Print Posted By Lost in France on 20 Mar 2011 in Real France - Expat Interviews

From Johannesburg to the Midi Pyrenees

Originally from Johannesburg Colin Hancox is now renovating a house in South West France.

Midi PyreneesWhat made you move to France and how long have you lived here?
The skiing, safe cycling and mountain walking. We are renovating a very small house and are only there for about 3 weeks each year.

Which part of France do you live in, and what's it like to live there?
Haute Pyrenees, just south of Tarbes. Fantastic area, quiet, close to skiing, stunning mountains and cycling from our doorstep.

Do you have children, if so how easy was it for them to adjust to a French school?
Children are all adults and don't live in France

Open quote. Interviewee gives their moving to France tips Learn the language as best as possible beforehand... Close quote

What is your age?
I'm 59.

Where were you born?
In South Africa - Johannesburg.

Do you work, if so what do you do and how difficult was it to find work or start a business in France?
I do website development and videography. I have no business in France yet, I will possibly will look at that in the future.

What was the worst mistake you made when buying in France?
No real mistakes, just had to really push the notaire to complete the transfer. Doing it remotely and not speaking the language is very difficult. Not really a mistake, just an interesting challenge.

Your best tip or advice to other people considering moving to France?
Learn the language as best as possible beforehand. Respect the French way of politeness, time spent preparing and eating food and talking quietly. Don't crash into any cyclists, you are guilty before proven innocent. Embrace the paperwork, it may seem abundant but it is clear and it works.

Did you find it hard to integrate or adjust to your new life in France and do you have any tips to help others?
No, France and South Africa have a lot of similarities. Our neighbours have welcomed us with open arms, I think mainly because we have respected them and try our best with the language. Tips: shop local, get to know and communicate any changes with the Mairie, cycle, cycle and cycle, it's the best way to see the place. In South West France, if you know something about rugby, spout forth, an excellent topic for learning the language. Took 2 years before we knew France had a "Super" competition which was confusing as SA has a "Super" competition.

What's the best thing about living in France?
Skiing, cycling, mountains, rivers food and wine.

And the worst?
Leaving France each year.

What do you think?

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