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Moving from north of France to South of France? Mentalities? Lifestyle?

(15 Posts)
jamaisjedors Tue 25-Mar-14 17:47:20

Hi all,
DH is French, I'm English, we have 2 bilingual DS (9 & 7) and live in the North of France.

DH is currently looking for a job at his level in academia, and has spotted one down south (Toulon).

I also work full-time in Education so would have to look for a job or a transfer.

It's a VERY long way from where we live now.

I think lots of people would jump at the chance of living in the South of France, but I/we worry that we would have trouble fitting in.

The stereotype is that people from the South are very racist and very right-wing (and frankly the recent "municipales" bear that theory out pretty well!).

Do any of you live in the South (I think so, Côte? AuldAlliance?)? How do you find the general atmosphere or lifestyle?


hattymattie Wed 26-Mar-14 19:06:12

Hi - I'm in the Paris region and understand your concerns - I can't advise too much on living in the South having always lived here but there is a FB group Mumsnetters Lost in France where you may be able to make contact with someone who lives in the South.

CoteDAzur Wed 26-Mar-14 19:15:54

We live in the South-East corner of France (obviously wink).

I don't have any knowledge of Toulon, but where we are there is no racism that I have noticed. It is quite cosmopolitan and there are many nationalities around, but even the French are (relatively) friendly & easy to make friends with.

Of course, there is little work ethic & no customer service to speak of, and waiters and salespeople are quite rude but I hear that the rest of France is no different in that respect.

dreamingbohemian Wed 26-Mar-14 19:22:37

We used to live in NW France but in-laws had a holiday home near Toulon that we visited a few times. I wouldn't want to say too much, having only visited, but I would share your concerns. There are some lovely things about the area but I personally wouldn't be too keen.

jamaisjedors Wed 26-Mar-14 20:15:15

grin about the work ethic etc. côte!! I think after 20 years here I have adjusted to that, and the rudeness!

Thanks for the tip Hattymattie, I will try the group.

Also thanks dreamingbohemian for your comment, it's hard to know when you just travel through a place, isn't it? We've sailed to Corsica from Toulon but didn't stop.

DH's has a family member who lives inland from Toulon, he chatted to her last night, but she lives in quite an isolated village and doesn't really socialise so had little to say about how easy (or not) it was to socialise.

It's quite good to hear that your area is cosmopolitan Côte - we have found that around here most of our friends are people "like ourselves" who are not from the area - and are therefore not tied up with family commitments every weekend.

IF DH gets an interview we will go down I think over a long weekend and have a good look at the area - it would be a huge upheaval for us all, but on the other hand, if we don't move now, it will be harder to move the DS once they are in collège, and actually the thought of spending the rest of my life where we are now is not THAT appealing.

Although the distance to the UK puts me off- currently I can drive back, which would be out of the question I guess from down there.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 27-Mar-14 04:08:14

Read below:

Perhaps if you are from a very visible minority you might feel odd about living in the south.
You certainly cant paint everyone with the same brush and i'd say you should not have any problem finding people you can relate too.
Lovely weather. That would tip the balance for me.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Thu 27-Mar-14 04:08:50


NomDeClavier Thu 27-Mar-14 07:38:23

Toulon has a big naval base. Some parts are lovely, some are grotty. With lots of Navy personnel there will be people from all parts of France, but in being military they tend to vote right wing... You do find plenty of people who have moved away from their families in the city itself, both military and not, and there are lots of things to do around. Good beaches too!

NomDeClavier Thu 27-Mar-14 07:38:53

Toulon has a big naval base. Some parts are lovely, some are grotty. With lots of Navy personnel there will be people from all parts of France, but in being military they tend to vote right wing... You do find plenty of people who have moved away from their families in the city itself, both military and not, and there are lots of things to do around. Good beaches too!

Countessfosco Thu 27-Mar-14 08:02:55

Hi Jamais, I am about one hour away from Toulon. I have found it easy to make friends both English speaking and as my French improved, French also. Lots of diffrent nationalities which makes it interesting. As for racism, can't say I have noticed this overally, however that may be due to my crap French. We had an incident in our house recently and our neighbours were very quick to blame a certain race, which I was surprised at, however this has been the only incidence that I have noticed. Been to Toulon just briefly and it felt a bit different to where I am, so looking at surrounding areas maybe useful.
Good rugby though and Leigh halfpenny arriving soon so that would be enough to make me go grin!
Inbox me if you want to know more.

jamaisjedors Thu 27-Mar-14 16:30:59

We are not from a visible minority (although we're pretty visible/audible when out in public speaking English!) at all, but our nearest big city is very multi-cultural and we are heavily involved in charity work with West Africa...

That article is pretty much what I knew/feared about the FN who seem to be gaining ground in the South.

The weather is tipping the balance for me today (hailstorms) grin

I hadn't thought about the military base side of things (we are near a big port too, so not worried about the "ugly/grotty" side of things) - I guess that will mix up the population a bit as you say.

I will PM you Countess, thanks.

jamaisjedors Fri 28-Mar-14 11:43:02

How do those of you in the South or far from the UK find it in terms of going back?

I see there are quite a lot of airports and low-cost companies - but I guess even those are expensive for a family of 4 say in the summer?

Booboostoo Sun 30-Mar-14 08:40:39

We're on the other side of the south, between Toulouse and Carcassonne, so not sure to what extent my experience applies to Toulon.

We are in a rural area, so in many respects it's similar to the UK countryside, i.e. people tend to be more right-wing and more racist than in urban areas. The racism tends to be covert in a sense, "bloody immigrants taking our jobs" kind of thing, qualified by "I don't mean YOU of course!". However, our small town has a much more diverse population, DD's nursery has children of all races, and I have never noticed any direct racist attitudes towards people in the streets, in shops, etc.

I am Greek, having lived for 20 years in the UK and I find France in the south is much closer to Greece than the north of Europe. Everything revolves around large extended families, everyone knows everyone else and you can't get anything done unless you are introduced by a local. Breaking into this community can be tough, but once you are considered a member (especially if a local 'adopts' you and introduces you to everyone else) you do get a lot of help and support from everyone.

Schools may be another consideration for you, although you will be in a much more cosmopolital area than us. Our nearest international school is a 1.5 hour drive away and private schools around here seem to be of a lower standard than public ones - I am not sure to what extent that is the case up north.

jamaisjedors Wed 07-May-14 15:49:21

Well, he has an interview now, so we will know by the end of next week I guess. Then we'll have to make a quick decision shock

butterfliesinmytummy Wed 07-May-14 21:17:12

It's the wrong way round but reminded me of "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" - there is definitely a huge divide! I used to live in Paris and had a boyfriend from Lyon. He took me to visit friends in Marseilles and the accent was really tough in a group of fast speakers. I spent the weekend not saying much and they all thought I was a stuck up Parisiarde..... We split up shortly after that grin

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