Some advice articles are tickly and sweet, they enthuse and entice and massage the ego. This one isn’t. This one is going to give you a kick up the bottom and when you’re on the floor it’s going to point a finger at you and wag it. It’s not that you’re stupid; it’s just that we all do stupid things sometimes, and before you go and do something stupid this article would like a word in your shell like.
You’re here because you’re thinking about moving to France, (or you really suck at Google).
I guess we all have different reasons for moving abroad and naturally our expectations are going to differ too, but NEVER forget France is a completely different country.
Sure it would be great if it was all like it is in the Renault ads, and Adrian Brodie or Audrey Tautou popped up in their Yves Saint Laurent suit / little black dress to flash us that charming Louvre smile and reassure us every time we do something foolishly quaint and British, before slipping us that invite for the ambassador’s soiree.
Well wake up and smell du cafe, mon amie, because you’re not in Canterbury anymore. When Britain tried to join the E.U., France vetoed it twice. It’s not that they hate you, it’s just that they have a very different culture, which they have gone to and continue to go to great lengths to protect, and if you’re going to settle down and settle in then you’ll need to understand that as soon as you can.
Please take this tongue in cheek bash as just that, but remember while we have a giggle, that the French legal system is a tad bureaucratic, the schools start earlier and finish later and children tend to stay children for longer, there aren’t any Marks and Sparks, you’ll have trouble finding a pub for your Tuesday night Arsenal match and most importantly of all! It’s not up to the locals to learn your lingo.
Of course you know all this, but it’s always the things we know best that we forget first. So while you daydream about sauntering through the vineyards with a champagne picnic, just try to imagine getting through a pile of French paperwork as tall as the hamper.
We’re not saying it won’t be amazing (it will) and we’re not saying you should give up on the dream (you shouldn’t), only that you might have to think long and hard about the changes that are going to happen in your life.
To help you through the vineyard, here are my top five tips for your new life…
1 – Learn to speak the language. Volunteer to swap English lessons for French lessons and talk to EVERYONE you can. Neighbours, waiters, the postman, mums at school, the operator… anyone!
2. Learn to read and write the language. This will help with the fundamental importance of rule no1.
3. Get used to a shift in your personal life, the French are very polite, the Bretons even more so, but until you can speak the language it’s going to be hard to make friends and without friends your new life could seem quite lonely.
4. Try new things. Swap the Royal with Cheese for a Croque Monsieur. You’re not going to be able to get a full English breakfast anywhere outside of your own kitchen so get used to croissants and fruit juice.
Eat snails, drink the Beaujolais Nouveau and try the smelliest cheese. These subtle changes might seem like a big deal at first, but you’ll soon find them among the things you love most about your new life.
5. Enjoy yourself and live the dream…