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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We've all but made the final plans for a (hopefully permanent) move to France next year and are currently in the stage of finalizing the location and doing research. I'm a US citizen but my wife and two young daughters (6 and 8) all born in the US have full dual citizenship.

I'm planning a scouting trip to France in a few months, but wanted to get opinions. I think we've narrowed down our choices to three main areas ("suburbs" included)

1. Toulouse - My wife loves the look and feel of the city, but I personally would like to be a bit closer to the sea. I also have some minor concerns about summer heat, and longer travel times to other locations.

2. Montpellier - I'm currently leaning this direction for myself. It seems to have a bit of everything, close to the sea, easy transit, vibrant city, etc. However, my wife thinks that much of the city (at least via google street view) looks unappealing and gritty. Although, I'm pretty sure that's any city if you look hard enough.

3. Nice - Nice seems fantastic, with the sea right there, and an easy trip to other very impressive natural wonders. I also can't shake the feeling that it might feel like less of a family city. While the other two choices might be better for a young family (and maybe slightly less "swarmy").

Most of these impressions were based on research online and accounts from various online sources. But before I make my final travel/scouting plans I wanted to see if anyone can chime in with firsthand accounts, or just tell me that all my assumptions are wrong.

Overall, my most important want is a good location and landing spot in France for my children, with good schools and a safe feeling. Secondarily, I'd love a place with easy access to fantastic natural areas, or travel.

Thanks for any words of wisdom you may be able to share.
 

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Oh, you'll find plenty of opinions here on all the potential towns in France. First consideration, though, I would think is what is it you are moving to France for? Will you and/or your wife be working? Are you and/or your wife retired (or close to retirement age)? Where you work and what industries you are in need to be considered if you will be working here (or looking for work). Whereas if you're retired, your considerations are going to be considerably different - and different from most retirees given that you have young children.

As far as "summer heat" is concerned, take a look at the current forecasts for France for this coming week. We're looking at a very early heat wave this year - even up here in the north of France. Climate change is hitting the whole country pretty hard - and on top of that, we've had a lingering drought in most of France the last few years. Some areas of the south of France tend to be more prone to forest fires especially in this hot, dry weather.

As far as quick impressions of your three areas I'll just add mine: Toulouse is more of an "industry" town - with the proximity of Airbus and some large chemical plants (as well as other industries). Probably more promising for job hunting, depending on what lines of work you may be in. Montpelier is a personal favorite of mine - the closest place I've ever seen here in France to a US style "university town" - with lots of activities and plenty of town-gown links and cooperation. Nice is indeed lovely, but can be expensive particularly if you don't have "roots" there. Beautiful area, certainly, but it can seem pretty touristy in season. But those are just my quick takes on those three towns. Others here will have other points of view and different experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for responding. Currently, I'm working fully remote in the tech/telecom industry. My company has a presence in many countries including France so I'm not too concerned about location for myself (at least as long as it has a solid internet connection). My wife has degrees in English, conflict resolution, and will soon have a TESL certificate so she may do English instruction. I'm 45, so we are still a ways from retirement, but lucky in that location for work isn't a huge concern for us.

Wow, looks like you're in for a warm week!. Sorry about the heat wave. We had a huge heat wave hit us in Oregon last year. Can't really escape climate change sadly, but maybe I can just go swimming a lot?
 

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Yes, the Visitor visa is the greatest fit for this circumstance because it allows you to work remotely (for a non-French company) while in France.
Not really. Technically as a visitor you must swear not to engage in employment of any type - doesn't matter whether the employer is French or not. (This is a common misconception.) In this case, the OP's wife is a French national, so getting a spouse visa should be pretty simple for him and that will give him full working privileges in France.
 

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The south of France is lovely, but it is definitely warm in the summer. I would recommend a visit to your target locations to get a feel for them if you can do that at all. Nice is a very enjoyable location, though very crowded in summer and significantly more expensive than the other locations you list. Montpellier and Nice will probably be better for rail travel. Nice/Marseilles have better air connections if that's important.

I will give a plug for our city, Nîmes as a viable candidate as well. Less expensive than Nice and/or Montpellier, it's around 30km to the sea and has a very "roman" vibe. It's smaller than the other three cities, but definitely big enough that there's always something going on in terms of festivals and culture. There are definitely fewer anglophones than in Nice or Montpellier, but there is a nice and very active expat community there for support and friendship. It's 30 minutes by rail to Montpellier and has the exact same high speed rail connections that Montpellier has.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies.

I'd most likely be getting a spouse visa with the aim to eventually get full citizenship a few years down the road, unless of course, I'm missing something obvious in regards to the visa and citizenship.

I'll definitely give Nimes a look. For my exploration trip, I'm thinking I'll head to Montpillier, and explore the city and the suburbs. If I have have time in my trip I might venture farther out to Nimes, or Narbonne. It would be fun to take a look at Nice as well, but that may be spreading myself way too thin to get any type of a sense of the area during one trip.
 

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Thanks for the replies.

I'd most likely be getting a spouse visa with the aim to eventually get full citizenship a few years down the road, unless of course, I'm missing something obvious in regards to the visa and citizenship.

I'll definitely give Nimes a look. For my exploration trip, I'm thinking I'll head to Montpillier, and explore the city and the suburbs. If I have have time in my trip I might venture farther out to Nimes, or Narbonne. It would be fun to take a look at Nice as well, but that may be spreading myself way too thin to get any type of a sense of the area during one trip.
We are two couples. On our scouting trip we visited Montpellier, Nîmes, Narbonne, and Beziers. Each of the four of us actually liked a different city best (my vote was for Montpellier), but Nîmes was clearly everyone's (except my wife's who picked it in first place) second place vote. We've been here almost 10 months, and while I still love Montpellier, I now prefer Nîmes. Narbonne was lovely in summer, but when we visited it this October/November it was quite dead and less appealing that we remembered. For us I feel Narbonne and Beziers would be a bit smaller than we like. Our two biggest negatives with Nîmes: 1) It's not as close to the sea as the other three which are within cycling distance, 2) it's not as bicycle "friendly" as Montpellier seems to be (we're used to riding on well maintained bike paths and are a more skittish in traffic than most locals are).
 

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@Breken -- Your three prospective locations are all good. When you visit though, some may still "stand out," while others might not "fit your fancy." You should also check the surrounding towns. You can often secure real estate for much cheaper in the "hill towns" above Nice. You might also check out Menton, there have been a few members that moved there. Since you're from Oregon, you might be more comfortable higher in the mountains, either the Pyrenees or the Alps, perhaps Annecy. Maybe Provence. Alternatively, the Alsace has property at decent prices and is very nice. Global warming has certainly raised average temperatures in France, and lower elevations have experienced more flooding of late.

Since you plan on working from home, you should definitely include good internet maps in your search. France has areas of fast fiber in some locations with only DSL in others. There is a master plan (delayed,) to install high speed internet nationally, but France isn't there yet.

As far as obtaining French citizenship for yourself, you're probably eligible now. Spouses of French citizens only need to be in a cohabitating marriage, to a French citizen, for four years to be eligible. There are other requirements, like showing ties to France (trips to visit the in-laws,) but there is actually no requirement to actually live in France. At this stage, since your timeline is so short, you should probably apply for a long stay visa and apply for naturalization after you get to France. The rules are always changing, but you should definitely practice your French.

You should also transfer your employment to the French offices of your firm, so they can take the appropriate tax withholding/social charges out of your pay. As I'm sure you already know, your tax burden will be higher, but you'll receive more in return. Cheers, 255

P.S. You might also secure a mail forwarding service, in a no tax state like Florida, to be the base for your U.S. banks/brokerage services. Many U.S. firms don't like expat clients. You can also file a part-year tax return, when you leave Oregon, utilizing you "new" address. You should consider doing this before your move.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll add Nimes to my exploration list. It looks really nice from what I can gather online.

Thanks a ton for the practical advice @255 I hadn't thought of possible state tax issues. I'll do some more research on the financial side of things for sure as plans crystalize.

There are certainly a lot of moving parts but for me the hardest part is always the nebulous things. I'm good with planning and logistics, those are a challenge and a headache, but very doable. However, making sure we all land in a comfortable location and the children are in a place they will thrive is what causes me stress. On the plus side, I booked the airline tickets today, so first step taken.

Thanks again everyone for your help.
 

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Nîmes is typically very hot in summer and temps around the 40 deg mark in early June are not so unusual there. You should also ask yourself whether some of the many festivals involving bulls on the streets would be safe for your young children and whether your French is strong enough to be sure you can keep them at a safe distance at those times.
 

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However, making sure we all land in a comfortable location and the children are in a place they will thrive is what causes me stress.
You know, if wherever you land initially turns out to have its issues for you, you can always move - whether to another town in the same general area, or to another area altogether as you have the chance to explore a bit. Yes, moving is a hassle - but it's do-able if you decide you would be better off somewhere else.
 

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You know, if wherever you land initially turns out to have its issues for you, you can always move - whether to another town in the same general area, or to another area altogether as you have the chance to explore a bit. Yes, moving is a hassle - but it's do-able if you decide you would be better off somewhere else.
And so much easier to do if you have rented for a good while rather than bought a house straight away.
 

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I suppose the OP could always consider NOT taking their children into the city ,when one of the festivals is on?
Not limited to the city though. In fact it is perhaps worse in surrounding areas, plus routes can vary during the course of the events, often because incidents have occurred.
 

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Nîmes is typically very hot in summer and temps around the 40 deg mark in early June are not so unusual there. You should also ask yourself whether some of the many festivals involving bulls on the streets would be safe for your young children and whether your French is strong enough to be sure you can keep them at a safe distance at those times.
It depends on whether you're looking for a home in the city or on the outskirts.
North of Nîmes on "ancienne route d'Uzes there are some nice properties
 

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It depends on whether you're looking for a home in the city or on the outskirts.
North of Nîmes on "ancienne route d'Uzes there are some nice properties
But the OP has a desire to be near the sea and it still gets just as hot, though I agree it's a nice area and I have family there, but even those with pools escape to the coast whenever they can during the hotter months, which is easy for them given all our family members who live close to or on the coast.
 

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Nîmes is typically very hot in summer and temps around the 40 deg mark in early June are not so unusual there. You should also ask yourself whether some of the many festivals involving bulls on the streets would be safe for your young children and whether your French is strong enough to be sure you can keep them at a safe distance at those times.
Nîmes can indeed be quite warm. It did get to 39 degrees on Friday. That said the entire south of France can get quite warm as it is a mediterranean climate after all. It's also quite breezy (which can ameliorate the heat somewhat). It's also quite sunny, with 300+ sunny days per year. So, if you're partial to damp, grey, chilly weather, it's probably best to avoid the entire south.

The whole discussion of children being unsafe from bulls during festivals is downright silly. You're much more likely to be hit by a scooter or a bicycle from UberEats than a bull or a horse. There are two ferias per year, plus a handful of other occasions through the year that celebrate Camarguais culture. There are many opportunities to see horses and bulls if you desire. There ARE a couple of opportunities for young people to encounter live bulls. Local youths will chase bulls down the street during abrivados (where bulls are herded down by guardians on horseback) or during the taureau piscine (a shallow pool is set up in a small arena where youths can taunt two year old bulls to chase them). Abrivados are announced well in advance, traffic is blocked and metal barriers are set up along the route. The piscine is in a walled off arena. If you want to participate in any of these activities, you have to proactively go over or around barriers. Otherwise spectators are quite safe. Bulls are not just running loose through the city. There are over 1 million visitors to the spring feria and there's a lot of drinking and partying throughout the night. I know some neighbors in center city that will leave town for a couple of days because of the noise. I know others who hate the corridas and the abrivados because they are predicated on mistreating/abusing animals (they're not wrong). I've never heard of anyone being concerned about random injury from bulls. There are a lot of hazards inherent in living in a French (or any city), but abrivados in Nîmes would rank extremely low.
 

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Not limited to the city though. In fact it is perhaps worse in surrounding areas, plus routes can vary during the course of the events, often because incidents have occurred.
I can only speak about abrivados in Nîmes, which are always held on a major street which is blocked off and barricaded. You may be right about similar events in some of the surrounding communities. I have seen video of smaller abrivados with no street barricades, and have heard of instances of bulls getting loose from the guardians herding them. I did read of one injury this year in a nearby village where one of the "bull chasers" (typically teenage boys and young men) moved to dodge a bull, cause a horse to rear and land on him, and throw the rider. Chaser and rider went to hospital for precautionary scans. The bull was thankfully not harmed.

It's important to know that abrivados are opportunities for youth to show off their machismo and there is an element of danger in participating in them (otherwise how do you show the young ladies how brave you are?). But the danger is really to the participants rather than spectators. They are infrequent and don't last a long time. Are they such a hazard that you shouldn't move somewhere? Nope. It would be like not moving to a town because the Tour de France might come through some day and a bicycle might hit you while you're waving a sign for the TV cameras.
 
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