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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

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!

eslteacher 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 /'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.

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