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.
This is an article on Wondrworld website where you can discover experiences of people that have traveled all around the world.
I first fell in love with Europe when I spent a year in Florence, Italy when I was 19. I loved the culture, food, and history. It was during this year that I met my British man who is a complete Francophile. After returning back to Montreal, Canada I had 4 years of university to get used to the fact that I would be moving to this continent one day. We picked Provence for the weather and the possibility of finding jobs in the tourism industry. We’ve since discovered the stunning landscape and I’ve become completely enamoured with the daily Provencal markets. After 2 years, we’ve finally settled here and have bought our first house that we will be renovating throughout the next 6 months in a beautiful village called Maussane-les-Alpilles.
One of the great joys of living in Provence is that you can get into a car and drive to the ocean, the alps and all other types of landscapes. On weekends, we enjoy exploring little villages in the various regions and discovering gastronomic delights that change from village to village.
Although using the railway is very easy in Europe, we always drive. We have a classic Austin mini that is full of character and fun to drive. I’ve seen the best landscapes and have eaten the best meals in Italy and France in the middle of seemingly nowhere. When you drive on the back roads, you really start to understand the essence of a place. Hiking is also a very popular past time here in France and it’s a great way to see the country.
Moving to another country certainly isn’t easy. Finding work, sorting out paperwork, learning a new language, cultural faux-pas and being away from everything familiar can be difficult. I’ve learned the hard way that you really need to talk to as many people as you can. No matter how uneasy you are with your new language skills. The more people you talk to, especially in small towns and villages, the more available opportunities. Also, when I first moved here I didn’t want to make friends with expats; I wanted to assimilate into French culture. What I didn’t realize is that expats can be your gateway into that culture. If they have been living in that place for some time they can often give you just as many insights and advice as locals. I must admit it’s also comforting to sometimes speak with people who know where you’re coming from.
Some time ago I went to the market in Eygalières which is a beautiful Provencal village. After wandering around I sat at the café which is located right behind the fish stand. I ordered a coffee; it was about 11 am. All of a sudden, I hear the fishermen yelling at me in French: what are you doing drinking coffee at this time of day??!! Before I knew it, my chair had been pulled up to their wonky metal table and a glass of rosé wine had been plonked down in front of me.
The rosé wine was considered as practically nonalcoholic since everyone else was drinking Pastis and had been doing so since 9 am! For the first time, I ate raw clams, shrimp, and sardines that had been caught that morning in Marseille. It was surprisingly delicious! Whenever I go to that market now, I can barely say hello before a chair is pulled up for me.
Are you thinking of taking the leap to move to France? Let me know if you have any questions and I might be able to give you some advice.