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What Makes for a Successful Life in France?

Thursday 04 April 2013

A reader on a partner website poses the ultimate question for all those wanting to live in France - how to make a successful and happy life for yourself?

Tracy Thurling writes:

There seems to have been quite a few sad posts on here lately and it is true that many of us only post when we are having difficulties.

This seems to have led to a few newcomers thinking we are moaning ex-pats for some reason, when for most of us it is the opposite.

So, lets hear from those people who are thoroughly happy here and why do they think they have made life here a success?

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We love our life here, I have a much better work /life balance, we live amongst stunning countryside and the education our son is getting is excellent. We are taxed as a a family unit which is far more sensible. I wouldn't go back to the UK to live........

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I love the countryside, being closer to nature, the fresh unpolluted air, the peaceful quiet way of life, the warm summers, the fresh food, the French people, the respect and politeness, the language, the traditions, the excellent care I`ve received in hospital and the French husband I married here in France. It`s simply my life now.

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Excepting the reference to the French husband (my wife is Brazilian) I agree with Rosalynde totally. The quality of life here is great. Our house is in a quiet village, our neighbours and all our French friends and contacts are very polite and educated, the medical treatment we have received is first class and the health insurance cost is reasonable; the food is excellent and the air is fresh except when people are using their fireplaces. That would be my only gripe because it really pollutes the air and covers everything with soot. But that would be true anywhere in the world where people are using fireplaces.

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I couldn't have had the same house for the same money in the UK, anywhere in the UK either! I could and did have as much peace and quiet there though - I used to live in the west country. But for me it's the love for the country, it could have been Italy but I settled for France. Meeting my OH here, having two young kids, the Med just down the road, the climat although I've stopped just short of a Mediterranean climate but we may be on the move again soon...!

What made it work/easier: a degree in French and Italian (hence it could have been Italy), a PGCE in MFL and a maîtrise français langue étrangère from a French university, plus I'd spent a year teaching in Brittany during my degree so I had a pretty good idea what it was all about and, although it took a while and turning down some ridiculously poorly paid jobs, getting work pretty much everywhere despite all system (and always as an indépendant/vacataire/remplaçant)

I love the fact that I can go cycling with my mates from the club pretty much all year without getting soaked and cold all winter (I now only go out training when it's dry whereas I used to ride in the rain in the uk otherwise I'd have never got out!!!)

My French family here - they were so welcoming when "l'estranger" turned up.

the fact that my kids call me 'papa' and when I manage to get them to say 'daddy' they have such a cute French accent!

I'm an immigrant not an ex-pat, there's a difference - this is home, there's no notion or desire to go back (apart from seeing family there but I only manage that every couple of years!).

Life becomes easier once you accept that everything is different and go with the flow and take on a different way of thinking (especially in mixed nationality marriages where the OH is very French and I'm more European than English)

Good post Tracy to counter the recent critics, I could go on and on but won't bore you all ;-)

The posting has been supplied courtesy of where you can follow how this debate went, and contribute to it at What Makes a Successful/Happy Life in France?.

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