15   56
84   140
24   179
21   136
27   149
20   239
24   132
11   161
57   247
26   360

Catching up after a busy French summer

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t written a blog post since June, and while normally I might feel guilty about that – I think I have some extenuating circumstances this time… 

Our first summer in France
Our first summer in France

This summer, our first in France, I have married the person who makes me the happiest, and as a result, I am supremely content with my lot. I’ve taken some time to enjoy that experience and also to conversely work through one of my worst experiences, which was to lose my beloved Ginger cat who was hit by a car and killed while I was away on my first visit to the UK since moving to France.

Enjoying a sunny mini-moon in Bordeaux
Enjoying a sunny mini-moon in Bordeaux

It’s taken me a while to get used to both of these very different life events, and I now feel ready to get back into my writing and drag you all along for the ride as I scour France for bargains and ways of approaching the necessities of life here in the beautiful French countryside with a strong frugal slant.

Rummaging for bargains at French recycling centres
Rummaging for bargains at French recycling centres

So I’m planning to write some posts which I hope will be useful to those who are navigating some of the same administration as we have – I’m thinking about a post dedicated to “How to get married in France cheaply” and ways to save money when going though the French administrative process for the marriage of British citizens. Do let me know if this would be useful to you and I’ll follow up on it.

More vintage finds from the French brocante
More vintage finds from the French brocante

It’s September tomorrow, and I have already started to notice the leaves turning – on our weekly drive to the reclamation yard this morning we noticed them falling, and I am reminded that this time last year we were beginning to look for houses here in the Limousin.

I can’t believe so much time has passed, and while I have a list as long as both of my arms (!!) of things which need to be done on the house and ideas for businesses or ways to make more money working remotely, I am conscious that we have already done so much.

We have moved our entire lives to France, we have both started new businesses in our second language, we have made lots of lovely friends and learned so much French – though there is always room for improvement!

Relaxing with a cold glass of rosé at our village tabac
Relaxing with a cold glass of rosé at our village tabac

We have made a neglected house livable and even decorated half of the rooms (well, don’t look at the skirting boards, they are outstanding).

We have taken care of some serious landscaping jobs in our garden and somewhere in there managed to get married and submit our carte-de-sejour applications (though who knows what good they will do in all this whirling uncertainty of Brexit?!).

The gorgeous sunflowers plentiful in Haute Vienne
The gorgeous sunflowers plentiful in Haute Vienne

So you can expect many more words from me in the very near future, as I get back into work in time for la rentrée, but of course, if you’ve been missing my updates there is always a steady stream of pictures over on my Instagram account @frugalfrance or, and if you’re interested, things are always busy over at my Facebook group The Noz Appreciation Society where we have over 1000 members!

Do feel free to join us as we take pictures of our #Nozwins and generally get overexcited about cheap beer and condiments…

A bientot!

Laura

Starting the day with a coffee in the garden
Starting the day with a coffee in the garden

Rural France, quiet? We’re more social here than in the UK!

We thought that moving to the quiet, unspoiled countryside of rural France would mean that we were less social than we had been previously in Bristol.

We could not have been more wrong!

The last few weeks have flown by in a whirlwind of a family visit, work, lunches out with friends, our village fête and catching up with our neighbours. We’ve been so lucky to be invited to so many lovely things and we’ve enjoyed them all immensely. We have found that a major difference between our old lives in the UK versus our new french life is that we have the time to choose whether or not to do things. Okay, we’re still running round like crazy trying to get things done on the house or make our various businesses work, but with us both working at home and keeping our own hours for the most part, we have the choice of how to spend our time.

We have so much more time together, living like this has been everything that we asked for in terms of being able to spend our mornings together, to be able to cook and eat out in the garden – to be able to go to bed at a decent time, but if anything it’s given us a little too much time together. Living this way in a country where you are each other’s go-to person for mother-tongue company is intense. It’s been really useful to schedule in time with other people to make sure that we don’t drive each other crazy or take each other for granted.

One of the ways we seem to chronically overshare these days has been when it comes to our respective work. With my closest English speaking person almost permanently available to me I have inevitably shared business plans and ideas with G, and in turn I’ve inadvertently overstepped the line in terms of the suggestions that I make to his business. It’s really, really hard to stay separate when the only thing to make that happen is a decision or action that you take – choosing to do things separately or learning to keep quiet when your partner doesn’t want your millionth idea on how they could be doing things slightly differently.

So yes, these last few weeks of social distraction and responsibility have been great, for loads of reasons. I got to spend some long overdue time with my brother, we had a lovely lunch with a friend talking about creative things, as well as going to our french coffee club and looking into buying goats at the local fête (I very nearly came away with two goats after some very effective selling from the French lady that I met!).

But we are now back to normal. It’s a bank holiday here in France today so we’ve done some washing, cooking, gardening and watched some TV while slowly rebuilding our energy levels.

As for me, I shall continue to try to recharge over the coming week. I have lots of clients booked in but a quiet weekend ahead where I intend to do absolutely nothing and enjoy it immensely.

Bonne soirée!

Laura

You ask: Could I move to France?

Ever since last week when my article was published in French Property News (the June 2019 issue if you’re interested!) documenting our motivations for and the logistics of moving to France on a budget, I have been the fortunate recipient of dozens of emails from people just like me, asking the question:

“Could I do it too? Could I move to France?”.

Of course this is totally subjective and individual to every circumstance, so I’ve been emailing back and forth with some of those who got in touch to talk about the cost of living, what it’s like to work here, what it’s like to set up a business, socialising, shopping, the house buying process – you name it! I appreciate I haven’t been here that long compared to many of those whom I meet, however the process for doing all of these things remains very fresh in my mind and I hope the information I have shared is useful – at least I know it’s up-to-date!

They described me as “young” – success! 🙂
Some familiar looking pictures here, eep!
Upset not to be included in the article, of course

The other pleasure I’ve had this week has been to start noticing the roses that came over with us from Bristol making their way out into the sun. It feels like such a long time since I last saw them in flower, and so very much has taken place since then. They’re a very welcome reminder of the rhythm of the year and how close we are getting to enjoying our first French summer.

Pink is a popular colour with guests, obviously
The climber without anything yet to climb
Brightest of all

In less fun news, after our escapades moving wood, which took over all of my previous post, I, unfortunately, have been the unwilling recipient of aoûtat bites – we must have disturbed some larvae in the woodpile when we picked up the very seasoned wood in our commune – so these tiny red spiders have very rudely been injecting me with their saliva so as to extra-digest my cells and eat me. As I say, rude.

It looks as though I have provided quite the buffet, as the left side of my waist, chest, back of my neck and stomach are pretty much covered in enormously raised red welts which have been almost unbearably itchy over the last week and a half. Last night I had to liberate a bag of frozen green beans from the freezer and use them as a cold compress to relieve the itch, nine whole days in! Anyway, if you’ve ever had this, I sympathise hugely. The only thing I can compare it to is like the intense healing stage of a tattoo – but for the fact that this has been going on for over a week, and I have no promise of a pretty image afterwards. Still, I have seen my skin turn to colours that I never imagined possible, so there’s that. Merci, France.

Bitten to pieces :s

Back to positives though, I’ve also had the pleasure of reading how our story inspired so many of you to put your houses on the market, and some have already sold! I feel like the UK property market has something to thank me for at this point 🙂 But seriously, to all those who made this brave move, I salute you. It’s not easy to take the first steps to turn a dream into a reality, but if I can do it, anyone can. One step at a time.

Standard weekend lunch al fresco
New garden chairs for doing precisely nothing

As I say to all of those who emailed me and anyone who needs advice about their move,

PLEASE DO EMAIL ME

I read and answer all emails and if I think I can give you some useful information or help, I will.

Our latest addition, this was in the garden when we arrived

Happy French househunting!

Laura x

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