Setting up a home in France(10 Posts)
I've got an interview for a job in France next week. There are still several hurdles to be jumped through even if I were offered the job (getting ex-h to agree to taking dd abroad for one) but I like to be prepared so ... can anyone recommend a sort of beginners' guide to living in France? How to get wifi connected; what are the differences between the supermarkets, clothes shops etc.; the medical system (does one register with a GP, how?); how to choose a school (do you have to go to the nearest state school for primary or can you choose?) ... all those sorts of things. I have lived in France before but it was upwards of 15 years ago and as a student so in very different circumstances.
Any help much appreciated!
There is a Parents in France group on FB which might help with some of your questions.
Schools are easy: you either attend your catchment school or go private (bit more complicated than this in big cities, but this is the general rule). Your catchment school is obliged to find room for your child. Private schools may have waiting lists, depends hugely on the area. (Note that private school in France is not really private - more like a UK church school with minimal fees which are often means tested.)
Internet/telephone is just a question of choosing one of the operators and then waiting for them to connect you. They are all a bit rubbish but on the whole you get better services for less money than in the UK (40€-ish a month should get you fast internet, free calls to most countries and TV).
Food shops - depends where you live, as not all the chains are represented equally throughout France. Outside cities, on-line food shopping with home delivery is not well-developed, though "drive" operations where you order on-line then collect are spreading. We shop at Lidl for our main shop, Intermarché drive for top-ups, market for veg.
Clothes shops - lots of international brands on the high street - H&M, Mango, Zara. Depends where you live.
GP - once you are in the social security system you find a local GP who is willing to take you on. You have to declare your chosen GP to your insurer ("caisse") as not doing so reduces your reimbursements.
I don't want to rain on your parade but my mother moved me abroad away from DF when I was 4. Everyone did their best, I saw him during school holidays but it was so hard and the relationship, when you are each building lives in a different country, becomes something so 'other' from a traditional parent and child relationship.
The ramifications of that decision are so far reaching. I'm 38 now and I'm only now coming to terms with how deeply this impacted me.
If 4 year old me could go back I'd beg my mother not to do this to me, to us.
Thanks to you both. The job is based in the Parisian region (but not in Paris itself) so in terms of what shops etc. are available I think there'll be a decent selection, I've just never understood if there a difference between e.g. Intermarché, Auchan etc. like between British supermarkets or if there'll all pretty similar.
I will think carefully about taking a child away from her father, but obviously each family is different and, while it's not on-topic here, he's already a less than ideal father figure to her. I'm definitely not going to do it lightly though.
Just like in the UK there are "posh" supermarkets (e.g. Monoprix, Picard for frozen stuff), ordinary ones (Intermarché, carrefour etc) and hard discounters (Lidl, Aldi and some local brands).
I think the price difference between Lidl/Aldi and the ordinary supermarkets is probably larger here than in the UK because "special offers" are usually a ripoff.
And it's harder to get someone else to do your shopping for you. My friends in the Paris area say you have to book your "drive" slot days in advance which is no use at all.
Thanks, that's very helpful. I've never got into internet shopping for groceries anyway so that wouldn't be much of a culture shock, as long as we had a car. I do heavily rely on Amazon but from what I've seen that seems decent in France anyway.
If you are going to be insuring a car and you currently have insurance where you live, if possible keep car insurance documents going back 3 years (you'll get a better premium).
Make copies / scans of anything important you post or hand over at any council offices. Documents go astray ALOT in France.
Thanks. Unfortunately I'm not currently insured as the main driver only a named driver, so no discount.
I'll bear in mind to keep copies, have to get in the habit!
Named driver documents can work. If you haven't been named on a policy in the last three years, you'll be considered a novice. So anything with your name helps e.g. if you have a company car, a letter from your employee.
You go to the mairie to sign up for state primary school, not to the actual school.
If you're in région parisienne you should join thFB group English-speaking mumsin Paris. You're not the lady living with her parents looking to move south of the city are you?
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