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To be quite honest, France really isn't for everyone. There are frustrations and customs that will drive some folks around the bend. Some people can (and do) learn to either live with these things, overlook them or learn to get around them as best they can. And others have to learn "the hard way" by moving here and then finding that they are grossly disappointed in how things turned out. C'est la vie, I guess.
 

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I have a number of American acquaintances who hold a fantasy about moving to France related, vaguely, to food, art, culture, and not being around American people or culture or politics that they find disagreeable. I believe it is worth remembering:

If you are speaking mostly in English socially, you will be speaking to lots of American and British people who will be as likely as at home to annoy you. Once your French is strong enough, you will be unable to ignore the same gamut of opinions and modes of belief in French people. The same social negotiations around competing ideologies, the same disappointment at the bizarre conspiracy theories to which otherwise lovely people adhere.

Further, you will likely spend a lot of time interacting online with the news sites, social networks, and all the digital spaces from home, and the social and cultural gears of the US will likely feel as close as ever. You are not stepping out of American society just by moving your feet.
I have to say that I disagree with some of what you say. As sangfroid stated, not all of us are interested in being on social media or checking news sites.
I have just returned from a 10 day "Checking out France" trip. One of the best parts of it was the fact that I was able to completely disconnect/disengage from the craziness that is going on here. I most certainly did step out of American society by moving my feet and a couple of American expats I met who have lived In France for some years have done the same.
Last Saturday, I was walking back to my AirBnB when the local continent of anti-vaxxers & anti maskers were marching through the center of town, banging on drums, blowing whistles & chanting. I stood and watched them go by then brought up my Pass Sanitaire on my phone & held it up for them to see. Several of them noticed as they passed me and shook their head & wagged a finger at me but I was just standing there smiling back at them, showing my phone. It was all good natured and there seemed to be a respect for both positions. I would not DARE do anything like that in the US - I'd be surrounded, yelled at and possibly assaulted.
So, while one may indeed find similar views in France regarding masks, vaccination and conspiracy theories, the French, at least in my experience, express themselves with dignity & respect.
Upon my return to the US, I discovered that the state I live in reimplemented an indoor mask mandate. However, at the gym I go to, many people disregard the mandate & continue to not wear a mask. The staff just turn a blind eye to it. I never saw anyone in France not wearing a mask where one was required.
 

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........................................................... while one may indeed find similar views in France regarding masks, vaccination and conspiracy theories, the French, at least in my experience, express themselves with dignity & respect.
...............................................................
Not quite everywhere, though. TOULOUSE
 

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I have to say that I disagree with some of what you say. As sangfroid stated, not all of us are interested in being on social media or checking news sites.
I have just returned from a 10 day "Checking out France" trip. One of the best parts of it was the fact that I was able to completely disconnect/disengage from the craziness that is going on here. I most certainly did step out of American society by moving my feet and a couple of American expats I met who have lived In France for some years have done the same.
Last Saturday, I was walking back to my AirBnB when the local continent of anti-vaxxers & anti maskers were marching through the center of town, banging on drums, blowing whistles & chanting. I stood and watched them go by then brought up my Pass Sanitaire on my phone & held it up for them to see. Several of them noticed as they passed me and shook their head & wagged a finger at me but I was just standing there smiling back at them, showing my phone. It was all good natured and there seemed to be a respect for both positions. I would not DARE do anything like that in the US - I'd be surrounded, yelled at and possibly assaulted.
So, while one may indeed find similar views in France regarding masks, vaccination and conspiracy theories, the French, at least in my experience, express themselves with dignity & respect.
Upon my return to the US, I discovered that the state I live in reimplemented an indoor mask mandate. However, at the gym I go to, many people disregard the mandate & continue to not wear a mask. The staff just turn a blind eye to it. I never saw anyone in France not wearing a mask where one was required.
Heh, well clearly your 10 days at an Airbnb have blown apart my observations and experience gathered over the last couple of years living actual daily life.

But seriously, to you and the other respondent, I don’t offer these remarks as if they are universal, they come under my initials and follow my very real, feet on the ground, life-based experience and observations of others since 2018 as a younger america-raised adult. Frankly, however, I find the jumps to defensiveness foreboding. Profitez bien, quoi.
 

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Apart from the many reasons I have stated previously (in various parts of this forum), a big reason for us moving to France is "a feeling" that is not easy to nail down.

I get a feeling of belonging. Whether it is because my mother was French, I don't know. Early memories stay for a lifetime and I have been regularly going to France since I was a baby. A lingering memory is the smell of coffee and bread in the morning emanating from the kitchen of my uncle/aunt's house.

The whole way of life simply appeals to me. I always remember as a kid that sinking feeling when we got back home. I always felt I was a misfit in the UK which ended up in me moving abroad (first to NL then to Belgium) in the mid-1980s. I thought that must be the issue (not being comfortable with the UK way of life), but now I am still being drawn towards France.

Sure, France has its issues like anywhere and is no utopia, but the feeling I get just by the thought of living there at last is comforting. Luckily, my wife is happy to go along with it and she also loves the French way of life even though she doesn't have the childhood memories that I treasure. She has, however, worked in France when she was in her early twenties and has fond memories of time spent in Alsace and the Var (although her time in Normandy was not so memorable).

That's my lot, but don't ask me to nail it down! :unsure:
 

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My wife and I are starting a year-long program of studying French at the Alliance Française here in Bangkok. She'll be starting from scratch while I will be rehabilitating my once passable university French. (I can still read Proust and Choderlos de Laclos.) Next year, plague permitting we will make a scouting trip to France to try to pick a location for a move in mid-2023. Currently, we are considering Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier, and Toulouse. We think a mid-sized city with good train connections, a university, and, especially, an active and welcoming expat community would be best for us, since I know that developing friendships with the locals will be an uphill effort. Looks like Toulouse has a particularly active American expat group.

So, why do we consider France? Well, we enjoy our life in Bangkok, but find that we are a little isolated. I don't have any Thai friends, although I do have a warm relationship with my Thai teacher of many years. What I enjoy most in a foreign culture is the language, especially French since that was my first second language, but Thai has its own quite distinct pleasures, as well. Perfecting my French is a very appealing possibility. We would certainly like to see more of France and of Europe. We look forward to be able to walk about an interesting city which we did a lot of in New York. Bangkok is disappointingly unwalkable. Bangkok is frankly an exhausting city.

My wife is Thai with US citizenship. She is concerned with encountering racist attitudes in Europe. That's one of the reasons that we think a city with a large university is more likely to have liberal attitudes.

One of the aspects of French culture that I enjoyed in my past visits is that the French are sociable, enjoy conversation, and have strong opinions. Thai culture emphasizes harmony so that disagreement makes Thais uncomfortable.

The cost of living in Bangkok is a bargain compared to our former life in Manhattan. France is not as cheap, but we can afford it. Enrolling in the Sécu is a big attraction.

I do have some questions: Do French people have book clubs? Do the French universities have lectures open to the public? Do apartment buildings commonly permit pets, like a small dog? We don't have a dog now, but would like to get one once we have settled into our new location.

We try to be realistic in our expectations, especially to avoid thinking of residence in France as a sort of vacation. Nevertheless, it does seem to offer advantages over both the US and Thailand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #108 ·
I do have some questions: Do French people have book clubs? Do the French universities have lectures open to the public? Do apartment buildings commonly permit pets, like a small dog? We don't have a dog now, but would like to get one once we have settled into our new location.
For "book club" type activities, you may want to keep an eye on more general associations and activities. I know the local AVF (Accueil des Villes Françaises - a sort of "welcome wagon" organization for newcomers) has traditionally had a couple of book centered activities. It may be easier to get involved in some sort of general group and then volunteer to start a book club along whatever lines you prefer. For several years I ran a book group in English - the books read didn't have to be in English, but at the sessions people had to tell us about what they were reading or had read in English - a great way to get suggestions for new authors and books, while the French (or other) members got the chance to "practice their English" in a practical application.

I'm not aware of French universities hosting open lectures - but they do often have evening or weekend events that are open to the public. One rather "typically French" thing I've noticed is that the towns themselves seem to take considerable responsibility for offering public forums, lectures, festivals, concerts, programs, etc. Keep a sharp eye on whatever newsletter your local mairie puts out for the residents and you may be delightfully surprised at the array of town sponsored activities on offer. (Once the plague is over, of course.)

And, in general, it is widely accepted for tenants to have one or two pets, as long as you're renting an unfurnished place (so it's your furniture at risk <g>). Just remember that it's up to the tenants to return the place to the same condition it was in when you moved in - so any damage is yours to fix. (The rental laws here may be a tad different from what you're used to.)
 

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Most universities in France host public forums of various kinds, this is even more the case for universities that specialise in teaching French as a foreign language, for example I believe Pau university does a great deal of this kind of thing because it is one of the main universities, if not the major one, offering French language tuition and cultural immersion to students of all ages and backgrounds from around the world, but I see it is not on your list.
 

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Most universities in France host public forums of various kinds, this is even more the case for universities that specialise in teaching French as a foreign language, for example I believe Pau university does a great deal of this kind of thing because it is one of the main universities, if not the major one, offering French language tuition and cultural immersion to students of all ages and backgrounds from around the world, but I see it is not on your list.
Pau looks interesting. A smaller city than we had in mind. Do you live in Pau? If so, what is it like? Are the locals open or not so much? Have you studied French in Pau? Is it possible to study French other than as a matriculated university student? I see that Alliance Francaise does not have location there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #111 ·
Pau looks interesting. A smaller city than we had in mind. Do you live in Pau? If so, what is it like? Are the locals open or not so much? Have you studied French in Pau? Is it possible to study French other than as a matriculated university student? I see that Alliance Francaise does not have location there.
There are plenty of private French language study places all over France. Just search (in a search engine or on Pages Jaune) on "cours de langue française" and you'll turn up all sorts of options - in person or online, as you prefer.
 

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Pau looks interesting. A smaller city than we had in mind. Do you live in Pau? If so, what is it like? Are the locals open or not so much? Have you studied French in Pau? Is it possible to study French other than as a matriculated university student? I see that Alliance Francaise does not have location there.
No, I don't live in Pau, but I am aware of that university's renown. French is my first language as I was born and raised here.
 

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Hi! I am a French living in Australia. France is a bureaucratic hell, a repressive regime (be prepared to pay lots of taxes and fines) One of the most unfriendly country to foreigners (especially when they don't speak the language) On the other hand it is a beautiful and culturally rich country, the French can be a s warm and friendly as they can be unpleasant... I still love my country fro that reason...As a rule, quality of life improves dramatically as you move further away from Paris and the big cities into the contryside. Good luck!
 

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Ha, yes, I do know about the challenges of being a non meat eater in France. My father-in-law offered me charcuterie each and every visit to France for well over 20 years...you'd think it would sink in at some point! Our fall-back was always creperies (ratatouille being my fav) and pâtes au roquefort. TBH, being a vegetarian in S Korea was way harder than it is in France (and that was just a 10 day trip - never again). I do manage usually to find vegetarian couscous in France, which I love.
No one is beyond redemption.
 

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I have lived in 5 countries, France, Thailand, Spain, UK and Ireland. France seems to me the best. Things I like about France: If french is not your first language you can tune out the racist and reactionary crap you hear in every country on earth. Especially Thailand where a large section of the UK Ex Pats live only to insult their new country. The same racist bigotry is true of UK and France, did not find it as much in Ireland and Spanish spoke too fast for me anyway. The country is varied in climate and geography. It's cheap to buy nice houses in lots of places. I don't get as wound up by local and national politics, because I don't share their history and grievances. The food is high class and the wine is cheap. Supermarkets are not as good as in Thailand but the food available is very good. Markets are great. Architecture is stunning. From a base in France you can winter in Spain or enjoy spring in Switzerland by just driving there. The roads are superb. I love Cyprus, but flying everywhere was a pain.Things I do not like, lack of variety in cuisine. Most 'Thai' restaurants are Chinese or Vietnamese trying to cash in on higher prices. You can't, as you can in other countries, enjoy a wide variety of world cuisine. That's a pain if you are a foodie. They are obsessed with french wine, I once offered rioja to french workmen and they sneered and looked at it as if it were drain cleaner. I love rioja, you can get it in France, but the inherent snobbery of the french regarding their food and drink comes to the fore. They will grudgingly admit Thai food is one of the worlds great cuisines, but genuine ones are hard to find, and expensive. I hate their obsession with set times to eat. I remember an official guide to France which kindly explained that, for health reasons you had to eat at set times. You have to be near a tourist area to get food outside their set hours. I love France, for me it is the best place to live. The major plus overall is the Health Service. If you don't need it now, you will. I have been sick in France and in Spain. In Spain they gave me the wrong treatment which could have killed me and an armed guard followed me to my car and confiscated the crutches the hospital loaned me, only to my car. They told me all medical supplies, even crutches, had to be bought in town next day. France was fabulous, informed there would be a wait for a cat scan, I braced myself for the details, ''They can't see you until the afternoon''. Wow, anywhere else would be ages. And the waiting room was beautiful. Thailand has great hospitals. Health care there would cost me £12k per year and increases of 30% a year past 70. Cancer would leave you penniless. Ireland's health service is nowhere near as good and UK is great if you are dying but terrible if you need an op. For Chrissippus, my wife, who is Thai, loves France. Does not want to go back to Thailand or UK or Spain, and Ireland is too dull and wet. She has found less anti Asian sentiment in France than UK. Her choice to live is France, even though she is fluent in English and has to learn a new language all over again. I love Cyprus, but on balance, dispassionately, France comes out on top, and the trump card is the Health Service, it's properly financed and you will get care and surroundings to equal going private in most countries for very little.
 

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I have lived in 5 countries, France, Thailand, Spain, UK and Ireland. France seems to me the best. Things I like about France: If french is not your first language you can tune out the racist and reactionary crap you hear in every country on earth. Especially Thailand where a large section of the UK Ex Pats live only to insult their new country. The same racist bigotry is true of UK and France, did not find it as much in Ireland and Spanish spoke too fast for me anyway. The country is varied in climate and geography. It's cheap to buy nice houses in lots of places. I don't get as wound up by local and national politics, because I don't share their history and grievances. The food is high class and the wine is cheap. Supermarkets are not as good as in Thailand but the food available is very good. Markets are great. Architecture is stunning. From a base in France you can winter in Spain or enjoy spring in Switzerland by just driving there. The roads are superb. I love Cyprus, but flying everywhere was a pain.Things I do not like, lack of variety in cuisine. Most 'Thai' restaurants are Chinese or Vietnamese trying to cash in on higher prices. You can't, as you can in other countries, enjoy a wide variety of world cuisine. That's a pain if you are a foodie. They are obsessed with french wine, I once offered rioja to french workmen and they sneered and looked at it as if it were drain cleaner. I love rioja, you can get it in France, but the inherent snobbery of the french regarding their food and drink comes to the fore. They will grudgingly admit Thai food is one of the worlds great cuisines, but genuine ones are hard to find, and expensive. I hate their obsession with set times to eat. I remember an official guide to France which kindly explained that, for health reasons you had to eat at set times. You have to be near a tourist area to get food outside their set hours. I love France, for me it is the best place to live. The major plus overall is the Health Service. If you don't need it now, you will. I have been sick in France and in Spain. In Spain they gave me the wrong treatment which could have killed me and an armed guard followed me to my car and confiscated the crutches the hospital loaned me, only to my car. They told me all medical supplies, even crutches, had to be bought in town next day. France was fabulous, informed there would be a wait for a cat scan, I braced myself for the details, ''They can't see you until the afternoon''. Wow, anywhere else would be ages. And the waiting room was beautiful. Thailand has great hospitals. Health care there would cost me £12k per year and increases of 30% a year past 70. Cancer would leave you penniless. Ireland's health service is nowhere near as good and UK is great if you are dying but terrible if you need an op. For Chrissippus, my wife, who is Thai, loves France. Does not want to go back to Thailand or UK or Spain, and Ireland is too dull and wet. She has found less anti Asian sentiment in France than UK. Her choice to live is France, even though she is fluent in English and has to learn a new language all over again. I love Cyprus, but on balance, dispassionately, France comes out on top, and the trump card is the Health Service, it's properly financed and you will get care and surroundings to equal going private in most countries for very little.
I did not address bureaucracy. It can be a pain, is getting better, and if you have the means several services exist to do it for you. I will pay somebody else, but the expat network will help you out and the French at Marie level are always helpful.
 

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We very often get newcomers to the forum here who post a brief message asking about how to start preparing for a move to France. Sometimes these folks are pounced upon by some of our more "enthusiastic" forum regulars, challenging them with the same old questions - the first of which is often "Why France?"

Thought we should start a generic thread on things to consider up front when even just thinking about a voluntary move to France. (Assuming that, in a work-related move, you have your employer to fall back on for guidance, or in a student move, the demands of the program will affect your choice of venue.)

So - let's have some ideas about what you should be considering before you decide that you're moving to France. Let the games begin.

(If you have questions related to your situation, please start a new thread for your question. We need to keep this thread strictly generic.)
Cheers,
Bev
Great idea this thread BTW (y)
 
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