Why did you really come to France?


A French friend once asked me this question and I explained to her that I had owned a place in London and had also owned a house in France for years. For various reasons, I was getting really fed up with where I was living in London. The contrast was stark! Every day, I'd leave my home in London and walk to the Tube with my eyes down looking for the cracks and holes in the pavement and I swear they'd move overnight and every time I looked up to avoid the trees, I would trip up or fall down another hole that wasn't where I thought it was the day before. Whereas, I explained to her, where I live in France, I have no crazy neighbours, the dustmen collect my rubbish every week and don't miss me out every other week on principle and, above all, there are no cracks in the pavement or any holes for me to fall down. After a long silence, she then said, "France has a wealth of culture, art, history, wine, food, beautiful countryside etc and you live here basically because we have better pavements!"

Because having spent 4 years and thousands of pounds studying French and Spanish, I knew I didn’t want to fall into that all too tempting trap of the PGCE just yet. I wanted to live abroad - it could have been Spain or France but fate made it France for the work and I don’t regret it one bit. I don’t want to stay where I am but I’m happy for now, much happier than I was in the uk and it seems my leap made it easier for the rest of my family to follow their dreams and get abroad as well.

It is such a good question at the end of the day. My OH did not want to stay in the UK but also did not want to return to Switzerland after attempting to 'escape' for many years. We could have chosen Italy in order to pop over the border to visit her family but then our preference would probably have been so south that would hardly have been practical. She had a one year study in Portugal, so we all upped sticks for that period. In fact, our older daughter was probably happier there than ever since, our second conceived there and some of our closest friends are Portuguese to this day. But it did not work out, so we opted for France.

So we started with the idea of Bretagne, tried the winter weather on a visit and gradually moved further south. We actually wished to avoid Dordogneshire initially but then found good reason to have a look. We are not stuck in a ghetto of people wishing they were still in Surrey or Dordrecht so it suits us. Maybe one day we will go somewhere else. First we have children to see through education and wish them to do it in one place and also need access to international travel means (airports) whereby Bordeaux and Toulouse are not so bad and Paris not so unbearably inaccessible that we went for it. My OH is actually happier in the Francophone world having used her original Italian for less than half of her life since she left home for further education at 18 and that is not far short of 30 years of study and work using French. My first OH was Corsican who spoke little English, but we did not use her (for me) inpenetrable dialect and thus my six years of school French improved.

It is not about food or wine, in fact much of the UK is far more diverse and cheaper, but we prefer the social way of being here where one does not live next to people for years on end and never get past a cursory nod to each other, let alone ever know names. There are positives and negatives. However somebody please tell us all where there are not?

And this generation of new entrants including J and I came to be cosy with mr Sarkozy

I came to France to escape from Tony Blair!

We came to France because of Margaret Thatcher, in the late 80s. We needed to escape.....We came for 2 years and never went back. We moved to Grenoble in order to spend time in the mountains. We loved it there.

However, 11 years ago we had to move to the Ile de France. My husband's job brought us here. One day we will move back, and at least we will never see Thatcher again.

Me too...fell in love with France.
but also wanted to open CLOS DES SAVEURS

I fell in love! and France is not a bad place either!

Why France? Because it wasn't practical or sensible to go and live in Kenya where we'd both have loved to spend our retirement after more than five glorious years living there. Because since 1967 we've only lived in the UK for about four years and every time we go back I find it dirtier, more crowded, more unfriendly, less tolerant, you name it, I hate it! Because for what I paid for my five-bedroom house here I'd have got a garden shed in the UK. Because the food's better quality and cheaper (perhaps that should be better value for money). Because my wife's French, our son's French, our grandson's French.

Why Lozere? Because that's where I met my wife back in 1962 during a carefree year creating a scandal (the headmaster's words, but that's another story!) as "l'assistant anglais" at the College d'Enseignement General in Florac. Which isn't to say we automatically headed here on my retirement, just that we knew Lozere existed (many French people don't know where it is let alone Brits) and what it was like and we had friends living here. So it was one of the places we looked for a home. We looked further south, all along the Med, decided it was far too hot, dusty and crowded. Didn't fancy the north so settled on this place which is exactly half way between Montpellier and Clermont Ferrand on the A75 motorway, both places a day trip away when we want a taste of "the big city". Just wish we had a decent airport and train service to make it easier to get to Paris.

ah that sounds more like it ;-)

Fortunately, the longest distance I have to drive these days is a mere 100 miles, the distance between Angoulême and my vineyard in the Bordeaux.... Life is good in France ;-)

It's so sad to be told that writing isn't an acceptable career choice, I was told the same thing and here I am years later wondering what could have been... I hope you manage to dust off those books and finish them!

Ice skating. Was invited to train in a top centre in Lyon when I was aged 16, so packed my stuff and arrived by train with my skating partner. Neither of us spoke any French. It was quite scary arriving in a foreign country without your parents but I would do it all again tomorrow if I had to!

Hi Ben, I don't mind driving and have just done the usual round trip down to Pézenas to sort out some business but that's only 500km there and back, a mere 300 miles! Ever thought about buying a plane!

Bonne route !

After 1,5 years of driving every Friday 800 miles down south and leaving every sunday at 8-ish in the evening to drive that same 800 miles back and find yourselves exhausted at your desk on monday whilst your secretary brings in the first of many strong coffees, the question becomes academic..... but it was "love"....

Yes when things get into a tangle and life is just not running smoothly Like you I open the front

door and step out ....and I am once again amazed at what is there before me; the vines and the

mature trees and the whispers from the birds.They are free....and I am free too.

after teaching here for a year then uni here too, I knew the UK was no longer where I wanted to be + a divorce in the UK pushed me to leap, hesitated between France and Italy but went for France for a whole load of pragmatic reasons plus my French is better than my Italian! Could have been anywhere in Southern France, couldn't afford to go back to Aix-en-Provence so came to the Aveyron before making the last "hop" down to the Med. years later, french OH and 2 "frog sprogs", as my Dad so delightfully calls my kids, I'm still here in the Aveyron but still toying with the idea of a move (probably going to have to move when OH's school closes at the end of the year!)

At the age of 18 I said I wanted to write but that was not an acceptable career choice. For 30 years I have worked at a big career mostly in London, travelled much of the world, brought up 2 wonderful boys by myself (one now at uni the other going next year) supported friends through messy divorces and sat by hospital beds for days on end while holding all the above together. I don't regret or begrudge a moment of it, but the 2 books that I started have just gathered dust. Now I have the time and space to do what I dreamt of doing all that time ago.

I look out from my window and I have countryside, I can see mountains and I am only an hour from the coast.

To spend more time together as a family - which sometimes seems a bit weird when husband spends time away for work, but he did that in UK too, and since moving here in Aug 04 we have had 14 whole summer months together as a family.