Live in France? Join us for a gentil thread

(527 Posts)
TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 01-Oct-13 19:39:59

So how about a lovely supportive, information sharing thread for us mumsnetters living in France?
I've been here for two years, this is my second time living here so 4 years in total.
I have my moans about France, the paperwork, the driving but other than that I love it smile

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 01-Oct-13 19:45:37

Forgot to say, I'm in 31 Haute Garonne.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 01-Oct-13 19:49:20

Clocking in. Am in Moselle, 57

Herisson Tue 01-Oct-13 19:52:49

I am watching quietly, not living in France at the moment but contemplating a temporary or maybe permanent move in the nearish future. We already spend a lot of time in France (32, Gers).

bunnyfrance Tue 01-Oct-13 19:54:28

Hi everyone,
I'm in Alsace, 67, have been in France almost 20 years but sometimes feel like it's only been 20 minutes. I have two small DC, 2 and 4 - we're in the throes of discovering maternelle....

Greythorne Tue 01-Oct-13 19:54:44

Western suburbs here.
Been here since 2005.
Lifer.

Feeling a bit low tonight as have just come back from la rentrée meeting with the CE1 teacher which as expected was 2 hours if negativity and backwards teaching practice. Ho hum.

tb Tue 01-Oct-13 20:06:18

Hi,

I'm in the Corrèze, been here 7 years next month. Have 1 DD who's just started première at lycée in the Creuse.

DH is retired early, and I've been looking for work for a few years, but haven't found anything yet.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 01-Oct-13 20:07:56

Welcome PetiteRaleuse I've seen you about a lot on MN.
Hi bunnyfrance 20 years? mon dieu that's a long time. You may become the go to person for information!
Hi Greythorne sorry you've had a rough rentrée. My son is in an international school, not as good as an English education but it appears to be more open to positive thinking than French schools. Have a wine

Hello Herrison there are some serious lifers here! I'm sure there is lots of collective advice on offer.

AuldAlliance Tue 01-Oct-13 20:12:51

I'm in Provence.
Been here for 8 yrs but was in a DOM before that for a good while, so have been living on French territory for 19 years.
DS1 is in CE2, DS2 in MS.
Little chance of me returning to the UK, I think.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 01-Oct-13 20:14:26

Bonsoir tb
Work is tricky isn't it?
I was able to bring my profession with me but unfortunately I've become ill this year with lupus - although I've developed a tremor in the last couple of days so now being investigated for MS too. It means I'm not able to work. If I have to be ill anywhere, I'm happy to be ill here.

tb how old is your DD then?

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 01-Oct-13 20:18:33

I'm going to profess total ignorance here, what is DOM AuldAlliance? and most importantly, do we pronounce your NN as alli-ance? In the French way..

BriocheBriocheBrioche Tue 01-Oct-13 20:21:13

Im here too, in PACA 06!
Been here two and half years andhave a 9 month old baby girl. There are things I like and things I dont like but overall I really enjoy my little life here smile

Herisson Tue 01-Oct-13 20:21:26

Oh dear, lupus is a horrible thing. Hope yours is being managed effectively.

hattymattie Tue 01-Oct-13 20:26:30

Another Western Suburbs here (78). Also a lifer exhausted after the rentree. I have one in Terminale, one in 2nde and one in 6eme. (waves at Greythorne). Sometimes I feel it would be much easier in dear old Blighty. People would just get me!

tb Tue 01-Oct-13 20:31:16

Sorry to hear you're poorly, Accidental.

DD is 16 next week, so she is one of the youngest in her year. When we came to France, she was just 9, and had just gone into year4. Left year 4 on the Tuesday night, and started on Thursday morning in CM1. She's done very well to go straight to college, but has been under threat of redoublement a couple of times.

ImpOfDarkness Tue 01-Oct-13 20:37:56

Hello, I'm in the neuf-cube (northern suburbs of Paris). Been here sixteen years. Having my first baby in three weeks smile

AuldAlliance Tue 01-Oct-13 20:38:18

A DOM is a département d'outre-mer.

It's a very Scottishly pronounced Alliance ;)

I left just after my degree, when I was 21, and though I love going home to Scotland and find that there are many things I can only share with other British people (a specific type of irony, for instance, or some cultural references), I don't feel entirely at home there any more, somehow. Nor do I feel French, though a British friend told me this weekend I'd gone over to the other side because I made some typically French remark.
It's odd to feel you're apatride.

hattymattie Tue 01-Oct-13 20:47:09

Auld I know exactly how you feel - the irony and banter are exactly what I miss and I can be flippant without it being misinterpreted or having to explain myself.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Tue 01-Oct-13 20:54:19

I've been fortunate enough to find a group of sweary dog walkers - like mobile mumsnetters except none of them are on here. It has made such a difference having a banter.

AuldAlliance Tue 01-Oct-13 20:56:26

Yes, Hatty, that's it exactly.

And when French friends are ironic, I'm always taken aback and muff the response, because I just don't expect it.

It's as if I have two personalities, the French one and the Scottish one. And the latter is far more spontaneous and, well, funny (if I do say so myself), even after all these years.

I'm lucky enough to work with several French people who have spent extended periods in the UK and they do banter in English. But we only banter in English. Or in a weird franglais, where the truly bantery bits have to be done in English.

Herisson Tue 01-Oct-13 20:59:12

>> It's as if I have two personalities, the French one and the Scottish one.

I am only intermittently in France, but I definitely have a French and an English way of being. It's not the same. I think I actually even laugh differently in French.

SDhopeful Tue 01-Oct-13 21:04:40

Herisson me too! Travelled a lot to France on the Eurostar, and 'became' the other person on the journey. Was very annoyed when I met a colleague once on the train when I was half-transformed -spoiled the journey!

AuldAlliance Tue 01-Oct-13 21:09:08

I speak differently in the two languages.
I mean the pitch of my voice changes: in French, it is higher; when I speak English it is deeper, more self-deprecating, more knowing, somehow.

I can do a wicked imitation of Jane Birkin speaking "French." I hate that childish, breathy femme-enfant thing she adopts, but at the same time I can kind of see why she speaks French the way she does, because the language leaves you limited options.
I find it really telling that there are French women who, even at the age of 50, speak like little girls.
That doesn't happen in English, does it?

Kikibee Tue 01-Oct-13 21:18:00

Oh how I miss living in France sad

I lived in the Var 83 for rather a lot of years, I would love to return

clearsommespace Tue 01-Oct-13 21:32:22

Hello all
I've been here 12 years, have lived in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and now in Picardy so gradually moving south. May make it to sunny PACA for my retirement. grin

riverboat Tue 01-Oct-13 22:04:02

Hi all.

Have been here for four years, in eastern suburbs of Paris. Originally came for a year out type thing, then met French DP who also has a French son! So I am here for the foreseeable future, getting to grips with having a DSS and generally adapting to a long term life in France.

I say 'here', actually as I type I am in the UK. Came back for a regular weekend visit, during which my dad had a heart attack and was rushed to hospital. He's OK but no sign when he will be out, and I hate to leave my mum all alone dealing with it all, especially as we are not in our home town (long story) and she can't drive. I am starting to realise the wrench of being an only child living overseas with parents getting ever-older...anyone got any words of wisdom or had a similar experience?

SquidgyMummy Tue 01-Oct-13 22:11:24

Hello from the Dordogne 24!
Been here 5 years and we're staying.
As i can now get my ASDA shopping and Amazon & Ebay guilty pleasures delivered. Thank you Sterling Shopping and my Sky box i see no reason to go back to the UK!! <shallow>

PetiteRaleuse Wed 02-Oct-13 00:28:13

Oh, have been in France for 15 years give or take. In Paris til 6 years ago ish. Am dealing with creche for my 2.6 yo and 11mo. 6 weeks in have only been summoned by La Directrice twice grin Dreading maternelle <whistles>

PetiteRaleuse Wed 02-Oct-13 00:31:16

My English family regularly accuse me of having gone over to the 'dark side' ie French. But for some reason I am having trouble motivating myself to get French nationality..

PetiteRaleuse Wed 02-Oct-13 00:32:52

river sorry about your dad

MagzFarqharson Wed 02-Oct-13 01:07:22

Yes river echoing PR 's sentiments about your dad.

What a lovely thread. My story is long and complicated, but I hope to be living in Paris in less than 2 years' time. Bit of a daunting prospect getting work etc. (Hope to be self-employed).

Bet there's some lovely Francophiles willing to share their tips and advice!

frozentree Wed 02-Oct-13 07:26:15

Outer edges of Yvelines here, nearer to Normandy than Paris but still in the Ile de France. Been in France for 10 years which seems slightly crazy as I have now lived here longer than anywhere else in my entire life. 3 daughters - 5eme, 6eme, and CM1, a husband who travels a lot and I work from home.

river - sorry to hear about your dad, I went through the exact same thing this time 2 years ago - my dad had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass, he's still alive and has no heart issues now at all - unfortunately no words of wisdom on the coping front, it's very tough, but thank god for the Eurostar and cheap phone calls is all I can say.

SquidgyMummy Wed 02-Oct-13 08:13:50

hi riverboat sorry to hear about your Dad, (I didn't see your post last night).
Perhaps there may be some advice on the Elderly Parents board

Perhaps you could gently encourage your mum to take some driving lessons. My MIL didn't start till she was in her late 50's and now she happily drives around France

ImpOfDarkness Wed 02-Oct-13 08:17:51

I hear you on the eldery parents issue riverboat. I tell myself that with the eurostar I'm closer to home than I would be if my job had taken me to Aberdeen or Aberystwyth rather than here.

fanny75 Wed 02-Oct-13 08:29:31

I'm in sunny Les Landes (40) - beautiful when the weather is, but very harsh when the winter storms hit. Its a popular tourist destination, so in the summer its super busy and full of hectic townies, and in the winter its pretty dead as all the locals are on holiday or keeping warm and dry inside. DS has just begun maternelle (altho is temporarily on leave), so I hope we can integrate a bit more soon. I do like it here, I love the food and the pace of life, but I hate not understanding how things are done, and sometimes all I want is a huge bar of cadburys and a curry. Not together, that would be weird.

monal Wed 02-Oct-13 08:37:03

Oh, riverboat, how awful for you all. I have elderly parents in the UK too and I mostly try to block it out but when there's a crisis it is just heartwrenching. Are you going to be able to stay a bit longer? Or arrange to go back soon? Do you have any other family that can visit?

Also checking in: I have been in France since 1999, first in Moselle and now in the Yvelines. I've just had a baby, just, it feels like forever (she's 15wo) and so I am just dealing with the CAF and trying to get a crèche place, no school woes for me yet.

Lavenderhoney Wed 02-Oct-13 08:49:32

I'm going to watch this thread as dh is French and always threatening to move back to Provence!

I stay there lots and it always worries me how the dc would cope with school and homework as dh wouldn't be about and I don't fancy spending the best part of my afternoon weekends at my mils whilst she does it for the next 10 years. My French is ok, not brilliant but I woulld make more effort if there.

And the family thing- dh family are very close and they all know each others business and spend all their free time together, mil has the final say on everything! cars to drive, holidays... Is that usual in France? How easy is it to have your own life?

PetiteRaleuse Wed 02-Oct-13 10:12:16

Lavender my French ILs live on the other side of the country. That suits everyone. Some families are very close and like yours. It's not usual but not particularly rare, especially down in the south with the Latin influence.

monal a couple of the years that I counted above as being living in Paris I was in fact living in Versailles. How come you were in Moselle? We'd like to move to a new area in the next five years. I like it here but miss the sea and mountains.

Bonsoir Wed 02-Oct-13 10:34:32

I've been in France for 22 years, mostly in Paris. I have DD in CM1, DSS2 in Premiere and DSS1 got his bac this summer and has gone to university in England. I don't suffer from cultural issues these days as I live in a plurilingual multicultural sort of place. School is fine at the moment too though it has and has had its moments!

Weta Wed 02-Oct-13 10:48:10

I'm in Luxembourg now but previously lived in Alsace and Languedoc (with French DH).

I had to laugh about the comments about split personalities - I had a French friend back home in NZ and she was amazed the first time she heard me speak English: 'But you sound so elegant in French, and so much more rustic in English...'!! Given the relative value placed on elegance in each country, I guess I must fit in in both smile

DoudousDoor Wed 02-Oct-13 10:56:16

I'm in Paris <waves> and have been in France 9 years now. bloody hell

Became more French than English for a long time I think, until DS was born 2 years ago and I'm now making a big effort to bring English language/culture into our home.

I'm a lifer - DH is French and we have no intention of leaving France, although kinda dream of leaving Paris but it's hard to find the jobs to suit us!

DoudousDoor Wed 02-Oct-13 10:59:24

Oh and I have gone over to the dark side and gotten French nationality, which I use to tease from French people about when they ask for my nationality grin

I did it for various reasons (voting etc.) but mainly cos I wanted the same nationalities as DS, just in case.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Wed 02-Oct-13 11:22:11

Bloody hell, there's loads of us! Isn't that brilliant? Welcome all.

purplepuppet Wed 02-Oct-13 12:36:41

Hi, I've been living in Cher since 1994. All my kids have been schooled in France, youngest now in terminale. I'm 45.

Superspudable Wed 02-Oct-13 13:21:14

I'm in Paris - been here 2 yrs (Brussels before that) - with 2 boys 7&5 in CP & CE1 in a bilingual school. My boys seem very French to me, but very British to some of our friends! Love France - am very francophile (but studied French long ago so not a huge surprise!)...

AuldAlliance Wed 02-Oct-13 13:35:06

Lots of people on here!
No one around my way, though.

I was going to get French nationality after DS1 was born but just as I'd got all the paperwork ready, Sarkozy's gvmt shifted the goalposts so I'd have had to wait another year.
French people don't know I'm foreign unless I tell them, I've been a fonctionnaire for 15 years, paid countless taxes into the coffers and work pretty damn hard in crappy, only-in-France conditions for far less pay than I'd get in the UK, and so when that happened I went in a big (possibly, admittedly, rather post-natal) strop, deciding that if they didn't want me as I was I'd just forget the idea.
Sometimes I think it'd be safer for the kids if I became French, as who knows what tensions and conflicts lie in the future. The streets here are placarded with Marine's grinning mug.
But I've not taken the leap yet.

DoudousDoor Wed 02-Oct-13 13:53:09

I found it dead easy to get nationality. My friend had got it before me and had an interview in which she had to outline all her reasons.

So I listed loads down and when it was my turn I was about to say it all but the woman interviewing me just said "ok so your DH is French and your DS is French, ok I get why you want the nationality" and that was that! Didn't have to present any arguments at all! grin

I do feel "safer" ironically having the nationality, but again only because of DS. Don't need it for work or anything (right now - who knows what will change in the next 30 odd years?!)

ImpOfDarkness Wed 02-Oct-13 15:01:53

I've been toying with the idea of getting nationality so that I can vote. It's just the thought of putting the paperwork together that puts me off blush

castlesintheair Wed 02-Oct-13 15:16:59

I live in the Centre (45). Very rural. No expats. Very different to my old life. DCs are in 6eme, CM1 and CE1. Not been here long and still coming to terms with it all.

Frenchfemme Wed 02-Oct-13 15:40:18

Hi Sqidge also (just) in 24 - right in the SE corner, nr to 46/47. Just over a year here (+ 2 dogs & 1 cat acquired here). No desire to go anywhere else!

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Wed 02-Oct-13 19:29:13

Castles how long have you been here? It's an enormous adjustment and as usual the reality can be quite different from the fantasy.
How is your French? Mine is intermediate but the more I speak and understand the more I feel settled.

NomDeClavier Wed 02-Oct-13 19:47:53

50 here. Right up the top of it, sticking out into the channel. Bit of a change from 974 which is where we were before.

I'm counting days until I can fill in the form to get nationality, despite being British so not really having issues personally. It just messed up DH's clearance forms every year having that I'm not, which is bizarre because giving me a passport isn't going to make any national security risk disappear.

DS is 2.5, I'm resisting maternelle but the crèche are very keen to shove him out the door, and we have due DC2 in December.

I don't know whether we're staying or going. At the moment it's 4 hours south and back to Paris or 4 hours north to SE England. Or 4 hours west to Brittany but I'm resisting that option fiercely.

jenpetronus Wed 02-Oct-13 21:07:43

Sneaking in from 56, near Vannes. Been here (incredibly) nearly 10 years -DS1 in 6eme & DS2 in GS. Happy enough, but never say never smile

ImpOfDarkness Wed 02-Oct-13 21:08:49

That's where DP is from, Nomdeclavier smile

castlesintheair Wed 02-Oct-13 22:41:15

TheAE, only been here since Feb thanks for asking. My french is fair to piddling. Good understanding. It's just very reserved around here which I quite like in a way, just takes some getting used to after friendly old SW London.

SquidgyMummy Thu 03-Oct-13 06:50:19

Hi Frenchfemme I think you are very close to me, as we are in the south Dordogne. How exciting! I will pm you

SquidgyMummy Thu 03-Oct-13 07:03:47

I have had to Google the Departments to see where everyone is; my French geography is appalling.

NomDeClavier How come the creche don't want to keep your DS? Maternelle doesn't even really start till 3. I know the places are like gold; I had DS on a waiting list for a year. However it was worth it. He has jsut started Maternelle, he is 3 in a few weeks, but he just does half days, so it has not been too traumatic for me him.

castlesintheair I lived in SW London for 17 years and it took me years a while to get over the shock of being transplanted into rural France!!

Now i just love it, and do not miss the traffic, people living right on top of me, and the weird London thing of people not making eye contact. It is Bonjour here all the time, even in the supermarket, post office, etc. Everyone is so friendly. The farmer behind came over with a crate of wild mushrooms and now i am googling mushroom recipes trying to get through them all!

EmilyAlice Thu 03-Oct-13 07:14:48

I am in Calvados in the Suisse Normande. Daughter and grandchildren in the UK, son and grandchildren in Spain. Speak French, avoid the ex-pat circles. Love the countryside and village community; shopping drives me nuts.

NomDeClavier Thu 03-Oct-13 08:04:49

squidgy I think it's because he's big for his age and fairly able so gets bored and is a terror, and I made the mistake of saying to the directrice of the crèche that we had signed him up for the Catholic school with a TPS.... So now she asks me weekly whether he's going to go in November or January and I prevaricate because with DC2 coming in December I want to avoid too much change but he's not 100% dry yet so after the holidays is looking like pushing it a bit!

riverboat Thu 03-Oct-13 08:07:22

Interesting the different experiences of friendliness / non friendliness in France vs the UK.

In the regionne parisienne I find that in social events / the private sphere people are generally very friendly and nice. But out in public, eg on the street / metro / in shops / restaurants...it's another story! The lack of basic politeness and "every man for himself" attitude has been getting me down recently.

Thanks to all those who showed concern about my dad. He is likely to be in hospital for another week, so I have come back to France since I have work, but I am planning to go out to the UK again next week for when he is discharged. Trying not to think too much about how much the last minute plane or Eurostar ticket is going to end up costing me!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 03-Oct-13 08:29:06

In this area people are very nice, more so since we had children. We found them quite cold at first but in emergencies people have gone out of their way to help.

castles I spent three months in Orléans, I loved the area but didn't really meet anyone in that time.

V envy of anyone living in Calvados. I love that area. Vannes as well.

I would like to retire either to Calvados, Finistere or down near Bordeaux somewhere. For the moment we're stuck out in the east.

clearsommespace Thu 03-Oct-13 09:03:12

I didn't realise the rule on obtaining nationality had changed but having had a quick look it looks like I've put it off long enough for the changes not to make any difference.

I'm annoyed about not being able to vote every time the Presidential elections come up but I can't face the paperwork. I'm still recovering from the numerous visits to the Prefecture to change my driving license. Everyone there is so rude. I got sent a letter telling me my license was ready so I duly turned up to collect it and was told in a tone of voice that implied it was my fault 'oh, those letters were sent out in error'.

What's the point of asking for emails and mobile numbers if you don't use them. Grrr!

Other than when I have to deal with the Administration, "ça roule!"

PetiteRaleuse Thu 03-Oct-13 09:25:22

I find that the administration system has improved massively since I arrived end of 1998. The fact we don't need a carte de séjour now is a blessing. I got one, it took days, then lost it and by the time I was getting the energy to think about replacing it they removed the obligation. Biggest relief ever it was such a faff. Even dealing with banks and the post office is much easier now, and never having to deal with France Télécom is a blessing.

AuldAlliance Thu 03-Oct-13 09:53:10

My driving licence is a joke.
The préfecture claimed my photo didn't comply with their requirement, so they forced me to pay 5€ and use their Photomaton.
The result is a photo so underexposed that all you can see is a vague hairline, two splodges for eyes, two dots for nostrils and a line for a mouth. Totally useless for identifying the driver of a car.
And they put an old address, even though I'd given them the correct one.

But I agree that, gradually, things have got better.
Though I find the impots.gouv website so utterly user unfriendly that it is, quite frankly, an incitation to evasion and fraud...

EmilyAlice Thu 03-Oct-13 09:57:13

I think dealing with RSI for our small business has been the worst thing about France. Also FT drive me mad over their inability to see that charging 26€ a month for a flaky half a megabyte of "broadband", plus an additional charge for a landline really does matter, even if I do live in the countryside.
Very friendly village here, was elected to Conseil Municipal after a year of permanent residence and have a constant round of meetings, events committee get-togethers and endless lunches and dinners. Too much sometimes tbh, sometimes I long for a bit of urban-style privacy.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 03-Oct-13 10:10:00

Ooh I would love to be on the conseil municpale in theory but this area keep that very much for locals plus I don't know anyone in my new village and don't want to stay here long enough to make a difference

EmilyAlice Thu 03-Oct-13 10:34:49

Well it has certainly been good for my French. Mind you, I don't think I know much about drainage, church roofs and road surfaces in English. Funniest thing was when I went for a sub-committee meeting about "ouverture des plis". I thought it would be about holes opening up in the road (sort of like trous en formation, a phrase which I love) and it meant opening of sealed bids. confused

hattymattie Thu 03-Oct-13 12:26:30

emilyalice grin I didn't know what that meant either. I've had the roofers in so I think I know more building terms in French than in English.

peppersquint Thu 03-Oct-13 15:46:12

Hi everyone
I'm in 85 (Vendee).
I've been here ten years but have been defeated by lack of a permanent job and DD's (16) plans to go to uni in the UK - so am looking for a way back.
DD is in premiere and boards weekly (Sun to Fri) so I have been thrown by having "empty nest" syndromme since she was 14.
I think we'll still keep presence in France (my DM and her partner live here) and DH wants to stay in the system.
DD says she'll take joint nationality at 18 (plans to maybe go to Canada when she's older).
I don't regret coming here and the wonderful opportunities it has offered us - but want to work full-time, live near a city and have disposible income again (shallow I know!)

hattymattie Thu 03-Oct-13 16:41:45

Peppersquint - I know how you feel - my DD1 is going to leave next year to study in the UK and I'm feeling very glum about the thought of being unable to find a proper job and having no children to look after. I can't sit around waiting for DH all my life. I think once our children are gone we need a radical overhaul of our life plans.

peppersquint Thu 03-Oct-13 16:55:27

Oh Hattie - I'm so pleased to hear I'm not alone - part of me is excited about new plans but another part feels like a "failure" to want to go back. The hardest bit is applying for jobs from here. Employers who will use Skype for interviews are few and far between and we really can't afford for me to go over to the UK every time I get an interview. Feel a bit like I am between a rock and a hard place at the moment!

castlesintheair Thu 03-Oct-13 16:56:43

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I do love it here, it's just so different. And I miss my friends <waaa> but I don't miss all the hurly burly and ghastly SW London pressure. All my friends are texting me about 11+ angst and I am SO pleased not to be part of it!

SquidgyMummy Thu 03-Oct-13 16:58:26

Interesting how many DCs are heading back to the UK for University.
Is further education really that bad here? I mean it is so expensive in the UK as it is, we cannot afford to send DSD.
DS is only 3 so am probably over thinking it for now...

NomDeClavier It is amazing how quickly the French send their LOs to school. I know it is more like nursery than infant school in the UK. But I felt under pressure to get DS potty trained over the summer. Luckily his school is small, only 8 in petite section, so that have been great at dealing with the odd accident and very understanding. DS only speak a little and no french whatsoever, so has either been unable to ask or too absorbed in his activities, to remember to go.

Can you not just say to the directrice, that you have changed your mind and don't want your DS disrupted with the new baby and can he stay till at least Easter?

SquidgyMummy Thu 03-Oct-13 17:03:07

riverboat have you looked at flying to London City airport as alternative to the Eurostar. We had some friends use it last weekend (to Brive) and they said it was fab!

peppersquint Thu 03-Oct-13 17:11:40

Squidgy - DD is heading back to UK because of specific courses she wants to do and she likes the UK. It's not a reflection on the French HE system (financially I think she'd be better off staying here - but heyhum!) I think one of the things about being British in France is as they get older the DCs become more "jingoistic" especially as they may have faced some anti-anglais stuff at school.

Booboostoo Thu 03-Oct-13 17:27:29

Hello! I am in a corner of 81 right next to 31. Been here for 3 years now and very homesick for the UK (and I am not even British!). Already planning the next move!

Bonsoir Thu 03-Oct-13 17:30:14

I'm going to offer a different opinion here: I honestly believe that English higher education is infinitely superior to French and that you would need your head read to pursue your studies in France in almost every domain if you had the choice of studying in the UK.

ImpOfDarkness Thu 03-Oct-13 17:45:30

It depends what you're studying and where, surely. Plus there's the cost factor. Personally I think you need your head read if you come out of uni with thousands in debt if you can do the same degree more or less for free in France.

AuldAlliance Thu 03-Oct-13 17:49:12

I work in French HE.
There are a few subjects I'd contemplate my DC studying here, but I'd think long and hard about it.

tb Thu 03-Oct-13 17:54:01

Interesting the comments about friendly and non-friendly places. I don't think we could have found a less friendly village if we'd tried, sadly.

I was told by a neighbour that locally anyone who smiles a lot is the sign of a liar. Nice!

tb Thu 03-Oct-13 18:17:25

Sorry, that should have said 'is considered to be a liar'. Someone else - who has lived in Limoges has said that people are a bit arrieré.

We're thinking about moving, but have to be near autoroute, and railway line from Brive/Paris.

Feel a bit sad, that in 7 years next month, we haven't made any friends.

Herisson Thu 03-Oct-13 18:17:27

castlesintheair, I'm in SW London and very interested in your experience as we are contemplating a similar jump to a VERY rural area. What made you take the plunge?

ImpOfDarkness Thu 03-Oct-13 18:28:13

I work in French HE

Me too... I won't probe any further to find out who you are!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 03-Oct-13 18:34:19

Interesting re higher education. One of the reasons I would not go back to the uk would be to not pay the uk fees. I would be happy for my children to go through the higher education system here or in Benelux. In fact I am considering finally working towards a degree myself via study plus VAE. Just need to work out in what.

castlesintheair Thu 03-Oct-13 18:36:54

tb, so sorry to hear that. Do you have any ideas about where you might move to?

Herisson, my DH works here. He was commuting weekly from London and then after DS did his 11+ exams we decided to pull the DCs out of school and move over here for 6 months. After looking at French schools and generally weighing everything up we decided to stay. I don't know if it is a permanent move yet. Where are you thinking of moving to?

hattymattie Thu 03-Oct-13 19:05:19

I agree with Bonsoir on HE - unless you want to be an engineer of course. I think my DC's would like to study in the UK because they want to sample their Britishness having never really lived there. I suspect they may find they're actually more French than they think.

SDhopeful Thu 03-Oct-13 19:22:06

EmilyAlice I also love the vision of 'trous en formation!'

Herisson Thu 03-Oct-13 20:07:03

We are thinking of the Gers (because we already spend a lot of time there and know people, both English and French). But not sure if we are really going to take the plunge. Our idea is to do it for a year (renting) and see how it goes before committing longer term. DH already works away from home an awful lot so we wouldn't see that much less of him and could potentially live more comfortably for less money in nicer weather. But it would be a big wrench to leave Richmond where I have lived nearly all my life. And it would be hard for me to do the move and liaising with schools etc with little adult backup from DH (who speaks only VERY basic French anyway).

Bonsoir Thu 03-Oct-13 20:08:24

Even if you want to be an engineer, there is no guarantee that after two years of Math sup and spe that you will get the school and speciality you are interested in in France. In England you can apply directly to university for eg Aeronautical Engineering and know that you can pursue your passion.

French degrees are cheaper than UK ones and they are not "exactly the same", unsurprisingly.

Bonsoir Thu 03-Oct-13 20:09:38

How old are your DC, Herisson?

franglomama Thu 03-Oct-13 20:18:49

Hi
I'm also in 06 and working in the French university sector. I have lived in France for 11 years. I never quite feel at home here nor back in the UK. I have French nationality and a French DH and a DS born here who will probably be more French than British but I try hard to keep as much English as I can at home and on weekend playdates with fellow English speakers.
I really miss the British deprecating sense of humour and general laid back approach compared to the formality of the French.
Interesting to read others' views.

Herisson Thu 03-Oct-13 20:31:35

Just one child, Bonsoir, aged just 7. She speaks very basic French, about on a par with DH, able to order food in a restaurant reasonably competently and answer questions about her age and place of domicile etc. She's reading and doing Maths way ahead of age-related expectations in the UK so I kind of feel that if we took a year or two out to spend in France and she got to improve her French a lot, it might not really impact on her English education that much (and she might gain something quite important and not replicable in the UK). I speak good French but not fluent. Good enough to read newspaper articles or listen to the radio or make myself understood in most situations but not good enough to be taken for a native!

frenchfancy Thu 03-Oct-13 20:53:54

Another Vendeen here (85). 10 years in. Probably life depending on what happens to the Dcs. 3 DDi 1 in 2nd, 1 in 4eme and 1 in CE1.

Interesting to hear about FE in France. What if they want to do law or vetinary or similar a and practice in France. Surely it is better to have the French qualifications.

AuldAlliance Thu 03-Oct-13 20:58:49

Law and medicine are amongst the subjects I'd think about my DC studying at a French university, though I reckon a bilingual student could study medicine/veterinary science, etc. in the UK and then work here without too much difficulty.

ImpOfDarkness Thu 03-Oct-13 21:52:16

French degrees are cheaper than UK ones and they are not "exactly the same", unsurprisingly

No, that's fair enough. Some are better, some are worse.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 03-Oct-13 22:07:11

I think the medecine degrees here are good. Not too sure about the choice of specialty being based on exam results though. Means good GPs are undervalued and specialists tend to have very little general knowledge.

castlesintheair Thu 03-Oct-13 22:14:18

Herisson I'm from Richmond! We took the same view as you: our DC are all quite ahead (who isn't in Richmond grin) so decided a year or two wouldn't affect them academically and at least they'd have very good french. The secondary school in London that my DS has a place at is holding his place open for 2 years so it makes it easier to be here.

NomDeClavier Thu 03-Oct-13 22:27:09

Law and medicine, and the degrees via the military, are the only ones I'd encourage DS to do here too. Or French if he had a burning desire to study French literature because doing that in the UK would be a bit pointless.

If he wants to do anything non-vocational (ie the degree doesn't give you or exempt you from a professional qualification) then I'll be encouraging him to look at the US. I reckon costs will be on a par with the UK by then.

AuldAlliance Thu 03-Oct-13 22:37:39

<<hello, Nom, I'd lost sight of you, didn't know you'd adopted a new style of name.
Hope everything's OK.
Congratulations!>>

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 03-Oct-13 23:34:47

We have just moved back to London from Paris, and have to say, I am not entirely missing Paris, particularly the bureaucracy. I am still having grief from the French because apparently I was supposed to return my carte grise when I left the country. I can't register my car in the UK without my carte grise, so am not sending it back. The French have said they only want a "quick look" at it and will then return it. I don't believe them! Does anyone have any experience of this? I've also been told by someone different that I need permission from the French to export the vehicle... hmm

Booboostoo Fri 04-Oct-13 07:28:46

I am not familiar with French HE but I worked in the UK HE and my gut feeling is that the UK is the better bet. This is clearly a generalisation but taking that into account I think overall the UK has an emphasis on original, critical and independent thinking that is lacking from the French approach. French education is very much top led (learn to tow the official line), structured around memorisation and repetition, and lacking in an international perspective. The UK is suffering from chronic underfunding and while I know that the fees are a huge drain on the resources of individual families they won't go anywhere near enough to plug the gap, while the generously financed French HE doesn't have the right educational aims.

Happy to be corrected though!

frenchfancy Fri 04-Oct-13 08:56:37

I am interested that most people are comparing UK vs France FE on the basis of the academic teaching alone. Surely other things come into play. Not only the cost, but also the cultural differences, the distance from home, the social life. And also the fact that if they go to Uni in the UK they will be more likely to stay there.

Am I the only one who would hate to have my children in a different country to me? And DD2 does German and is very good at it, so she might end up in FE in Germany so I could end up with DCs in 3 different countries. I just want them to be close so they can come home for Sunday dinner occasionally.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 04-Oct-13 09:04:10

Despite me having run off to france at 18 I would hate to have my children go off and study/live in another country. I have another 16 years to worry about it but i hope my children don't decide to do what I did. V selfish I know, and I would never stop them, but it's how I feel.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 09:07:11

I have lived in a different country to my parents since I was 18 so it feels normal to me!

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 09:11:21

And, FWIW, we do sometimes pop over for Sunday lunch in England (DP has a private pilot's licence) and when I go to family weddings, parties etc I get a Eurostar day return.

Herisson Fri 04-Oct-13 09:39:31

That's funny, castles. Small world!

Jubble Fri 04-Oct-13 09:43:53

Hello all, I'm in Haute Garonne (31). I've been here since 1999, and met DH (who's also British) here. We've now got 2 DSs, DS1 is in MS at the local Maternelle, and DS2 is with a Nounou while I'm at work.

I do like it here, especially the lifestyle, but do wonder about moving back to the UK as all our families are there.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Fri 04-Oct-13 09:45:59

Jubble, I'm in haute Garonne too, wayhay! A local mumsnetter, I'm delighted grin

PetiteRaleuse Fri 04-Oct-13 09:47:43

You are in paris bonsoir so have that choice. I have a minimum 10 hour journey to get home whichever way I try and do it. I am used to being away, but am not sure I could get used to my children being away. But I have another 16 years to get fed up of them grin

hattymattie Fri 04-Oct-13 09:56:57

Medecine is a nightmare in France - every man for himself - and they throw 80%off out after year one. DD is in an international school and they are all applying to the UK for medecine. I know people doing the first year of medecine in France - there are so many students that the lectures are all by internet - they don't even go the university.

Bonsoir - how much is a day return? Everytime I look it seems to be about 200E!

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 09:59:26

hattymattie - I get them for much less than that providing I buy them on the first day they are on sale, which is pretty easy for things like weddings and milestone birthday parties as my family is über scattered across the globe and we all know we have to set the date a year ahead in order for people to fly in from Fiji, Singapore, LA etc. Around EUR 90 is normally doable unless it's a really popular date like a bank holiday.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 10:00:26

For first year medicine in France you have to pay for a private prépa in parallel to the university course in order to have a shot at passing. The system is in a dreadful mess.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 04-Oct-13 10:12:22

Is that relatively recent bonsoir ? When I moved to Paris I used to hang out with a group of med students and they never mentioned that (15 yrs ago-)

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 10:20:55

I think it is probably more recent than 15 years. Certainly absolutely no-one we know would contemplate undertaking a first year in medicine without the prépa.

EmilyAlice Fri 04-Oct-13 10:21:09

Here is my moan of the day. Why can't they open the swimming pools more often? All the local towns here are the same; swimming only between 12-1.30 in term-time (plus Wednesday pm).
If they can be open at 630am in the UK, why not here?
In the holidays they open at 10 by which time there is a huge queue. Receptionists come out at five to ten, lock doors behind them, smoke a cigarette, then let us in.
Drives me mad.

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 10:25:18

The under use of municipal infrastructure is, in general, a big problem in France. Swimming pools, conservatoires, tennis courts, ice rinks etc are closed or barely used for much of the time, partly because schools cannot access them due to the binding restrictions on the length of the school day and the curriculum.

tb Fri 04-Oct-13 10:45:00

The concours after the first year also applies to physiotherapy, too. The kiné in the village told me a little while ago.

AuldAlliance Fri 04-Oct-13 10:54:33

The pass rate in any university course is around 30-50% because of the absence of selection other than the requirement to obtain a bac, any bac.
The methods used in medicine are particularly unpleasant and I'd encourage my DC to study that in the UK

But in any case, I'd think twice about sending my DC to a university which is massively underfunded, understaffed and overcrowded and where the quality of teaching and research inevitably reflect those conditions and the hypocrisy surrounding entrance requirements.
Them being far away would be tough, but it is a price I'm prepared to pay for them to get as decent a HE degree as they can.

hattymattie Fri 04-Oct-13 11:05:42

As I understand it, there is a common first year for all the medical profession so if you don't make it in medecine but are still reasonable, you are filtered off to do nursing, kine or something like that.

Thanks Bonsoir - I need to get organised for a day trip.

NomDeClavier Fri 04-Oct-13 12:31:41

The concours for nursing is separate. It goes pretty much the best students go for medicine, pharmacy or dentistry, or if they have a burning desire to do it midwifery or physio. Then the would be medics on their second round taking it who still don't make it take up the rest of the places in midwifery and physio.

I used to teach English to MWs and half of them didn't actually want to be doing midwifery, they had wanted to be doctors. It's utterly nuts.

<waves to Auld - I've not been around so much lately! But yes, the NC means you might not have known me if you saw me!>

Bonsoir Fri 04-Oct-13 13:16:08

The whole French education system is based on hierarchy - their are desirable outcomes, and then there are lesser outcomes if you fail to achieve the desirable one. You aim to be a doctor and, if you fail, then you might become a MW. You aim to an engineer and, if you fail, then you might become a maths teacher. Etc. It is a life designed to disappoint the many!

Booboostoo Fri 04-Oct-13 13:44:02

I've lived in a different country from my family since I was 18 and the world is such a small place now that I kind of assumed DD would be abroad as soon as she can (she is only 2yo so there's a bit to go yet!).

UK medicine has undergone a massive change in curriculum design in the past 10 years. Teachers were struggling to transmit the massive amount of knowledge in the field, to the point that graduates would almost immediately need to start the degree again on graduation just to stay up to date. This was unsustainable so the emphasis moved from transmiting knowledge to teaching research skills and continuing professional education. The idea is to teach students to learn so they can continue to do this all their lives. I'll eat my foot if the situation is similar in France!

PetiteRaleuse Fri 04-Oct-13 14:47:11

booboo although I have lots of respect for the French system as they have never been anything other than brilliant for me, there are plenty of doctors who are not at ease with new ideas, particularly those that don't practice in teaching hospitals.

Is Scottish HE still free for French nationals? That might be a thought when the time comes, assuming my babies go to uni and that in 16 years the situation is similar.

Belgianchox Fri 04-Oct-13 15:14:03

Hello, marking place, be back later. I've lived in France for nearly 7 yrs now, in Savoie. Waves to AuldAlliance who was very helpful all that time ago when I was in a quandry about moving here.

peppersquint Fri 04-Oct-13 15:25:40

Petite - tuition is free if you live in an EU country (except England) but you will not be eligible for a student grant - so it's a Catch 22 unfortunately!

fussychica Fri 04-Oct-13 15:31:04

I don't live in France but my DS is currently working there as an English Language Assistant at a boarding school in the middle of nowhere in the Pyrenees Atlantique as part of his MFL degree. He was delighted when he got his posting but straight away I could see how isolated he would be without being able to drive/having a car. He's 1.5 hours on the very restricted train service to the coast and is stuck at the boarding school completely alone at weekends as all the kids only board during the week. I really feel for him and just wish he'd been posted to a town/city like everyone elsesad. Just hope it improves for him.

SDhopeful Fri 04-Oct-13 18:05:17

fussychica sympathise, but he can still make the most of his time by using the weekends to really immerse himself in the language. My assistantship was in Paris, which sounds great, and was, but the temptation to speak English was everywhere. Please encourage your DH to join any local society, however odd, to make contact with locals - will definitely benefit him enormously!

Booboostoo Fri 04-Oct-13 18:13:14

PetiteRaleuse the French doctors I have come across have not only been out of touch but even unwilling to consider other possibilities (not to mention completely paternalistic). I have had them dismiss questions about other options as "American follies that we don't do in France". They are also quite computer illiterate and unaware of tools like Google Scholar and PubMed.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 04-Oct-13 18:35:14

I sit and argue with them til they listen. Got fobbed off far too often with that paternalistic view. When I first arrived they'd throw antibiotics at every problem and hoped it'd go away grin but that at least is improving.

Booboostoo Fri 04-Oct-13 19:00:48

I packed up and went to another country...although I appreciate not everyone has that option!

peppersquint Fri 04-Oct-13 23:19:10

Fussy - agree with other posters - tell DS to make the most of not being around English-speakers - he'll really reap the rewards from having to make that extra effort (I know because I didn't after a while ...and really regret it now). It must be very hard for him (and you) - but there is light the other side smile

Impomea Sat 05-Oct-13 08:19:27

Hi .Can I join you please?
We are in 86 and have been here 10 years .

SquidgyMummy Sat 05-Oct-13 08:56:27

Hi Impomea

In the spirit of sharing, just wanted to say that Next do free delivery to France at the moment. I have ordered a load of stuff for DS as childrens clothes are ridiculously expensive here. Prices are exactly the same as the UK Next site.

EmilyAlice Sat 05-Oct-13 09:25:03

One of the best bits of living here imo is the local market. Today we bought: very fresh mackerel (will do hot, spicy stuffing and sag aloo), the Christmas goose (because the man on the poultry stall said a couple of weeks ago that it is much cheaper to buy now and put in the freezer) and a butternut (or bootairnoot) squash for soup. The market was full of apples, pears, leeks, spuds, carrots etc, huge tubs of crème crue, camembert, Livarot and Pont l'Evêque cheese, and masses of bunches of dahlias and asters.
What is in the market where you live?

CoteDAzur Sat 05-Oct-13 09:40:15

.

NomDeClavier Sat 05-Oct-13 11:03:40

squidgy I think I love you for sharing that news. <off to buy baby clothes>

Impomea Sat 05-Oct-13 11:17:09

Thanks Squidgy.
I used to shop at M&S online but am trying to boycott them because they have made us use the French site which has less choice,no beauty section and less sales !

PetiteRaleuse Sat 05-Oct-13 11:30:52

Thanks squidgy you've just made my day smile

SDhopeful Sat 05-Oct-13 11:32:44

I've seen lots in the French news about the changes to the rythme scolaire - has that affected anyone on here? Is it increasing the length of the school week, or just lengthening the days, within the week?

Booboostoo Sat 05-Oct-13 12:17:13

I'm near Revel which has an incredible market that has been running since the 14th century. Great choice in cheeses, salamis, fruit, veggies, foie gras (OK I don't like that but others do!) and all sorts of yummy goodies!

I've got a grudge against M&S for making us use the French site. It allows you to order things that are not in stock, the dispatch times are awful and the whole experience is a nuissance.

I quite like Debenhams though who send directly from the UK and have good options for DP who wears XXL.

Bonsoir Sat 05-Oct-13 12:45:01

It hasn't either lengthened the school week or the days. It has added Wednesday mornings and lopped time off at other points.

tb Sat 05-Oct-13 13:14:53

No change for dd - she's at lycée. She has one day that's 8-19, but this year she has Weds afternoons free. Last year, her first, she was working until 17 - générale + arts appliquées.

We have a market in the village - it's crap. 1 stall selling 'tourtous' and 1 selling trout, and that's it. Occasionally they have a plant stall, but not very often.

clearsommespace Sat 05-Oct-13 13:31:21

Fussy I was very isolated and lonely at first during my year as 'assistante'.
It was in the pre-internet/mobile phone days and once I'd used up my phone card phoning friends in the UK, if I wanted any company I just had to pretend to be interested in the various hobbies for which there were clubs I could get to on foot.
It did wonders for my French and I ended up finding a holiday job for Easter and summer holidays so I came back 2 months later than I needed too.

clearsommespace Sat 05-Oct-13 13:34:16

EmilyAlice, highlights of the market here: lambs lettuce season just starting, apples, plums, spinach, tomatoes, autumn raspberries.

EmilyAlice Sat 05-Oct-13 13:36:39

I hate the M and S French site too. It never has the same range as the UK site, though as far as I can see it all comes from the depot near Sheffield hmm
Apparently Lakeland will deliver for a flat amount, £7ish? I have used Littlewoods to send toys to the grandchildren in Spain and that worked well.

EmilyAlice Sat 05-Oct-13 13:41:13

Lambs lettuce is great. We grew it in the greenhouse pretty much all last winter. I have a huge surplus of apples and pears and I just know that plastic bags full of them will start arriving on the doorstep soon.. I love getting walnuts from the neighbours though; they do for our muesli all year round. Last year my neighbour sold our quinces at the market and I got 70€. And yes I had already made jelly, purees, membrillo etc etc

fussychica Sat 05-Oct-13 13:46:12

Thanks for all your positive comments re DS. It's just a hard start. He's just returned from an internship in Hamburg so is pretty resilient but having to cater for himself at weekends using only a microwave in the teachers common room wasn't quite what he was expecting! However, he has gone off to the coast this morning - to meet some of the assistants he met at his induction day I think. He also went out with a group of older French lads from the school on Thursday night (who he doesn't teach) and sounds like he had a good night so I'm sure he'll cope. Thanks again - I'll keep you posted.

aliciaflorrick Sat 05-Oct-13 13:52:01

In the spirit of sharing I can tell you that SportsDirect deliver to France for less than a fiver, they are absolutely brilliant for buying stuff for school including shoes, shorts and t-shirts as well as sports equipment. DFS will now deliver for a reasonable price, Gap have changed and make us use their euro site, prices are marked up in euros but come out of your account in £, so good if you have a UK bank account, their delivery is about £5 and always arrives in 2-3 days. Also of course George at Asda and Tesco clothes for the DCs, very fast delivery for about £5. Boots are going to start delivering but are not quite there yet. Boden also deliver. Great Plains deliver to France, lots of UK companies are now delivering to France and even paying delivery it can still work out cheaper than buying the same thing in France.

I don't know about you but France has become so expensive, when we moved here 10 years ago it was so much cheaper than the UK but now so many things are much more expensive.

fussychica Sat 05-Oct-13 14:45:06

Just read earlier comments in the thread re DCs wanting to studying in the UK rather than France. I think there is a strong desire for many of them to return to their "homeland" in their late teens. DS was raised mainly in Spain but was adamant about going to University in the UK - which he has done. He wanted to experience living in halls, the social life and the feeling of belonging which he didn't feel he would get in Spain. He fortunately missed the fees hike by a year so that may have made a difference but I doubt it.

Good to know that there are lots of places which deliver to France - I'll let him know in case he wants anything.

peppersquint Sat 05-Oct-13 14:55:05

our market is great if you are after leather wallets or belts, fancy nylon house coats, purple flowery frocks, huge y-fronts, slippers, mogettes, table cloths, aprons, roast chickens, prefou or apples!

New Look do very quick and cheap deliveries as does Dorothy Perkins

EmilyAlice Sat 05-Oct-13 15:12:17

Oh I just love those flowery overall things call fantaisie. Whose fantasy are they, do you think? And who on earth wears the underwear? Very hard to imagine on the solid Norman ladies in our markets.

Impomea Sat 05-Oct-13 15:30:16

Our nearest market is like that.All my neighbours in their flowery pinnies and housecoats remind me of how my Nanna used to dress in the 1970s.
We also have a plant stall that sells trays of cabbage ,sprout plants etc.
What's strange though is that it is cheaper to buy the fully grown onesfrom the supermarket.

Sports Direct is great .I got Lee Cooper jeans for fussy DS2 -£11.
The Celio ones he likes are 50e.Also got work boots for DH and a neighbour .Delivery approx £4.

Herisson Sat 05-Oct-13 15:54:33

There are some brilliant markets where we go, though they're a lot quieter in the winter. The best things are super-cheap and very nice fabric (including lovely waxed stuff for tablecloths as well as dressmaking stuff from which I made all DD's school uniform pinafores last year), flower seeds (mixed for jacheres in a range of sizes from short flowers to very tall) at about 5 euros for a huge box, dried fruit (massive selection including things I have never seen anywhere else such as candied kumquats, cubes of fantastic soft coconut, sour cherries, strawberries, every kind of tropical fruit), all goose and duck products imaginable, saucissons secs in all varieties (even donkey, which I have not yet tried - the best is the one with tiny cubes of foie gras throughout), bags and clothes - got a lovely smart tiny bag with loads of compartments in supersoft leather for 11 euros last summer, hats (last purchase was a very smart black straw trilby affair), nail polish in every colour and finish for a euro a bottle, lavendery things, gorgeous bars of savon de Marseille in every scent imaginable (I buy loads every year and they are great for Christmas presents for teachers etc). In the big Eauze market, there is a fabulous traiteur section where you can get things like paella and couscous and quiches and puddings and other delicious treats for less money than ready meals only with twice the flavour. The fruit and veg at that market is amazing in the summer. Lots of local stuff but I especially love the little flat peaches from Spain.

Also, Mara des Bois strawberries which are just the best variety I've ever tasted. I ended up buying a load of plants for our English garden as they are just absolutely amazing - very sweet and highly scented and so strawberryish that they're almost like strawberry jam. Incredible fruit.

EmilyAlice Sat 05-Oct-13 16:25:37

Sounds wonderful Herisson, though I am a Gariguette woman when it comes to strawberries.
I have heard that there are some villages where the older ladies go to the boulangerie in dressing-gown and slippers, but have never seen it myself.

SquidgyMummy Sat 05-Oct-13 19:16:00

For those of you who live in SW france (Dordogne, Lot down to Toulouse) I can highly recommend Sterling Shopping ; their delivery schedule is listed.

You can get your ASDA order delivered to their depot in Northamptonshire and they bring it down 2 days later; you just meet the van at heir nearest drop off point.
I have booked it for Xmas food shopping. Will be getting mince pies, pudding for DP Countless tins of beans. Curry sauce & paste. They just charge 20% of the total order.
I also bought DSs pampers before he was potty trained as they were so eye wateringly expensive here.

Other really useful things is they do a crate of small items for £21. Then you can take advantage of all the tiny bits and bobs on eBay for low uk delivery or amazon for free super saver delivery. Will make Xmas shopping so much easier.

The other thing they deliver is English paint for about £27 for 10 litres. i cannot believe how expensive paint is here, i have seen 100 euros for 10litres of Dulux (and not the same quality)

I have also bought some bedding and housewares from Argos

SquidgyMummy Sat 05-Oct-13 19:18:43

I don't work for them by the way, i was just so delighted when i found out how many places you can buy from

Waitrose and Tescos included

PetiteRaleuse Sat 05-Oct-13 19:45:42

I have also noticed that everything has become much more expensive here in the last 10-15 years sad

aliciaflorrick Sat 05-Oct-13 20:24:43

I use missmysupermarket.com for my Tesco deliveries, I buy things that are cheaper than they are in France. He adds a few pence onto the price of things and I pay £10 delivery, it still works out cheaper than buying porridge etc in France. He also delivers cheese, bacon and sausages and my beloved crumpets.

pillowcase Sat 05-Oct-13 20:51:48

Hi all,
Living in Gers for 9 years now (lived for a year in Nantes and a year in Paris before). Still love everything to do with France and the French. DC in 4e, 6e and CM1. Asked DD1 if she'd like to study in Ireland and she absolutely wouldn't- she likes to be considered totally French and won't mention her Irish half at all. Sob.
Great to see this thread.

Raptorrethy Mon 07-Oct-13 12:02:00

Hello, I have been three years in Oise (60). Two DCs, CP and CE2.

tb Mon 07-Oct-13 12:18:43

alicia thanks for the link to missmysupermaket - they have 1kg packs of Cheshire cheese. We used to have a source in the little English shop in Objat, but it's now closed.

Got a very gabbled message from pole emploi that I didn't see until Saturday afternoon. Rang the number this morning, and it's a maternity leave cover for a local Mairie. Have to ring again tomorrow as the person wasn't there. Weird, I can remember the job being advertised, but by the time I'd thought it over, it had been taken down. So, I'm crossing my fingers......

aliciaflorrick Mon 07-Oct-13 12:27:06

tb he's very good and fair, he upgraded my crumpets for me last month because the ones I wanted had too short a use by date and would have needed to be eaten on the day they arrived at my youse, and he didn't charge me any extra.

pillowcase Mon 07-Oct-13 19:20:04

Anyone else a fan of Frederic Lopez?

clearsommespace Mon 07-Oct-13 20:09:13

Hello Raptorrethy, how do you like Picardy?

Herisson Mon 07-Oct-13 21:05:47

Hi pillowcase! If we move, we would be going to the Gers or nearby. We go every year and are lucky to have a house we can use for holidays so spend several weeks there in the summer and usually a week at Easter and sometimes October half term too. How do you find it? We have quite a few friends in the local area and have so far found that people are really friendly and welcoming.

pillowcase Mon 07-Oct-13 22:32:02

Herisson, I absolutely love it. We're in a pleasant place wink and find people really friendly. Kids are all involved in clubs, as are we and the people are welcoming. Of course, we're miles from real shops or things-to-do, but you know that already I guess.

When do you decide if you're moving?

Herisson Tue 08-Oct-13 11:27:50

You are not far away from where we go, pillowcase! We stay near Estang when we visit, and in Gers terms that's practically neighbours. Yes, we're well aware of the isolation and lack of actual things to do, but that's partly the appeal. If we do move, it would probably be this summer, on a rental basis for at least a year. That would give us a little while to acclimatise before plunging into school etc (I tend to find it takes me at least three weeks to get back up to speed with speaking French). But this is dependent on me passing my driving test (not yet booked but I think I'm getting there).

PetiteRaleuse Tue 08-Oct-13 14:09:35

squidgy I placed a next order on Saturday afternoon, just cheap leggings and tops for my toddler. The free delivery arrived this afternoon, out here in the sticks. Wasn't expecting it before Thursday based on the four working day thing - brilliant service. Thanks so much for letting us know!

Booboostoo Tue 08-Oct-13 16:23:38

While we're on the topic does anyone know of any British shops that deliver DIY and building supply stuff to France? We're in the middle of a restoration project and losing the will to live with French prices and quality.

aliciaflorrick Tue 08-Oct-13 19:42:58

Screwfix deliver to France and there are some companies that provide English paint.

pillowcase Tue 08-Oct-13 21:59:12

herisson,
DS has played against Estang in football!

I do think renting for a while is a good idea. I've known quite a few people who have come and gone in the years we've been here. Some because they're sure they'll pick up work, but don't, some for other reasons. One couple who bought a house still haven't sold after years of trying--not an ideal situation.

How old are your kids? Most schools around here are used to having one or two English kids in each class, but don't necessarily speak English. However they're always delighted when new people turn up with kids because it keeps the smaller schools open.

Raptorrethy Tue 08-Oct-13 22:12:13

Hi clearsomespace - I'm a bit blush to say that we have not explored Picardie very much...been to Amiens and Compiegne etc and some more local places. Picardie is nice but the scenery does not blow me away, iyswim...it's sort of flat and foresty! Do you know it?

Herisson Tue 08-Oct-13 22:30:49

Pillowcase, I have just one kid, in Y2 in England, only just 7 and she only has very very basic French. She is doing a French club at school and can conduct extremely basic conversations and she and I do a little practice most days at remembering words and having little conversations. Work wouldn't be a problem. DH is very freelance and all over the country and Europe with his jobs, and DD and I hardly see him anyway. Being in France would just add a day either side of his jobs and we'd just see him for four days less a month. The rent on renting our house out here would cover the small remaining mortgage on our London house and probably pay for our rent in the Gers if we rented fairly modestly (but worst case DH could cover rent and mortgage and bills if we ate plenty of lentils etc). DH could never work in France. He just hasn't got the language skills for his v specialised job and I am not convinced he could acquire them. I currently have a job I could do remotely but one of the reasons for thinking of moving is that I think it might disappear soon. I may get a reasonable redundancy payment, too, which would be a useful thing.

I think we would do it for a year as an experiment and see how it went. If it didn't go well, we'd have lost nothing and DD would have gained some valuable language skills. If it did go well, we'd reassess in a year and see what we felt (including the views of DD who is currently half in love with the idea and half terrified - these are also my feelings).

I absolutely wouldn't buy anywhere unless definite on a long-term plan. My aunt has been half-thinking of selling her house in the local area for some years now and has received some really quite low valuations!

Did your son win against Estang? I have to tell you, I'm rooting for Estang here, because my friend up the road from where we stay runs the local butcher (the old one, not the new one) and there's a man in the car park by the restaurant who sells me lovely strawberries from his garden even though he is a bit ancient and I think he ought to be having a bit of a rest.

My main worry is DD and school, really. She's an only so would be initially a bit isolated (though if I wasn't working I would have more time to be with her). But she is a child who positively loves being sat down and told to do things so might not mind the French education system too much....

What an essay!

jamaisjedors Tue 08-Oct-13 22:36:24

Quick hello because it's late here (as you will all know) - am in 76 (Normandy) and have been for 15 years - any year now I will have lived here longer than the UK.

I have 2 DS and a French husband, I also have French nationality, it took 2 long years to apply for it but it's worth it to vote and also worth it to tell people who think there are too many immigrants that actually it is a ridiculously long process which first required that DH prove he is French and provide his parents and grandparents birth certificates...

Otherwise, I also work in FE - but in an IUT, which I think are the bees knees and a million times better than the shambles which is the rest of our university. The courses are great, really practical and the students go on to get really good jobs and have great opportunities. Oh and the teachers are pretty dedicated too wink

I'm a lifer because both DH and I are civil servants so would be mad to go elsewhere.

DS1 is in CM1 and DS2 in CP (and amazingly we are not being told off for him being able to read already!).

hello to all the posters who I "know" from elsewhere (and all the others too!)

clearsommespace Wed 09-Oct-13 06:19:39

Raptorrethy I've been living here a couple of years. I haven't explored much either, most weekends are spent on DIY at the moment.

castlesintheair Wed 09-Oct-13 06:47:57

Herisson, my dcs have be overwhelmed by how friendly and welcoming the kids are in rural France. The schools who are not used to expats at all have been so accommodating and I am amazed at how many teachers speak English. She won't feel isolated for long, if at all.

SquidgyMummy Wed 09-Oct-13 08:19:58

Booboostoo Whereabouts in France are you. If you are SW way; I mentioned Sterling shopping up thread.

They deliver Crown paint themselves and you can also order from Wickes, Homebase and Screwfix.

We too have the ubiquitous pile of sand and parpaing outside our house whilst we continue with our renovations!

NoraLuca Wed 09-Oct-13 08:29:59

Just discovered this thread smile I am in Morbihan (56) single mum with two DC, in CP and CE1. I work full time and people keep thinking I'm Polish for some reason! Have been here 7 years shock . Lifer I think, or at least until the DC are grown up. I went back to the UK this summer for the first time in many years and was shocked at how it doesn't feel like home anymore.

I only read the first couple of pages, off to read the rest of the thread.

Herisson Wed 09-Oct-13 08:42:08

That is brilliant to hear, castles!

NoraLuca Wed 09-Oct-13 08:58:50

Ooh this is such a nice thread! I feel better for knowing that there are other people who feel that they have a UK personality and a French one, and that you can order from Asda (mince pies and Battenburg this Christmas yay!) And there's even someone else in the same département <waves to Jenpetorus>

Booboostoo Wed 09-Oct-13 10:57:53

Thanks alliciaflorrick will look into that.

SquidgyMummy thank you I had missed that post earlier on. We're near Toulouse, will look for a Sterling shop.

kalidasa Wed 09-Oct-13 13:18:55

V interested in this thread, we are in London but DH is French and we have a flat in Paris. DS is 10 months old and we try to go to Paris regularly and hope/plan to spend longer periods there in the future. I always feel a bit isolated though as DH's family is a bit complicated and overwhelming and I don't know anyone of "my own" if you know what I mean. I've been trying to make some professional connections of my own there (I'm an academic) but its a bit of a slow process. My French is OK.

fussychica Wed 09-Oct-13 14:47:38

Just an update on DS who is working as a English language assistant in the wilds of the Pyrenees Atlantique region.

Things seem to be looking up - he stayed on the coast at the weekend with some of the other ELAs he met on his induction day so he wasn't stuck completely alone in the school for the whole weekend again. He has been out for drinks with several of the teachers and thinks he has sorted a bike to borrow. His other suitcases arrived on Monday so he now has more entertainment and most importantly, the teaching sounds like it's going really well. Certainly I feel a lot happier than I did this time last weeksmile. He just takes it all in his stride!

pillowcase Wed 09-Oct-13 16:57:27

Great thread

fussychica, if he's got contact details of other ELAs he'll be fine. Pyrenees Atlantique coast is fab. Does he surf?

Herisson,
Don't know if they won or lost! They play loads of short matches in an afternoon and run the legs off themselves (he's 9 now). Your DD would be going into CE2 probably. Great age to make friends and learn the language. I've worked in primary schools and have seen plenty of kids (incl English kids) arrive one morning and by first break they're running around as if they've always been there.

Agree about the 2 personalities/2 voices. Hate that most people here only see me as quiet and reserved, but, with my own friends I can be rowdy!

ImpOfDarkness Wed 09-Oct-13 17:58:43

Blimey, lots of academics on here!

kalidasa Thu 10-Oct-13 12:00:36

Not sure it's a French thing - there always seem to be a lot of academics on mumsnet in general.

Totally agree about the difference personality in a different language thing. Even though my French is OK, and even quite good once I've had time to warm up, I do find it difficult being less sharp/eloquent/precise/funny than I am in English, and especially as my DH has quite a dominant speaking style - I can easily interject/assert myself in English but sometimes feel a bit talked over in French. On the other hand, when I had really bad PND it was actually quite nice to operate in French for a few days, gave me a bit of a break from myself I think!

How is everyone finding the bilingual thing with their children?

NoraLuca Thu 10-Oct-13 12:28:40

My DDs are 6 and 7 and just starting to show an interest in learning English. Before that they would get all stroppy if I tried speaking English to them! I speak French to them and their dad speaks a third language, which they can understand but not really speak very well. I'm hoping it's not too late for the English.

Herisson Thu 10-Oct-13 13:31:36

That is also great to hear, pillowcase. This is all very helpful. Thanks so much to everyone who has reassured me about some of my main fears!

I find I'm a lot softer and less assertive in French; somehow it is very hard to speak French in my normal English forthright way. The wordiness can somehow take some important element away from things that in English would sound pretty blunt. Also, the fact that the pitch of my voice changes (higher in French) makes me feel a lot less forceful. I have quite a deep voice in English but somehow go really high-pitched in French. I can't stop myself - I've tried, it just happens!

Bonsoir Thu 10-Oct-13 14:33:02

"How is everyone finding the bilingual thing with their children?"

Fine, but it took a lot of investment (work and euros) in the early years to lay the foundations correctly. She has two mother-tongues, which was my goal.

riverboat Thu 10-Oct-13 15:09:59

I don't have children yet, but the 'bilingual thing' is something I am thinking about a lot. It's a bit worrying because of my DSS (8), who is with us about 3 out of every 5 weekends and is 100% French! I've only ever used French with him, never English. So even if DP (French) and I did OPOL with a future child, I can't see how I could sustain only speaking in English at home, unless I completely sacrificed my communications with DSS in the process. Maybe I'm overthinking, but I do worry about ending up with a 100% French child that won't be able to speak with his British family...

riverboat Thu 10-Oct-13 15:17:43

kalidisa - I completely identify with all you said about being les sharp/witty in French. It does make me feel like a different person at times, I am a very different character at a French dinner party than an English one...though I suppose it is getting better all the time. I spent the first year fighting back tears at various social events because I was so frustrated with hardly being able to follow the conversation let alone participate. Second year I think I climbed a pretty steep learning curve and suddenly found myself able to understand and participate soooo much better than before. The last couple of years I think I've continued to get better, but haven't had that same huge burst of progress I had in the second year. Ah well, hopefully slow and steady will win the race!

hattymattie Thu 10-Oct-13 16:37:10

I found that once Sky was readily available in France the English was no problem. Mine are probably better at English than French.

Booboostoo Thu 10-Oct-13 17:36:59

My DD is only 2.4yo so not quite relevant yet, but we are aspiring to trilingual! Hopefully we won't mess her up too much, but obviously she will speak French, we really want her to learn English as a child because this is what both DP and I did and it's very useful, and she has to speak some Greek as both our (extended) families are in Greece.

hattymattie how do you get Sky in France?!!!!!!! How did I miss that one? I am desperate for Sky! I gave French TV a go, honestly I did, but I just can't do it. Currently I rely on the computer to catch up on the odd programme but it's not easy (our broadband sucks because we live in the middle of nowhere).

Bonsoir Thu 10-Oct-13 17:46:32

riverboat - I have two French DSSs, who are 9 and 7 years older than DD and to whom I speak French (as I do to DP). I have always spoken English to DD and it is not a problem - on the contrary, the boys learned a lot of English listening to me speak to DD and DP's English has improved too.

SharpLily Thu 10-Oct-13 17:48:14

What are the problems that people have with bilingual children? Husband and I are English, mostly, but I am trilingual and grew up that way, and I don't remember it being a problem. I'm hoping ours will grow up the same way.

hattymattie Thu 10-Oct-13 18:55:25

We have a Sky box and a dish (I understand you say it's for your second home when you buy in the UK) - we don't pay for Sky though but have free of charge BBC1, ITV, Channel 4 plus Ceebies etc which does us perfectly well. I think we receive the equivalent of Freeview.

I've had no problems with my bilingual children from a language perspective - from a bi-cultural perspective I think they are neither entirely British or French and I've heard many find out they are more French than they actually thought they were when they go to study abroad.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Oct-13 19:03:12

Just wondering if you guys would be interested in a (private) MN French expat FB group? The Belgian lot have one and it looks quite useful as a place to pass on useful addresses that you may not want to put on here? Just a suggestion, what do you think?

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Oct-13 19:05:34

DD1 understands English but answers in French except for names of animals. As she is likely to be educated in France I would like that to be her MT but obviously want her fluent in English. Ideal would be both languages as native but I don't have the resources or time to make that happen right now.

hattymattie Thu 10-Oct-13 19:10:21

Petitraleuse - I'll join smile

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Oct-13 19:14:09

Ok I'll set one up in the next few days smile

SDhopeful Thu 10-Oct-13 19:49:12

Please include me in...

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Thu 10-Oct-13 19:53:09

PetiteRaleuse yes please, I think that's a great idea.

aliciaflorrick Thu 10-Oct-13 20:13:30

Petit that sounds good.

Herisson Thu 10-Oct-13 20:26:26

Might I be allowed to join as a possible future expat? I don't know if it's going to work out for us or not but I really want to be allowed to come and pick your brains when I need to!

Herisson Thu 10-Oct-13 20:44:09

BTW, my aunt has Sky in France and loves it. The set up costs were eye-watering but the service has been very good and she loves being able to get the news etc. If anyone is in SW France, I can get the name of the company who came and did all the installation for her, if helpful.

castlesintheair Thu 10-Oct-13 20:45:48

Petitraleuse, yes please please include me.

My dcs are still learning french but I hope they will be bilingual one day.

AuldAlliance Thu 10-Oct-13 21:40:22

I've been lurking assiduously, but it's all a bit manic with work and kids here, so haven't managed any posts.
I'd be up for a FB page. Count me in.
<<waves to Belgianchox and Jamaisjedors>>

frozentree Fri 11-Oct-13 06:24:32

PetiteRaleuse Great idea, I'd be interested

hattymattie Fri 11-Oct-13 07:01:00

Herrisson - my DH installed Sky - he was on the roof manipulating the dish and I was downstairs watching the TV for a signal. Communication by mobile phones. The first image I saw after seven years of French TV was Dot Cotton. smile

aliciaflorrick Fri 11-Oct-13 07:35:55

I have Sky TV, but it's probably the area of France I live in, we just point the dish at the Sky satellite and away we go. I love the Sky Plus so I pay for a minimum subscription from my parent's address. However, I am thinking of buying a Humax Freesat box which will give me the same facility but just the Freeview channel. I've found that by downloading episodes of my favourite programmes that I love and using Netflix I hardly watch scheduled TV anymore. The only programmes on the planner these days are Corrie for me and Bear Grylls for the DCs.

Booboostoo Fri 11-Oct-13 07:48:09

PetiteRaleuse I'm in too.

Herisson I would be very grateful for the info by PM, thanks.

NoraLuca Fri 11-Oct-13 08:59:58

Please include me in FB group - would be nice to be in touch with other Brits.

<says NoraLuca who went back home to Liverpool over the summer and did not know who the Liverpool manager is anymore. shock >

PetiteRaleuse Fri 11-Oct-13 09:35:49

PM me email addresses, I have created the group but have made it secret. It's caled MNers Lost In France

Herisson Fri 11-Oct-13 09:36:35

Hattie, good on your DH! I am v impressed!

Booboostoo, will ask my aunt and let you know.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 11-Oct-13 09:38:19

and the random name is just to make it hard to find. If lots end up joining we can add admins.

castlesintheair Fri 11-Oct-13 10:21:57

Petitraleuse, do you want our MN related email address (one for this site)? Am not very techy but I do have a few email addresses. Thanks.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 11-Oct-13 10:26:49

No I think it should be the one linked to your facebook account. Have sent a couple of email invitations out but if they don't work will have to friend each of you, add you that way, then unfriend once you're in, unless you want to stay me friend of course smile

Have set it up that way as I think it is only fair with what some of us may post across the boards that the group remain invisible.

fussychica Fri 11-Oct-13 13:09:24

pillowcase - he doesn't surf but has met a couple of Aussie ELAs who do so who knows! He seems fine - a few hiccups - opened wrong bank account so can't sort a phone contracthmm. He's off to the coast tonight for a meal with all the teachers and hoping to stay over with one of the ELAs down there. I think he might land up moving down there and sacrificing the cheap rent & proximity of classes for the social life - we shall see.

pillowcase Fri 11-Oct-13 19:13:53

fussychica, great to have found a group. makes all the difference.

I'm not on FB so can't join group sad

I also don't have sky or care about not having it. I'm odd. grin

purplepuppet Sat 12-Oct-13 09:47:41

Would love to join the FB group too

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Oct-13 11:36:52

If you PM me your email address I'll send you an invite. It is unsearchable <glances round shiftily>

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Sat 12-Oct-13 12:39:36

Did you get my PM petite?

ImpOfDarkness Sat 12-Oct-13 14:01:30

I also don't have sky or care about not having it.

Me neither, especially now we get Canal + séries! I do have BBC entertainment for when my mum visits though. It's shite.

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Oct-13 15:41:28

Canal+series rocks!!!! I don't have sky, just have a satellite up for the freeview channels. €50 to get it installed.

op I've been sending invites to everyone that pm'd me then deleting the pms. Have just sent a load of invites out, have you received one? If not I'll pm you my real name, add me on fb and I'll add you to the group that way smile

ImpOfDarkness Sat 12-Oct-13 16:10:42

The best thing about Canal + séries is that they launched it just in time for my maternity leave grin

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Oct-13 16:48:36

Excellent timing. I got UK Tv put in in time for my last maternity leave. I use it now for cbeebies and the news. Most of what we watch is on one of the canal+ channels and Masterchef

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Oct-13 23:58:09

Have sent invites to all the pms now. If you've pm'd me and not got anything let me know smile

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 08:37:06

Is anyone with DC at school in the French system interested in discussing the merits of schooling your DC in a Section Internationale leading to the OIB versus schooling your DC in a French school and doing IELTS on the side, as preparation for entry to UK university?

PetiteRaleuse Mon 14-Oct-13 09:50:54

I would be bonsoir but we don't have int'l schools here except over in Luxembourg which are way out of my price range... By the time the girls are old enough we may well be back in Paris, as DH is starting to get homesick.

Trills Mon 14-Oct-13 09:52:05

230 posts and nobody has come on saying "I read that title as a genital thread"? grin

PetiteRaleuse Mon 14-Oct-13 10:01:51

Ha ha. Will from now on read it as genital thread. Thanks trills grin

EmilyAlice Mon 14-Oct-13 10:02:33

We have Freesat on our Humax boxes; it works a treat. We have two thingies from the satellite, so we can record two different programmes at the same time. As most of the good stuff is past our bedtime we record and watch the next day without adverts. We could never get catch-up or internet TV because of our pathetic "broadband". Even YouTube has to stop for silent reflection every ten seconds or so.

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 10:25:06

International schools are, however, not the same thing as Sections Internationales.

I'm sure the topic will remain current for the foreseeable future so we can always discuss at a later date!

PetiteRaleuse Mon 14-Oct-13 10:31:06

Yeah I know, but we don't have any of those either in a commuteable area sad

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 11:05:21

Don't be sad! My position on this ( which has changed as my SC have moved on and up through education) is that Sections Internationales and, in particular the OIB, offer marginal advantage at best, and sometimes disadvantage, over a normal bac in a French school plus IELTS when it comes to UK university entrance.

CoteDAzur Mon 14-Oct-13 11:49:54

Really? What kind of disadvantage?

PetiteRaleuse Mon 14-Oct-13 11:56:43

Well I wasn't sad as in sobbing sad, but I would like to have the choice iyswim.

Bloody TF1 haven't put last Friday's episode of Masterchef on replay angry so I just watched something called Babyboom on replay which looks like the equivalent of One Born Every... Does every French TV show on TF1 basically buy its rights from the uk?

jenpetronus Mon 14-Oct-13 12:51:00

Bonsoir I'm not quite sure what IELTS is? I'm looking at Lycee Grand Air at La Baule for DS1 - they're one of the few Lycee's this way to offer the IBAC, which from (what little) research I've done seems to be a more flexible approach to further education - as it's extra coursework in English on top of the regular choice of Bac, it doesn't preclude study in France either - though no-one seems to think HE is France is much good anyway?! I'm really new to all this as DS1 is only in 6ieme, but I know at this particular Lycee, the IBAC course is hugely oversubscribed and the Directrice can (apparently) pick and choose those pupils she accepts, so I'm kind of considering 3ieme there too, but he'd have to go as an Intern, so again, not really sure....lot's to consider!

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 14:42:30

The disadvantage of the OIB is that it creates a significant extra workload for pupils which can have a negative impact on time available for other subjects to which British universities may attach conditional offers. For example, a pupil doing OIB and bac S may well be applying for courses such as Engineering or Economics where universities are likely to require 15 to 17 in Maths and/or Physics-Chemistry. Those sorts of marks are hard to achieve and require a lot of work, which is much easier to do without the added burden of OIB English. What's more, universities are totally neutral on the OIB vs the normal bac for those subjects - 7.0 in IELTS is totally sufficient and much less of an added burden than OIB. OIB comes into its own for humanities degrees only - particularly English or History.

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 14:43:39

Google IELTS and you will get excellent information.

DoudousDoor Mon 14-Oct-13 14:57:54

Thanks Bonsoir thats interesting.

We're leaning towards French schooling for primaire at least. After that I'm not really sure. We were thinking maybe section internationale from collège...but as DS is only just 2 we're kinda waiting before deciding! grin

Not sure DS would go to uni in the UK anyway. It'd all depend what subject he's interested in. And where he wants to live.

NomDeClavier Mon 14-Oct-13 17:28:49

I have to agree about the workload having been teaching in a section euro. My preference is still for DS to do IB diploma over the French bac, but I think the French bac is better than A-levels any day of the week and I'm not impressed with what I've seen of the OIB for S, and undecided for L.

We will also aim for totally French primaire, and if we're no longer in France then we'll probably try to stay in the French system. At college we'll probably look at International sections, but we're also strongly considering 13+ entry to an excellent school with a strong IB diploma programme near where my parents live or the boarding option at EABJM Lille.

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 17:31:36

Why do you think that the French bac is better than A-levels, NomDeClavier?

peppersquint Mon 14-Oct-13 17:33:11

I agree that the OIB workload is pretty heavy (DD is doing it) but it is not all about university applications. It is about getting a rounded education and also there is a lot of self-discipline involved that makes (hopefully) for an easier life if/or when they go to university. They are not being spoon-fed and have to manage their time and learning better. Universities (RG) tend to give at least one extra point or allowance for OIB over a general BAC. Being able to get the French Bac and study two A levels in English is evident to many in admissions of a certain "ability" that is valued not just for humanities but science based subjects as well.

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 17:39:52

ASIBA (the British OIB association) lobbied UCAS a few years ago to try to get universities to lower their offers (for overall average) to OIB candidates and was reasonable successful for a while, but not many universities are giving the extra credit to OIB candidates anymore.

I agree entirely that the OIB is conceived to enshrine a broader, more rounded education, but if you get reasonable mark in IELTS you will have had to do lots of extra English, above and beyond what a normal French school will have taught you. So you will have that extra something (and, actually, IELTS is a very good exam) but you won't put your all important maths grade in jeopardy to the same extent (and British universities do not give extra credit to OIB candidates for individual offer grades, like maths).

NomDeClavier Mon 14-Oct-13 17:49:16

I think A-levels encourage specialisation too early. It's perfectly possible to make bad choices at 15 or 16 doing well-regarded subjects that you like at the time which you then turn out to be no good at and that can then scupper you for university and subsequently. On the other hand entry to engineering with a Bac L probably isn't possible but you'll have very little probably getting on to any course with a good Bac S.

I also think the French curriculum is better structured and although the exam load is heavy you don't have the modular faff, although that is thankfully being phased out.

The French education system isn't perfect, it demands a lot of extra work to teach DC how to think along side it, and to think critically and laterally, but the A-level system lost an edge when they abolished synoptic papers.

There are reforms and reviews of the British system, and I like this core maths idea, but the overall format of the French bac is more to my taste. Plus the Bac is a fairly essential component of French identity in a way A-levels just aren't in Britain. DH, who is French, did the IB when out of France (because his father was posted away so he and his siblings were chucked in at the deep end at an international school) and has had trouble explaining/justifying that when doing postgrad study in France, and to a certain extent professionally. His brother had a similar issue, although less since he went back into the system and did the prepa-grande école thing. I hate to think what it might have been like if he'd done A-levels. The British are one of the few in the world to study so few subjects post-16 and I don't think it does any favours. It's much easier to draw parallels between the IB and the bac than the bac and A-levels.

peppersquint Mon 14-Oct-13 18:01:43

Bonsoir I agree that the ILETS is a good exam but only if you are not a native English speaker

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 18:06:09

Why do you think that? Native speakers do not systematically get top marks in IELTS. Its purpose is clearly to test whether or not someone's English is sufficiently good to allow them to study in English, but it is not an exam that makes a mockery of native speakers (like the French bac in English, or A-level in French).

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 18:09:10

I would agree with all that, NomDeClavier. The Bac S is way preferable to all others in that it closes almost no doors.

Still think there is plenty wrong with it though! Philosophy and the absolutely dreadful MFL exams...

peppersquint Mon 14-Oct-13 18:17:30

Bonsoir - I mean in the context of going to a British university and reflecting an ability to write essays. I say it is good for testing a student's ability to understand English but if someone is already fluent in English (written and spoken) then it has limited uses and it is very demoralising for them having to study at this level as they are not stretched (IME)

Bonsoir Mon 14-Oct-13 18:23:43

They don't have to study for it - they just need to familiarise themselves with the format, if they are already fluent speakers, readers and writers of English. Which is the time saver versus OIB. And universities all give conditional offers to include IELTS for DC who are not schooled in English.

Obviously if you feel like doing the OIB, fair enough. I just don't think that, on the basis of my observations, I would go out of the way to put my DC in for the OIB when I know that Bac S + IELTS is less work and just as likely (if not more likely) to produce a successful application to a British university.

jamaisjedors Mon 14-Oct-13 22:16:09

Hi there, I'm v. interested in the OIB debate too - Bonsoir I think your DD is the same age as our DS1 (CM1) which I guess is why you are looking at it (as are we).

We are "lucky" in that our nearest big town does have an International Section (in a private school which doesn't cost much) but I am still hesitant about sending DS there (and subsequently DS2).

It will mean much more travelling, cutting him off from his current friends in the village. We have also heard mixed reports about the actual standard of English in the classes where there are actually very few "real" bilingual children, and where some of the teachers are less qualified than those in the public sector.

I'm very interested in the perspective of the bac in general - getting better marks.

It's true that several friends have bilingual children who just went to "good" local schools and they have alll done very well now and several work abroad for example. They did all do their HE in France though.

jamaisjedors Mon 14-Oct-13 22:18:16

Just re-reading the messages and see you are leaning towards a "normal" bac Bonsoir.

Do you feel your DD has a decent level of written English? DS1 is devouring English books at the moment but has very little idea how to write in English - I'm sure I could be doing more with him myself but to be honest I feel he has enough work to do.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 06:22:42

Yes, my DD is in CM1 and here in Paris applications for 6eme are very competitive and open in the September one year ahead if entry, so I need to work out my strategy this year.

Our catchment state college is a no-go zone so either DD can carry on at her current school (which is "bilingual" and does offer quite reasonable provision of English in primary and college) or try something else. The problem with that scenario is that I really wouldn't want her to go to Lycée at her current school. I'm thinking that she should probably go to her brothers' school by Seconde at the latest, which is a normal French Catholic school. We were super happy with DSS1's Terminale teaching and bac results and he is now at a very good UK university reading a very competitive subject so certainly wasn't hindered by his lack of OIB.

peppersquint Tue 15-Oct-13 06:23:43

Bonsoir - if your DD is in CM1 how can you know now that she will be doing a Bac S? Is her primary interest in science? Will her interests not change or develop? Sorry if I have mis-understood earlier information.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 06:26:03

She'll definitely do Bac S - like all our family she is very good at Maths! And S doesn't close doors in the way ES and L do. Quite a few schools don't offer L anymore.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 06:35:52

jamaisjedors - there is definitely an issue in many Sections Internationales of standards of English - pupils who are not native speakers and teachers who are not all that, IYSWIM. Obviously that needs to be investigated and ascertained on a case by case basis. If you live next to the Lycée International in Saint Germain that is a fantastic choice but realistically most Sections Internationales are not offering education or indeed pupils of that standard.

hattymattie Tue 15-Oct-13 06:49:03

Mine are all doing the OIB at the Lycee Inter, St Germain - they love it there - but there is a big workload. My eldest DD though said that the English courses were like a "breath of fresh air" and she wouldn't want to be doing a normal bac S for anything.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 07:16:38

hattymattie - my impression from talking to DCs at the Lycée International is always that the French part is a lot less agreeable than the international part.

hattymattie Tue 15-Oct-13 07:44:52

Bonsoir grin sounds about right. I think the trouble is they get to compare great quality UK or in my case American style teaching with the French system. In a normal Lycee they wouldn't know anything else.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 08:35:24

I'm sure that's true in the case of the Lycée grin. I'm just not sure that it is a universal fact of Sections Internationales. And, of course, I also don't know (because how could one compare) whether the French side of the Lycée International is more or less agreeable than, say, my DSSs really quite nice (private Catholic) French lycée.

I have a very dim view of "normal" French state lycées, by the way!

peppersquint Tue 15-Oct-13 09:56:21

"She'll definitely do Bac S - like all our family she is very good at Maths! And S doesn't close doors in the way ES and L do"

IMO It seems very sad to decide what she's doing at such an early age - what if she has no interest in doing maths. She may be good at it, but that doesn't mean it will interest and inspire her.

BAC S does close the door at seconde to many options such as art, music or other humanities subjects.

I suppose you are doing what is right for your family though - so good luck and best wishes

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 10:02:48

Bac S doesn't close any doors in Seconde - Seconde is common to L, ES and S. And you can do an option in music or art in S just as you can in L and ES. S does not close doors to humanities - however, L and ES close the doors to sciences. Which is why S is the most popular option.

NomDeClavier Tue 15-Oct-13 10:10:17

I'd disagree that a Bac S closes door if activities in the area of interest are provided on an extra-curricular basis. I've taught students doing English at university with a Bac S, I have a student in my classe preparatoire at an ecole de beaux arts this year with a Bac S, DH has 2 cousins who went to conservatoire with a Bac S.... On the other hand I never met a student midwife or engineer with a Bac L or even ES.

It might take a bit of dedication but you don't necessarily need to be stunningly good at maths or science to get a good grade, just reasonably intelligent and a good worker.

Besides if bonsoir can already see her DD is good at maths and her interests are likely to lie that way and it's considered the optimum path in France then why not work towards that already.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 10:16:53

The daughter of a friend of mine is currently in Terminale S at an excellent lycée in the Paris suburbs. She is doing Modern Greek and Art as her options. She is going to do medicine at university.

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Oct-13 13:25:13

Hope it is OK to change the subject for a moment...
I am interested to know how socially conservative you find France to be? When I go back to my gym class in September, nothing changes; same people, same music, same exercises. When we go out for a meal, either in a restaurant or at someone's home, the menu revolves around the same half dozen dishes. In the village, pudding is always apple crumble or tergoule.
Now I know we are older, retired, living in deepest rural Normandy, so I wondered if younger people, living in towns or cities have a very different view? Our village events are always exactly the same (though each one has a long planning meeting) and at the summer event the same meal is served to the same people at lunch and and again at dinner.
If it is the same for you, do you mind or is it all part of the charm?

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 13:29:05

EmilyAlice - I agree with you - lifestyle innovation is not a big trend in France grin. I live in a central and affluent part of Paris and DD goes to a school with a big international contingent and we travel quite a bit and go out in Paris, so I do get my fill of innovation. But it is not the norm and even where I live people quickly get stuck in their ways.

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Oct-13 13:47:39

That is really interesting. You know last night when they were choosing menus for the gym club dinner and getting excited over pork in cider or veal with mushrooms, I had an almost irresistible urge to say, can we have chicken tikka masala? We could have tergoule and mango chutney on the side...

PetiteRaleuse Tue 15-Oct-13 14:33:03

I find individual French people quite open to change, even out here, but the menus at the various annual village events are the same year on year.

hattymattie Tue 15-Oct-13 14:35:44

Er well - we do have apple crumble here nearly every Sunday grin. It appears I can't get enough of the stuff.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 15-Oct-13 14:37:44

I wouldn't dare ask for chicken tikka masala the French make a monumental cock up of any Indian food. My MIL wanted to surprise me back in the days she liked me by doing a curry.

I sat there forcing this bland chicken snd rice dish while she was looking at me expectantly. Do you like the curry? she ended up saying.

I had to pretend to love it. DH was practically crying with suppressed laughter.

bunnyfrance Tue 15-Oct-13 14:45:36

Absolutely know what you mean, Emily, and it does get annoying that each région sticks resolutely to its same dishes. MIL in deepest darkest Bourgogne serves the same 4 meals over and over again....chicken can only come from Bresse etc etc. Boring!

NomDeClavier Tue 15-Oct-13 14:56:18

Weirdly although we're in the very socially conservation (read, Catholic and 'good family') military I find my French friends quite open to different ways of doing things and dishes. Most embrace wholeheartedly the local dishes, for example, and when they move on keep what they like and discard what they don't. I suppose moving around gives you a certain exposure to different ideas!

I do find them less innovative in other ways, but that is probably related to the general stability of French society.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 15-Oct-13 14:56:39

Hmm. The pride in their heritage and local produce is possibly why France would still be able to be self sufficient if, for example, some volcano cloud prevented imports. Which isn't the case in the UK.

But I'd gues your MIL isn't necessarily confident cooking and may just want to stay in her comfort zone.

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Oct-13 15:16:15

Oh I don't doubt the self-sufficiency aspect. We get snowed in most winters in our village (for a few days), but you can see that having dairy produce and meat on the hoof, cider and calva and frozen or bottled veg would keep you going. The one thing they run out of is bread, so we keep masses of flour and make it in our bread oven.
Tonight we are making pizza and Ethiopian spice bread and I know we will get lots of comments about the smell from the chimney wafting round the hamlet.

bunnyfrance Tue 15-Oct-13 15:21:37

Absolutely, but I do like to have a little giggle to myself when I'm presented with one-of-a-kind regional "specialities" like raifort (um, it's horseradish sauce) or tarte flambée (Alsacian pizza, hardly revolutionary!)

jenpetronus Tue 15-Oct-13 15:22:21

Funnily enough I was just discussing this subject with my Dutch friend who lives in the same village here - she's on the APEL at school & is still enthusiastic enough to try & sell Dutch cheeses & cakes at the school Xmas market (unlike me who is way too jaded to try & introduce anything "English" again) we were musing over the reluctance of most neighbours to try such "foreign" food hmm

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Oct-13 15:26:14

I find cake does go down well. Flapjacks, Millionaire's Shortbread and above all Chocolate Refrigerator Cake have been a great success at the May day picnic.

hattymattie Tue 15-Oct-13 15:39:25

Are they positive comments emilyalice? My French neigbours don't even like garlic confused

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Oct-13 15:50:46

Probably along the lines of, "it smells delicious, but don't ask me to eat it"....

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Oct-13 15:55:45

Oh and everyone wants us to cook tergoule in the cooling bread oven... Trouble is I don't like rice pudding. It reminds me of my granny's Monday night puddings (nice and warming after the cold joint). hmm

PetiteRaleuse Tue 15-Oct-13 16:40:18

I make a point of cooking British food for French dinner guests. Then if I fuck it up they can blame English food and dine off the anecdotes for years to come. Don't think anything has not gone down well though. Maybe just v polite guests grin

AuldAlliance Tue 15-Oct-13 17:28:15

I can't really relate to these tales of gastronomic parochialism. There's a Thai restaurant near here, and in town there are several really good Italian pizzerias, an excellent Indian restaurant, four or five Chinese/Vietnamese ones, 2 sushi places, and a Tex-Mex that's always heaving with people. For a "bourg" in the rural backwaters of Provence, we're doing quite well..
Bread oven makes me envy.

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Oct-13 17:36:26

Well an Indian restaurant makes me envy though happily we are near enough to the Channel ports to get a Waitrose curry in a box back safely.
The bread oven is fun, but a bit alarming. OH is very flash with his paddles, mops and scrapers and I have to leap out of the way as hot pizza flashes past my ear....

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 17:57:30

hattymattie - a question about the Lycée International - does the university applications team share the pupils' predicted OIB grades with them or not? I help lots of Terminale pupils in French schools with individual UCAS applications and I have come across a school that doesn't want to share them. I have never come across this before.

hattymattie Tue 15-Oct-13 18:38:40

Bonsoir Yes - for the US section, and I'm assuming the British Section do the same (they operate separately). The pupils' need to know their prédictions so they can target the the universities effectively. Maybe tell your school that in the UK this is normal.

I meant to ask - how's it going with your DS in the UK - is he enjoying himself? My DD is in the middle of her UCAS applications at the moment.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 18:56:06

Thanks! I needed the data point from the Lycée International to prove my point! Nice reliable credible sort of source!

My DSS1 is thrilled! He's at Bristol - has met several ex-Lycée International students.

hattymattie Tue 15-Oct-13 18:59:02

Bonsoir - my DD's applied there for law, we're at that horrible point where we're waiting for news - I think it's going to be a long wait!

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 19:08:20

You may be right, hattymattie. DSS1 didn't get his Bristol offer through until mid-April!

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 19:11:16

Does your DD have a firm preference for a particular university or are there several she would be happy to go to?

PetiteRaleuse Tue 15-Oct-13 19:17:00

Just checked, my nearest section internationale is in Nancy. That's about two hours away.

hattymattie Tue 15-Oct-13 19:19:09

Mid April! - I'm going to tell her to stop checking her messages every 5 minutes. She's chosen five uni's and any one of them would be good but none of them are known for their quick responses.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Oct-13 20:29:23

The waiting is a nightmare, but since she got her application in very early (Oxbridge?) she might hear back sooner than DSS1, who sent his in dangerously close to the deadline...

Greythorne Tue 15-Oct-13 22:44:39

I think the lack of options and modernity is typified in Brittany. Don't get me wrong, I love crêpes. But wherever you go in Brittany they are the same:

Beurre
Beurre sucre
Chocolat
Nutella
Caramel beurre sâlé (out of a jar)
Etc.

Never any fresh ingredients. I would love a crêpes with red berries and ice cream. Or peaches and nectarines in some delicious alcoholic tipple. Or white chocolate sauce. Or a sort of pear crumble crêpe. Or pistachio cream.

But no. Pomme caramel is about as adventurous as it gets and it's stewed apple and industrialised caramel.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 15-Oct-13 23:04:49

Have been to Brittany twice. I don't like savoury pancakes. It was hard.

Why is hatty your DD not wanting to read law in France? There are good courses which combine the French qualifications with the LLB but on French prices re fees. Am out of date but Sheffield Hallam and Kings College London used to do LLB/Maitrise joint programmes. Apologies if I have missed an explanation upthread

PetiteRaleuse Tue 15-Oct-13 23:07:57

And I can't remember which but one was partnered with the Sorbonne. The proper one. V good dual qualification to have. But the last time I researched it was mid 90s

EmilyAlice Wed 16-Oct-13 05:29:42

Greythorne, I could bring the Normany puddings of tergoule and apple crumble over and we could put them into crepes. Got to be a winner. grin

Bonsoir Wed 16-Oct-13 06:19:09

PetiteRaleuse - the French version of UCAS (APB) through which applications to read law in France are made doesn't open until the New Year. The Double Law degrees of which you write are much harder to get offers for via APB than via UCAS.

Bonsoir Wed 16-Oct-13 06:42:12

On the food conservatism theme I remember being scolded by another customer at my local fishmongers. I asked for the fish to be prepared a particular way and justified my request by giving a detail of the recipe I was going to follow. The lady behind me in the queue threw up her arms in the air and said "Le bar ne se mange pas comme ça!".

plopp Wed 16-Oct-13 06:56:09

Oh so many of you in France! I live in the Vienne 86 for some years now and love it.

Bonsoir Wed 16-Oct-13 07:00:50

Greythorne - are you hatching up a new crepe concept? I can see little outlets all over city centers... And then you sell to McDonalds and make your fortune smile

EmilyAlice Wed 16-Oct-13 11:25:53

Ooo yes, Regional Crepes R Us.
Rice pudding, blood sausage or tripe in Normandy. Foie gras or goose fat in the Perigord..
Add your regional variations here....

AuldAlliance Wed 16-Oct-13 11:27:45

Pieds et paquets crèpes??? (boak)

hattymattie Wed 16-Oct-13 11:31:10

petit she wants to do a good degree but not necessarily become a lawyer - so UK keeps her options open. Having said this she will apply for Sorbonne/Kings College but last year there were 3000 applicants for 20 places!

riverboat Thu 17-Oct-13 08:36:05

Anyone want to weigh in on the 'shopping on Sundays' debate? Am really annoyed that casto and Leroy merlin are now being forced to close on Sundays in my area. DP and I are doing up the kitchen, and since we both work full time with long commutes the weekends are the only time we have to do it. Saturdays are already a mad rush to go to supermarket, do other shopping errands, get DSS to and from activities etc. Now we are going to have to add DIY planning and shopping to that list! So frustrating as the workers want to work, the public want to shop, the bosses want to open, it seems like it's only those damn syndicats that are hell bent on putting a spanner in the works...

Bonsoir Thu 17-Oct-13 08:53:01

riverboat - do you not have internet supermarket shopping? TBH I barely set foot in a supermarket these days - I get all my routine shopping done on houra.fr (delivered at 7am) and use the market for the fresh stuff. The market being open on Sunday morning.

NomDeClavier Thu 17-Oct-13 09:38:06

We only have click and collect (still saves time!) out in the sticks, bonsoir, although Carrefour City is open Sunday mornings.

river It definitely takes adjustment but I can see if you're trying to get a project done and your Saturdays are crammed then no longer having Sunday opening is a real pain.

frenchfancy Thu 17-Oct-13 09:40:41

I think one of the best things about France is that it is closed on Sundays. I would be upset to see that change.

AuldAlliance Thu 17-Oct-13 09:52:18

I'm torn; I like the possibility of getting shopping done on Sundays, and I know it allows lots of students, for instance, to work and earn some cash, but at the same time I like the fact that in France Sunday are still different to other days. Slower, more family-oriented.
I get more het up about how much I'd like to see smaller shops open longer in the week (I can't get my head around them having lunch breaks from 12-3pm), than about Sunday opening, TBH.

EmilyAlice Thu 17-Oct-13 10:00:59

No internet food shopping here. I think you can click and collect from Caen, but that is a 100km round trip. I am not too fussed about Sunday opening because I am retired, but would want it if I was working. Round here the shops close on Monday too. I did laugh when there was something in the local paper on longer opening hours and one shop owner said, "customers have got to learn that they can't have everything they want"...
I think the whole area of internet shopping is woefully underdeveloped and must hold back businesses here. None of my neighbours will pay anything on line.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 17-Oct-13 10:04:09

We're lucky in that supermarkets in Luxembourg are open on Sunday mornings so we can shop then. I like quiet Sundays but agree that it doesn't make economic sense to close so much. If the staff are willing that is.

Bonsoir Thu 17-Oct-13 10:05:35

Interesting. On-line shopping is well-developed in Paris - we buy an awful lot of stuff online - supermarket but also électroménager from Darty, cultural stuff from FNAC and Amazon, underwear and other routine clothing, furniture...

riverboat Thu 17-Oct-13 10:30:36

The problem with online shopping in the supermarkets I've looked at is that there is nothing like the same range available as in store. Especially things like meat, world foods and fresh produce. My closest supermarket is superu,and last time I looked the range online was woeful. Maybe I should look at other supermarkets.

Also probably part of the reason that I am pro.Sunday shopping is that the whole idea of it being a family day is just unfeasible for me: Dp's family is on the other side of France, mine is in the uk, and we only have DSS eow. Fine if people want to spend Sundays with their families, but I feel really patronised by the law deciding unilaterally that Sunday, arbitrarily, has to be a family day for everyone.

frozentree Thu 17-Oct-13 10:47:11

I think on-line food shopping is very restricted to large population centres in France - we are quite rural, but only 50km away from Paris and there is no online delivery to us from the main hypermarkets, only click and collect.

NoraLuca Thu 17-Oct-13 11:30:38

Shops around here are open on Sunday mornings, and some of them, Sunday afternoons too because we're in a special tourist zone. I wouldn't mind shops opening, but only if the workers really have the option to work or not, and I don't think that's realistic as once Sunday opening becomes the norm Sunday work will, too.

I love online shopping, but quite a lot of companies only deliver to a collection point.

Booboostoo Fri 18-Oct-13 09:35:13

Apologies for the change of subject but can anyone suggest some fun things to do with a 2.5yo in Paris for 3 days in January? She loves animals, books and running around but is a bit timid around other children, especially when doing physical activities (i.e. on her own she enjoys all the toys in the playground, but when other kids are running around, falling over, pushing each other around, she is worried and stands to one side watching, so I think soft play may be a disaster).

PetiteRaleuse Fri 18-Oct-13 09:57:48

My local Carrouf Market does click and collect and they were dire the couple of times I used them. The choice was okish as long as you're not demanding but the actual physical selection of fruit and veg was shoddy (over ripe and sometimes going off for example) and there were always items missing and in some cases charged for. Took me so long going in and arguing with them after every shop I gave up and went back to my usual haunts. Carrouf is overpriced anyway.

Hmm, toddler in Paris. In January. Tough one. I'm not going to take my two other than to visit friends until they are a little older. The parks are good for running around in but I don't see Paris as being particularly toddler friendly. The Jardins de Luxembourg have a nice carousel and there are good puppet (like Punch and Judy) shows in the Buttes Chaumont but I am not sure if they are all running in January.

Sorry, don't really have any advice.

Bonsoir Fri 18-Oct-13 10:33:09

2.5 year old in Paris - Parc Monceau has a very small merry-go-round that is ideal for this age group. Open on Wednesdays from lunchtime and in the afternoons - 4pm onwards ASFAIK. Also two sandpits, one in the playground (so full of big DC) and another, smaller one near the lake. And pony rides in the afternoon.

lapumpkin Fri 18-Oct-13 10:55:16

Hi everyone,

Does anyone know any home educating groups in France? Especially south of France? We live in London at the moment, but I would like a bit of an adventure. I HE my DD who is 4.5.

Thanks!

ImpOfDarkness Fri 18-Oct-13 11:06:41

Re. Toddlers in Paris, would the jardin d'acclimatation be any good?

riverboat Fri 18-Oct-13 11:16:05

I'd take the 2.5 year old to the menagerie (zoo) located in the jardin de plantes. I went there in the summer and it was lovely.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Fri 18-Oct-13 12:01:10

lapumpkin yes there is a strong home schooling contingent in Toulouse in the south of France. I've been trying to find the Facebook group, but I think it may be a closed group. If you want more info, PM me with your email and I'll try and put you in contact with a home schooler who is in the group.

Booboostoo Fri 18-Oct-13 13:24:52

Brilliant thanks for these ideas!

By the by it was food week at my DD's nursery and they had a meal from a different country of the world each day this week. They had parents and local restaurants help with the menue and did Chinese, American, Israeli, Morocan and a 'degustation' of cheeses at an outing at the local farm! So they are trying to be more international.

castlesintheair Fri 18-Oct-13 14:23:42

Sorry I can't help Booboostoo. But can anyone help me? I posted on the FB group but it's busier here: can anyone recommend fun things to do in Bordeaux and anywhere good to eat? DCs are 12, 10 and 7. ThAnks.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Fri 18-Oct-13 15:41:41

Booboostoo - Disney? I know it's outside of the city but is great for little ones.

BriocheDoree Fri 18-Oct-13 16:43:34

Better for that age is Jardin d'acclimatation. Much cheaper and closer, as well!

Booboostoo Fri 18-Oct-13 18:22:18

Many thanks! Disney may be a bit too far away but the garddens/zoos suggested sound brilliant, thank you!

ImpOfDarkness Fri 18-Oct-13 18:55:23

Might be a bit chilly in January though...

Booboostoo Sat 19-Oct-13 08:27:07

Yes I see your point! We are meeting up with DM (who lives in another country) and is very keen on the trip so hopefully she will do a lot of babysitting! DD is a coffee culture toddler so again I have high hopes that we'll be able to sit in the warm and enjoy ourselves in coffee shops all day long!

PetiteRaleuse Sat 19-Oct-13 11:32:00

You could take them to Angelina's on rue de rivoli for hot chocolate and cakes smile

Booboostoo Sat 19-Oct-13 11:51:53

Yum yum!

AuldAlliance Sat 19-Oct-13 13:47:00

I've never been in Angelina's; the queues have always been insane. Is there a time of day when it's quieter?

It was la semaine du goût here. The menus went mer-montagne-Provence-Antilles-Mexique. I didn't know Leerdammer was Mexican. Live and learn...

CatChick Wed 23-Oct-13 08:58:12

Hello everyone,

We're looking to move to Montpellier for a few months in the winter--is there anyone here from that area? I don't want to let an apartment until I know where the kids might go to school, but would love hear from someone who'd tried (or known someone who tried) the schools first? We were specifically looking at the Montessori school, La Maison Des Enfants, but there are three other bilingual private schools, too.

I realize it's a long shot! Thanks for any help or advice!

Weta Wed 23-Oct-13 11:04:56

Hi CatChick

I don't know if I can help much with schools but I did live in Montpellier for several years (left 4 years ago when DS1 was 6, but he went to the local Catholic school). I did know people who used one of the bilingual schools - can't think of the name but will try to remember it, maybe if you tell me the names you are looking at that will help. I think they found it was very expensive and not that great for the English, it was something like alternate days in each language - but that might be fine for just a few months.

What age are your children? and what part of Montpellier are you interested in living in?

Weta Wed 23-Oct-13 11:25:33

CatChick - it all comes back to me now. The Montessori school you mentioned is relatively new but I've met the guy in charge and remember when he was setting it up. It sounded like it would be really good and I remember thinking it was the kind of place I might have been interested in sending my son, or at least for their Wednesday workshops. It's not the school that my other friends were not so keen on.

Weta Wed 23-Oct-13 13:33:29

CatChick I just remembered something else - the guy who runs that school gave a term of singing classes at a parent-child group I used to go to and he was brilliant. Really gentle and encouraging with the children (but not lacking in firmness if needed), and the content was great too.

tb Thu 24-Oct-13 11:45:17

Was just wondering if any of you have had difficulty finding a job in France?

I've had 3 rejections this week - without an interview, and feel like banging my head against a wall.

Maybe I should lower my sights, and try apple picking sad

NomDeClavier Thu 24-Oct-13 11:50:51

What jobs are you going for tb? I usually manage to find English teaching work which isn't necessarily great but is a foot in the door. I think less specific jobs are much harder to come by. And it's not just you - I have French friends who are struggling to find decent jobs.

riverboat Thu 24-Oct-13 19:47:20

Tb - I have been trying to find a job in France related to the field I worked in in the UK (university administration and management) for ages with not so much as an interview. I think it must either be that I'm over-experienced, or that I don't have a masters or that they just don't want a non-French person. Or that they see my most recent expwrience is English teaching and immediately write me off. Not sure which.

Luckily I have a good, secure English teaching job already. I hadn't envisaged doing it forever but I am reconciling myself to the fact I may end up doing so. The French job market is so different to the British one, everything is expected to be so linear and they expect such different things from CVs. The idea of transferrable skills doesn't seem to mean much here.

jamaisjedors Thu 24-Oct-13 19:58:52

Riverboat - I don't think you can get that kind of job in France without taking the civil service exams (concours) can you?

To TB, I applied for things like a bilingual secretary (I have secretarial experience and am properly bilingual, compared to most French people anyway) and was told that I would not be interviewed because I didn't have the relevant BTS (diploma)...

I did a lot of EFL work in companies for a few years, and then gave up the fight and took the exams to become a fully certified teacher within the system and now teach at university level which is great.

tb Thu 24-Oct-13 20:42:16

I've spent 20+ years in either IT or finance, and have professional quals in both, but, unfortunately, I'm absolutely hopeless at essay-writing.

Reports, yes, I don't find them too hard, it's the sort of 'paragraphe argumenté' type stuff that leaves me clueless. Other than that, I might have had a go at doing the concours for the impots.

I've also been told by two different inspectors there that

1. You have to be a French national to work for them and
2. You don't have to be a French national.

I don't want to be FD of Peugot-Citroen, just a nice job with numbers and debits and credits would be nice.

Not to mention building up a minimum retirement allocation would be nice, too. Wouldn't even mind paying tax grin our income isn't high enough to do so at the moment.

riverboat Thu 24-Oct-13 20:45:03

Jamais - not in the public unis, no, but you don't need to have civil servant status for all the private grandes ecoles.

The BTS thing seems so ridiculous! It's such a low level qualification and I just don't understand how they can be so attached to such pieces of paper when people have all the relevant work experience and skills that show they are above and beyond that. But it seems to be the case..

Late joiner here! I have been living in the Var (83) for 8 years now. 2 DCs aged 2 and 5. I work in a collège as a 'pionne' at the moment...I agree that the French job market, particularly outside the big cities is very difficult. I is so frustrating...round here most jobs are seasonal, and offer little security.

Being a pionne has its upsides though-all school holidays paid, working with mostly lovely teens (in my case).

Does anyone have any experience of doing the CAPES to become an English teacher? I am in two minds about even trying, despite having supplemented my income by teaching English for the last 7 years!

tb Thu 24-Oct-13 20:47:58

River that's what the letter I got this morning said - the minimum that they required was a BTS in compta, so that was obviously why I was rejected.

Must let the icaew know that their quals are rated below that grin

bunnyfrance Fri 25-Oct-13 08:05:26

tb - this might be a silly suggestion and you might have tried it anyway, but can you not put "équivalent BTS compta" in brackets next to your UK qualification on your CV? Then they've got the words staring at them and it might jolt someone into action... I don't know, just a thought!

tb Fri 25-Oct-13 12:50:56

Yes, I have whether to describe it as 'membre d'ordre experts comptables britannique', or Bac+7 compta.

Not sure if would make any difference, though.

lilysgrandma Fri 25-Oct-13 18:51:14

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

tb Fri 25-Oct-13 22:22:36

Have just had a msg from pole emploi telling me I can send my cv for a job at intermarché. So, have altered my cv to have bac+6 in compta. It's really bac+7, but didn't want to go ott grin

isadorable Sat 26-Oct-13 00:10:33

Hi - can I join? In 31 - for 8 years now. Self-employed and mum to a two-year old dd.

ImpOfDarkness Sat 26-Oct-13 18:04:37

I haven't done the capes myself but I've been teaching capes students for years. If you do it you need to be prepared to be posted more or less anywhere in the country, and generally to the less desirable bits.

Nomdeclavier Sat 26-Oct-13 18:46:17

I prepared the CAPES for last session but then got pregnant and couldn't face the looooong exams. Worth doing I think, but I'm protected from being sent nasty places by DH's job to a certain extent. Gets us lots of points!

Yep, being moved to somewhere undesirable is really putting me off teaching in a state school sad Does having children in school get you more points by any chance??

tb (in case you don't know already) there is a governmental or EU organization which (for a price) gives you an official equivalent for your studies-I am on my phone right now but I can send you the link later if you want?

riverboat Sun 27-Oct-13 17:04:52

Well if I ever had any thoughts of doing the CAPES that's changed my mind! I didn't realise you had to go wherever they sent you. Wouldn't be possible for me as DP has DSS and obviously isn't going to go and live halfway across the country from where his son lives.

Does anyone know anything about the process for becoming an English teacher in the public university sector? I know it's easy enough to pick up work in the universities as a vacataire, but what would be required to get a permanent position?

AuldAlliance Tue 29-Oct-13 17:30:10

To get a permanent position in a University you either need a concours (CAPES, preferably Agrégation) or a PhD, often both in reality as jobs are getting ever more scarce due to budget cuts (we regularly have 80 applications for one lecturer position, all from candidates with the CAPES, a vast majority with the Agrég, and all with a PhD.
Without those, you're condemned to vacations, with all the strings and unreliable pay that entails.
You can get a one year contract as a Maître de Langue, renewable once, but not a tenured position.
Jobs for life come with nasty strings attached...

You may get a few more points for having kids, but it's unlikely to allow you to remain in an Académie that is sought after.

NomDeClavier Wed 30-Oct-13 18:59:23

Just in case any local French MNers haven't seen - http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/_chat/1896971-Missing-Gransnet-Member-French-alps

EmilyAlice Thu 31-Oct-13 06:58:52

The story of the missing Gransnet member, Carol Sheridan, is getting lots of coverage on forums and Facebook. It would be really useful to know from anyone in or near the Haute Savoie whether the local French press is covering the story? Carol stays in close contact with her daughter in New Zealand and has not been in contact since Saturday. This is what makes it so worrying. She does a lot of walking in wild and remote areas of the French alps.

tb Thu 31-Oct-13 10:44:03

I hope she's ok - I've known her on totalfrance and frenchentree for about 10 years.

riverboat Thu 31-Oct-13 10:46:56

I'm afraid I'm nowhere near that area and I don't have any contacts there. I just did a google.fr news search for her name though, and nothing came up...

castlesintheair Thu 07-Nov-13 08:49:25

Does anyone know if the bank holiday on Monday means that the schools are closed in France? I haven't seen or heard anything from either of our schools. Thanks.

AuldAlliance Thu 07-Nov-13 08:55:04

Schools are shut.

Where we are, collèges are apparently open on Wed to catch up some "pont" or other, but primary/maternelles are not. Worth checking.

There is a strike planned in primary/maternelles on Thurs 14th, I believe, to protest against the "réforme des rythmes scolaires." Given the shambles of how the reform has been implemented, it'll probably be quite a big strike...

Bonsoir Thu 07-Nov-13 08:57:32

In Paris the idea is for parents to keep their DC off primary school and maternelle on Wednesday 13 in protest at the shambolic réformes. No school on Monday anywhere - it's a national holiday.

castlesintheair Thu 07-Nov-13 09:07:16

Ah, brilliant. Thanks! Interesting about the strike/protests. I've not heard anything about that either but my DDs' primary is not affected by the "réforme des rythmes scolaires" yet so that is probably why.

AuldAlliance Thu 07-Nov-13 09:10:58

Yes, sorry - the reform has not hit us yet, forgot to specify that.
I think things will vary a lot from one place to the next.
Apart from 11/11, which will be a holiday everywhere.

NomDeClavier Thu 07-Nov-13 10:07:07

Nonononono there can't be a strike on the 14th! That means there will no crèche and if there is no crèche I am screwed. Unless I can bribe my pet English language assistant to babysit because if schools are striking she'll be free....

frozentree Thu 07-Nov-13 10:29:29

Quite interesting chat about the school reforms at our village meeting last week. Apparently most parents want school on Wednesday (makes sense to me, local college is already in on Wednesday), the mairie wants Saturday (as it's cheaper, no cantine, garderie etc.) but nothing has yet been decided. The parents association has asked parents but nothing has come from the mairie.

So the gossip is that the mairie will deliberately miss the December cutoff date for deciding; it will then go directly to the Academie at Versailles who will decide for our village and then the mairie can claim the decision was not theirs if it turns out to be Saturday, and take all the credit if it turns out to be a Wednesday.

It's such a mess, terrible to say but I am so glad that my youngest daughter is in CM1 and will only have 1 year of what ever gets decided..

AuldAlliance Thu 07-Nov-13 12:29:22

Nom, the strike is by professeurs des écoles.
Not sure that would affect a crèche, would it?

Bonsoir Thu 07-Nov-13 19:04:11

Hmm. As usual, politics, not child development, is deciding the fate of children's schooling.

I don't know why French schools can't do 8:30 to 15:00 every day...

riverboat Thu 07-Nov-13 21:21:18

Luckily DSS's school has decided to do Wednesdays instead of Saturdays, his mother has told me. He's in a south west Paris suburb.

It would be a disaster for us if he had to go into school on Saturdays. At the moment we have him eow Thursday evening - Monday morning. This is just about doable in terms of drop offs / pick offs, even though it means DP has to do shorter work days on Thursday and Friday and do a lot of driving as DSS's school is a 45 minute drive away from us, sometimes more in traffic. If DSS had to go into school on Saturdays as well it would hugely cut into his weekends with us, reduce the time he and DP got to spend together and mean that even MORE time was spent driving back and forth in the horrendous Ile de France traffic...

riverboat Thu 07-Nov-13 21:22:04

Oops, south east Paris suburb for what it's worth.

AuldAlliance Thu 07-Nov-13 21:29:41

Beyond the issue of which day the children have school, the funds, facilities and staff for the extra-curricular activities vary wildly from one municipality to another.
I have colleagues who teach in maternelle/primary in deprived suburbs of Marseille and they are pretty certain that the extra hours will not be devoted in any way to activities. It will just be garderie for all, for which there are no rooms other than classrooms.

In many places where the reform has been implemented, school time is not any shorter, just more disorganised and unpredictable, which is particularly damaging for the DC.

8:30-3pm Mon-Fri is a good idea, but in reality working conditions and salaries for women here mean that more kids would simply be at the garderie every day, and that certainly isn't where they enjoy relaxed, fruitful conditions for any activities, IME.

On another topic, I've just been invited to come along and watch Ayrault inaugurate a daft building at work tomorrow...

Bonsoir Thu 07-Nov-13 22:03:15

DC the world over are, sadly, in inadequate childcare after school. But I am not sure why it is worse to be in the garderie every day after school ends at 15:00 than to be in Centre de Loisirs all day on Wednesday and in the garderie after school from 16:00. At least school from Mon to Fri inclusive, 8:30 to 15:00, would provide routine for pupils and teachers alike.

pinkhousesarebest Fri 08-Nov-13 19:27:17

We live in a pretty affluent commune, boosted by the happy arrival of some outrageously overpaid footballers, and the range of activities and sports offered to the dcs on a Wednesday morning is staggering. When I work on a Wednesday, dd has two activities done by the time I pick her up for lunch. But even they are struggling with the huge burden that next years changes will bring, and warning that there will have to be a price hike to pay for them. I have just seen in one of the local papers that two communes have refused to comply and are sticking to the four days.
Interesting to hear of the boycott on Wednesday Bonsoir. I may follow suit as dd will miss her beloved riding lesson otherwise.

AuldAlliance Fri 08-Nov-13 20:22:28

Bonsoir, I think that having school over 4 days makes for easy part-time working hours for mothers: in many places it means women just don't work on Wednedays, and that ties in with having an 80% workload, which for fonctionnaires and several other categories is standard part-time post-children. It's more complicated to have women working five days a week but finishing before 3pm, because then you need cover for a few hours at the end of five days rather than someone to work a full day on a Wed.
That's why I think it'll mean more kids in garderie. I'm not suggesting that a 4-day week is necessarily preferable, just that that is one consequence of changing to 5 x 8:30-3.

I don't see why the 2-hr lunchbreak couldn't be reduced, TBH.

Pinkhouses, that sounds about right. Small rural or poorer urban communes just can't afford activities; there's been quite a bit of feedback recounting that in places kids are just hanging around school waiting for the day to end because there are no funds for activities or intervenants to lead them. DC in richer areas will increase their already considerable privileges to the detriment of those who are already disadvantaged.

Bonsoir Sat 09-Nov-13 10:45:12

Here in Paris my friends with DC at state primaries feel their DCs' privileges have been undermined by the changed timetable because it is harder to participate in the wide range of activities available outside school than it was when there was a 4-day week. The stuff done at school is of no interest at all.

pinkhousesarebest Sat 09-Nov-13 12:13:29

Yes totally agree Bonsoir. Most mums here don't work on Wednesday, so are free to ferry kids around from activity to activity. But there will be few and far between who will be available after school at half three the other days. The children will languish in étude instead. Unless the ladies all become sahm ( and leave the jobs to the men wink.) Would that improve unemployment figures I wonder?

Bonsoir Sat 09-Nov-13 15:09:36

Free Wednesday gives DC the option of participating in significant activities and/or ones that require quite a lot of logistics. DD has always done at least one "big" (= long and tiring and sometimes faraway) activity on Wednesday, that always has a lot of educational content (acting, sculpture...) and isn't possible after a long day at school. Lots of DC are used to spending a large part of Wednesday at the conservatoire.

AuldAlliance Sat 09-Nov-13 15:15:27

Oh, I misunderstood, Bonsoir, I thought you were suggesting earlier that schools should do 8:30-15:00 Mon-Fri, without the Wed off.
My mistake.

Bonsoir Sat 09-Nov-13 15:55:31

I don't know what I want particularly! I know I don't want the current Parisian state school situation which is:

Mon: 8:30-11:30 and 13:30-16:30
Tues: 8:30-11:30 and 13:30-15:00. Optional activites from 15:00-16:30
Wednesday: 8:30-11.30
Thursday: 8:30-11:30 and 13:30-16:30
Friday: 8:30-11:30 and 13:30-15:00. Optional activities from 15:00-16:30

All my friends with DC at state school say that the teachers cannot manage the shortened afternoon on Tuesday and Friday at all - they are all used to teaching in three-hour chunks.

hattymattie Sat 09-Nov-13 15:58:50

Yikes Bonsoir - when you put it like that - I'm glad my DC's are now all at college and lycee.

Bonsoir Sat 09-Nov-13 17:06:03

Yes! I'm glad that DD will only have one more year of primary from September 2014 - if her (private) school is forced into the 5-day week, we will at least only have one year of it and she is old enough to be able to cope, providing I am in the background to pick up the pieces.

I am not at all sure that private schools will have to conform, however.

Bonsoir Sat 09-Nov-13 17:08:06

Has your DD heard from any of her university choices, hattymattie? DSS1 is home this weekend (first time back since he left) and seems very happy with his course. This is his first proper taste of education outside the French system and he is quickly identifying the advantages. He is slightly in awe of the amazing A-levels, IB marks, French bac marks of his cohort - also the first time he has been in truly selective education...

hattymattie Sat 09-Nov-13 17:36:04

Thanks for asking Bonsoir - she's had an offer for law at Bristol -(14). We are delighted as this is her first offer, it's lower than expected and essentially means that unless she really messes up her bac she has somewhere to go next year. She's also got a few friends there so won't be entirely alone. It's great to hear that your DSS is enjoying himself.

Bonsoir Sat 09-Nov-13 17:45:16

That's fabulous news, hattymattie! Well done your DD (and well done you!).

Funnily enough DSS1's offer last year from Bristol was lower than expected too. He got the grades for the higher offer we were expecting, and he has now found that all the ex-French bac students also got very high marks (higher than his). It makes me think that Bristol may currently be in the business of trying to actively recruit ex-French bac students...

hattymattie Sat 09-Nov-13 19:11:44

It's good to know that the bac is well thought of and that all that slaving away will finally be (we hope) worthwhile.

Bonsoir Sat 09-Nov-13 21:05:22

Slaving away is indeed the operative term for their lifestyle in Premiere and Terminale. DSS1 is already realizing that life is far less "all work and no play" at university than itcws at lycée.

hattymattie Sat 09-Nov-13 21:43:43

I think they get an opportunity to blossom in the UK and I know at my DD's school the objective seems to be to get out of France and avoid the prepa at any price. grin

Bonsoir Sun 10-Nov-13 08:48:42

Indeed. DSS1 tells us that if ever he feels a bit homesick, he does Face Time with a former school friend who is at prepa. It instantly makes him feel good about his choice of the UK for HE.

hattymattie Sun 10-Nov-13 09:18:28

grin

Madamfrog Tue 12-Nov-13 07:37:11

May I join you? I live in south 24 and am loving the lovely SW French weather we're having at the moment ;-)

clearsommespace Tue 12-Nov-13 19:42:48

Please can I lower the tone and gripe that crumble is a dish served warm in a bowl, ideally with custard or ice-cream, and the fruit part is supposed to be deeper than the topping.
Aaah, I feel calmer now!

auntierozzi Wed 13-Nov-13 10:07:57

Hello there! Wow I didn't know there were so many of us in France that's lovely. I recognize AuldAlliance and NomDeClavier - hope all is well for you two :-)
We are still in Normandy after faffing about nearly going to La Réunion a couple of years ago, you were really helpful AuldA at that time. Thanks!

I've spent all my adult life in France, lived in Lyon, Lille, Orléans and for the last 12 years here in Normandy near to Caen. DH is French and we have been together for 22 years!!! (I was a child bride of course!!!! - not really).

We adopted our 2 daughters from China. They are now aged 10 and 11 and they never mix up their le-s and their la-s like their Mamma!! I do have French nationality. They are both in 6ème studying languages. They are definitely what they call pre-ado everything is MDR and LOL!!!!! Or Gore!!!
Bisous to everybody. Look forward to chatting with you.

FauxFroggie Wed 27-Nov-13 17:07:55

Hello. I just stumbled across this thread. I've been here for about fourteen years with my French husband and our two children. We live in Brittany and it always surprises me how few Brits we meet. Sometimes it's nice to just chat in English without making too much effort! I've read some really interesting stuff on here, especially regarding bilingual children and work. Looking forward to reading more!

PetiteRaleuse Wed 27-Nov-13 17:14:24

Has winter arrived for any of you? We had a little snow last week but this week is sunny but very cold. My favourite weather. Nice change from the rain.

AuldAlliance Wed 27-Nov-13 17:42:17

Definitely chilly in Provence (I am in 84, though, not on the coast). Very frosty mornings, a few flakes this morning, but lovely sunny, crisp weather forecast for tomorrow and the next day or 2.

We are in the process of buying a house, so I am drowning in estimates, legal and banking jargon and getting worried about how serious it all seems. And how much scope there is for taking advantage of a foreign woman, however fluent my French may be!

Nice to see you auntierozzi, I did wonder whether you ever went to Réunion.

Schnapps00 Wed 27-Nov-13 18:15:38

Hi all! New on the site, just moved to Mont de Marsan (40) to be with DP who is on exchange with the Fr military for another 2yrs here. Thanks for all great info, especially about work - am wondering what the options will be in a small town as someone ex-Army..has anyone on here set up their own business? I would love to gather the gumption to seize the opportunity, but not sure if it's worth it for 2yrs here..? Must confess am a bit of a fraud with no DC, but if work will be tricky maybe it's the perfect opportunity to 'bash out a couple of b***ards' as we put it the other night smile Found myself here after reading about penisbeakergate the other day and had to check it out..

riverboat Wed 27-Nov-13 22:16:18

It's cold here in the region parisienne! Christmas markets are opening now, and I've started to come over all Christmasy...

Will people be staying in France for Xmas or going back to the UK? Will you be mixing UK family and French family?

After a mixed Christmas for the last couple of years (ie with both DP's French parents and my English parents, plus DP's French DS) I am looking forward to two separate Christmases this year. I'll celebrate here with the French contingent on the 23rd, then I'll be flying back to the UK to spend the 25th with my parents and grandmother. Really looking forward to a Christmas day where I can unapologetically watch British telly, drink all day long and not have to worry about everyone getting along and translating stuff for all and sundry!

Schnapps - welcome to Mumsnet! I don't have children either, so you're not the only one, though I do have a DSS. I work in English teaching, but in the Paris area where there are tons of opportunities. Your best bet for teaching out in Les Landes might be univerisites as a vacataire, but I don't know if teaching English appeals to you? By all acounts setting up a small business is HARD in France, but maybe there are others better placed to advise than me. I am jealous by the way, I adore Les Landes and have been on holiday there practically every summer since I was a child - that hasn't changed since I've actually come to live in France proper, it's still our holiday destination of choice. I hope you enjoy your 2 years there.

PetiteRaleuse Thu 28-Nov-13 11:05:10

I used to teach in Paris smile

Went to the Metz Christmas market this weekend. St Nicholas is a big deal here and he will be popping into nursery next week smile

Schnapps00 Thu 28-Nov-13 12:48:34

Thanks Riverboat smile I love the fact we've got the Bordeaux-beach-Pyrenees triangle around us, but also slightly jealous of you in Paris with all it's delights! I am definitely considering English teaching, not sure good I'd be, but did the basic TEFL course before I came - there does seem to be a lot of demand in businesses etc, we'll see. People have mentioned the 'autoentrepreneur' scheme, but I've no doubt if it's hard setting up in UK, doubly so in a foreign language..Fr is currently fair to middling smile Your Christmas plan sounds like a good one!

space21 Fri 29-Nov-13 09:07:59

Salut!
I'm in 33 Gironde but actually live on the edge of the Landes. I love bordeaux and the coast but I'm lucky to live 10mins walk from a swimming lake and beach.

I've been here for 4.5 years and have had both mt kids out here. I did the Tefl and work at the chambre de commerce and give private lessons.

Setting up a business in France is expensive with regards to paying cotisations. Alternatives are the cheque emploi (for private lessons) or setting up an association. I'm planning group adult lessons for next year and may work at the local school.

What's everyone doing for Christmas - I'm back to the UK for a month! It will be weird as not been back for a couple of years...

Schnapps00 Fri 29-Nov-13 13:13:47

Hi Space21, you're not far from me! It's reassuring to hear you've found work, I'm hoping I will as 2 years twiddling my thumbs would not be great..Might just have to travel for it though, people here seem to commute a long way. Have you found it easy to make French friends etc?
Btw auntierozzi, what's 'gore' when it's at home? MDR & lol are in the argot repertoire which I'm trying to feed regularly smile

ImpOfDarkness Sat 30-Nov-13 11:48:38

You need a main job to teach as a vacataire, so that doesn't sound like an option. Being an autoentrepreneur would be your best bet, it's delibrrately paperwork-lite. Portage salarial would be the other less obvious option.

PetiteRaleuse Sat 30-Nov-13 20:05:47

Autoentrepreneur is quite simple. There are even websites which will explain it in English for free and help set up for a fee. Earning is limited depending on whether you are selling products or services.

Changing the subject. My DD1 is speaking sentences now. Some nouns in English but setence structure definitely French. So v cute. Need to get the bilingualism under control but loving the Franco English mix smile

FarFarAway Sat 30-Nov-13 22:57:25

Hello all.
Can I join in too? Been an occasional poster over the years. I am just outside the yvelines in the 28. Been here ooh...about 10 years now and have 3 DD's. Just seen this thread and spent far too long reading it from start to now.

I too am going crazy with this school reform. Still don't know if it Saturday or Wednesday and quite frankly don't want either. The four day week and hours fit much better with the routine of the children for activities and the working rhythm of parents (especially 80% mum workers).

Nice to see so many of us here.

Bonsoir Sun 01-Dec-13 18:44:03

I have a "why I love France" anecdote.

Yesterday morning, the French mother of a French girl in DD's class at school (her French class and also her native-speaker bilingual English stream) rang to discuss various things. Her final point was to ask me whether I might very kindly give her DD some tuition in reading comprehension in English. Said little girl was at school in a British school in another country for four years and returned to France just over two years ago, so her reading/writing in English is really pretty good. This year, however, she is really struggling with things like inference and deduction when reading class novels. This is entirely understandable, since the English teacher sets homework that requires the children to know these skills but entirely fails to teach them in class. My DD is fine because she has had a lot of extra tutoring in English and because I am always there to help, and perhaps because we have a culture of those things in our home. But it is very hard for 100% French people.

I of course said I would be delighted to help and we arranged that the mother and her DD would come over this afternoon, Sunday. We had a three hour playdate + homework + added lesson in inference and deduction and analysis + goûter + more playdate, the other mother there all the while. Both girls cooperated beautifully and were happy to work together. Everyone was polite and friendly and so well behaved... and the pâtisserie we shared was delicious.

So civilised...

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 07:22:16

I've got a Christmas question. I want to make my own mince pies but using shop bought mincemeat (I have this) and I am contemplating using shop bought pastry as I made a steak and mushroom pie the other day with some bought pastry and it was really good.

I was thinking of using Marie Pâté Sablée - does anyone have any better ideas?

riverboat Wed 04-Dec-13 07:29:04

Watching with interest as I made mince pies the other day (thank you WH Smiths on Rue de Rivoli for stocking mincemeat). I made my own pastry using a BBC good food recipe, but it turned out too crumbly, the pies barely held together. I have loads of mincemeat left so I might try shop bought for the second batch. I think the key thing is that the pastry should be sweetened though...

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 07:35:14

Marie Pâte Sablée has sugar in it.

OK, I'm think I'm going to give it a try - it's not exactly going to break the bank if it all goes horribly wrong!

AuldAlliance Wed 04-Dec-13 08:32:37

Never tried with bought pastry. My only concern would be how well you could re-roll the leftover bits after initial cutting-out of circles. Let us know...!

Can't remember if anyone is in Nantes, but there is a British Film Festival coming up: britannique.univercine-nantes.org/

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 08:46:01

I have just removed every single last bit of Christmas baking equipment / ingredients from my kitchen cupboards and every last decoration from their boxes and am feeling defeated already grin.

I think I need to go to Ikea and buy some new storage boxes...

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 08:56:46

I use readymade pastry - Herta. It's good, especially the puff pastry. You can freeze it too. I would go for the pâte brisée for pince pies but sablée might work, is sweeter and more crumbly though iirc.

You can re-roll leftover bought pastry.

Am far too lazy to make my own. I like cooking and baking but pastry is fickle and I honestly can't tell the difference between my own and bought. Well, when I have fucked up the pastry I can tell the difference - herta is better!

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 09:02:42

Thanks for that, PetiteRaleuse!

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 09:06:30

Let us know how they work out. I should really buy make some myself but that would involve a 50k drive to my nearest British store or ordering online. Will leave it til next year when the kids are older.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 09:10:16

Am in full swing - have got all my equipment out and am categorising Christmas, Easter, birthdays, picnics, dinner parties as "entertainment" themes and going to put everything in one place for each type of party.

Realise this has nothing especially French about it!

castlesintheair Wed 04-Dec-13 10:30:40

I use a Herta one sometimes which is really good. I can't remember what it's called, puff pastry I think. It's only about 2 euros. Where do you buy the mincemeat from Bonsoir?

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 10:49:39

I bought my mincemeat at a church fair last Sunday, but it is readily available at WHSmith (at an outrageous price) or at M&S.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 11:14:04

WHSmith is overpriced for everything, always was.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 11:16:37

Am so envy of the M&S you have now. I remember buying my lunch there most days until they closed all the stores down. I think they need to open up more stores in the east. Do they sell sausage rolls? M&S sausage rolls cold straight from the package are one of my very many guilty secrets. When I went to the UK earlier in the year we stopped at the first service station with an m&s and I bought a pack to share with dog. DH and DD1 turned their noses up at them.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 11:49:24

Several varieties of sausage roll are readily available at our local M&S grin. Ditto pork pies.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 11:52:24

envy grin

Might have to plan a day trip to Paris.

castlesintheair Wed 04-Dec-13 13:39:27

No M&S or WH Smith in my neck of the woods. I will have to wait until I go home. PetiteRaleuse, I make my own sausage rolls <preen>

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 13:52:09

<joins preening> so do I (with ready made puff pastry) but I still love m&s sausage rolls. There is a kind of sausage roll that butchers round here make, which is good, but far too naice iyswim.

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 13:57:54

I've had a very productive morning chucking out long past sell by date stuff from my kitchen cupboards which are now pleasingly bare and artistically styled with just a few choice Christmas goodies smile.

castlesintheair Wed 04-Dec-13 14:30:13

IKWYM PR, you just want something plainer and unhealthier.

I had that satisfaction yesterday Bonsoir. Unfortunately I've run out of eggs so all my great baking plans have to be postponed whilst I waste time on here.

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 14:35:30

Yep. As i said, guilty secret smile

clearsommespace Wed 04-Dec-13 16:20:55

I need Christmas help too. We're hosting the French in-laws this year. What reasonably priced bubbly should we buy? It doesn't have to be champagne if it is a good crémant but has to be easily available (Intermarché, Auchan, Leclerc etc) as we won't get through enough to make it worth having it delivered direct from a 'cave'.
Dh doesn't drink, I don't have a particularly discerning palette. I was pg last time we hosted so we delegated the choice of wines.

I use ready made pâte brisée for my mince pies.

EmilyAlice Wed 04-Dec-13 16:27:55

I usually make my pastry using the quick Tamasin Day-Lewis method. I use half the quantity of butter to flour, take the butter straight from the fridge, cut in pieces and blend in food processor for 20 seconds. Add a couple of spoonfuls of cold water and blend for another few seconds. Chill in fridge before use.
We find Lidl champagne at 9.99€ is very good. grin

riverboat Wed 04-Dec-13 17:29:23

Agree the prices are high on some WH Smith stuff, but I got more than a kilo of Robertsons mincemeat for 8 euros which I thought could have been worse.

I want sausage rolls now. Has anyone been to the M and S that just opened up in Aeroville, near CDG airport? Its my closest one AND open on a Sunday, but I have heard tales of huge overcrowding and 45m waits for a parking space...

PetiteRaleuse Wed 04-Dec-13 17:31:33

It's my nearest one too. About 300 km away. Tempted though grin

EmilyAlice Wed 04-Dec-13 17:49:06

Bought pâte feuilletée and sausagemeat?

Bonsoir Wed 04-Dec-13 18:35:08

I like the prosecco sold on houra.fr - IIRC it's about EUR 9 a bottle.

Nigella's chestnut stuffing made with Monoprix Gourmet peeled chestnuts in a jar instead of her half whole/half puréed mixture is very good. Just crush some of the chestnuts.

clearsommespace Wed 04-Dec-13 19:11:49

I should have mentioned FIL is quite patriotic when it comes to wine.
He's happy to eat Christmas pudding though!

castlesintheair Wed 04-Dec-13 19:46:38

My Super u (45) have an offer on nicholas feuillette champagne - 3 x bottles for 43 euros or something like that. It is a fantastic champagne IMO.

clearsommespace Wed 04-Dec-13 20:57:02

Thanks. I see that brand all the time, usually on offer. Always a bit dubious about products that are always on offer. But if you say it's good....

tb Thu 05-Dec-13 18:29:09

I usually buy direct from the grower in Verzenay - Grand Cru nv for about €15 a bottle. They will send, and bottles are packed in cartons of 6. We've been getting it from them since 1989 blush and Mme Busin is lovely. Rumour has it that she speaks English, but have always spoken French to her.

tb Thu 05-Dec-13 18:29:44

Oops, should have said Christian Busin - that's the name of the grower.

Belgianchox Thu 05-Dec-13 20:42:12

Does anyone have any idea where to get mincemeat online? Round my parts I can get lime marmelade but not mincemeat...

PetiteRaleuse Thu 05-Dec-13 20:50:39

Maybe epicerie barenton or british corner shop? Not checked though.

Schnapps00 Fri 06-Dec-13 11:41:31

Thanks for the autoentrepreneur tips Impofdarkness & Petiteraleuse, I'll look into it. I know English teaching makes lots of sense..but somehow doesn't get any enthusiasm going :-S Everyone seems to be so fana for British stuff in general though, I'm not sure whether it's from the Olympics, but every shop will have something Union flag-ed & in the supermarket the other day I noticed every single item of kids clothing had writing in English, maybe some mileage for un shop très British! smile
Have applied for my first couple of jobs this week but no reply as yet..safe to say not getting any hopes up.
Am shamelessly plundering all baking/cookery tips btw, thanks muchly - if I'm going to be a layabout for a while, I might as well learn to cook! Clearsomespace, not sure whereabouts you are, but we've got through a fair few bottles of Crémant de Bordeaux recently which might work? Normally about 6-7€ bottle so good value.

clearsommespace Fri 06-Dec-13 12:43:42

I'm in the Somme.
Crémant would be fine but the different brands vary so much, sometimes it can be pretty horrible. Do you remember the brand you enjoyed?

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 07-Dec-13 21:40:43

Make your own mincemeat! It's very easy and all it involves is a little stirring.

EmilyAlice Sun 08-Dec-13 06:30:22

Well yes and no. The problem is that mincemeat needs suet and suet means finding graisse de rognon at the butcher's and clarifying, hardening, grating....
I do bring back packs of suet because my OH loves steak and kidney pudding for a treat, but it doesn't keep that long and I have never found it in a supermarket. I have seen jars of mincemeat sometimes and a slug of Calva works wonders....

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 08-Dec-13 18:12:03

You don't always need suet for mincemeat - have a look at some of Nigella's recipes. Some of those are suet free. I made one with rhubarb that didn't use suet and kept well.

ImpOfDarkness Mon 09-Dec-13 19:59:11

Quick question - I'm filling in a certificate of custom for the British Embassy before I get married next year. It says "address of intended marriage": is this the address of the local town hall, does anyone know? And does anyone have an idea of the turn-around time for them to get the form back to me?

ImpOfDarkness Tue 10-Dec-13 22:06:11

Ok I'll take that as a no!

NomDeClavier Wed 11-Dec-13 02:04:30

I'd have to look back through our paperwork but I'm fairly sure the address is the place you will get married - although ours was the other way round (French embassy, marrying in the UK) it's likely to be a standard question. No idea on turnaround!

schnapps our local British shop closed last year <sob> People like the idea but aren't prepared to pay in reality. How are you finding French military culture? I'm trying to think whether we know anyone in Landes at the moment (DH is Navy) but drawing a blank apart from possibly a psychologist.

In other news I'm trying not to get my hopes up that I'm in early labour...

ImpOfDarkness Wed 11-Dec-13 09:04:25

ooh exciting!

NomDeClavier Wed 11-Dec-13 09:20:52

Nothing sad Just contractions that woke me up and I had to breathe through but not enough to stop me dozing between them and now they've vanished. Not fair.

Gripe of the day: fines for children's library books! Why???

frozentree Wed 11-Dec-13 12:15:45

Glad to say we don't have fines for children's library books - just an email reminder!

-7 here (outer reaches of yvelines) this morning...

ImpOfDarkness Wed 11-Dec-13 16:41:34

when are you due Nom?

EmilyAlice Wed 11-Dec-13 16:49:11

Is your library like ours nom (think you are in Calvados too) and doesn't do bangin' and stampin' so you never know when the books are due back? Bonkers!

Schnapps00 Wed 11-Dec-13 17:35:10

Hi Clearsomespace, only just seen this, sorry - afraid I can't remember the name, as we're quite near Bordeaux there's normally quite a few there..one up from the cheapest normally does it! (Maybe we're still philistines..) but the rosé version keeps me happy smile
Nomdeclavier, military culture very good so far thanks! Everyone's been really welcoming & tolerant of my average to mediocre French smile Possibly because quite a few of them have done exchanges so empathise but we're also bit of a novelty I think (no other Brits round these parts that I know of). Helps that I'm ex-mil myself so I know the score a bit..The job for the other half on the other hand..rather 'frustrant' so far I think!
I think my shop très British would be less food (British cuisine still seen as an oxymoron I think!) and more household/clothes etc, there just seems to be an appetite in general for Brit fashion/branding/logos etc, maybe just more the youngsters who all seem to have visited the UK? Have any Paris-based folks seen any pure Anglophile-type shops there? It's all a pipe dream anyway! I think..smile

clearsommespace Thu 12-Dec-13 06:26:21

Merci quand même Schnapps.

Our library doesn't stamp but we can check online when the books are due back. No fines for late books but we have to replace books that get lost or are more than 3 months late.

SpringyReframed Wed 01-Jan-14 11:04:24

Hi all you France dwellers. Bonne Annee!

A bit of a back story, which I won't go into, but I have a plan to spend a few months living in France at the end of this year, perhaps Nov-Feb. It will just be me. It is something I've wanted to do for a long time and circumstances are telling me this will be the time to do it like no other.

I know France quite well, and my DD has been living near Paris for 4 years. I dont want to rent near her but somewhere further south (it will be winter) but easily accessible to her and my DS's in London. A lot of my friends think this is a mad idea, that it will be so lonely, I will be a woman on my own etc but I am set on it. I want an adventure. I intend to have broadband and a Sky box! My french is poor but this will be my opportunity to try and learn it. That will be the main aim of the trip. I hate not being able to chat to friends and acquaintances of DD when I visit.

My question is where would you recommend? From reading through this thread I can see that some people have ended up living in very unfriendly places. Should I look at areas that have a high expat population, and if yes where are they in the South? Any thoughts on all this would be gratefully received.

Madamfrog Wed 01-Jan-14 12:33:26

Bonne Année, Happy New Year everyone -

Springy, anywhere south with a station on a main TGV line means you aren't very far from Paris (eg Bordeaux 3.5 hours, Montpellier the same, Toulouse possibly a bit longer...) if you are out in the sticks away from main lines it can be very different.

Lots of regional airports have cheap flights to the UK and other French regional airports.

Areas with high expat populations vary a lot, from cities where expats usually have jobs and a busy life and are fairly contented and there isn't much of a culture shock; to very rural areas with cheap houses (to buy, not to do up - nasty surprise for many) and not enough to do, not much in common with locals and few opportunities: which leads to discontentment and a fair amount of bitterness.

Look at the expat forums eg Frenchentree and Angloinfo (regional sites), there are probably more.

SpringyReframed Wed 01-Jan-14 15:09:12

Thanks for replying MadamFrog. That is a very interesting take on the expat situation and shows why my DD is so settled and why many others not so! I've read one or two of the expat forums and they make quite depressing reading at times, but then perhaps people go on them for a good moan or to let off steam? I actually stopped reading them as they really began to put me off!

I once lived outside the UK, not France, for many years so I do understand what it is like to be an outsider even when fully integrated so feel better placed than many to have this planned sabbatical. The entire thread rings very true for me and my past experiences.

fussychica Wed 01-Jan-14 17:51:30

DS currently living just inside the Spanish border working as a teaching assistant. He has been very pleasantly surprised by how friendly and helpful most people are as he had heard quite a few horror stories from other students.

Unfortunately, the rural location doesn't make for easy travelling and flights are fairly restricted outside the holiday season. If he could hire a car (he's too young) he could get to lots of interesting places fairly easily - as it is his journey usually begins with a local train to the coast (1.5) hours before he can get anywhere! However, he still loves it.

Hope it works for you Springy

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Wed 01-Jan-14 19:05:15

I live in an area with a huge international population. Everyone blends brilliantly, I've never heard any gripes from French people about how diluted they are. It's wonderfully supportive but occasionally it can also be a goldfish bowl. I agree with you Madamefrog it totally depends where you live as to your experience. My expat experience has been very positive.

The downside with living in such an multicultural area is the house and rental prices. They are ridiculously high. We rent a house that costs double if not triple what it would be worth in many other cities in France. It would put anyone off living in this area for the experience of living here. Basically you need a big company paying your rent to enable you to have a quality of life here.

SpringyReframed Wed 01-Jan-14 20:38:06

It looks like I'm going to have to get recommendations. Most people I know in France live further north than I would like to be. It is only going to be for a few months, so if it doesnt work out, it doesnt matter. It is only an extended holiday in many ways. If I love it, who knows what it may lead to. I've found a good website for long term rentals over the winter months. I would prefer to live in or very close to a village/small town and that looks possible.
Thanks for your good wishes.

tb Thu 02-Jan-14 14:43:38

Bit late now, but I got some mincemeat in Comptoir Irlandais in Brive just before Christmas. Can't remember if they have suet, though.

Their shops are all over France, but they don't do mail order. Amazon had mincemeat, but you had to buy 4 jars at a time, which is rather a lot.

overthemill Thu 02-Jan-14 16:31:07

Wondering, is anyone near Saintes?

Faffette Sun 05-Jan-14 16:04:43

<delurks> is anyone in the North? Have a bit of a crisis. We have lost my daughter's soft toy and we are heart broken. It is a long shot but maybe one of you lives in the same area.

Faffette Sun 05-Jan-14 16:05:45

Also if anyone aware of a place online where I could ask locals?

Mouchemallow Sun 05-Jan-14 18:17:11

(Delurking also) faffette, sorry have no advice for you, but hope it gets found.
Springyreframed, Aix en Provence is lovely, good TGV links and a lively ex pat community. Good opportunities for immersion as well though.

peppersquint Mon 06-Jan-14 15:39:11

Fafette - go to leboncoin - on the header they have a section for "wanted" - people post lost stuff on there (usually cats, dogs etc... but you may be lucky) - you can localise it to your commune, all towns in your commune or departments. Hope this helps.

peppersquint Mon 06-Jan-14 15:40:09

What's the toy by teh way? Maybe someone has a spare? I

Faffette Mon 06-Jan-14 16:16:51

Thank you do much, I will try that. I could replace it but to be honest I am more upset than my daughter! blush

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Mon 06-Jan-14 17:48:24

SpringyReframed I agree Aix would be absolutely lovely, such a beautiful area. Near there you have the Herault region, very pretty too and rental prices should be cheaper. Very down south and accessible by plane.

castlesintheair Tue 07-Jan-14 09:02:12

SpringyReframed, I also recommend the S of France. Nimes is lovely. I would not recommend rural France if you want to make friends/learn French as it takes a looooooong time for the locals to even start looking you in the eye.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 07-Jan-14 09:20:05

I would definitely go to the south at that time of year. envy grin

Mouchemallow Wed 08-Jan-14 19:16:31

Sorry to lower the tone of this gentil thread, but can I ask a tax question?
I am toying with the idea of setting up as an auto entrepreneur, which seems a good option for me. I have only just started looking at this though and am not sure if it is going to be viable. My research so far seems to say that I will pay tax at around 25 % on turnover, which appears to mean that I cannot claim any deductions for costs. Does anyone know if this is the case? I will have fixed costs so this may not be an option then. Any advice welcome.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Fri 10-Jan-14 19:27:00

That's the way I understand it Mouchmallow look at www.federation-autoentrepeneur.fr for up to date changes. I looked and decided against it because of the inability to deduct costs.

Countessfosco Sat 11-Jan-14 07:55:47

Thanks Theaccidental. I am still looking at this but that was my first impression on this.

Another late comer here ! Been living just by Montpellier since 1994 eek!
now married to french DH and two DDs in MS and CE1.. they have school on wednesday mornings and frankly, the system is making me want to cry! DD1 is having trouble (already?!) and her teacher seems to have written her off..
Anyway.. looking at tickets to take a DD back to England for their annual long wend with Mummy (they both get a go!), love having christmasvat home but cant wait to go back too (that split personality thing mentioned upthread seems to have worked the other way for me as moving countries at 15 made me much feistier than i could have imagined).

america Sat 25-Jan-14 22:20:20

Marking the place. I moved to Paris a couple of weeks ago and would appreciate any advice on how to help 6YO DS settling in his new school. We moved from a completely different schooling system and he only writes in capital letters which is turning into a major issue here and doesn't speak French. He panics when other children try to talk to him and runs away if possible. I am a single mum and work FT so cannot collect him from the school and feel v. Guilty for putting him through this. The head teacher mentioned a special teacher but I am waiting for more information on this. There is a very noisy party on the flat accross the yard giving me an opportunity to dwell on my worries rather than getting some much needed sleep. I hope things will look brighter tomorrow.

castlesintheair Sat 25-Jan-14 22:35:17

They should be able to provide soutien scolaire (extra lessons) or enseignante ASH (SEN teacher for language difficulties if he is in a private school). I imagine in Paris they are very used to dealing with expat children like your son. I feel guilty some days for what my DCs are going through too (been in school here since September) but they seem happy, mostly.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Sun 26-Jan-14 10:06:23

america that sounds tough, for your son and you. Still it's very early days and slowly he will find his feet. Are you in Paris permenantly? Are there any English speaking groups you can join, like on Facebook. We have an English speaking kids group here (too far, we are down south) I wonder if there might be something like that around your way?

Bonsoir Mon 27-Jan-14 14:06:45

america - you need to employ a graphothérapeute to teach your DS to write in cursive as this is taught in Grande Section and the first few weeks of CP and he needs to catch up fast. Ask your DS' class teacher if she can recommend someone - lots of DC need graphothérapie even when they have been in the French system. He will basically need to do a lot of drilling. I've seen other DC arrive mid-way through CP from England and they do catch up.

BriocheDoree Mon 27-Jan-14 21:22:41

America, I was also going to suggest a graphotherapeute...my son also has to see one (been in the French system all along but has problems with handwriting). Have you considered joining message www.messageparis.org as that might help you to meet other English speakers locally: there are bound to be other kids your son's age nearby. My son is the same age but we are further out in the suburbs. It will be difficult for him. He WILL catch up, as Bonsoir says, but he might have a tough time. Is he in a French public school or one with a bilingual section?

america Thu 30-Jan-14 20:55:32

Thank you Bonsoir and BriocheDoree. He is pretty tired in the evenings and doing normal homework takes already ages so not sure how to handle extra tutoring. He was already referred to a teacher who specializes in children speaking little or no French, whatever that means. Not sure if he will work on cursive though or just the language. I will ask the head teacher, she told me that DS is finding writing very hard. I really want to help him everyway I can.

NoelMamereGaelMonfils Fri 31-Jan-14 07:47:45

Would you recommend joining Message brioche? I've been thinking about it now I have a little boy (three months), but they don't seem to have anyone local to me in my corner of the 93. BTW I'm a namechanger from upthread, I was ImpOfDarkness.

Superspudable Fri 31-Jan-14 12:39:19

Sent you a message america about a recommended graphotherapeute in Paris

BriocheDoree Mon 03-Feb-14 18:43:53

NoelMamereGaelMonfils, I rarely go to Message meetings but I have found it an invaluable resource on life in France. My DH is English and we both speak fluent French but it has been great for negotiating all of the French paperwork, particularly the unexpected things that life throws at you from time to time! It has also been very useful for recommending plumbers, buying second hand baby stuff, discussing life in France...I even got a job off message in the past.

LifeisFuckingGreat Tue 04-Feb-14 08:05:33

What is this message? Sounds useful

BriocheDoree Tue 04-Feb-14 16:49:46
NoelMamereGaelMonfils Tue 04-Feb-14 18:43:49

Ok thanks brioche. Turns out one of my new colleagues is an organiser and it looks like it'll be helpful for exposing DS to English so I'll give it a whirl.

scripsi Sat 29-Mar-14 19:42:22

hello! I am not living in France (yet), but I am just finishing a much delayed post grad dissertation (have been off mn for a couple of months due to bereavement but I am a regular) and I am trying to get the gist of an article written in French (it is about the person my dissertation is on) I have done a kind of scratch translation on it but some of the turns of phrase I really don't understand and could change the meaning entirely. Would anyone be able to endure me messaging bits of phrases over? Really sorry to ask this but I am in a very tight spot.

ImpOfDarkness Sun 30-Mar-14 12:13:44

Youu can pm me if you like.

scripsi Sun 30-Mar-14 15:40:22

thanks! very very kind of you - will do so! I have been tearing my hair out over this for the last two weeks!

castlesintheair Tue 01-Apr-14 11:31:53

Can anyone please explain to me what a bilingual school actually is/involves?! There is one 40 minutes from us and it would be a complete pita logistically but I'm wondering if it might be a better option for DS? He's in 6eme in an all french college privee (can't find accents on my kindle!) and is happy but not being supported at all with french/General curriculum differences. This was meant to happen of course but now they don't have the resources blah blah. DH is meeting his form teacher this week (for 5 minutes ha ha!!) but I am weighing up our options. Thanks to anyone who can advise on anything and if bilingual sounds preferable for my DS.

Bonsoir Tue 01-Apr-14 14:21:00

castlesintheair - most French bilingual collèges and/or lycées are schools that offer the option internationale of the French bac and have extra English (or whatever other language they offer bilingually) lessons and also history in English. Which is your nearest bilingual school?

castlesintheair Tue 01-Apr-14 14:36:03

Thanks Bonsoir. It's called St Charles in Orleans. I couldn't find much out from it's website but I was under the impression it was for children wanting to learn English rather than the other way around? If some lessons had the option to be in English especially the technical ones like SVT and techno that would be amazing. Just to get a bit of support would be nice.

LillianGish Tue 01-Apr-14 14:42:28

Sorry for hijack. Just wanted to let Bonsoir that both my dcs got places in bilingual section at Ecole Massillon. Thanks for the advice to get my skates on back in September/October otherwise would probably be scrabbling around now.

Bonsoir Tue 01-Apr-14 14:46:38

I see what you mean. It isn't a proper section internationale but rather a French school with reinforced English. But I would have thought that it would be worth talking to the head of English there to see what she things about your DS' education - she's bound to be knowledgeable about options in your region.

Bonsoir Tue 01-Apr-14 14:47:35

LillianGish - brilliant news! And well done - Massillon is notoriously hard to get into! I will undoubtedly be requesting feedback in due course wink

LillianGish Tue 01-Apr-14 14:54:41

Thanks so much for the advice thanks. Very happy about it. Will join this thread in preparation for my return in August!

castlesintheair Tue 01-Apr-14 16:29:03

I will do that I think after the chat with current school this week. Thank you Bonsoir, you are always so helpful.

LillianGish/Bonsoir, do you have to sit an entrance exam for the Paris schools?

LillianGish Tue 01-Apr-14 16:39:59

My dcs had to sit an English test for their school (which all my French friends thought was hilarious!). Obviously the school just assumed their French was up to it by the fact that they were already in the French system. It was quite a lengthy test - comprehension, essay, oral presentation and interview - but not particularly difficult as they are English.

Bonsoir Tue 01-Apr-14 17:00:26

The Paris bilingual collèges all have entrance exams for their English sections, yes - of varying degrees of difficulty. There are also often entrance exams for the French bit too (if the schools are private sous contrat).

waxdays Wed 16-Jul-14 21:57:25

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

LaChatte Sat 19-Jul-14 15:37:49

I shall make the most of the thread being revived by a spammer and introduce myself if there's anyone still around.

I'm in the Gard (30) and have been here since 1997. I have been a fonctionnaire for the past five years, but still haven't crossed over to the dark side, despite DH and DD (4yo, going into GS) being French. 12yo DS (going into 6eme, having redoublé his CP) is sticking by me in my Britishness though!

bunnyfrance Sat 19-Jul-14 20:22:19

Hi there, LaChatte! Welcome! I've been here since 1996, also a fonctionnaire, but going over to the dark side...in fact, I have a rdv at the préfecture this coming week to hand over my million documents for nationality acquisition. Is your DH from the Gard, or what took you there?

LaChatte Sun 20-Jul-14 00:44:31

I met DH at uni (84), I was already in the Gard thanks to DM who had been living here for a while (seemed to make sense to move into her house near her.

I'm a teacher, what about you?

GreatAuntDinah Mon 21-Jul-14 19:36:00

Hi LaChatte, nice to meet you. i've namechanged from upthread, I used to be NoelMamereGaelMonfils. I've been here since 1997, currently in the 93. Am also a fonctionnaire educ' nat'. There's a small group of us on FB as well.

Fenouille Mon 21-Jul-14 20:27:06

Can I join in? I'm in 31, been here 15 years on and off. Two small boys, the oldest started maternelle last September, the youngest is at a nounou - I work full time.

DH isn't French or English so we have a trilingual situation going on at home. DS1 is coping quite well so far, will have to see how DS2 gets on when he starts talking.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with France. I have lots of lovely French friends and colleagues but I find the general atmosphere here so negative. I too have a split personality and I am definitely more humorous (well, I hope so!) in English. But I constantly find myself looking for expressions that don't exist because they're so typically French. And I'm not sure I feel at home anywhere.

I suspect we will be lifers but that makes me a bit sad. But I also have elderly parents back home so will probably have to spend some time in the UK at some point. I guess that might be an opportunity to see if we want to move there full time.

Cooee to AA and others who I may have met on previous French threads.

LaChatte Mon 21-Jul-14 21:00:23

What is the third language?

Fenouille Mon 21-Jul-14 22:29:59

I've just realised this thread is a bit old. Hope I'm not too late to the party.

The third language is German LaChatte. Why? do I know you grin <narrows eyes>

LaChatte Tue 22-Jul-14 21:17:23

No no, just curious! The thread is quite old, but no reason it can't keep going, I'm sure everyone is still here, somewhere...

GreatAuntDinah Wed 23-Jul-14 10:44:07

I am! we're a family of aoûtiens so I'm around for a few days yet smile

Fenouille Fri 25-Jul-14 06:28:05

VERY intense thunderstorms woke my baby up at 5.30 today. On my day off grumble grumble. Any other 31ers listening to the hail?

Blimey, lightning just struck very close indeed. Thought the sky might fall on our heads.

LaChatte Fri 25-Jul-14 10:04:16

We were hit by a mini tornado on Sunday! It ripped all the ivy off the front of the house, flattened my beautiful garden and the hail pierced lots of little holes in the veranda roof!

themummyonthebus Fri 25-Jul-14 14:01:44

Eek LaChatte

babybarrister Sun 27-Jul-14 17:55:43

I am posting on behalf of a cousin living in Tarn et Garonne who needs a decent divorce lawyer- anyone have any recommendations?!

Thanks

GreatAuntDinah Mon 28-Jul-14 14:31:38

Can't help, sorry, but I'll ask around!

babybarrister Mon 28-Jul-14 16:39:38

Thanks -apparently the lawyer will need to be from that department ....

Ujjayi Wed 06-Aug-14 09:30:37

I've already posted this question in the "Elderly Parents" section but thought I'd also give it a try here in the hope that someone may have suggestions ...

We need to find live-in support for my elderly FIL who lives close to Evian. He is in his 90's and it is becoming increasingly clear that he cannot continue to live unaided. As a family, we are aiming to support his wishes to remain in his own home for as long as we can. However, none of our family live in France and whilst the summer holidays mean that a "rota" of sorts is possible, this is just not sustainable long-term.

He doesn't need round-the-clock "nursing". What we are thinking of is a live-in housekeeper type role who would prepare meals, shop, clean the house, take him to any medical appointments etc.

I have no idea how we might go about finding such a person and wondered if any MNers currently resident in France would have any insight into how we could find somebody to take on this role e.g. agencies etc?

Bonsoir Wed 06-Aug-14 09:51:07

Ujjayi - you could try the local Pôle Emploi or put an ad in the local newspaper. That type of domestic role is relative usual in France. Some mairies (town councils) can help too - perhaps try there first.

Ujjayi Wed 06-Aug-14 10:20:38

Thanks Bonsoir - very helpful and good to know that it isn't too much of an unusual role too which hopefully will make finding somebody much easier.

Bonsoir Wed 06-Aug-14 10:33:37

Maybe ask at the mairie if your FIL could have an assistante sociale allocated to him? A social worker would be aware of the care options in her town, so much better informed than the general pointers I can give here.

Ujjayi Wed 06-Aug-14 10:47:37

Ah okay. One final question: what is the term of reference we should use for role we are looking to fill? DH and BiL are near-fluent french speakers but they are always keen to ensure they get this exactly right.

Bonsoir Wed 06-Aug-14 16:02:27

aide a domicile?

bunnyfrance Wed 06-Aug-14 18:11:01

Going through an association "d'aide à la personne" will be much easier than trying to hire someone yourself. Again, the Mairie should be able to give you the names of some. That way, you can claim some of the cost off tax, and the Conseil Régional also subsidises care if the assistante sociale deems it necessary (as it sounds in your case).

Ujjayi Wed 06-Aug-14 21:45:22

Brilliant. Thank you. BIL has started the ball rolling by contacting social services but they say we will have a 5-6 month wait before someone becomes available. DH and I will be in France from Saturday so will make some enquiries via the associations you mention bunnyfrance.

Thanks once again to you both for your help. MN comes to the rescue once more smile

GreatAuntDinah Thu 07-Aug-14 10:31:44

Es I'd second that. A friend of mine has excellent social care for her very elderly parents through the local authorities with meals on wheels, home visits from the podiatrist, that sort of thing.

velourvoyageur Sat 09-Aug-14 10:22:49

Sorry to barge in!

I was wondering if anyone has any experience of Franck Provost? It's the salon nearest to me. I know they're a chain and all over Paris, but then Toni and Guys is meant to be good and I've heard loads of horror stories about them.....

Also when they say 39 euro for cut/shampoo etc and they say just short hair, what does that mean! They don't deal with long hair at all?

Otherwise, can anyone recommend any cheapish/good indie salons in Paris? thanks in advance!