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cheska15 Nov 25th, 2019 10:52 PM

geetika thanks for your kind words. I found it difficult to find out any information about what sort of cost would be involved. Of course you can do it a lot cheaper. A person I know has rented a lovely studio with a courtyard further South in Port Vendree for €350 per month. There are long term rental available from October till March in places that are less than what we are paying. I needed a big town with great transport links.
also if you don’t mind flying economy for that long flight you can halve the airfares. This has been the only time we have flow PE and at least I got a couple of hours sleep. So while our costs might seem a lot there are ways to reduce costs even more.

kerouac Nov 26th, 2019 09:13 AM

I am always dismayed by the number of people who naysay such plans. "It's too complicated, you can't do it, French bureaucracy is too horrible, you'll never get a visa, etc." Strangely enough, these affirmations always seem to be from people who have never tried, either because they themselves have no interest in such a plan or because they simply "heard you can't do it." I have never seen a report by somebody who tried to do this and had to give up. It is not impossible that this happens sometimes to people with adequate resources and documentation and of course this would be personally embarrassing to report, especially since the little detail that caused the rejection is something that they don't want to reveal.

I will continue to admire all of the people who follow their dream.

StCirq Nov 26th, 2019 09:45 AM

Well, French bureaucracy IS pretty formidable if you come at it from the POV of anyone outside who hasn't had experience with it. The paperwork just to live here is pretty formidable. I have inches and inches of dossiers full of paperwork, and I've only lived here 5 years. I would also say that if you come armed with the ability to speak French you can pretty much slay the fonctionnaires with your language and a big smile. Stupid, simplistic, Hollywoodish, yes, but it works. They are appreciative if you speak French, very appreciative. And it makes all those forms so much easier to fill out.

I don't know anyone personally who gave up, but I know we never did. The rewards of living here are infinite. I don't ever want to live anywhere else, but that's a very personal decision which I leave up to everyone to decide for themselves.

cheska, I probably would never have paid that kind of money for a couple of hours of sleep, but you sure did a great job of planning this trip. I'm so glad you're enjoying it.

kerouac Nov 26th, 2019 10:27 AM

Just to add a little fun item to the idea of living in France -- I have been living in my current apartment for something like 27 years, but last week I received a tax bill for 412 euros, being the annual tax for "unoccupied apartments." I have of course contested it but have not yet received a reply...

cheska15 Nov 26th, 2019 11:15 AM

Luckily I worked for the Australian government before retirement so got used to paperwork, and really to get a 12 month visa it was about 20 pages.would need a lot more if we were staying. I have heard of people being refused , and when they explain why it is easy to see.

I get claustrophobic when flying and my darling husband thought that going PE would make life easier for him and me. For me to get a couple of hours sleep out of 21 hours was amazing. It was nice to have the extra room but at the end of the day it is still a long long flight.

we are having a wonderful time. The best decision we have made us too stay in one place for six months. No packing or unpacking, take day trips, and hire a car for 1 week every month. It is a fabulous life.

kerouac Nov 26th, 2019 11:30 AM

I think that staying in the same place for 6 months was indeed a wise decision, even if you might have found a better place for future months. Nothing would have been worse than moving, for example after 3 months, to another place and then thinking "damn, we should have stayed where we were!" You have adjusted to where you are (I would not like the dampness, but it is part of the season for millions of people), and it is a wonderful part of France. Most of us never find "perfection" no matter where we are in the world;

cheska15 Nov 26th, 2019 11:47 AM

kerouac that is true. I love where I live in Australia too. I really love my life wherever I am. Good luck with your claim of reimbursement.

kerouac Nov 26th, 2019 12:20 PM

Oh, even though the law says that you must pay any such bill even if you contest it, I still have until December 15th, so I hope that the problem will have been solved before then. And even if I pay it, I know that I will be reimbursed, but I am of course mystified as to how I could have received such a bill. My principal hypothesis is that a few years ago I officially purchased the attic above my apartment and annexed it. (Actually, I had annexed the attic "unofficially" about 5 years earlier, but that's how you do things in Paris.) In any case, it was all made official (as well as all of my neighbours on my floor who had done the same thing), but it is not impossible that the new space was registered as being "new" apartments instead of enlargements of existing apartments. Just a detail that could have happened anywhere, and I am an expert at dealing with bureaucracy, so there is nothing to worry about.

rhon Nov 26th, 2019 01:14 PM

We fly economy, but joke that for our very last trip to France we will lash out and fly business class. But when the time comes, I do not know whether we will be able to actually spend that amount. Our flights next year are about 3300AUD ( 2240 USD ) return Brisbane to Lyon for the two of us which is what we have been paying for a few years. However, it is a long time from walking out our front door to landing in Lyon, and neither of us sleep very well on planes, but you do get through it.

You have done well with your planning and sounds as though it is paying off for you. You will have some wonderful memories.

StCirq Nov 26th, 2019 01:42 PM

<<an expert at dealing with bureaucracy...>>

As we all become at some point. And no, there is nothing to worry about. If I think about some of my favorite people in my town in France it is the fonctionnaires at the Post Office. They are the friendliest, most knowledgeable people around. Smart, happy, always ready to help with simple or complicated things, they are my heroes. There is a woman at the Post Office in Le Bugue who doesn't miss a step when I schlep my sorry self in there to try to send something enormous to South Dakota in America (she does look at me and ask WHERE??) or to contest a deduction on my account, and she could well heave a great French sigh when she sees me coming, but no, she is always sweet and ready to help with anything.

MmePerdu Nov 26th, 2019 04:02 PM


Originally Posted by StCirq (Post 17021866)
. . . she could well heave a great French sigh when she sees me coming, but no, she is always sweet and ready to help with anything.

A glass-half-full person, someone born to helping. And likely has her own intelligence confirmed every time she helps you.


StCirq Nov 26th, 2019 08:03 PM

I sure hope so. I absolutely adore her big, hippy self and am so grateful every time I walk into the Poste and see that she's there. She also has one of the most beautiful faces imaginable, like something out of a 18th-century French romance. She's absolutely gorgeous and would never know it. She just does her job.

cheska15 Nov 26th, 2019 09:03 PM

rhon we thought about business class as well. We normally fly economy as we have always thought the extra money is better spent on the holiday. As this will probably be our last trip to Europe we thought oh well let’s do it. Not sure if I think the amount was worth it. My husband did enjoy it as much as you can. That was probably because I wasn’t up every hour walking around and saying ‘are we there yet’ I drive him mad on a flight. Luckily he loves me lol

YankyGal Nov 28th, 2019 04:03 AM

Just adding my admiration to chesky for the prep, planning and execution but also wanted to say “hooray kerouac!” Retirement is still a few years away, fingers crossed, but France will play a big part in it in one way, shape or form. I would never share any of those plans here for the reasons kerouac mentions.
But back to Beautiful Nîmes- thanks again, chesky, for continuing to share your experiences!

Adelaidean Nov 28th, 2019 10:37 AM

We also find the economy class long haul excruciating- and have considered premium economy, but never quite press that button :)

My longest leave from this job was 5 weeks and we did have a month in Switzerland in June. But, coordinating leave is an issue for us. Given retirement is not on my radar for a very long time, my compromise is 3-4 weeks off, but keeping our travels simple and slow. I did a short trip with my mother to South Tirol in September/ October, and even though it’s not long given our flight times and jetlag, it was all I could get approved, and it was wonderful.

So, I enjoy reading yours and rhon’s experiences, knowing I won’t do it like that. But, eventually, as I inch my way across Europe, I will get to see more of France.

We do have a week in Dijon in June, with daytrips and train travel it should be a gentle pace in a nice region.

I do enjoy how threads like this encourage ‘conversation’, it’s really a lovely read.

kerouac Nov 28th, 2019 10:45 AM

I have flown premium economy just once, unusually enough on Vietnam Airlines between Paris and Hanoi/Saigon. On the outboud flight from Paris, it was brilliant because the PE section consisted of 40 seats and there were only 4 of us, while the section in the back was totally packed. On the return flight everything changed. All of the seats were taken by a Welsh football team which had been playing in Vietnam. Frankly, these 18-25 year old guys seemed fine to me, but their manager was a raging creep who spent all of his time shouting at them (sit down! shut up! don't move!). It was as stressful for me as it was for them. Obviously, this was an exceptional and unusual experience.

cheska15 Nov 28th, 2019 11:46 AM


Originally Posted by Adelaidean (Post 17022690)
I do enjoy how threads like this encourage ‘conversation’, it’s really a lovely read.

I too am enjoying the conversation on this post. I value everyone’s contributions.

cheska15 Nov 30th, 2019 11:57 PM

We have had a hire car for this week and seen some of the most beautiful scenery in the Ardege. I will post some photos later.
We visited Salon de Provence and the town is lovely and very easy to walk around. The staff at the Tourist information office were very helpful. The Christmas huts were open and my husband couldn’t resist the nougat. We were late starting out and spent four hours there. We had a reasonable Indian meal, and my chicken korma was better than the lamb saag. We are really missing the multi cultural food of Australia.

We had earlier starts the rest of the week to visit Saint Ambroix, Barjac, Aiguize, Pont Saint Esprit, Saintes Marie’s de la mur, Quissac, Vezenobres, and Moussac.

it is interesting visiting these small towns in winter. If ever anyone was thinking about moving here, visiting in winter to see the towns is a must. what looks vibrant in summer is the complete opposite in winter. No different to small Aussie towns.

Saint Ambroix is ok for a coffee stop and for a short climb to the medieval church. Barjac and is a stunning tiny village, and two cafes were the only places open. Not much on offer and they were closing at 12. Next stop was Aigueze and it was a it freaky standing in the main square with nothing open, and us being the only ones there. Then we stumbled across a French couple who were also looking for somewhere to eat. The scenery from St Ambroix to Pont Saint Esprit is absolutely stunning. We then drove the 9ks to Pont St Esprit and went to the first restaurant closest to where we parked the car. By this time it was 1,50 pm so we hoped we could get something to eat.

On entering the restaurant we saw the same couple that we had seen in Aguize who gave us a big wave. When the couple were leaving the gentleman stopped by our table to tell us that if you don’t finish a bottle of wine in a restaurant here in France you can ask for it to be recorked and take it with you. Amazing. I had the worst dessert I have ever eaten in France. It was creme caramel Ardege style. It looked like eggplant dip, and no taste whatsoever. Only had two mouthfuls. The main course of Lapin was fantastic, and my husband had a hamburger. Cost €60.

A visit Saintes Maries de la mur was to go to the bird park the flamingoes were fantastic to see. It was worth the €7.50 pp just to see them.

I have coped much better in the car. I only have a problem when we drive down very narrow streets, parking on one side, and pedestrians who love to take risks on the other. We also took the opportunity to do a big shop for basics from E Leclerc as we won’t be hiring a car in December.

It is raining again here in the Gard, and e hope that there isn’t the flooding and damage to areas further south that were affected last week. Have taken the spaghetti sauce out of the freezer ( we are becoming a bit more organised) for lunch. DH has gone off to try and find a petrol station that has diesel as it is hard to get here at the moment because of work stoppages at the refineries. All part and parcel of living in France.

rhon Dec 1st, 2019 12:26 AM

We had a gite about half way between St Ambroix and Barjac last year and enjoyed the area. We did have a couple of days of heavy rain and did not get all done that we wanted, but did enjoy some of the little villages such as La Roque sur Ceze, Montclus and Lussan. We shopped in St Ambroix and did really like Barjac. We were there in early November.
I agree with what you said about people needing to see places at all times of the year if they are considering moving there. We are not really bothered if places are quiet as we always travel in shoulder to low season. P, really wants to spend time in France over winter and has already explored the possibility of winter tyres.

cheska15 Dec 1st, 2019 02:41 AM

thon it certainly is a beautiful area. I don’t mind the winter but I was very surprised at how there was absolutely nothing happening in some of the towns and we were the only people around. I also really liked Vezenobres and a least we saw three people. One kind lady pointed me to the bathroom facilities in the Marie rather than use the public ones that are Turkish style. Quite a shock for this very much city girl.


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