A question I am often asked is, “How do you make a living in France?” and for anyone even vaguely contemplating a life abroad, income is very often the number one consideration. For others who will never live here, and who may never even get to visit, how to earn a living in a foreign country is still a fascinating subject; the details of how people support themselves, and the measures they will go to in order to achieve their ambition can be the most compelling part of the adventure. It’s not always easy to work here. Some people run online businesses, others own or manage gites and chambre d’hôtes and some commute long distances. This is exactly why I was so happy to start this series about expats living in France; because everyone has their own story to tell of how they overcame the obstacles and made their dream a reality, and today I’d like to introduce you to an English couple – Jacqui and her husband Adrian.
Adrian is a freelance IT service management consultant, running courses for large companies all over Europe, but especially for UK clients. As there is less demand for training courses during the summer months when holiday-leave leads to gaps in company staffing, it means freelance trainers such as Adrian find their summers relatively free, which naturally suits them just fine. While he works away from home much of the time during the rest of the year, Jacqui has remained in France, in the department of Deux Sèvres, looking after their son, who is now 16, and in so doing has immersed herself fully into local charity work within the community. It just goes to show that where there is a will there is a way and I really hope you enjoy my chat with Jacqui today.
How long have you lived in France and why did you choose this region?
We moved here in August 2004 following quite a bit of Internet research. We needed to be somewhere with easy access back to the UK for Adrian’s work, ideally with a choice of daily flights, the TGV and the ability to drive to the south of England without needing an overnight stop. We also wanted good weather, (we were promised more sunshine south of the River Loire) and affordable property prices as sadly Provence was out of our price range. Deux Sèvres has proved to be just perfect.
Had it always been an ambition to come and live in France, fuelled by holidays in the area or was it a spur of the moment decision for a change of lifestyle?
It was something we had been thinking about seriously for about five years, although our holidays, which were usually in France, were never in Poitou-Charentes. It was an area we discovered once we started house hunting.
Did you rent when you came here or did you buy a home first and then move lock stock and barrel?
We sold our UK house, packed all our possessions and moved lock stock and barrel with a three year old and two cats.
The question everyone wants the answer to of course, did you or Adrian speak French when you moved here?
A little. As the move was something we had been seriously planning we did take private lessons for six months before moving. However, this just gave us the illusion that we could speak French. When we arrived we realised we still had much to learn.
So how did you learn to speak the language properly and how easy was it to communicate when you first arrived?
We threw ourselves into village life, which meant sitting in meetings and understanding practically nothing and contributing even less, but along with a few years of lessons, plus learning alongside Ed when he started learning to read at school we soon made progress. There is nothing quite like total immersion in daily life to make you realise you have to communicate, even if it is rather painful at first.
How different is life here to the life you led back in the UK?
About as different as it is possible to be. In the UK I commuted by train from a large town to the west of London, into the City every day. I left home before seven in the morning and rarely returned before seven in the evening. It was busy, noisy and exhausting and lacking in time, personal space and fresh air. Even after living in the same house for five years we barely knew our neighbours. We now live in a village; our house has an orchard where our ducks, chickens and goose roam free-range, we grow our own vegetables, fruits and nuts and life is full of fresh air and family time. We know our neighbours, many who have become friends and play an active role in keeping village life alive.
Do you think your values have changed along with the change of lifestyle?
Yes, we are far more conscious of where our food comes from which has led to us choosing quality over quantity and eliminating any form of food wastage. I now do a lot more cooking and preparing meals from scratch than I used to do before and by the end of autumn my freezers are full of homegrown food waiting for the winter months and with this simple act of providing good food for my family, I couldn’t be happier.
What are your favourite things about living here and is there anything you miss about home?
My favourite thing about living in France is that it has given us more family time together. Although Adrian works away from home, he rarely has to work during the summer holidays which means lots of time to enjoy our garden and days out together. Our better attitude towards food along with more time spent outdoors has meant we are fitter than we were in the UK. Our life here is also more relaxed, most of the time, which coupled with sunshine and less traffic makes me very happy. It is also nice to feel a valued member of the local community. Our family and friends are the only things I miss.
Many people when they move here, plan a life in the country in perfect isolation with chickens, growing their own vegetables and a degree of self sufficiency, how realistic do you think this dream is?
I always encourage people to follow their dreams, as you will never know if you don’t give it a try. Having said that, ducks and chickens were never in our plan when we moved here, but one morning we found a duck had moved into our orchard, so we bought him some lady companions and the chickens just seemed a natural progression. The goose was a mystery gift from a bearded man one Sunday morning in May, but when you live in a French village odd occurrences like this seem much more normal than they would otherwise. We were keen gardeners before we moved here, fell in love with the idea of having an orchard and couldn’t wait to dig a big vegetable garden. However, as much as I love growing, cooking and eating from the garden, it is a big commitment in terms of time, watering and looking after the birds. I can never keep on top of the weeds and going away during the summer would be impossible if it wasn’t for good friends who are happy to help out. It certainly isn’t the life for everyone.
You live in a village, do you think this helped you integrate with the locals and become a part of the community?
Absolutely. With village life on the doorstep it is much less isolating than if we had moved to a house in the middle of nowhere. The boulangerie is two doors away, the school bus a two-minute walk from home, so from the beginning getting out and meeting people was easy. It is much less daunting to turn up at village events if you already know a few faces.
I know you have thrown yourself into village life and local charities, please tell us all about this?
The first thing I did was become a member of the committee who puts together the monthly village magazine. I think they were keen to get an English speaker onboard so they could translate some of the more important information. However it was a while before I was up to this. When they realise you are keen to get involved you find yourself being included in meetings, asked to help at events and the next thing you know you are on committees and an active member of village life. I now help to run the village library, have a great laugh at a weekly sewing club, organise an annual picnic in the park and help to decorate the village each Christmas. I certainly don’t have time on my hands to get bored.
This in turn has led to you being voted onto the village council which I think is fabulous, so can you tell us all just what this involves?
On a basic level it involves a monthly meeting with the other councilors to decide on the budget and prioritizing what work needs doing in the village. However, as the elected English councilor my role also means being there for the other English speakers in the commune and helping them where possible with their life in France. It also means getting involved with village events like the children’s Christmas party and annual meal for the older residents and ensuring village life is as lively as possible.
As a family we cycle for fun and I know you are keen cyclists too. But you take this far more seriously than we do, on your bikes you look French, the lycra, the bright colours, the whole kit! (OK, so I am a little bit envious because we still look so English in our jeans!) So tell me, how did you get involved in cycling, did you join a local club?
A little bit like keeping chickens, we seemed to stumble into cycling and I’m so glad we did. It all started when I became friends on Facebook with an English guy who was cycling and racing with a local club and this reminded Adrian of his beloved road bike he had owned as a teenager. The next thing I know we are off on a day trip to La Rochelle to pick up a second hand road bike he had found for sale on a local free ads site. Within a few months Ed and I had also picked up second hand road bikes, Adrian had kitted us out in lycra and we were off. In a few years we have progressed from 20km afternoon rides to completing 100km in a day (my annual birthday challenge) and we have even done a cycle touring holiday of 450km in a week. We aren’t members of a club as we prefer the flexibility of doing our own thing, but we always like to have our next adventure in the planning stage.
For anyone wanting to get into the sport in France what would you recommend?
Get yourself a bike, a map, pack a picnic and get out. You don’t need to buy all the gear to start off, my first bike cost 45€ and although padded cycling shorts are necessary if you are out in the saddle all day, you can get out and enjoy being on a bike without them. Your local tourist office will be able to let you know about cycling routes in your area. France is superb when it comes to marked cycling routes that are either quiet paths away from roads, or use back roads through small villages away from the traffic of main roads. You really can discover so much more when you explore France by bike.
Have you any amusing biking tales you would like to share?
Having never owned a drop handlebar road bike as a teenager, my preference was for a bike with a wicker basket, it took me rather a long time to get used to having the brakes so far from where I positioned my hands. One day, while looking around rather than where I was going, I failed to notice Adrian had slowed down in front of me and in that moment of panic, when I could see I was going to crash, I knew reaching down for the brakes wasn’t going to happen. My only option was to throw myself off the bike and scrape my knees and knuckles on the road while Adrian looked on in confusion, wondering what on earth I was doing. He certainly found it amusing.
You have been here for quite a long time now; we all know hindsight is a great thing and that being the case, is there anything you would have done differently?
This is a difficult question as I really couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, but the only thing I can think of is if we hadn’t bought such a long and spread out house it would have been far easier to heat in the winter.
Have you adopted any traditional French habits that you never would have imagined would become a part of your routine?
My Sunday morning ritual of walking to the boulangerie, listening to the morning church bells and buying croissants that we eat with freshly brewed coffee and homemade jam. I also love the fact that on a Thursday morning we have a fruit and vegetable seller and a seafood seller who visit the village, so with my very French basket on my arm, I can buy my fresh produce without having to drive to the supermarket.
We met through blogging because you were the first person who ever gave me a ‘shout out’ on Facebook and promoted my blog for me. Since that first kind gesture of yours I have been truly overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of other bloggers. How long have you been blogging for and would you agree that it is a great community?
My first blog posts were monthly musings to update family and friends about our new life in France back in 2007. Sharing them on Facebook opened them to a wider audience and I couldn’t believe how much enjoyment people I didn’t know were getting from reading it. The positive feedback from readers and other bloggers really inspired me to keep going and it has become something I really enjoy.
You blog about your life here but you also review books about France, how did you get into this?
I’ve always been a bookworm and when I noticed other bloggers were writing about books they had read and helping to promote new books I started doing the same thing. There are so many books with a French theme, from romance novels set in Paris, to memoirs, travel memoirs and crime novels set in the French countryside I’m now never short of something different to read.
Finally, can you give some advice to anyone wanting to move to France, what they should and should not do?
Learn the language before you arrive, have a realistic plan for income and once here be brave and get out into your new community and join in. It really is the only way to feel like you belong and it is the best way to improve your French.
I would also love to know how your son likes it here; how does he find the school system and will he stay in France?
This is a difficult one to answer as Ed has only ever experienced the school system here in France so we can’t compare it with the UK one. He is happy, confident and loving the independence weekly boarding at lycée has given him, something he wouldn’t have experienced from fifteen if he had been in the UK system, and as any Mum would agree, if he is happy, I’m happy. He has always proudly maintained his Englishness and if you had asked me a year ago I would have said that further education in the UK is a real possibility. However since the UK EU referendum in June he has sadly lost some of his love for his homeland, but never say never, who knows what the future will bring.
You can read more about Jacqui on her blog The French Village Diaries here and follow her on Instagram @Jacquiinfrance and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheFrenchVillageDiaries/
147 thoughts on “An English Family in France”
I could not agree with you more, I am always fascinated by what brought people to live in France and how they make a living. I think it is something that other people ponder as well because who doesn’t have a dream of living abroad.
I think that your friends advice of immersing yourself in village life could also hold true wherever you live, if you you want to be part of the community you have to connect with people.
Have a great week!
Hi Elizabeth, it always intrigues me too that’s why I was so keen to do this series. So true about immersing yourself in local life and here very often as the outsiders, as the foreigners, we have to make the first move to break the ice, and it is amazing, once we have made that move how much things open up and how friendly people are. Hope you have a lovely Sunday xx
Hello, I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the importance of immersing yourself into your new community. I know it isn’t always easy, but it is so rewarding.
I completely agree with Jacqui about so many of the points she raises. Living in the village has so many advantages over living in isolation out in the countryside. My French bike, with brakes in a different place to the one I rode to school (ahem, no bike riding in between…) is scary. Blogging brings so many rewards in terms of contacts with a remarkable variety of people, many of whom have become friends both in person or online, and have added all sorts of additional information to my blog that I would never have otherwise found out.
Hi Susan, I totally agree too, I love living in the centre of a village, I enjoy seeing people, even if it just a quick bonjour, it makes one feel connected. I am quite intrigued by the bike brakes! I don’t remember brakes being any different ever, except some American bikes whereby braking is by peddling backwards, that was really confusing! However, I have never ridden a true road bike and I have no idea where the brakes are that Jacqui talks about, I can see I have lots of learning to do! I quite agree, blogging has introduced me to so many people and I have been lucky enough to meet several of them in person, people I like to think have become good friends. Hope you are having a lovely Sunday, rain was promised here, but none materialised, instead the clouds are clearing and the sun is due to return! Xx
Hi Susan, I really did stumble into both blogging and bike riding, but sometimes in life it is the things you don’t plan to do that are the things you get most enjoyment out of.
Feel very envious as I live in cold Northumberland and my husband is anchored to this area. I just love France, been there many times, love the folks and the culture, the wonderful way of life and bliss, the sunshine!
Hi Barbara, the sunshine is a good draw, I cannot deny the weather is that much better and it does make a difference. Perhaps when you and your husband retire you can realise your dreams of a move to France? In the meantime, keep visiting and keep exploring new places here and having fun. Northumberland is quite stunning though, I can think of plenty of worse places to live! Have a great Sunday xx
Hi Barbara, I do hope your husband allows you holidays in France? Sometimes holidays are better than moving, you get the weather and culture without the paperwork!
I have long since harboured a dream of living in mainland Europe, Spain or France, but how to earn a living has stopped me persuing it. Now you have rekindled this dream, as always thank you x
Hi Lisa, with the Internet there are so many opportunities nowadays, even if you do have to commute. I think the language is another factor that stops many people, concern of not being able to integrate. Keep your dream alive, explore every possibility! Xx
Best of luck Lisa, so long as you have a good plan in place before you move you should be fine. It won’t always be easy, but if it is your dream and you can make it a reality then I think it is worth a bit of work and effort.
Thanks Susan and Jacqui. It is lovely getting to know fellow bloggers more.
Thanks Catherine, I totally agree, blogging has opened up such a world of new friends, several of whom I have been lucky enough to meet and now call genuine friends and I have learnt so much, everyday I learn something new. Xx
Hi Catherine, being able to share interests with people who live on the other side of the world, with just a click of a mouse is one of the best things about blogging. Long live bloggers!
I often wonder what people do in France, thanks for giving us some ideas. Have a great Sunday
It is quite incredible the lengths some people will go to to live their dreams, I find this so fascinating and I admire people for finding a way to make things work, it is not easy at times. Have a lovely Sunday xx
Hi Amanda, even in the smallest village in France there is always something to do, if you are prepared to go out and find it! I had no idea I would end up running social events, the village library or being elected onto the council, but I love it.
So even foreigners wear the Lycra! I love watching the cyclists in France, they always seem so serious and I love the respect all the cars seem to give bikes.
Hi Katy, foreigners except me and my family! We are still stuck firmly in shorts and a t-shirt!! I always feel terribly safe wherever we cycle, on busier roads and through small villages, cars do give way to cyclists and I have never felt in danger or worried when I have all the children with me. Xx
Hi Katy, my husband assured me cycling without Lycra wasn’t possible!!! However, I soon became a convert, the padded shorts are much more comfortable when you are in the saddle all day long!
Thank you for a lovely way of letting people know what its like moving,working and living in France from people who have done this. Look forward to being one of you soon.
Hi Karen, that sounds exciting, so you are soon to be moving here? I see a horse, definitely competing, in your profile photo, so I am wondering what is bringing you to France and which area you are moving too, would love to hear more. Susan xx
Good luck Karen, I’m so glad we followed our dreams and hope you enjoy your new life in France.
Enjoyed reading your article today Susan. With all that’s going on with our election, DJ has serious concerns regarding her future. Amazing that our young adults have the insight and knowledge that they do. This will be some good preparation work for her.
Hi Debra, watching the election from afar and equally concerned here, whoever thought it would get to this. What strange times we live in. Have a lovely Sunday xx
Hi Debra, I find world politics terrifying, but at least we still have blogging to share our love of a normal life with each other.
Very interesting read. Jacqui I would love to know why are there so many English in your village and in your area? I know Susan has said on her blog there are no other English where she lives, so what draws them to the Deux Seves?
Hi Shari, it is true there are very few English or foreigners here, I don’t know any here or in the surrounding villages, our nearest English friends live an hour away! Have a great Sunday xx
Hi Shari, I have no idea why there are so many English here, but everywhere I go I hear English! The only thing I can think of is that a few English estate agents have set up in the area. They advertise in the English magazines and at the property shows, so the English end up buying in the area. We moved into the village not realising how many were already here before us. I guess the property prices help too, we are not in a wealthy region, so houses here are affordable. By immersing ourselves in village life I think we are lucky to have a good mix of French and English friends – the best of both worlds.
Jacqui, I was equally intrigued to hear your answer. There are no English here, in fact our girls were the first English children they have ever had in the village school, their teacher was thrilled when we arrived, she said it had always been her dream to have a little English girl to teach! We hear English when we are in La Rochelle but never hear it around here, we only know one English couple and they live an hour away! How do the locals in your village react to so many British in the village, are they totally accepting of them?
These diary posts are so delightful and give me hope that at some point in my life, I can turn my dream into an actual reality. Keep up the good work. To your UK brethren highlighted in this edition, kudos for sharing; I loved reading about your UK to France adventures! ღ
Thanks so much, I always find it so interesting hearing how people manage in a foreign country, it doesn’t have to be France, it can be anywhere, but I know it is a challenge and I am amazed at the obstacles people overcome to live their dream and admire them. At the same time I think by sharing expat stories it does give hope to others wanting to do the same. Keep planning your own dream, never give up and it will probably happen. Xx
Thank you! Don’t ever give up on your dream. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
Although German born, trying to get back into the EU is difficult at best, especially if you don’t work. But I’ll keep dreaming of it always. ღ
Do you hold a German passport, or is it easy to get one? I think if you can make a good plan and stick to it there will be a way. Which is your European country of choice?
No, I’m now a naturalized American. My dad is American, mum was German. I’d happily live in Germany, France, Italy or the Czech Republic
But surely that means you can apply for a German passport? It would certainly make living in Europe a great deal easier.
Only if my dad were German-born. They don’t call it the fatherland for nothing. Sigh.
True true! Well where there is a will there is a way.
Yup; and I’m still looking for that! 😉
Then I have absolutely no doubt you will succeed.
A lovely interview, and I look forward to reading more about your various expat pals.
Jacqui’s story about the chickens and so on had me laughing, especially this: “The goose was a mystery gift from a bearded man one Sunday morning in May”. There’s the first sentence of your next short story.
Absolutely agreed that village life, on whatever side of the waters, is more enriching than splendid rural isolation.
My mind is already racing around in circles with that first line Emm, it would make such a great opening line, who knows, watch this space! I love village life. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, the nearest village was several miles away. I have never lived in splendid isolation since! I wonder if that is why, perhaps somewhere deep inside it put me off for life, although as a child it never bothered me. I particularly like being able to see the church from our home here, just the tower in the distance, it makes me really believe we are in the centre of the village and it has meant we are involved with the locals and we do know our neighbour’s and the children can visit friends houses on their own. Xx
Thanks Emm, when we were house hunting we looked at village properties and isolated ones. It wasn’t until we found this village that we realised how much better village life, in a village with boulangerie, post office, bar and a social life would be for us. It was the village as well as the house that we fell in love with!
What an interesting life you lead! It is amazing that you have become so so invested in village life and that you have fallen into such a leadership role. It must make living there so rewarding.
Susan this looks like such an interesting new series!
Thanks Helen, it is fascinating for me learning so much about people too and I am really loving being able to share this with so many people, I always admire anyone who makes it work in a foreign country. Xx
Thanks Helen, I really feel I have found my place in the world. I may not have been born here, but I was definitely meant to live here. I hope others can learn from me that the more you put into village life the more rewarding it will be.
It is always fascinating to me to learn about other families, like yours, that have made a life in a new country with a new language. Lovely! I look forward to more of your interviews! xoxo
Hi Nancy, it fascinates me too, even though we have done it, I still love hearing other people’s stories because everyone has there own way of doing things and their own hurdles to overcome; it’s a great life but it’s not easy all the time. Xx
Thanks Nancy, life in a new language can be daunting, but rewarding.
Such an enjoyable read but what I loved most is the way you have thrown yourself into village life Jacqui. Well done to you for helping out and becoming such a vital part of your community
I agree Jane, this is what prompted me to chat with Jacqui in the first place, I admire the way she is such a part of the community and is on the council. Xx
Thanks Jane. It was scary at first, but I am so glad that I made the effort all those years ago. I am certainly reaping the rewards now.
Another glimpse into French life and yet again I am green with envy. Jacqui one day I will follow your lead and life my French dream
Hi Bev, keep planning that dream and it will happen and when it does it will be worth it, I promise xx
Good for you Bev! Follow your dreams, if you can, it will be worth all the worry and work!
Another lovely window into the why and how people make the move. I love the comment about having the illusion that they could speak French when they first moved …. I think most who have done it would recognise that statement!
Oh yes, wouldn’t we just, I am no exception. I could chat with Roddy, we could hold conversations and the children couldn’t understand a word we were saying, we were fluent in conversation, or so I thought! Until I realised that we were not!!! Of course I could understand everything he said, we had the same level of French more or less, but once the locals started talking flat out without a thought for slowing down even when asked to I realised how severely wrong I had been. Now of course it is the children who are 100% fluent in every way, no longer can we talk behind their backs in French, not only do they understand every word we way, we also stand the chance of being corrected gramatically!!! Xx
Actually I found it easier when I moved to Italy with no Italian at all than I did when I first moved to France with what i thought was OK French … maybe an age thing (I was 24) or maybe just a prejudgement that left me rudely awakened! xx
That’s really interesting, I lived in Portugal before I was married and certainly pre children days, I remember getting on the plane at Heathrow, I couldn’t say one word, I had my little Portuguese phrase book with me, but I couldn’t understand their pronounciation, it was so different to French, my only other language I could speak. Obrigada the first word I learnt. But learn I did, I was fully immersed and after a year or so I was happily chatting away, I learnt just what I heard rather than sitting in a classroom learning verbs as I had French. Maybe there is something to be said for this method! Xx
I’m sure full immersion is the best way although there is always the exception that proves the rule – I have an elderly friend who has had homes on Lake Geneva and on the Cote d’Azur since the year of my birth …. his wife forced him to do a three month immersion about 10 years ago in desperation because his pigeon french is so deplorable and the organisers refunded his money after a month because they said no progress had been made!! Xx
I guess he is the one that breaks all the rules, immersion obviously doesn’t work for everyone! I must admit I do like to see things written down as opposed to just listening. Xx
Absolutely nothing works for him …. he is nearly 80 and has been resident in Switzerland and France for over 55 years – he’s a multi-millionaire and I think the fact is that he honestly doesn’t need to try! I’ll write his story one day …. it eclipses most I have ever heard (even the polite version!) xx
He sounds absolutely fascinating, would love to hear his story, we will certainly have much to talk about! Xx
I’d introduce you but you wouldn’t be safe …. he has the most glorious eye for a pretty lady 😉 xx
Ha ha, there’s nothing wrong with a little harmless flirtation! xx
Given that he’s been married 4 times one is always nervous of how harmless …. 😁 xx
Sounds as if he has had quite a life!!! Xx
Thanks Osyth, I still feel that the more I learn, the more I realise how much more there is to learn!
My favourite, Jacqui are the very rare moments when I manage to get one over on my husband who first moved to France in 1980 and although he moved away 10 years later has kept strong work and home ties there. So his French was STREETS ahead of mine when I moved 3 years ago. Very very occasionally I manage to correct him and then I do the victory dance! I so enjoyed reading your interview – delightful 🙂
Had to had to reply to! Roddy was much the best at French in the family when we moved here, now of course the children are all the best! But occasionally, like you, very occasionally I get to correct him and when I do, oh how fantastic I feel, I do that victory dance also, it’s so rare but it feels as if I have conquered a mountain!
Bottle those moments and savour them well 😉 xx
I will xx
Great post again Susan. I especially liked the bit about the goose. W e had kittens dumped in the woodshed, which we adopted, and our neighbour had a goat dumped outside his house! It must be a French thing. Our French friends often say ‘c’est normale’, and I have to agree. We always said that we had to try French life or we will always wonder what might have been. It may be hard sometimes, especially with the dreaded B word, but what a different way of life!
I feel like we are missing out, we have never had an animal or bird dumped on us, I can imagine how excited the children would be, I’m rather sad about that!!! Sometimes it is hard, it’s certainly not all plain sailing and sometimes I do know it would be so much easier back at home and who knows what on earth will happen next year, but we will all cope I have no doubt. It’s a very different way of life, but it is excellent for the children to grow up this way. Xx
That was exactly how we were – if we don’t try to make it work, we would always wonder what if! I have to say, if a goat were left outside our house, my husband would probably have heart failure and certainly a sense of humour failure!
Great to find your blog Jaqui!
I’ve come across Jacqui’s blog from time to time but never really focussed on it…so many thanks for this! Her “story” is wonderful and, like all of you who have moved there, I love reading and experiencing through your blogs!!!
Thanks so much, I am so glad you are enjoying the blog and like you, I love reading about other people’s adventures and how they cope in other countries, it doesn’t have to be France, I love hearing stories all over the world, I just happen to live here so thought I would share these!!! Hope you are having a lovely Sunday xx
Thank you, I’m glad your enjoyed our story.
Thanks for the lovely expose, and pictures! What a lovely story…dream worthy…
Thanks Nancy, it’s always such fun and I think incredibly interesting to hear other people’s stories and to hear how they cope. It’s certainly not always an easy life and learning to live life in a foreign language is even harder but it is worth it! Xx
Thanks Nancy. I am so glad we followed our dreams, it hasn’t always been how I expected but in many ways it has been better than I could have imagined.
Lovely as the idea is I doubt it will ever happen!
Well at least you can keep visiting for fantastic holidays and blogging about them, I so enjoyed reading your posts last month and you certainly covered quite an area, which is something perhaps we don’t do quite so much when we live here, so there is a bright side! Xx
Yes there is always a bright side, I glad you liked the holiday blogs as there are more to come! 😉😊😋😎😘😘
Always look on the bright side, I’m definitely a glass half full person. So glad there are more to come, it made me realise how many places we need to take the children! Xx
I really do urge you to take them to Guedelon!
The castle they are building, this fascinated me, it is definitely on our to do list, in fact thanks for reminding me, we might make it a day trip this half term as they have two weeks off now. I know it would intrigue them all. Looking into it now, is it open year round do you know?
Apparently it’s open until 1st November here are the details.
Thanks, it is further away than I thought, nearly five hours, so it might have to wait until next spring break when we can make a weekend adventure of it, but thanks for reminding me, cannot wait to visit.
Yes it might be well worth an overnight stay as there is so much to see and as it is so far away an overnight stay would be called for. It is so interesting!
Planned for definite for spring break, looks like so much fun, thank you xx
My pleasure. You will all love it! Plus you will be able to have a guide! 😊
There was no option of an English guide when we went, even though the leaflet said there was, and as my husband does not speak any French we did not have one. xx
Holidays in France are still a great idea and very enjoyable!
Oh! we do whole hearted agree, Jacqui!!
Fascinating to get such an insight into French life, thank you both. It’s been a while but we used to pop across the Channel quite frequently and I always felt rural France to be a different sort of life, one I could slot into quite happily!
Thanks so much. Ir is a different sort of life. It really does remind me of my childhood here, although even in rural France we have shops open on Sunday mornings now. I went into our local green grocers this morning and was amazed to see that it was heaving at close to midday on a Sunday, it seems the French love being able to shop for provisions on a Sunday as much as everyone else does! Xx
It is certainly a different sort of life, but I feel I’ve found my place!
Thank you for introducing us to Jacqui and her story. The two of you have managed to make me feel even more wistful about life in a small town 🙂
Thanks Joanne, I love my French village life and would encourage anyone to give it a go!
It wouldn’t take any coaxing to get me to agree. I LOVED France and would be back there in a heartbeat.
Sadly, Husband doesn’t share my enthusiasm … well, except for the cycling part 🙂
Sorry Joanne! But I know you know life is what you make it and it is never as perfectly rosy as it sometimes seems. True, it’s a great lifestyle here, but it can be very tough at times and there are many hurdles to cross and things to overcome and sacrifices to be made in order to live here. Come and visit. Xx
Oh Susan, I’m so aware of that! …. like the fact that my family would starve to death if they relied on my ability to grow anything 😉
… but I can dream!
We all have to dream in life, it’s what keeps us sane at times!!!
I’m interested in the nitty gritty: did they set up a microsociété or a regular société? How do they manage it?
We run a SARL which is like a UK Limited company. I am an accountant, but we also use a French accountancy firm to ensure all is in order!
Another wonderful post…I just subscribed to The French Village Diaries. I love hearing about life in another past of this vast world we live in. I was lucky enough 10 years ago to be able to visit France for a short time with a group of teenagers from the school I worked at as a chaperon, It as was an experience I will never forget. I love seeing the sights of Paris and some of the country side ..waking up in the morning and have a fresh croissant with my morning coffee and being ready for the day, Your posts bring memories and a taste of adventure to me that I find so refreshing . Thank you so much for your beautiful pictures and words. I look forward to your future postings and to The French Village Diaries posts. Have a Happy Week!……..Freda Carroll
Thank you so much Freda, you sound as if you have such happy memories of your trip to France, unlike many people I love travelling with our teenagers, granted they are our own children, but they have so much energy and I love seeing things through their eyes. Have a wonderful week, go and buy yourself a croissant and have a coffee, even if you are not in France you can pretend! Xx
Thanks Freda, I hope you enjoy my French Village Diaries, I’ll try to post some morning coffee and croissant pictures for you.
Great post Susan, and lovely to meet you, Jacqui. I envy you both a wonderful lifestyle. I can well believe it’s been hard work, but obviously it seems worthwhile now.
I have a quick question for you, Jacqui – out of curiosity, is your son going to make his living in France too, or does he hanker after the UK at all?
Hi Phil, it is indeed a great lifestyle, but you have hit the nail on the head, it is hard work, there are pros and cons, it’s like anything worthwhile it’s worth fighting for. Xx
Hi Phil, I have no idea where Ed’s life will lead him, he is still very British at heart, but also pro-Eurpoean too, something that isn’t very on trend in the UK currently!
We have lived in Brittany for three years now and we still struggle to make friends with the French, in fact I find it rather depressing. You have lived here a long time Jacqui and please can you tell me how long it took you to integrate, did you make French friends easily or did it take you several years too? People say bonjour and smile but that’s it, I don’t know how to get to the stage where we can be friends, my French is limited but I am not afraid of trying and have no problems making a complete idiot of myself. By the way Susan your posts always remind me of why we live here and they never fail to cheer me up.
Hi Paula, firstly thank you, and I am so happy to bring a little cheer into your life. But I want to do far more than that, it sounds as if you are missing out on what can be and should be a lovely lifestyle. So my main question, are there a lot of English where you live and do they all have the same problem? Do you have school age children or are you retired? Perhaps you should go to your local Mairie and enquire about things going on in the village, there are always meals, tea dances or sorts of things, even charity events, like the selling of children’s clothes, see if you can help out, go to the meals, you and your husband will feel totally like fish out of water but it will be worth it, you have said you are not afraid to speak French, so just go for it, I promise once you have broken the ice and made an effort the French, in my experience, will always return the compliment. Please do give it a try, your life will be so much better for it. Xx
Hi Paula, it did take time I’m afraid to say, but I love that you are not afraid to try speaking French as that is first hurdle overcome. I agree with Susan, find out about local groups and events and just keep attending. The more your face is recognised the more friendly people will be towards you. One of the most fun and certainly most friendly things I do is the sewing club that has been going less than a year. A few ladies who help out with other things in the village mentioned an interest in sewing and the next thing I know, I’ve bought a machine and we now have a group of nine who meet to chat and sew every Friday morning. You could always start something if you have an interest or hobby. Best of luck.
Oh I was so interested in all of the details! How wonderful to ask all of the questions that were on our minds! Thank you Susan!
SO incredibly interesting to see people follow their dreams. As youngsters we have adventurous thoughts and dreams……….and you………and Jacqui…..have followed them.
These are stories, books, novels, biographies……….come to life!!
Thanks so much, we do all have dreams as children, I used to sit on the lower branch of a plum tree in our orchard dreaming of a life of horses, the Olympics, that sort of thing, I never imagined I would end up in France and not even owning a horse any longer!!! But then I followed my adult dream and I couldn’t be happier, so I guess it’s true we can dream at any age and sometimes we are brave enough to follow them with all the ups and downs involved! Xxx
Thank you. It takes equal measures of courage and naivety to follow your dreams, but I’m so glad I did and that others enjoy hearing about our life in France.
Have absolutely loved Jacqui’s story: all the initial steps taken by her family seem totally logical, especially the fact that the sooner one learns the language the faster one fits in and that one fits in accepting ‘their’ ways and perchance putting any of your own which are different on the backburner. Have to laugh about the cycling – don’t cycle myself but have been a road cycling ‘nut’ for over the decade. The current book on my bedside table is ‘The Art of Cycling’ – the just published autobiography of our Cadel Evans who won Tour de France in 2011 – and much of the volume is situated there . . . a fantastic lesson in more ways than one 🙂 ! Off to see your blog, Jacqui!!!
Totally true about the language, it is, without a shadow of doubt, the most important thing. It is vital to remember that one moved to a new country for a reason and therefore it is important to involved oneself in their ways and customs rather than trying to create a mini micro lifestyle of ones own, that, in my experience, will never result in happiness in the long run. Xx
Thanks Eha, I’m off to check out Cadel Evan’s book, it looks just my sort of read.
I ❤️ this series…it was so much fun to meet Jacqui through your Blog. I love that she gives so much of herself back to her community…And cycling! What more can a gal ask for? How utterly wonderful that social media gives us the opportunity to meet such “adventurous” and “fun” women such as you0 and Jacqui! What I enjoy most from this series is how well prepared you are with great questions that give us a “flavor” once again about French living!
Big Kudos for Sharing yet another wonderful role model for us to “day dream” about fullfilling our own “special fairytale” on this journey we call life!
Thank you so much, it is just as much fun for me as I am glad to hear it is for you. I love finding out more about people, what brings them to live a new way of life, what brings them to France and how they cope with the language. It is not always an easy life but it is a great lifestyle and worth all the hard work. Social media and blogging have opened up an whole new world for sure, we can choose who we wish to be friends with and what we want to read entirely in our own time, there is so much information out there, I learn something new every single day, things I never would have known without blogging and reading so many fantastic blogs. Have a lovely week xx
Thanks, I’m not sure I’ve ever been described as adventurous and fun in the same sentence before, I will treasure your kind words. Never give up day dreaming!
Looking forward to this new series Susan! I think it is so wonderful to fully immerse yourself in a new country and nother just remain an outsider, you gain so much more from the experience!
Thanks Lily, I agree, I think it is vital, it is the only way to really feel as if one belongs, full immersion. It is tough at the beginning but so worth it in the long run. Xx
I 100% agree Lily and the more time I’m here the more I learn about this culture and language.
Another great post in what is fast becoming my favourite series, Susan – I love hearing about France from other people’s viewpoints, and I’m afraid to say I don’t follow many other blogs really – the girlfriend is to blame for me following this one. I’ll try and get her to post some time, she’s quite shy and reticent by nature! But we both love la belle France….
What I like most of all though is that many of the people you are introducing us to are not from the typical destinations people visit or settle in. I’m learning a great deal about parts of the country that other writers don’t seem to reach!
So glad you are enjoying the blog Simon and thank you for always taking the time to comment, this is what makes it all so worthwhile, the interaction with everyone. I always find it really interesting to learn about different lifestyles and how people adapt to life in a new country and how they overcome the language barrier and other hurdles. Hope you have a lovely week. Xx
Thanks Simon, France is such a vast country and everything from the architecture, customs, dialects and scenery changes so much from region to region, I don’t think I’ll ever get to know it all, but I will keep travelling and try my best.
Lovely interview! I am always so interested in other people’s experiences involving living in France. I am off to follow Jacqui on Instagram. Thank you!
Me too, I love hearing how people cope and I so admire everyone, there are always so many hurdles to overcome, it’s never as easy as it seems. Hope you have a lovely week xx
I love this post – Thank you Jacqui!
So glad you enjoyed it, I always find it fascinating learning about how people cope in new countries, it doesn’t have to be in France it can be anywhere, there is always so much we can learnt. Xx
This post is so interesting. I agree that people like to hear stories about others who made their dreams come true by moving to another country. Thank you for sharing at Monday Social.
Hi Judith, I think we are curious in our own way, we love to know how other people live their lives and how they cope when they are out of their comfort zone. I know I love hearing other people’s stories. Xx
Fascinating post, thank you. And I’m going to check out that Cadel Evans autobiography mentioned by one of your followers too!
So glad you enjoyed it. I am always fascinated to hear how other people cope in new countries and environments with language problems and not knowing anyone. Hope you are have a lovely weekend xx
Thank you, glad you liked it. X
Enjoyed the interview and couldn’t agree more with the part about learning French. It’s essential to life here. You don’t have to be perfectly bilingual or even close but a solid intermediate level is a must for daily life.
I would totally agree with that, learning to speak French is vital to get the most out of living here and to become a part of town or village or even country life. Xx
Don’t ever plan on living there but will definitely visit there in a few months. I’ve been to Quebec and can understand a bit of French!
Which part of France are you coming to? Hope you have a truly wonderful trip. Even a little bit of French will make it so much more enjoyable. Xx