I know that my Instagram feed is often full of the usual things that one might expect to be doing when living in France, but today I’m thinking of my own personal top five:
My top 5 things to do in France
1 Eating bread and bread-based foods (seriously, carbs are life)
2 Speaking French (yes, bread even comes before this, I am addicted)
3 Drinking lovely wine for a euro
4 Eating all the flipping cheese in my department
5 Beautiful French architecture
In my old UK-resident-francophile-from-afar life these were truly the ways that I thought that life in France would be. That I’d be wandering through flower-lined streets of typically French houses with gorgeous shutters and lavender everywhere. And to a degree I am. It’s a joy.
Five realities of living in rural France for the uninitiated
1 Winter is COLD. The days may be sunny, even warm, but if there aren’t any clouds you best have some wood for a fire that night.
2 Admin is a full-time job, particularly in these interesting times of Brexit. Have lots of printer ink.
3 Food is not cheap. Eating fresh and seasonally will be the most frugal way to go. Or grow vegetables, as I am planning to do.
4 Housing is cheap, but purchasing a home here is different, bien sûr! In my opinion its more organised and formal, but you’ll pay for that.
5 It would be really easy to live here and almost not speak a word of French, but for me, that would negate any reason to live here whatsoever.
What are your values?
I often get asked things like “how much does it cost to run a two-bed house in France?” or “Can you help me to decide if this house is right for me?”. Both questions that tap into both my frugal and opinionated self. But I have to take a step back from that and remind those people that living here, in whatever way you choose to live, is a deeply personal experience.
Things still cost money here. Sometimes a lot, sometimes less. It depends enormously upon our living habits and how we make ourselves happy. For me, I am (clearly) pretty happy as long as there is bread, wine and cheese. I also need some nature and see wildlife, a garden to grow things and the opportunity to speak to French people.
And while I LOVE our French home and everything that we are doing to renovate it, it is not the most important thing to me. Spending time with my partner, lovely people in the village, making friends, learning how to be in a new culture and integrating as much as I possibly can are my priorities. If that means the kitchen isn’t painted until next year I can live with that (update, it IS painted now!).
I suppose what I’m saying is, if you want to move to France, I would examine what it is that you value. If you need to be in a place where you have all the amenities available to you at all times, then rural France is not for you. If you can’t cope with the idea that shops close for lunch, or that you have very little power when it comes to bureaucracy (cue gallic shrug) then this isn’t the place.
But if you are willing to learn, integrate and try, if you can be okay with accepting that things won’t always be quick or perfect or cheap then it may well be. It’s a risk. But for me, accepting some risk is part of living a full life.
As always, if anyone wants to ask questions you are so welcome, I love interacting with you all – but it’s just that the big questions can only be answered by you. And that’s how it should be.