Expat area's in France

Jun 2nd, 2013, 10:52 AM
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Agree wholeheartedly, Cowboy. In my part of France the "Anglo-Sxon genius for local voluntary activity" boils down to raising llamas, starting up cricket clubs and choirs, opening tea salons that serve "English breakfasts," and maybe, for the odd one here or there who actually masters a bit of the language, always with an impenetrable accent, getting a permit for a market stall that sells tea, lemon curd, and Stilton.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 10:55 AM
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Actually, I know some English expats who were living in Hérault before and are now in the Lot, and wife always manages to find a choir to join. (The husband is more interested in access to large quantities of red wine en vrac.)
kerouac is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 11:25 AM
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Cowboy, you forgot to mention, at least as far as British expats are concerned them moaning about how Britain is full of foreigners who don't learn the language and eat nasty foreign food, whilst sitting on their chosen Costa, or acre of France, tucking into fish and chips and reading the Daily Mail.

When we stayed in Midi-Pyrenees we heard more English than French. In Lot and the Dordogne it was a mix of English, Dutch and French.

I can understand the desire to move to an area with lots if English speakers, but it will really delay your fitting into life in France, and make dealing with authority, health care and your child's school much harder, since it will delay you learning French.
I know people from the UK and the US who have lived in the Netherlands for 20 or more years and still don't speak Dutch.
hetismij2 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Oh yes, and he likely refers to it as CLARET. Go to any market in the Dordogne in high season and you'll see some chap in a safari outfit and Tilley hat yelling "Mahgrit! Did you remember the CLARET???" And later that afternoon you'll spot him in the Bricomarché yelling "I need a POOL WAND!!" at some poor French clerk.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 12:21 PM
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hetismij... you hear EXACTLY the same demands targeted at foreigners from Germans who live on those Costas for many years (or winters) and still can't manage more in the local language than "una cerveza, por favor"..
Not everybody is gifted with learning new languages easily, but the desire not to talk in the local language is not really respectful IMO
Last month I met the owner of a small cafe and gallery near one of the major Spanish resorts who managed not to acquire at least a basic knowledge of Spanish during her 5 year stay in the country.. truly amazing..
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 01:59 PM
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Hello, sophie

The Dordogne might be the area you are looking for.


Good luck with your search!

No matter where you go, you will find some people who resent British, and some people who resent French people. I have found in America that many people are very unkind to French speakers, and assume all French are communists or something! -- although in places like New York, you can find many French people who enjoy each other's company, and speak French all the time, and no one criticizes them for it.

Whenever you move, a lot of people with nothing better to do will criticize you as a newcomer (this can be true even if you move within your own country!), so I sympathize with your desire to find those who have been through the experience. But forget about the unkind remarks and opinions from those who are probably just envious you will be young and in France while they are growing old typing nasty remarks about others into their computers!
frenchfrenchie is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 02:03 PM
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More interesting information about the British in Dordogne and other links:


frenchfrenchie is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 03:25 PM
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What on earth is the "bottom half of France?" Could it be something somewhere in Africa, or maybe Tahiti? At one time I lived in a place once referred to as French Morocco, but there are many places further to the south with that same distinction.

"Last month I met the owner of a small cafe and gallery near one of the major Spanish resorts who managed not to acquire at least a basic knowledge of Spanish during her 5 year stay in the country.. truly amazing.." No, truly British! Those who do assimilate tend to steer clear of the expat communities.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 03:49 PM
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What difference does it make to all of you whether immigrants assimilate? I will bet that most of you are Americans. I have noticed that while people who live in France can be very tolerant of the way others dress or speak, it is Americans who visit France who begin barking rules at everybody about "how to act in France".

France is big modern country (with an upper half and a lower half, lol!) that has many different people coming to stay. For years, it has been a place where a lot of foreigners find a place to make an international lifestyle. If you read a lot of the famous books written in Paris in the 20th century, they are written in English about other Americans or Germans or British people living in Paris.

When Henry Miller and Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein and Truman Capote and Julia Child or Christopher Isherwood lived in Paris or Spain or Germany, they made friends with other people from their own country, and went drinking with them and partying with them. They weren't so afraid of not looking like foreigners, and Paris and Berlin and Barcelona were not afraid to be seen as international, cosmopolitan cities. Now in France they are taking of teaching university in English. Naughty naughty. But Paris is always naughty and shocking to old fashioned minds that need rules before life.
frenchfrenchie is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:12 PM
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We are not talking about "acting French" or philosophy but about being able to understand the utility bill or being able to apply for a mobile phone contract. Or being able to tell the plumber where to put in the new toilet. Or just being able to have a chat with neighbors.
Knowing the language helps if you think about becoming a home owner in a foreign country.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 07:51 PM
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I think frenchfrenchie needs to stop and reload. Assimilation is important, very important if you are going to live, even part time, in another country. As Cowboy say, it's not about acting French (my great grandmother was from Besançon, my great great grandfather, on my father’s side, was from Bavaria), it's being able to live a normal life and deal with the butcher, baker and plumber.

The writers frenchfrenchie mentions also made friends with many of the locals, who accepted them as one of their own. It's normal for you to hang out with those from your own country, but in both Spain and France, 99% of those we "hang out with", are locals, not expats.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 08:42 PM
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This is an interesting conversation, and I do think that some folks are being overly negative about the difficulty of living in a foreign place without knowing the language.

Well, first of all, of course it's vital to learn the language. I moved to Germany in 2008 and have been diligently trying to learn German, even while other long-term American residents here have given up. I will persist -- but it's because I want to converse with folks and to fit in, not because it's necessary.

I moved here knowing barely more than "Morgen." I bought my house, renovated my house (visiting tile shops, plumbing shops, floor covering shops, kitchen shops, and dealing with the installers), got utilities turned on, got my furniture moved here, got a bank, got a mobile phone, dealt with the immigration officials, went to doctors, and even made a few friends knowing no more than that. A dictionary and earnest effort go a long way. Oh, and google translation is an immensely helpful tool for any information coming to you by email.

So, while it is more difficult to do it this dummy's way, it certainly is possible. I would not have wanted to delay my move here long enough for me to learn German!! If the time is right for your move, then do it. But don't stay in that language-ignorance -- do get out and get into the local community.

Language courses are a good way to get to know local folks. My German teachers were wonderful, and some of the other students were also good contacts (many can't speak English, so you're forced to use the local language). I also taught an English course, and met some more local folks that way. My latest efforts are to go to church -- not only to hear the sermons and songs in German, but also, yup, to meet some folks.

Anyway, as I say, if the time is right, make the move. You can always learn the language as you go along.

swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 09:29 PM
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Sounds perfect!
Robert2533 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 09:54 PM
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I haven't read all the replies so I might be repeating thing already said. There are many international companies in France & several expat communities eg at Sophia Antipolis near Nice. I personally know several people who live in the vicinity eg Valbonne or Mougins, there are international schools etc. Google Sophia Antipolis for more info. The real estate agents around there are totally geared up for expat requirements.
I would caution against living in an area that relies on a low cost airline route as the routes can be dropped without much notice. Even Nice/lLondon scheduled airline is only BA at the moment.
But I don't think the idea is ridiculous, many do it.
Odin is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 10:35 PM
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>> For years, it has been a place where a lot of foreigners find a place to make an international lifestyle<<

Yes, but there are rural areas where there can be considerable local resentment at foreigners moving in, pushing up local prices, socialising only among themselves and seemingly "taking over"; just as rural areas within the UK can be changed by townies buying up property for second homes.

OP might be better advised to read some of the many blogs by people who have moved to the kind of area she's thinking of, and forums for expatriates in France.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 12:05 AM
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Sopbie - In your place I would try and make a list of "what ifs", and then decide on a place to live, based on the ease with which I can deal with them. Like "what if my child is ill", "what if the car doesn't work", "what if the boiler packs up" And so on. Don't expect it easy to find any doctor, let alone a pediatrican, able to speak good English in a rural, tranquil area of France. And the same goes for car mechanics, plumbers, etc. For the most part, expats living in those areas in France are retired - so finding like-minded and similarly aged Anglophones would not be easy.

If you are really set on living in France but don't want to learn much French, you might find it worthwhile looking at the area of France around Geneva. A lot of foreigners commute to Geneva daily from France, the locals are used to expats, and there is not likely to be a shortage of flights between Geneva and London.
Grindeldoo is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 12:13 AM
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I'm brand-new to Fodor's online community, and came across this discussion by accident.

I'm rather surprised by the responses to the original question. The person asked a question, but instead of answers is getting criticism heaped on them. Is it really necessary to jump to conclusions and belittle the person's judgement? Their life and their decision to move is a personal matter, their own business. No where does the person say they don't want to become part of their new community, or is choosing one over the other. And I don't see where they asked for everyone's approval, just some information.

Maybe their preferences don't make sense to you... do they have to? Perhaps they ARE moving there to fulfill a dream-- good for them! Maybe they want some moral support while they adjust, as life with a toddler is challenging enough -- they're thinking ahead! Suppose they just want a few friends to help them learn the ropes -- makes sense! Why not give them the benefit of the doubt and think outside the box a little?

Sharing information and opinions is a good thing, berating someone is not. All I'm saying is some of the comments are abrasive, and insisting on having the poster justify their life decisions strikes me as intrusive and unkind.
JHBteacher is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 12:59 AM
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So Geordie, were your expectations fulfilled?
Nikki is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 01:28 AM
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@Nikki: rofl
sparkchaser is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2013, 02:16 AM
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They didn't disappoint

Thankfully people like Flanner, Swanda2000, Frenchfrenchie and a few others actually tried to answer the OP's questions and provide suitable links.

I doubt the OP will be back
Geordie is offline  

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