Relocating to France/Limousin

(32 Posts)
overthemill Mon 24-Jan-11 15:22:54

We are moving! After months of planning and hoping we have a house and are going to be moving permanently end of June. We are going out to do a recee on new town in half term Now I need to pick all your brains.

Mobile phones: cheap PAYG or contract? Can anyone recommend a provider to me? I want one for using in France and will keep my UK one for a while too.

TV: if the house has a satelite dish - can I just buy SkySat box and use that for the BBC (I need the BBC news, won't be able to manage without it!)?

Where do you buy stuff like BIG bags rabbit /dog food?

Registering for schools - is there a central registration point like LEA in UK or is it with the Mairie? My dd will be 12 and so at College - we are hoping she can transfer to 7iemme (?) but know the language may be an issue as she is not yet fluent.

Language teaching (French) - has anyone been on an immersion course in Limousin and if so, any recommendations (for me) and any for 12 year old?

Anything else you wish you'd known?

I am looking at Anglinfo and totalfrance too but wanted a MNer Point of View!! grin

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overthemill Mon 24-Jan-11 21:17:31


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greedychops Mon 24-Jan-11 21:19:50

Sorry no answers but I will watch with interest. Very envy. Can I ask what you are going to do in France? Do you or dh/dp have a job already or are you going to get once you are there?

Hope it all goes really well.

natation Mon 24-Jan-11 22:06:17

Education is controlled in France by "Académie de XXX", in the case of the 3 Limousin départements, the Académie de Limoges.

You will need to contact the Académie. Normally, French resident students go to a public college, no real choice, your address governs which college, or otherwise a private college (nearly all nomially Catholic and minimal fees). However, there are schools in many areas with special "adaptation" classes for new arrivals, the Académie will be able to give you details.

natation Mon 24-Jan-11 22:25:37

PS this school year, 7e otherwise known as COURS MOYEN 2 (CM2) is for children born in 2000 and therefore most children are still 10 years old in 7e which is the last year of primary school. 12 year olds born in 1998 are currently in 5e which is the 2nd year of college, 12 year olds born in 1999 are in 6e which is the 1st year of college.

AlisonItaly Mon 24-Jan-11 22:42:20


Sorry don't have much time but will try and do a quick reply. We now live in Italy but lived in France for 6 years (in and around Paris).

Phones - when we first arrived had PAYG as we didn't want to get a contract without really understanding it, and didn't know how much we would use them there. PAYG were OK but later swapped to contracts after working out it would be cheaper for how we used them, and had enough French to understand how the contract.

TV - we always had French TV - Canal, either by phone line or dish. Last provider we had were Noos who were terrible, would avoid them (not only us who had problems). With Canal we got English news channels, BBC and CNN - but I would check if they still provide them. You also get English premiership football and all Champions League matches - as you know life would end without them!! I think there is a way to use Skybox, but I can't be of much help as we never did it. I would recommend getting French TV, it is hard going at first but it will really help you learn the language. Also it is not too bad (wish I could still get it here).

Big stuff - Didn't have pets but would guess Auchan would probably be the best supermarket for that if there is one near, they seemed to do the more bulky things. I think also garden centres and possibly DIY shops used to stock things like that.

Schools - already answered. I think there is a league table of sorts if you are interested, although I am not sure it covers college. Will try and find it for you if you are interested (bit late to do it now).

Language - can't recommend anywhere specific but I would recommend having a private tutor for your daughter if you can, even before you go. When we arrived in Italy my then 4 year old knew no Italian at all. He went to an English speaking nursery in the mornings (all others Italian kids, we had planned on a bilingual school but had some last minute probs with that) and then 2 afternoons a week he had private lessons. They were great for him, helped him learn a huge amount and he really enjoyed them. If he has to learn another language because of moving I would always do it again. They are not always that much more expensive than an immersion course and she will learn more - which she will need for school. For yourself I would say do a course with others, you will learn enough from it for your needs at first and it is a great way to meet people.

Anything else? Wish I had know 25 years ago I would be moving to France as I would have actually listened in school rather than thinking it was a total waste of time! Seriously will have a think as I am sure there are other questions. Anything else please ask

Hope this has helped a bit


AnnieLobeseder Mon 24-Jan-11 22:47:51

Hi there

My dad moved to Limosin in May, and we're been over to visit twice. It's a lovely area!!

Can't help you with schools, but can tell you about Sky!

My dad has two Sky boxes and a dish. He just plugs the boxes in and gets all the FreeSat English channels. If you still have family in the UK, you can get them to subscribe, post the Sky card to France, then you call them up to activate it and it will work (so Sky told me). They can't have an account at a French address, so you'll need to use a UK one, but Sky cards and boxes will work.

There's a fairly large expat community in Limosin and they put out a monthly newletter called Etcetera. Not sure how you get told of it, but I could ask my dad for you. It's full of local French lessons, trusted local French and English tradespeople, pet supplies and useful advice for expats.

Hope that helps!


overthemill Tue 25-Jan-11 07:42:32

thank you all, really useful stuff.
Sky: freesat would be enough i think. We intend to watch french tv and listen to french radio but will want occasional uk fix!
Phones, hmm, need more info! Last visit spent £80 on calls in one week!
Schools: she'll be 6ieme at present as 1999 birth year. I did look at academie but couldn't understand it!
Language: good advice, she's having private tuition already and has been in french club yrs 1- 4 plus french lessons at school since yr 5 so good basis i hope. Lessons for me, thought immersion to bumpstart and then lessons when get there, to learn and socialise?
Work: we have rent free accom for 2 years so huge chance to take a risk . Dh will teach english to start, he did so in germany previously. I am qual teacher, of adults, and so may teach english if possible to start, earn some money. Dh will stay in UK until October anyway, we're going earlier for schools. We have 2 small business ideas and his redundancy, plus hopefully house sale money, so feel we can investigate these there. We need to research local market in this area. Also both of us have experience as interims/remote working to fall back on. And in 7 years we can opt for early retirement so will have income then.
But France is where we want to make our home!

Yes please, any more info gratefull received!

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MmeLindt Tue 25-Jan-11 07:53:06

We had sat dish when we moved to Switzerland, but have since switched to internet TV. The reception is better, and more stable. When the weather was bad, we had no British TV. It is available here in a package with the Swisscom internet/tv provider, I have seen ads for the French version in the supermarket.

There are big pet shop superstores in France, I cannot remember the name, somethingPet. Will think about it. Otherwise you can look in the big supermarkets. It depends what kind of food you are looking for - for Hills and the more expensive brands you will have to go to a pet store, or to someplace like Gamm Vert - a garden centre.

We moved to French speaking Switzerland just over two years ago, and the DC are fluent now. They were only 4 and 6yo when we moved.

A large expat community is both a blessing and a curse. We don't speak very good French as all our friends are English speakers, and making friends with locals is not easy.

bunnyfrance Tue 25-Jan-11 08:47:20

Hi there,

I have a PAYG phone as I hardly use my mobile, I think if you use it a lot a contract will be cheaper. I've always steered clear of contracts because I'd heard that they're really hard to get out of, but that may have changed in the last 10 years.

TV: we have cable, all you get is BBC World, BBC Entertainment (which basically consists of Doctors, Casualty, Eastenders and 70s comedy reruns) and CNN. Can't get satellite as we're in an apartment, well we could, but it would be a huge bureaucratic nightmare with the syndic.

Rabbit food - this is one of my specialist areas grin I order cunicomplet pellets online through and "foin de crau" (the best hay there is) through I find it hard to get decent hay in supermarkets/garden centres. Her litter I just get at Auchan.

Also, shop around for vets. Rabbits are still only seen as food here sad and it's hard to find a progressive vet that knows they can and should be neutered and vaccinated.

Hope that helps - good luck with the move!

overthemill Tue 25-Jan-11 10:58:45

bunnyfrance thanks! i'm guessing you like rabbits/pets generally? At present my dd owns 1 tortoise, 2 guinea pigs and 6 rabbits (I know, but we are a soft touch and have huge garden). We have a dog (labradoodle) plus 3 chickens. The chickens will stay (!) but the rest we really want to bring. The dog is an absolute, if he can't come, I won't go. BUt in practical terms what's it like importing your pets with you? Dog will be ready to leave UK by mid February so he's ok and can just sit in the car with us. But the rest? How does it work?

Sky - that's helpful, will look for internet TV, tbh we use iplayer and 4 OD most of the time anyway but more info would be great.

Does anyone like leclerc do phones, like tesco does?

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overthemill Tue 25-Jan-11 11:02:36

ooh other question: roughly how much do you reckon you spend on things like: water, council tax equiv, school, travel etc - i want a rough idea for my planning. Want an idea of how long our savings might last if we have no work at all.

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frenchfancy Tue 25-Jan-11 12:47:57

Leclerc do phones, it is a bit of a cross between a PAYG and a contract. You pay a nominal fee (2€ I think) for the connection then buy the top ups.

For the schools I recommend you contact your local Catholic college and talk to them. The fees are really small and we found the catholic system to be more open of foreigners.

My DD1 is a 1999 baby too, she is now in 5eme as she skipped a year (in france since she was 3), but I think 6eme could be very hard for a non- French speaker, especially as they will have all made their friends by now. I would think that a couple of terms in CM2 to get to grips with the language would be a good idea, so she could then start college on a sounder footing, and at the same time as everyone else. She is likely to get on much better in a small school where it is only the language she it learning and not everything else - 6eme is a very hard year for the kids.

overthemill Tue 25-Jan-11 13:21:44

frenchfancy - yr 7 (uk equiv) is also a 'hard' year for 11 year olds as it is such a change. Do you mean in that way it is hard or academically? I'm going to find it very hard selling going back two school years!

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overthemill Tue 25-Jan-11 13:22:11

and she is very bright - streets ahead of most kids in her class.

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bunnyfrance Tue 25-Jan-11 14:49:39

Wow, 6 rabbits! How are you going to travel with them all? I only have one and have no experience of importing animals (we got ours here). I know that cats and dogs need pet passports and it's relatively straightforward but have no idea about the other animals. You might have to contact someone in customs or the dept. of agriculture to find out, particularly for the tortoise, if it's a protected species? Also try the Rabbit Welfare Society for more info.

overthemill Tue 25-Jan-11 17:20:49

bunnyfrance i know that you are only allowed 5 animals per family. But as we are going to be living in a house owned by UK friends they have offered to import the others for us - they have none themselves and the house is big enough for both our families (although in truth we shall be the main residents).

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frenchfancy Tue 25-Jan-11 17:52:43

She won't be going back 2 years, she will only be going back one year.

TBH you might not have a choice. Even if the school let her start 6eme now, unless she can get her average up to a reasonable standard by the end of the year then the college will make her re-do the year. this happens fairly often in French schools for French children. If she does the CM2 route now then she will get to stay with the friends she will have made.

6eme is hard because it is a change of pace as well as being hard acedemically. Being bright is a big help, but it doesn't make up for the lack of language, nor the lack of background in the french education system. She will need to learn all the terms they use in grammer (COD vs COI would be a very basic example, as well as congugations of Passé simple and plus que parfait) as well as catching up with the french history, and the methods they use in Maths (which are not the same as they use in the UK).

If your DD is a bright as you say then the year she drops back now can be made up later. Years are not as fixed as is normal in the UK so jumping a year can be done as long as the marks are good.

frenchfancy Tue 25-Jan-11 17:56:36

As an idea, try asking the question on the Total France forum.

I just asked my DD if she thought if she arrived in France today without speaking fluent french could she do the 6eme classes and she said "not a chance"

bunnyfrance Tue 25-Jan-11 19:10:11

Re animals - We have to go to the vet's soon for our rabbit's shots, so will ask him about importing rabbits and other animals into France.

jamaisjedors Tue 25-Jan-11 19:14:36

RE TV - you don't need to PAY for anything, we have a satellite dish and decoder, bought in France, and pick up all the freetoair uk channels.

Othersideofthechannel Tue 25-Jan-11 19:35:07

If you are living in someone else's property you will need private public liability insurance (responsabilité civile).
School will ask to see proof of this (in case your child damages school property or hurts another child)
I would budget max 50 Euros for a year for the whole family.

overthemill Tue 25-Jan-11 20:03:32

thanks for all the info!

frenchfancy - she is yr 7 now in UK: so 6eme equiv. In september in UK she goes up to yr 8/5eme. So if instead she goes into CM2 in france isn't that like going back into yr 6 (and thus down 2 years)? That's what I don't understand.

We have been using the 6eme hachette books with her since september last year with her french tutor to prepare her.

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AuldAlliance Tue 25-Jan-11 20:44:26

Some idea of random costs, off the top of my (exhausted) head. (Disclaimer: I am in an expensive part of Frabce. But not sure that affects general costs all that much...)

School lunches in my town (have just gone up a lot as right-wing mayor was elected in last municipal elections) maternelle: 2e60 primaire: 3e00 per meal. Haven't figures for collège.

Mobile phone contract w SFR around 15-25 euros/mth and AFAIK you still have to commit for a long period (12 or 24mths). Supermarkets do not offer mobile contracts. Mobile phone costs are notoriously high here, and there is a sort of unofficial agreement between operators to keep things thus, regularly denounced by consumer protection bods.

Phone/internet (for boring and annoying reasons, I am with Orange and they are, I think, the most expensive): a shocking amount. About 35e/mth for line rental (don't use that phone, but need to have it to have a phone line, IYSWIM) and then about the same again for Internet/broadband access. Has just gone up because of VAT changes.

Electricity: depends on type of heating, etc. When we had electric heaters in last rented house, which were ancient and house poorly insulated, we paid c100e/mth.

Taxe d'habitation/foncière (bit like council tax) depends upon type of accommodation, area, etc., so v hard to say what you would pay.

Water: varies from town to town, I believe. I can look at our recent bills if you like, but can't quote a yearly/monthly figure w/o checking.

Teaching English: if you are to be working outwith éducation nationale, you need to be canny. Many employers (such as Chambres de Commerce) pay a pittance.
Teaching within éducation nationale needs a whole other thread.

If you are thinking, even vaguely, of setting up a business based in France, I'd advise you to get professional advice as to how much you'll pay in "charges", as it can be a surprise for anyone unaccustomed to the French system. And the more you earn, the more you pay. DH works in a "profession libérale" and his URSSAF and other contributions just keep rising. He paid 1200 euros in URSSAF last year and has received details for the coming year: 4000 euros. That is huge in percentage of income terms. He was told when he started out that in his profession you just can't afford not to keep making more money each year, as your contributions seem to inexorably rise. He mentioned a client today who has just had a bill from her "caisse de sécurité sociale" of 12000 euros for the coming year. Yep, all those zeroes are correct.

AuldAlliance Tue 25-Jan-11 20:45:16

bordel, that was a long 'un. And I can't spell France blush.

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