Expat Living in France
Here are just a few anecdotes from the last month of my life in France as I try to navigate where I come from and where I live now. I love living in France, but sometimes you’ll have to allow me a little rant.
It’s been 2 years since I’ve launched Curious Provence!
A blog takes a lot of love but reading your comments and emails I must say that it’s worth it. Thank you for your support!
I’ve been wanting to address something for a while. There’s something you may not know about me. I’m terrible at lying. I would even venture to say that I just can’t do it. This is a virtue, though, as you can imagine, has gotten me into trouble. With age, I’m learning that lying can be beneficial. Especially for employers and the elderly. Kindness and lying sometimes go hand in hand. Anyways, I digress…
What I wanted to say is that I promise that you won’t find me promoting a product or activity on my site, or Instagram, that I don’t think is worth it. I get a lot of companies asking me to advertise their products without even testing them. I find this fundamentally wrong and quite frankly, unfathomable. Thankfully, in Provence, there are so many people that take their craft, no matter if it’s wine or woodworking, very seriously.
When it comes to restaurants; I just don’t recommend the ones where I’ve had bad experiences. Eating out is soo subjective. I need to eat somewhere a couple times at least until I decide. Anything you wanted me to do a review on?
There’s a theory with immigrants I’ve noticed. I wish I had known it before, though it may not have improved my patience. Apparently, once you’ve been in a new country for three years, it’s only then that you start to settle and find your place. I must say, it’s true.
It hasn’t been easy.
However, now that I’m reading French books (it seems I somehow got by without reading them in French class at school?) and I’m starting to make real friends, life is finally starting to make more sense.
I was interviewed last year by Adam Rozenhart, who hosts The Expats podcast, where he informally interviews Canadian citizens that have moved abroad.
Why would one do such a thing? Listen to my (perhaps embarrassingly giggly) interview and find out:
It’s amazing to find how much our situation changes here in France. We’re becoming more and more settled. I don’t think I could imagine moving back now.
Wondering what I do when I feel homesick? I take pride in my Canadian-ness and jive to this video:
So you’ve bought your fixer-upper in France. The romanticism of Peter Mayle has snared you into the dream (or perhaps my blog?). You’re not a millionaire but you’ve got essentially a ruin of stones to work with. At least that’s a start.
You most likely don’t know anyone. You’ve heard horror stories about local tradesmen. Everything in the DIY stores seems more expensive. You’ll have to be careful about your budget…
We had a budget of only 25,000 euros to completely renovate our tiny house. We were able to accomplish this because we did most of the work ourselves. If you’re planning on doing the same, here are some tips on how you can spend the least amount of money possible while not compromising on your materials or safety building code.
It can be difficult to find stores near you in a foreign country. This is especially true of builder’s merchants in France. Your common knowledge of simple store names just isn’t there. If you’re renovating a house in France, depending on where you’re located, this is where you’ll find your building materials:
Electrical and plumbing supplies are more expensive in these stores. However, these are open for longer hours and the larger stores don’t close for lunch. Keep in mind that we’re still in France; they aren’t open on Sundays.
These are the stores we’ve found near us in Provence:
Professionals who are up to date with the modern technologies. Products are less tampered with as a consequence of less display. Ability to build up relationships and ask for professional advice. Try to buy in bulk; delivery is 50 euros minimum, therefore, make the most of it. There is less choice of products because builder’s merchants carry quality products (such as paint).
What are your experiences with these stores?
Here are a few pictures of the before and after renovation of our living room. Can you believe the difference? The locals are, unfortunately for us, still so curious that I’m often confronted with a face pressed against our window… But thankfully, everyone seems impressed.
Next we’d love to renovate an enormous Provencal farmhouse with a pool, large rose garden and olive orchard…haha Maybe when we win the lottery. For now, if you need any help in the area- Robin is available starting in October.
The Before and After:
Unfortunately we couldn’t keep the wood fire stove as it was dangerously installed. I’m told they work really well. We still don’t have any heating installed; Robin seems to think he’d like to see how cold it gets first. Ha! Spoken like a true Brit. I told him to prepare himself for a grumpy partner if he doesn’t get on it!
If you’re interested in the full Before and After of our house renovation here in Provence; voila! The kitchen, when we first bought the house, was entirely brown. The last time the house had been renovated was in the 70s. The ceiling was styrofoam made to look like wood, behind that, there was asbestos. The ceiling leaked and there was a hole in the floor to access the water meter. There were layers upon layers of unnecessary wood and tile. It was dark, moldy and awful! The only thing that remains of the kitchen now, is a rather odd triangular shape.
We raised the kitchen roof, insulated all the walls and basically replaced everything!
This tiny garden of ours has endured quite a lot since we started renovating last December. There’s been so much debris, stones, machinery, and all sorts to the point where we often could barely get in and out! It’s not much to work with, but I think it’s improved enormously. People unashamedly peer over our fence to tell us our little garden is charming all the time. Here are some images of the garden transformation of our renovation in Provence.