loss at all) and downsize, enabling us to purchase a property also in Scotland that our family use at the mo. On the back of a futher rise in UKIP and now Tory, with talk of maybe leaving, we have now recently purchased a much cheaper property again that can, if necessary, be 'written off', and will try to sell our main home to combine assets with the UK property after sale, to buy a better place back in the UK with the intention of having a proper choice, of whether to have a holiday home here or UK, depending on the outcome of the proposed In-Out referendum and all its ramifications. I have to be honest, if OH and I weren't ex-pats we'd be voting 'out', as we become more and more disenchanted with Brussels et al, and don't buy into all the scare-mongering going on re: trade, allies, etc. But doing nothing and hoping for the best isn't an option we're comfy with...we'd never be able to stay if we each had to fork out 6K health-care cover, eg...

As to how the French really view us, we were blissfully unaware of the true status-quo for the first few years, until our language skills butched up to the extent of understanding nearly all, to include supposed 'asides' made by locals, listening in at cafes to all sorts, and reading various articles, radio etc. We've moved depts and house 3 times so far, and also bought in several other communes, and regularly use 5 cross-border towns, 3 cites, so can draw on a wide experience of folks....All I can say is we 'Brits' are tolerated in a friendly manner at best sometimes, not admired much, but the moment some find out we're actually Welsh, they change and become far more friendly (especially our Breton neighbour)!! We have lovely French neighbours on all sides, and have learned to take them all as we find them, remain 'gentil' at all times if possible, and hope the pleasant status-quo remains if the UK vote is 'Out'...Our Breton neighbour is one of those that would gladly see the back of the 'etrangers', and then quantified that with, 'but not you two, of course, you're very nice'....just as well, the new house we bought is just around the corner, and right next to him :-)

it exists (and I'm forever photocopying them for our maghrebins customers) but it looks as though it's a job for the préfecture, see here

Like you too, my OH is French as are our kids, been here 10 years, always worked, now run a TPE employing OH and another French person but regardless of all that, there isn't an easy way in to the naturalisation process. In the Midi-Pyrénées, they've now set up a central bureau which deals with all applications from across the reagion, you can no longer go to your mairie or préfecture to apply. In any case, the dossier is ridiculously huge and I just can't be arsed to get all those certificates! well not yet anyway...! will look into the 10 year carte de résident.

Great Norman. Thanks. If I happen to find out anything too I will let you know.

Rachael, I too raised the issue with our Maire today and got the same blank look, as he had also never heard of it, so I am also wondering if it is the Carte de Sejour' which seems possible. However he is a new Maire and we are a small Commune so I wouldn't expect him to have the facts at his fingertips, and he has promised to have a look and see what he can find out.

Mug up on my written french, pass the test and apply for french nationality

Well I have been in system for well over 10 years Norman and have a French hubby, but can't face all the paperwork. However,I too will investigate the resident card info then. Well, again actually because I have mentioned this before to the Mairie, but it just got a lot of blank looks and head-shaking, even though I showed them my old "Carte de Sejour". Is this what you mean Harriet or is there something else?

Rachael, well that's certainly what I am doing, plus investigating the Residence Card info posted by Harriett.

I think re Nationality I should be a shoe-in, having a French wife, been in the full tax system for over 20 years, being a long-term property owner, and now finally having the Language requirement waived as I am over 70. BUT I never believe anything is a 'shoe-in' in reality, as if the bellicosity and xenophobia of the idiot UKIP brigade gets up the French noses too much anything is likely to happen.

Wow thanks Norman, that is an interesting can of worms! I guess I will have to get round to applying for French Nationality perhaps :)

God - look at that typo - 'notably' is what I intended to type.