Faking it in France, but only for so long

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Enid Wilson

We are renovating our second house here in SW France and have always used French artisans - this time the heating is being done by an English firm. All of them ,including the English firm ,have always asked us to sign a devis which is a contact between us and no- one has ever asked us to pay in cash. If we have asked cash or cheque they have always preferred cheque. The only person who has taken cash is our neighbour who sells us wood.

We have both worked in France and my husband is still working. We both speak French so that helps. I am sorry that your dream turned sour but reading this interview it seems that you lasted a long time for something done on a whim with very little forward planning or contingency funds. I hope things go better for you in the UK


It's funny when you say you can't find any raclette cheese or lardons in this country because I can totally relate to that as well. It's always possible to buy smoked bacon rashers and chop them to have sth close to the French lardons, but what about the cheese?? let me know if you find any!

Keep up with the books, Karen xx


apparently waitrose and sometimes lidl sell raclette cheese and I believe you can source it on the internet

Gina J

Not untypical of spur of the moment decisions of any kind (marriage, houses, jobs, all life changing, and real 'reality'.) 11 years is a long time to discover you don't like something. And certainly not untypical of many British people I have come across who are desperate to move back. The UK will probably suit more if you can't really settle fully. I wouldn't move for the world. Good luck.


Surely, the bottom line was not any dislike or despair of France, but just the REMOTENESS - unless you are used to it elsewhere, never never maroon yourselves so in a foreign country, it makes it so much more difficult to socialise.


You are so right Karen: your comments about the punishing social charges (huge demonstrations planned for the 30th April in most major French towns on this very issue)and the lack of inspiration for a teenager in such a rural environment are both things that the French themselves find hugely challenging, hence the extensive depopulation of the countryside, which is ongoing.
Its not a question of suddenly deciding you don't like something after 11 years, its about the evolving nature of the family: my son went to school in France between the ages of 6 and 14yrs, again in Normandy. There simply isn't a better place to bring up small children. But the appeal of the new born calf down the lane and the rural tranquility starts to wear thin for young men and women who really need more out of their young lives than that, and that's the case for French as well as English teenagers.
For some curious reason when we decided to return to the U.K there seemed to be a chorus of sympathy from other ex-pats that in some way we 'hadn't made it', as if there is some sort of prize for who can stay the longest. But we ran two successful businesses in France (in spite of RSI)and both spoke the language fluently (I had a Masters degree in French and Translation, and my husband spent his formative years in Lyon). We had a happy life there, we wouldn't have stayed all those years if we hadn't, but life does move forward and things change.
We moved to France in the first place for positive reasons, not because we hated England, and needed to 'get out of the U.K', and we returned to England, again for positive reasons, not because we hated France or that it had failed to live up to some rosy Utopian ideal.
I'm still very heavily involved in France for my profession, have been for 20 years, and the truth is that EVERYONE returns to their homeland in the end. During that 20 years I've only ever known 1 single ex-pat who is still there 25 years after he first arrived, (and I've come across possibly thousands), absolutely everyone else has had their time in France and returned.
We may not have returned at that particular point had it not been for our son, but if we had stayed in France he would have had fewer opportunities than I had back in 1979 when I left school, and that just can't be right. True, life is tough for everyone at the moment, especially young people trying to find work, but youth unemployment has historically always been huge in France, even during good times, and the chronic problems in French universities don't help. He's recently received an offer to study at one of the top five U.K unis (and yes, his French did help!), the day that letter came confirmed that we had made the right choice.
Good luck to everyone,

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