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[quote user="woolybanana"]

Expat cliques are often enough largely made up of one nationality, and of people who would perhaps not naturally choose to rub shoulders but  are forced to because there is little other choice of people. Their common points are usually a way of preserving a bit of 'blighty' (Bobo, I hate that word!) because they are not really able to leave their home culture, their security blanket, and a need to find support when facing the host country. Beyond basics, such groups are always prone to schism, back biting and either to treating the home country as paradise or hell and the host country with hostility or patronage. Best avoided like the plague in my view, but then who wants to be friends with a loada Brits anyway!![6].



'....... forced to because there is little other choice of people'

ROFLPMP, thankyou for that post Wooly, well said.

French people must seem like aliens to some........ and I'm glad that I got to know so many french (people) and make a handful of very good friends.

ps....... Wooly instead of 'blighty' you could say l'angleterre, because I every french person I know will say that for the UK, no matter which county in the UK it is. [6]

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There is a big difference between a clique and what is

referred to here as an ex-pat group, or at least there is to the group I belong

to, which some of you may be thinking of.

To me a clique is a group of people who share a common

interest at the exclusion of others; this is not something I would wish to be

associated with.

The organisation to which I pay a small annual subscription

too exists for anybody English speaking living in my area of France. Obviously brits

(for want of a better description) outnumber others, of whom almost without

exception are French.

As an offshoot there are many clubs or interest groups to

which you can join in with if you so wish. I do have an interest in the photography

group, monthly walking group and I occasionally join in with arranged visits to

interesting historical buildings or lovely gardens. These outings normally

include a restaurant meal, or a bring and share picnic during the summer.

French lessons and conversation meetings are also held and the conversation

groups speak both English and French (not at the same time).  Local schools also like native English

speakers to visit their students in class, and I have found the young people to

be very interested in those visits. A couple of times I have been to the local

catering section of the school when they have held an English themed event.

It was a surprise to me that so many French people were keen

to be a part of the group and they certainly add an interesting view on the

differences between our nationalities. I am not so sure I could be bothered to

join a French group were I ever to live back in the UK.

It's probably not a young people's idea of a fun club but it

suits retired folk, and all in all it gets me out of the house.

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Ivors comments are yet another reason (out of many) that you can't treat the whole of France the same.

Round where I live, and quite naturally so given the close proximity to the Spanish border, the second language is Spanish and the third Catalan with the odd bit of Occitan thrown in the mix. Even though English is compulsory in schools as a second language these days the kids learn it under sufferance and place most of their linguistic efforts in to mainly Spanish. In a way it is a shame as I believe they can only do two languages so this means the real two regional languages, Catalan and Occitan (they used to take Spanish and Catalan with no English at all before English became compulsory), are not being taught unless after school. They would not be interested at all in an English person visiting the school or anything English. The Catalan speakers and to some extent the Occitan speakers are quite upset about this and there have been several articles in newspapers where they have claimed it is a direct attack on the two languages and that the government is trying to kill them off.

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[quote user="Patf"]Gets you out of the house - exactly what I should try to do more, just that extra effort needed . Eddie (husband) is even more of a hermit than I am.

Nothing wrong with being a hermit at all, Pat.  As long as you are a Happy Hermit![:D]

Perhaps Norman will come along and provide us with a link to some long-forgotten and obscure, very early Baroque opera with an aria called the Happy Hermit [I]  A baritone part, I think, don't you? 

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Chancer thank you for the link to AVF. I'd never heard of it I've just looked at my part of France and only two towns are part of the association, and both are quite far away from us.

Although they seem to have a different aim, they sound as if they are run on the same lines as the University of the Third Age, U3A) where interest groups are run by the members themselves, and no charges are made unless halls are hired, transport is involved or eating is at restaurants.

Their aim is that members continue learning into their retirement, and clubs are many and varied, very much like your AVF. I belong to my local branch of U3A  in England, and run a couple of French groups there. I'm in a creative writing group too and an art appreciation group.

I believe the U3A actually started in France, but I've not heard of any branches near me there. Regarding ex-pat or other groups, I think provided groups have a focus beyond just getting together, they can at the very least stave off loneliness, and sometimes lead to friendship.

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Frecossais, it might be worth contacting AVF headquartersby email to see if there are any plans to open more groups in your area. It's always possible that the odd enquiry might lead to another group opening if they thinkthere's support. There are quite a few in my area, including one in Nimes that was split into two. Some of our members come quite a long way to take part in activities they particularly enjoy, although they prefer not to come to evening events as they aren't keen on driving at night.

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I have read with interest all these posts .

I am bursting just to give you an example of what sticking your toe in the water of an expat group did for me with unexpected consequence .

Sometime ago I was in the SWest area visiting a number of friends, I was twiddling thumbs and it was suggested I call in to a group of expats that were having a get together hoping I would learn about the area, I did and learnt things I did not want to know especially people's pedigrees and other things which I have spoken about in a post under Aquitaine where I tried to help someone that was moving to Tonneins where I have a number of friends living.

I passed on the name and phone number of a friend by pm to the author of the topic end of story , so I thought until consequences came to light regarding the private pm I sent to the original poster (her one and only post). She was wanting to know of someone in the area they could speak with on arrival.... I contacted one of my fiends near Tonneins and asked her could I pass on her name and phone number but only by PM I have to say she agreed but with reservations.

Another contributor to the topic suggested she should visit the same expat group I had visited , so of course I gave my opinion on these expat groups much in the same vain as many of you have done on this topic.....as not being overly impressed. ( But for some it is a lifeline or they would not exist in the first place, I except that.)

As you can see the moderators kindly removed some posts that became very unpleasant, 3 new members to this forum came out from under a big stone all praising the expat group and then never to be seen again...what a surprise! but what was worse was that it became obvious that the original poster had passed on the name of my friend to some in the expat group and subsequently my friend received 2 independent phone calls from members within the group confirming this ,each not knowing the other had phoned and begged that she kept their names secret ,each saying they were not "in the clique" but felt it prudent to warn my friend that her name was suggested as the writer of the post on this forum that gave not a favourable report on the expat group.

All because it was her name sadly given by me in the private PM to the original poster

Personally I do wonder if the first post was dreamt up for the expats to respond and promote themselves ,but if so it backfired. So very interesting to read opinions so similar to my own.

Well, I was just so miserable and embarrassed that through my own naivety in first responding to a plea of help on this wonderful forum I caused my friend this grief, she even got a phone call from another somewhat nervous club member to say one of the clique was coming on their motorbike to suss where her and hubby lived. And yes, man and beast arrived on motorbike on said day and assessed the property from the road side much to my friends amusement .

Perhaps they were trying to intimidate ! A shame that few bad eggs in the basket spoil it for others, it is just so pathetic you have to laugh.

So there you have it, and you see why I was so delighted with your posts, I feel quite vindicated with my original post. Re:anyone near Tonneins

Why oh why do these expat groups get so much infighting, I think it's the age old word jealousy , I also think that sometimes their relationships with their partner is not too great and they just have to seek companionship within these other groups. All very sad.
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A little knowledge is a bad thing with some.

We had a woman and her friend who set up a French language class in town years ago. They coupled that with some form of society they had created to help Brits integrate, help with creating a business, filling out tax forms and getting people in to the health system. The bottom line was they knew squat diddly in reality, gave bad advice and in one case their bad advice cost somebody about €8k paying for something they didn't need. We left the group after about three months having checked some of the advice given against feedback from members of this forum (past and present to whom we have always been grateful). Turns out when the annual subs came round they took them and did a runner.

For some their lives were just mundane back in the UK, they were the minnow in a very big lake. They see these groups here as the opportunity of becoming the whale in the garden pond. What they say is gospel and should never be challenged. Trouble is we are not all lemmings, some of us double, triple and even quadruple check things before taking any action. They don't find this very amusing because they don't like people doubting their word.

Don't however think this is just a 'Brits' thing. I am reliably informed from some Dutch friends that it happens amongst Dutch expats as well. I don't know any other nationalities but I suspect they also have the same sort of thing with their unique problems.

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Interesting, but for me, not surprising MBK.

I learned my lesson with my very first post on here when this place was populated with more than it's fair share of people who saw France as somewhere to be venerated and nothing bad was to be said about it, I called it pink and fluffy which in fact was generous of me as really, because they were full of outrage when anyone said anything to the contrary. And so I was well and truly judged and judged a troll and to be dealt with. Discrete, no, this person posted my full name, address and phone number on here, not by PM to anyone, actually posted them. And it shook me to my core and I was very very angry.

Apparently in spite of already having lived in France for almost twenty years at the time, they said that I knew nothing about France,  and the trolling, well, if I had been non resident at the time I could have understood them getting annoyed with me. But they knew I lived in France, because they posted french address and french phone number. So if they had had a modicum of decency or just plain common sense, then I reckon that they would have realised that I may have at least had some knowledge of France.

Since then, I have been very very cautious about giving away any details about myself, I skirt round personal details and simply remain vague. And one day, as there are a few people on here I would love to meet, and I'll be  open with them, because in life I am honest and open, but until, it is hard for me to say too much about myself, I leave my brakes on all the time,  a developed protective reflex.

My advantage was, that really no one could check me out anyway........... as for all we had expat groups in the city I lived in when I first moved to France, there were none where I moved to and no brits either living nearby, not an area that brits would move to usually, other than specifically for work. 

You have told a cautionary tale MBK. I hope that others take heed. Ofcourse so many people chose to live out in the sticks in semi isolation, so I could well imagine it being frightening if someone was 'checking them out'. Just checking on them, is at best creepy and borders on stalking and malevolence.Otherwise why do it, idle curiosity would not as far as I am concerned be any sort of excuse.

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I am not one for big ex-pat type of get togethers, I've dipped my toe into most of them over the years but rarely go back. I wondered if it some sort of deeply ingrained herding thing sort of comfort of the familiar.

Last week I had to go to the company AGM this involves 300 or so of my colleagues from 2 factories one here in the Vendee and the other in dept 49 the coffee break and after meeting buffet saw everybody all mixed up so to speak but gradually the little groups started to evolve, two very distinct ones, the two factories, then within those groups sub-groups of people mainly consisting of individual departments within the factories. I'm sure some psycho-annalist would have some explanation for this behaviour.

Going back a bit on this thread the french are forever winging about colleagues in the canteen I just wonder what they are saying about me when I am not there, I have had on one occasion one of my colleagues winging to my boss about me that really Peed me off, if I had done something wrong then he should have said to me Grrrrrr

PS I'm a 6'3" lorry driver  well 2 out of three ain't bad Mrs P doesn't have to hide her lingerie  
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Soon after I moved here I discovered there was a Franco-British association that claimed to be friendly and welcoming and have an equal mix of both nationalities. I thought it sounded promising so I went along but there were about 40 Brits and I found 1 token Frenchman who had been dragged along by his British wife. The main, in fact only, topic of conversation was other Brits who weren't there, gossiping and backbiting about them. The whole experience was dire and it put me off ever trying another group.
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