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As I've stated in other posts, I am a very active, very healthy person who happens to be "old," 66, female. I want to move to France; and in reaching that goal, I plan sometime early next year to go to France and live as ordinary a life as I can for the allowed three-month short stay. My main reason for moving to France is to live a normal, quiet life, be friendly with my neighbors, and do some art/cultural traveling occasionally. My goal is to live there permanently. My daughter and her family may join me after I've gotten to know an area -- her husband is an EU citizen (Denmark).

I don't care for hot climates or extreme climates, so I've been focusing my attention on the Bretagne-Normandie regions. I was looking at Fougères because of its size and apparent low cost of living, but I noticed it doesn't have a full-sized train station, which would make any traveling I might want to do difficult. (I plan to try to live without a car if possible.) Now I'm thinking I might want to go to a larger city such as Rennes (or maybe even Paris?) and get a really small apartment to keep costs down. My budget is somewhat but not severely limited.

Based on your experience of life in France, can you recommend a place (a region or even a city) that someone of my age and interests as I've described would enjoy/feel comfortable in?

I know this is a very broad question, but any guidance at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.
 

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Oh Lordy Lordy ... how many times do we get this nonsensical question ????

What might suit you wouldn't necessarily be what we (ie what I v others) would advocate. We need more clues to stand even a chance of suggesting anything to you.

IF you're fixated on France, just plump for somewhere - anywhere - and rent for a while so you can orient yourself and define more objectively/subjectively what you expect to gain from France..
 
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I'm not saying YOU are; I am saying the question is.

Suppose I asked you: where would be the best place for me to live in the US; I want friendly people, access to what I need, pretty countryside - ideally a little village with all the benefits of a large town; I'm interested in indigenous history (such as it exists in the US); moderate climate; don't want to drive too far - would prefer to not run a car .... what would you say ?
 

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I'm not saying YOU are; I am saying the question is. Suppose I asked you: where would be the best place for me to live in the US; I want friendly people, access to what I need, pretty countryside - ideally a little village with all the benefits of a large town; I'm interested in indigenous history (such as it exists in the US); moderate climate; don't want to drive too far - would prefer to not run a car .... what would you say ?
Hils is right. It is a really tough question! It is a big country in that it has thousands of years of written history under its belt. What suits one would not suit another. I, for instance, live in a town. Hils lives in the countryside. We are both happy with our choices but there is no one size fits all. I would move in a minute to another part of France, if my circumstances changed.

So, I think that if you found a place and used it as a jumping off point, you would have better luck in finding just what suits you!

Good luck!

MS
 

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As Maple and Hils have mentioned, it's really hard to recommend a place for someone else. But a couple of thoughts to try to steer you in the right direction.

You say you want to try and live without a car. That more or less means that you can't consider most smaller towns. There just isn't much in the way of public transport outside the larger cities/towns. Paris has a great transport system - but outside of the city limits, it's mostly for getting into and out of Paris. It can be hell trying to get from one suburban town to another in the Ile de France (Parisian region).

If you check online you'll find that most towns in France have a website - usually set up by the mairie (town hall). For towns that have public transport, there is usually some reference to it on the town website. To get by without a car, you will want to look for housing that is close to the various transit lines. Or, look at the transit systems for some of the larger towns (Bordeaux, Lyon, Montpellier, Rouen, Rennes) and then see how far the various lines run out into the neighboring towns.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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La Rochelle seems to have good public tranportation, at least in the town itself. I haven't been there yet, but I'm also researching places to retire. A friend recommended it as having good transportation connections around France too.
 

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Hi, Windwalker. Thank you so much for your reply. I looked at La Rochelle and like what I quickly read about it. Its climate seems excellent, very much what I'm looking for -- even better than The Bretagne area I had focused on in the beginning.

Many years ago, I lived in Toulouse for a couple of years when I was going to graduate school; and while I really liked the city, the summer heat was almost unbearable. Being an Oregonian, I like mild winters and summers. It looks as if La Rochelle has that -- and it seems to be a good sized city, too. Again, I really appreciate your help.

When do you intend to try to move to France? And how far along are you in your plans? I'm taking refresher French language courses (I was once fluent) and intend to go for three months around late winter of next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As Maple and Hils have mentioned, it's really hard to recommend a place for someone else. But a couple of thoughts to try to steer you in the right direction.

You say you want to try and live without a car. That more or less means that you can't consider most smaller towns. There just isn't much in the way of public transport outside the larger cities/towns. Paris has a great transport system - but outside of the city limits, it's mostly for getting into and out of Paris. It can be hell trying to get from one suburban town to another in the Ile de France (Parisian region).

If you check online you'll find that most towns in France have a website - usually set up by the mairie (town hall). For towns that have public transport, there is usually some reference to it on the town website. To get by without a car, you will want to look for housing that is close to the various transit lines. Or, look at the transit systems for some of the larger towns (Bordeaux, Lyon, Montpellier, Rouen, Rennes) and then see how far the various lines run out into the neighboring towns.
Cheers,
Bev
Thank you so much, Bev. Perhaps my question was too broad in the beginning; I didn't intend it to be. I do appreciate your response. Yes, I have found out about the websites set up by each city, and that's how I found out that Fougeres really wouldn't work for me. But I prefer the climate in that region of France (and I thought that I had directed my question to focus on that area, but probably wasn't specific enough), so I'll just keep checking the larger cities, such as Rennes, and see where that leads me. Someone suggested La Rochelle, so I'll be studying it in depth over the next day or so. So far, it looks good, even better weather-wise -- more even throughout the year.

Thanks again. Maybe someday I'll be able to provide some good, helpful info to others who are where I am now.
 

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I don't care for hot climates or extreme climates, so I've been focusing my attention on the Bretagne-Normandie regions. I was looking at Fougères because of its size and apparent low cost of living, but I noticed it doesn't have a full-sized train station, which would make any traveling I might want to do difficult. (I plan to try to live without a car if possible.) Now I'm thinking I might want to go to a larger city such as Rennes (or maybe even Paris?) and get a really small apartment to keep costs down. My budget is somewhat but not severely limited.

Based on your experience of life in France, can you recommend a place (a region or even a city) that someone of my age and interests as I've described would enjoy/feel comfortable in?
I don't have the experience that others living in France do, but we did visit not so long ago for several weeks as part of our own little fact-finding mission. So I can tell you a little from one tourist's experience! We drove and stayed for about a week each time in several places starting from Rennes, along the Brittany coast right down to Bordeaux and across to Montpellier. It was a holiday, but with a critical view of the locations with the prospect of living there in mind.

Of course everyone wants different things - we wanted not too busy but all services, mild but not too cold, near but not in a city. I can take colder weather than my wife. So we went in winter on purpose to see what it was like, when places were quiet and often closed for the season.

We like Brittany enormously, but so many places are just too small and without a car, you'd be very isolated. I love the wind-blown coast but I was brought up on isolated lighthouses. You know, around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran, sort of thing. My wife, not so much. She's from tradional central Germany, but doesn't like the cold. We like to have choices for shopping and good transport links - although we'd have a car still, we will get older I guess!

The most likely prospects for me were a bit further down the coast - somewhere like Savenay, quiet but with ok local supermarkets, near the coast, good regular local trains and roads to St Nazaire and Nantes. Even so, it would be a little restricting without a car.

Nantes is a university city, really quite nice. Not too big to handle, but still a fair size. Easy to navigate on good trams, etc. The sea's not so far away. We thought of places like Guerande (too small really) and St Brevins Le Pins right on the coast. Not so cheap but a good local bus service across the water to St Nazaire and a half hour or so to Nantes.

Doesn't seem to be too many expats in Loire-Atlantique, and it's not all that cheap. It was a little cold and foggy, (it was winter though!) so my wife thinks no. What we really want is somewhere close to a town of perhaps 50,000 or so, but within an hour and with good road and rail links to a good sized city, so otherwise it would have fitted maybe. So you might see it differently.

So on down the coast. Too (comparatively) isolated for us at many places. Some good sized towns but too far from major centres. Wasn't really smitten with Bordeaux or around there, so over to the Languedoc. A lot further from Paris, but warmer with it. On the coastal plain, can get quite hot, regular 30's occasional 40 in summer. But pretty mild in winter generally (bad years excepted).

Somewhere like Pezenas (arts and crafty, lots of culture!) might suit if you're happy to use a bus. Gets quite/very warm in summer though. Back in the hills by half an hour the extra elevation can make it really nice, a bit cooler, but again, no car would make it hard. I think we'll look in the area around Narbonne to Perpignan next time, maybe stay in each a few months. But that may be warmer than you want!

So I'd say perhaps consider Nantes or environs. Like Rennes it has good high speed rail connections, but if you plan to travel a bit, that can add up and get tiring too.

Overall, given your wish to get by without a car, I think if I was in that situation I'd be very careful. Perhaps somewhere close to Paris would be good as a temporary stay for the first visit while you investigate further and get a feel for what really suits you! :)
 

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In Normandy: e.g. Lisieux, Evreux and Caen are all on the main line from Paris. Of the 3, Lisieux is the smallest, least affluent and most affordable, Caen is the biggest with the highest cost of living, Evreux I would say is in the middle.

The Basilica at Lisieux is amazing, you have to visit it even if you don't choose to live at Lisieux.
 

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When do you intend to try to move to France? And how far along are you in your plans? I'm taking refresher French language courses (I was once fluent) and intend to go for three months around late winter of next year.
My plans were derailed when my father died last year. Now I'm having to decide if I want to be so far away from my mother who is in her 90's. At the same time, I am not getting any younger and I can see it possibly being too late if I wait too long.

But I've been resurrecting my French, watching French movies a lot to catch up on current terminology, and corresponding with a couple of people in France. I'm still hoping one day I will be able to move there.
 

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Hello and welcome to the forum.

Just to add to the list of towns why not try Rouen ? I lived near there for 10 years and it's a nice city where the English made things a bit hot for Jean d'Arc (Joan of Arc) in 1431.

For permanent living one thing you need to consider is medical care. Others here can help more than I with insurance etc. However as we get older we need more medical care and it might be sensible to think about the reputation of local hospitals etc. Here in the mountains of the Pyrénées Orientales GPs don't go very far outside town for to visit patients.

I think you really need to visit a town for several weeks to see if you like "the flavour". If you have interests in the arts, or museums, or theatre or....then you need to consider that too.

I see that you don't want a climate too hot. I used to think that too, but here in the south you get used to it, and nothing much happens after midday for several hours. I am converted to the heat of the south!

DejW
 

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Hils is right. It is a really tough question! It is a big country in that it has thousands of years of written history under its belt. What suits one would not suit another. I, for instance, live in a town. Hils lives in the countryside. We are both happy with our choices but there is no one size fits all. I would move in a minute to another part of France, if my circumstances changed.

So, I think that if you found a place and used it as a jumping off point, you would have better luck in finding just what suits you!

Good luck!

MS
I am really think the above replies are all that can be said. I am in a similar situation to you, I have been wanting to move to France for some time and at last the opportunity has come up. We are not sure exactly where we want to buy so we will rent for six months in the area we think is right and then look and evaluate. That, in my opinion is the only way to do it and hopefully not make an expensive mistake.
 

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In Normandy: e.g. Lisieux, Evreux and Caen are all on the main line from Paris. Of the 3, Lisieux is the smallest, least affluent and most affordable, Caen is the biggest with the highest cost of living, Evreux I would say is in the middle.

The Basilica at Lisieux is amazing, you have to visit it even if you don't choose to live at Lisieux.
I agree, beautiful countryside. I went through that area a couple of years ago and realized how difficult that living without a car can be. I was so naive to think that it would be simple to get around wherever I wanted. Not so I found.

For instance, I thought that after taking the train from Paris to Caen, that I could just hop on a local bus and go to the Canadian D-day memorial. The map seemed not that far away! What a newbie!! I ended up having to hire a taxi, used up all my cash because they don't do credit cards, then didn't have enough coins to get into the pay toilets! I ended up sneaking in when someone came out because it was a long wait for the next train back to Paris and I wasn't sure I could make it! I laugh about it now but it was quite traumatic at the time.

Happy hunting for your new home OP. I too am considering heading to Paris next fall if I can sell my house. The planning is exciting, is it not?

I also have been updating my French skills and have found an excellent free website called Duolingo. Also have you tried checking for a French speaking club in your hometown? I was happy to find one in my hometown and have joined in speaking (mostly standing in the corner listening!) at their weekly get togethers.

Hope you find a nice, snug place to settle. Please let us know what you decide and how it works out. Maybe I'll join you in your choice of places. Lol
Cheers, Edie
 

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What about the Charente?

I am also in the same "boat" as you, looking to move to France for retirement, once fluent, lived there a long time ago, wanting to not have a car. Although I am looking for a much warmer area than you, some of my wishes are the same. I also have a daughter that may move over in the future.
What I have found in my research is that it is good to have a checklist, however you have to prioritize it. I would like to live without a car, but the areas I am looking at that fill all my other wants may not make that possible. Decide what is the most important, and of course price is one of them! I may have to have a car in order to live in Provence, but I can try to live somewhere that I don't need to use it daily.
My sister-in-law (French) lives in the Charente which is a very beautiful area, reasonable prices, the weather you want,great food, but maybe you will need that car.....
 

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forum info

P.S. Even though sometimes the replies on this forum are a bit irascible, I have found more solid info here, kindly given, than anywhere online.
 

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I agree that this forum is one of the most helpful ones I have found.

When thinking about having a car, do you also think about having to pass the tests to get the drivers license? That's one reason I would like to live somewhere where I don't need a car. LOL
 

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"City or countyside " is an interesting debate. For nearly all my life (and I've moved MANY times) I've been in or only 5 minutes away from the country side. Now, in France, in the mountains we have a garden which we love, splendid views of the mountains, all in a small Catalan village. At the age of 68 it's idyllic and I do not want to move again!

However, this house, garden and village is not really a good place to be seriously ill or handicapped. Yes, there is a nurse nearby who does injections etc, yes, there is a bus (not frequent) to the small town 8 km away. One of my long term concerns is that either my wife or I (or both) become sufficiently ill long term to require a move to an apartment in the centre of town. I find this thought difficult to manage.

Food for thought when changing countries at a "certain age"?

DejW
 
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