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Getting Ready for French life...!

Updated: Mar 9


Those of you that have followed me for some years (thank you so much for that, I'm blessed and honoured), will already know that my story is slightly different to most out there, in that, life in France and our first French wreck, now nearly a real home, has not always really been a 'true love' thing. More of a nightmare if I'm honest. However, I'm finally enjoying getting to the pretty bits and feel rather more connected than ever before, but it's been an uphill struggle, like you wouldn't believe.

It will be a beautiful home.

Lovelies, life really is a mixed bag of chocolates and we really never what we are gonna get! Don't we know it! Shake that bag and have a go anyway, that's my advice! You've just got to want it bad enough and that was certainly lacking on my part.

I, of course have no wish to burst your fancy French life bubble friends. Not at all. This is just my experience and mine alone. Truly, there's lots I do like, possibly even love about France, but I will get to that bit later!

I get really upset, listening to new comers, getting the skinny from the jaded long timers. I'm all for letting people have their dream. Still, I'd like to share my experiences, my realities for what they are worth. Take what you want from them.

At this point in my story, It's important for me to tell you, that I had to finally remember, this is MY story, NOT yours or theirs. Mine. My circumstances are just that, mine. That said, he and I are NOT retired, we have some complicated issues with one of our adult children, aging parents, blah, blah, blah, the usual, so consequently we've had to try and balance our life to suit. We do don't we? This has often meant our French renovation didn't always come first and that's perfectly okay. It really wasn't going anywhere was it?

'The French Wreck' as I used to call it, was a lot! She looked okay ish, but she was really a pile of mould and mushrooms, the little monster. We've rebuilt her from the walls in, so that damp will never darken her doors again and the costs are what the are. If we had known?

Right now, my long suffering other half is undoing issues with plumbing done last summer! It's 8.30 pm and in stead of winding down, he's chasing his tail, finishing various jobs in-between working for a living.

We are getting there, but it's been rather difficult at times and not always being there has hampered progress at times.

We should be there 100 % of the time I know and we will be soon enough.

Hind sight is a wonderful thing eh!

No.19, Maison Maurice, has given us the right run around and then Brexit also took away a lot of the luxuries we had, going back and forth at leisure. Of course we mustn't forget the pandemic times and how that affected our plans post Canada.

Honestly, It's been a really challenging, long old journey, I can't lie.

*Add as many sighs here as you like for effect.

I'm absolutely positive, I'm not the first person, not completely enjoying the French dream thus far! REAL UNEDITED LIFE isn't always all sexy, it's often messy and I most certainly won't be the first or last to share my tears and the tantrums, but I really, really want to love life in France. I do! Don't worry, I don't give up that easily and I wouldn't be returning full time, if I didn't think it could all grow on me, but it really has been a push and pull situation so far.

Luckily, I have quite the gift, in that I can repair myself and keep going. I'm a very strong woman and I don't change who I am to fit in. I go on despite the background noise. I pick myself up, dust myself down and start all over again. Many, many people have under estimated me, the twits! I am no ones victim.

I do realise I've hung my dirty washing out to dry online, opening the flood gates to criticism and sometimes people just wanted to pick on me for simply me being me. Used and abuse me for their own reasons, reasons unknown to me. I really don't care anymore, as no one is made to follow or join me, it's a choice!

My platforms were often critiqued for the hell of it and used by many to boost their online presence for free. My belief that we were many like minded folks, helping each other, supporting each other has been severely challenged over the years. What I have found, is that some people felt entitled to take what wasn't theirs, sadly. I gave and gave and rarely have I ever gotten the same support back. That's just the truth. People, it seems, have very short memories!

Instead of building something lasting and positive, I was to be 'managed' on my platforms, by folks that joined me with businesses to promote, over building that special community. It hurt. They made something meant to be good, so bad. Despite this, I still believe in what I set out to do. One or two rotten eggs along the way, shouldn't spoil it for everybody.

People often used me as a stepping stone to the next good thing and I tended to forget that. What rude awakening I got eh?

The thing is, for every idiot along the way, there have been some worthy folks, now friends for life and it kinda cancels out the rest in the end.

I will admit, Him and I were 100 % naive, from the point of buying in haste in 2017, until this point in time, early 2024 and only now are we getting ready to fully commit. I'd say, it can't get any worse from this point, but that would be stupid and I'd probably have to eat my words!

The world is in turmoil, all bets are off and we can expect anything to happen, can't we?

We have been bitten rather badly in the past, sure, learnt some tough lessons, Qui and have now employed the safety brakes best we can. No one really wants to live like that do they? The truth is that not everyone is kind, good and nice, remember that. People can often have hidden agendas, we know nothing about and they eventually reveal themselves given the time. My advice here, is take your sweet time getting to know them at arms length, don't rush in.

I've never apologised for not being fully onboard with this, my chaps dream and I never will, my situation isn't yours or anyone else's. The reasons why we are still standing are many, complicated and well, our business! Coupledom requires a lot of compromise, but we each have to be careful, to make sure that we are all happy enough in the end

That said, I really do love following other families and their French adventures, watching them making it happen, their successes, the challenges along the way. I've also realised it takes as long as it takes, there is no perfect blue print and it's not as easy as TV makes it looks, especially post Brexit. Others successes do give me some hope, that this whole crazy journey to life in France can actually work.

DIY Chateau tv.... entirely kept me going.

Reality versus the edited?

Know this:

Every job takes so much longer than you'd think!

The costs are at least double!

French houses are cheaper, but you will repent at leisure and the repair bills can be shocking!

French life in general isn't cheap anymore!

Not every smiling, helpful face is your friend!

There are many EXPAT wolves in sheep's clothing, watch out!

French admin may seem impossible, I know, but do employ the right people to help and ensure confidentiality. Use your local Mayor for recommendations.

Make sure the people you employ are registered and insured. Sometimes you are better with a court registered Translator instead of using hand holders.

There are not many work opportunities for English only speakers in France, so make sure you can afford the move and life beyond that. I believe, to get a visa now, a joint income of 3500 euros monthly is required? You are not gonna survive long without a plan.

The half life, back and forth seems doable at first, but is exhausting and there will be problems here and there that may delay travel, it's a huge commitment.

Travel is now more expensive than ever, so those visits home may be few and far between.

It's a trade off, I know, but there's always wine!

Wine, cheese, less traffic, more family time, sunshine......the list is endless.

Why France?

I often ask my husband the why?

He starts mansplaining in great detail, quoting facts and figures, more space, less people. He feels less stressed in France. He says ' we are nicer people in France'. Cheaper housing? I think that was true and yes still is against the UK, AUSTRALIA and Canada. There are many reasons to make the leap I suppose?

I do worry about old age.

Anyway, I've learnt a lot about myself and other people whilst finding my feet online and in France, again not always good. One of the biggest issues we have experienced, has been with a very close knit, cliquey Expat community, who really wanted us to fail, at least it felt like it. In reality, it was just a few really, in the end. They didn't win, but they did make things rather harder for us than they should have been. The negative narrative had us baffled. We let them in, found them out and we showed them the door, in the process we got a little wiser I guess? 'They' also used my online presence to attack and ridicule. I responded, I shouldn't have done. They don't deserve any space in my life. Fool me once and all that!

I know many of you are nodding. This is a tale as old as time and people have been packing their bags to move across the pond to La Belle France forever! Also, it's not just French thing, it's the same all over the world, I'm sure.

Starting again is so cool, but it isn't always easy! It's so great to have a dream, but do have to have your wits about you when you land. It's way too easy to be in dire need of help and any help will do. Get the right help, don't be frightened to dig deeper.

Real life does happen in France, just like everywhere else in the world petals. There really is no paradise that I know of, where life can't find you? Am I wrong?

What we are looking for I believe is a 'good life' not a 'perfect life'? I think it's entirely doable if you look at it like that.

Oh! Then there was the renting from expats thing, which was often fraught to say the least, a complete disaster, I can't even be bothered to give this issue airtime, suffice to say we stopped renting, bought a camper and well......thats an entire chapter of its own.

Last year, really was the year for attracting the crazies! A real nightmare, which made us really question our French life. Then we just decided to get on with it and get it done. No choice really and that's the brutal truth. Sometimes you have to learn to fall in love with the choices you've already made?

I was hoping it had all gone away, this personal attack nonsense, but I recently discovered, just a couple of days ago, that there was a danger of this online nonsense happening again, but this time, I simply responded by blocking the person and warning my husband. Forewarned is indeed forearmed I feel? I know now that people are sharing my posts but cloaking their presence! Why should someone be able to share from my page but hide who they are? Why should anyone be able to hide in plain sight on social media? Why on earth would they do that and still be in our midst? Beggars belief doesn't it? So we lock down tighter and carry on I suppose? Some mothers children eh!

We've of course had to redo quite a lot of work done badly by imposters during the last two years and that meant we just stopped trusting, hence we've stuck with one good contractor, which has also meant progress has been what it is. We'd rather that than end up paying for poor workmanship, frankly. It does mean that we will have quite a bit to do still when we move in and that's okay.

Many of you have written to me, about your own terrible experiences of workmen and many lost ridiculous amounts of money in the process. We feel lucky in comparison, a lucky escape I feel.

These reinvented 'contractors' often aren't professionals, just rip off merchants that scream 'unfair', to cover their tracks. M. EXPAT 'Bodge it and Scarper' really are endemic in parts of France. Beware. It may feel better not to wait and actually get on with it, but you may fall foul, end up doing the work twice and that means paying for it twice! You also may not want to employ the French due to the language barrier, but you will be better protected if you do. Do your homework.

I feel much more positive about FINISHING the renovation now, but it's been very painful, slow and full of opinions, not always helpful or positive. You'd think that people working for us, would ensure that they kept our private life private? Sadly, that's not always been the case and we've not always been represented positively. It is what it is now and we are both ready to finish and move on, really start living the French life regardless.

Of course, I may now come across as aloof to some people, but it's a much needed line drawn between the real me and the online me. I will not socialise with people working in our home for us, until the job is done, doesn't mean I don't want to! I just think blurring the lines, could leave my family at a disadvantage again and at this point, we've had enough of the constant drama.

No more thanks!

T minus two months!

I think we can leave this all behind now?

I really feel like we've come full circle and are back where we should be? Let's hope so eh!

D x

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