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Live in France? Join us for a gentil thread

(657 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

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 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

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 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.

MadameBabawic Sat 11-Jan-14 20:50:49

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.

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