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

Living in Cotes d'Armor

Angi has lives in the beautiful Côtes-d'Armor region of Brittany and has been living in France for 17 years.

PlougrescantWhat made you move to France and how long have you lived here?
We thought we would go and have a bit of an adventure, the children had left home, so we moved here, and thought we would go back if we didn't like it, we are still here, and that was 17 years ago.

Which part of France do you live in, and what's it like to live there?
We live in the Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany, we have moved once, having renovated our first house here, we bought another to renovate, and have been here for 9 years. We are about 20 minutes from the coast, in a very beautiful rural area.
I love living here, and feel like a bit of a foreigner when I go to the UK.

Do you have children, if so how easy was it for them to adjust to a French school?
One of our sons lives near us, he has been here for about 9 years, and has two boys, born here in France - they are both at school now, one in the maternal and the other in the primaire - of course, they are totally bilingual, they speak English at home.

The school has been wonderful with them, and taken a huge amount of trouble to help them integrate - there are no other English in their classes - they both love school, and have lots of friends. The oldest is 6 and recently read me a story in French. I can find nothing bad to say about the school!

Open quote. Interviewee gives their moving to France tips Avoid ex pat 'gettoizing'... Close quote

What is your age?
I'm 64.

Where were you born?

Do you work, if so what do you do and how difficult was it to find work or start a business in France?
We have a business, my husband is an artist, graphic designer, and maitre d'oeuvres, mainly we do planning permissions, total packages, or advice and translation. Have also done gite management, gardening, stonework and renovations, macrobiotic and vegetarian cooking, aromatherapy, and anything that we have the skills to do that turns a penny.

We have always had our own business, did not find it particularly difficult to continue working for ourselves here, once we had become reasonably fluent. I once has to go on a course here, concerning small enterprises, it was a bit boring but served its purpose.

What was the worst mistake you made when buying in France?
I don't really think we made any particular mistakes - we bought a wreck, but we have always bought houses in various states of disrepair, so we expected to have to rough it for a bit, and it was interesting to do it in a different environment, going to brichos armed with a dictionary, and paper to make illustrations if necessary.

Your best tip or advice to other people considering moving to France?
Avoid ex pat 'gettoizing' and finding yourself among people with whom you have nothing in common except the language.

Did you find it hard to integrate or adjust to your new life in France and do you have any tips to help others?
We would have found it hard NOT to integrate, because although we had no next door neighbours, either then or now - our nearest neighbours arrived to welcome us, and give us bottles of cider, home grown fruit and veg, and we never looked back - one the best things about living here is the warmth and friendliness of the people.

When we moved to our present house, the same thing happened, although by then it was even better because we could speak the lingo. Now all our close friends are French. We have been invited to several marvellous weddings, usually two day events. In the early days we always attending events in the commune, and as we were the only English we seemed to be a bit of a novelty, and so we met lots of people. We learnt the language by speaking it - not out of books, or from lessons!

What's the best thing about living in France?
The people, with their live and let live attitude. And having the good fortune to have had an old peasant neighbour, who eventually treated us like his children (he was a bachelor) we made cider with him, and drank his calvados, he was one of the most contented people I have ever met, and he lived in total simplicity, in his little house, with a smokey fire, a cold tap, no loo or shower, and grew enough fruit and veg to supply all his needs, with a surplus to give away - he died when he was in his 80s, and I feel privileged to have know, and looked after him when he was ill..

And the worst?
There is no worst.

What do you think?

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