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Tips on how to survive France when you find yourself on your own.


Babbles
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I'm interested to know any tips on how to survive France when you find yourself on your own in your mid forties as a female in France. There is no option of going back to the UK to start over there as I have my business here which even if I did want to sell, in the current climate would be near impossible, and I do actually love that part of my life and being in France.

My initial worries are about being on my own, having a seasonal business the winter days are long. With the language I get by I am not fluent, chit chat with locals is almost impossible. And I'm not of an age where the expat life style of aperros, golf and Bridge appeals.

I'm sure I'm not the first person to find myself in this situation so all advice welcome
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During the winter months , take some time to join a french class to up your level of french , stock up on some good books for days in by the fire , buy some walking boots to keep fit during winter. Get all those jobs done you have meant to do all summer or start a new craft /hobby ( maybe some thing you could sell during the summer to tourist ) It will soon be summer again and you will to too busy to wonder what to do ... Or reach out on the forum to meet some new people we arnt all aperros golf and bridge types ... ;0)
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Babbles, it all rather depends on what you like to do, and what your WOULD like to do - there is plenty of choice! If you would like to "meet someone" try MEETIC, a big dating site and look in your area http://www.meetic.fr/signup/smart_landing.php?tpl=20110920landing_searchbox_layer_ml&gclid=CNn48faEwqwCFbQntAodJWjzqg- I know several people who have met various soulmates via this dating site. If you would like to meet other people just for outings and friendships, how about http://beziers.onvasortir.com/ If you like swimming, join the swimming club in Pezenas. If you like dancing, you can do salsa, flamenco, line-dancing, etc... in Beziers. If you like walking, there are some great randonnées groups - same with cycling. In all the above, you are more likely to meet French people, but there are also others. You could also join a reading group (in English), a choir or two if you like singing, you could do volunteer work for Restos du Coeur or Secours Populaire or the Red Cross. If you like gardening, you could join the Mediterranean Gardeners association. And this goes on...There are so many activities you can pick from, which involve joining an association, and meeting other people. By the way, I am older than yourself, living in your area too. I have never played either golf or bridge, do not go to aperos as I drink no alcohol, and yet I am involved in a plethora of activities, meeting up with a variety of people (French, British and others) and having to pick carefully what I will do and not do as it could easily be too much! Good luck anyway, if you have interests or even passions, you should be able to find quite easily some ways of enjoying them, there is plenty to do in the area!
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5-element, your links are fine in my browser :)

Babbles, you're asking the wrong question - what you should be asking is not how to SURVIVE France o your own, but how to ENJOY France, big difference! If you're not used to being on your own you will have to adjust and see how it goes - but don't look at it as a problem, more an opportunity. You can do what you want when you want, visit places, try new foods, meet new people, do as much or as little housework as you want, etc, etc. Have to admit I'm a natural loner but I would find it very hard to give up the independence at this stage, in fact I couldn't do it. Long winter nights - lay in plenty of good books, cook more elaborate meals, catch up with writing to friends, update your website and do all the business promotion stuff that you don't get time to do in season, etc, etc. Oh, and get a cat.

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[quote user="5-element"]Very sorry, but suddenly my links do not appear LIVE anymore, my smilies have disappeared, and I have only a tiny box to write my replies in??? Can anyone help?[/quote]

Comparability mode needed, the torn piece of paper icon at the top right of the title bar on the screen

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[quote user="Théière"][quote user="5-element"]Very sorry, but suddenly my links do not appear LIVE anymore, my smilies have disappeared, and I have only a tiny box to write my replies in??? Can anyone help?[/quote]

Comparability mode needed, the torn piece of paper icon at the top right of the title bar on the screen[/quote]

There you go.

Its down to your browser. I have the same when using Safari but no problem when using Firefox. The forum software bods are well aware of these issues.

Babbles: The winters can be hard here whether on your own or not. My wife struggles with them a bit whilst I involve myself in a 'winter project'.

Try new interests and maybe you will 'crack it'.

Bon courage.

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As you're not fluent in the language, then initially you need to be making contacts and friends in the expat community while you are building up your competence in French. Why not put an ad in a local paper/expat newsletter, etc., suggesting starting a book club? Monthly meetings, cuppa tea at someone's house ... that will get you out and put you at the centre of something. Meanwhile, ask at your mairie if there is someone they know who might give you one-to-one French lessons - perhaps a local widow or someone who's housebound and, in exchange, you could do a bit of shopping for them. That will start to integrate you into the French community a bit.

I appreciate it's hard, you can't just pop in to pubs and restaurants as easily as in the UK since it's all a bit macho culture. So working on the basis that no-one is going to knock on your door and invite you out, I think you have to start projects, start things - weekly walking groups, that sort of thing - so that the doors open to you.

Good luck.
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Thank all for your quick responses. Things that I like to do when I get time, hiking, photography and design, as well as my business and while I do already have friends down here who in fact are more on my wavelength than ones in the UK I think it would be a good idea to join a group. I do do conversational french class but some one one would really improve things. @nectarine never a truer work is that no-ones going to knock on the door so I've got to get out there. The reality of my separation is that we each run a business in different countries and were already living separate lives but with the hope we would eventually be together. Days are long when you live and work on your own in the same place and I just don't want to end up stir crazy, this weather doesn't help as 2 of my interests are thwarted in bad weather!!! A long term underlying problem is that if you work in the tourist industry your too busy in summer to even sit down and winters too quiet, I do have the list of jobs rounds the house, promoting both the existing B&B and the new guided tours business and can always find things to do but that doesn't make up for human interaction even though Jake my little Jack Russell does his bit. :-)
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Here in this area there is the DVN, an internet group from whence there are invites to events and things for those on their own, as well as selling and buying stuff. We also have an Anglo-Britannique group, been going years, that teaches the Brits French - and vice versa! From that also there are soup/games nights, walking, and many other events.

So, go to your local Mairie, find out if there is a local group - sometimes someone at the Mairie will speak a bit of English. Look at the postes on the noticeboard as well at your local supermarkets - here ours are swathed with events, both French and English. The Maire might also know a local person who could help you into the community, for that is what you need to be - part of the community!.

Good luck and just have fun! x [:)]
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Babbles, I know you're near Pezenas, so you can always find something to do there, but whilst you might not want to go down the ex-pat route understandably, they may know of organisations you could get involved in - most of the French groups I belong to pretty well close down in the summer, so your "busy-ness"in the summer season would not be a problem.  I know several women here left on their own (usually by death as they are generally older than you), and the one I most admire turned up at the local U3A in the village, and once they had got over their surprise she was wecomed with open arms, and her French improved ... so it is a question of finding groups to do  the things you like to do.  There are a lot of non-local French down here also and they tend to be more open to newcomers than those who've lived here all their lives, and quite a lot of them speak some English which softens the shock at first.  I agree that you do need contact with people - look on the noticeboards, there always seem to be plenty of activities happening. 

You are in a village, so as Keni says, talk to the mairie, and also go to all the events arranged (or as many as you can manage) be they memorial walks, petanque competitions (you don't need to  be good just enthusiastic), meals of whatever, you could find yourself very surprised and be  made very welcome. 

Good luck.

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A couple of comments, to do with your level of French.

I know quite a few people who are in 'conversation classes' and they all have pretty poor skills in their target language. Try to find a real French teacher who will work in a structured way with plenty of resources. My wife is a qualified language teacher and recently enrolled somebody who had sampled the local conversation class and decided that it would not do anything for her by comparison.

Also, try joining a French group or association involved in one of your interests. They are likely to be very supportive. Unless you are completely unable to make yourself understood you'll probably enjoy being in a camera club, or whatever, and trying to talk about something that really interests you rather than 'what shall we talk about this week?'

You sound like you want to continue to make your life here so turning towards thye 'expat' community won't really help you get established long term.

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Whatever it takes, you have to socialise, not necessarily bar hopping (though I do my share of that) within a short drive locally there are music nights with or without a meal, walking and cycling clubs to get out and about with different folks to meet, whatever the vehicle getting out more is the key.
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Hi, I came here on my own and I know several other ladies of a similar age that live alone. It can be hard but it's harder when you feel a sense of isolation. Hang in there.... :-)

Do you follow information about Jelly? As a business owner you could find meeting like-minded people at a coworking event quite refreshing. I voluntarily organise these free events on an occasional basis. It's not a business networking thing and it's all non-profit but we meet in good places where the wifi is free and there's often a lunch involved.

There are plenty of expat groups and online networks but these don't suit everyone. Jelly is open to all entrepreneurs and homeworkers and could therefore help introduce you to French people in your area too. Information about it is on Facebook - www.Facebook.com/LanguedocJelly or you can email me for details.

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@ LaFanglaise funny you should say about Jelly, as I'd follow them on Facebook but never made it the last one near by as I was back in the UK but I think there might be one this week I should go to.

Its weird talking in a pubic forum about life changing events, but Its really helping me find some clarity and hope so big thanks all round, I'm sure I'll be up and down over the coming weeks and months so I just hope you all keep in there for me!

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A friend of mine put an ad in her local baker's, offering English conversation in exchange for French, when she first moved to France, and it did her spoken French a power of good. She and the other lady would go shopping together, or cook together etc, I think deciding on one day in English, the other in French.

Her husband vastly improved his French by joining the local table-tennis club (he was already something of a demon player), and going off to practices and tournaments with the other "pongistes".

In those early days, they found French TV programmes helpful too, particularly the quizzes where the questions and answers appeared on screen such as "Questions pour un champion" an "Qui veut etre milliardaire." In fact other quiz shows with formats familiar from UK tv (eg "Le Maillon Faible/Weakest Link") can be helpful for language, too.

Your B&B looks lovely. Are you part of a group of such upmarket establishments in your departement? Some French friends of mine are in the Vendee, and this means joint outings to see one another's setups, so as to feel able to pass on superfluous bookings when necessary etc. It might be a way of meeting other kindred spirits.

Or is there a local society that appreciates ancient houses and local history? That's another way you might meet like-minded people. Maisons Paysannes de France, or something similar: www.maisons-paysannes.org and then click on "delegations locales" to find what's going on in your departement.

Or what about joining the village tennis club, which probably has the odd "social" event outside the summer months?

I do sympathise with the going out thing, though. Especially in the winter. I do go to concerts and plays locally when in France, but I have never felt I was actually going to strike up lasting friendships with anyone, beyond a bit of chitchat with the person sitting in the adjacent seat. The upside of going on your own is that you often can turn up on spec and get in, as there is usually the odd single seat left or returned even for the most sell-out event. And you do at least feel you have your finger on the cultural pulse a bit.

As has been said above, I am sure you would be best to join something that revolves around an interest of yours so you are motivated to pick up the language - probably the more practical the subject, the better to start with.

Bon courage. I am sure with all the advice flooding in here that you will work something out.

Angela
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Babbles, I can't offer much help as others have already suggested things, but I do sympathise with your situation.

I am not alone, but my OH works away for 2weeks each month, these 2 weeks I just about get by, I do go to an aerobics class twice a week but apart from having a 16 year old daughter, that is about it. I am very lonely the weeks he works away and feel like my right arm has been cut off. The 2 weeks he is home seem to fly by so I spend my life drifting from happy to alone!

Some suggestions have been very useful, I myself like walking so might enquire about the local randonees group.

Good luck and I hope you find a happy medium!
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@mogs, This was how we started doing things and I know it does work for some people but only when you get to enjoy your life when you husband/partner isn't there. I actually do have some great friends here in the same situation and we're very supportive for each other when our OH weren't around you just need to go out and find them!
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