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what do you really think of france?


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[quote]Go for it Hegs! How nicely put....I still would like to know...how the Hell the British who came here years ago...managed to survive without sites like this and DIY books about living here. Hegs...yo...[/quote]

** Hegs ties it back like I do or just lets it dangle....if in the "missionary position"**

Gee, I don't know any missionaries . . . . please explain.

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Ray - just out of interest - how would one identify a picture through a search engine?

However, many of us Brits love Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker's Guide, though his constant use of irony does not give it a universal appeal.

Hegs - use the €10 as the downpayment on a planet with lots of fjords.
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[quote]Boggy, I don't get the Stargate Atlantis reference at all :-( Russethouse, the perils of doing stupid things are well known. The definition of stupid isn't. "A ship in harbor is safe - but that is no...[/quote]

Sorry Hegs....picture was a bit blurred...got it mixed up with a sci-fi on Sky...now.. who should get out more.

Perhaps this is why "adventurers" are all sponsered now...instead of..just do it.

Gay...ever heard the expression..."Family before anything".

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I think Ray looked up Slartibartfast after your reply Dick to find out who he was.

Yahoo and Google both have image searches where you can find pictures, but not the other way round. I did try an experimental image search at a Swedish university, you chose a series of similar images and said how similar, but it didn't work at all well. It was designed for police lineup/person identification type work.

By chance I'm off to Norway next month, I shall spend the 10 EUR in a manner that ends up adding to the fiord:-)
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I still would like to know...how the Hell the British who came here years ago...managed to survive without sites like this and DIY books about living here.

Easy, they were generally very, very different to the people who are moving en masse to France today.  They knew France extremely well having travelled extensively.  For years they had spent all their holidays and every spare weekend holidaying in France.  In between, they went to evening classes to learn French, drove miles to track down copies of French newspapers and magazines, went to London to watch French movies.  They sent their children on school exchanges to France and very much wished they could go to.  They were what are commonly known as Francophiles.  In addition, they worked hard and stashed away as much cash as they could so that one day they could buy that dream cottage down the road from the one they rented every August.  And they'd have to pay cash for it was nigh on impossible to get a mortgage.  And the irony is, they're all still there, and quietly bemused by what they see happening today.  M

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[quote]Ray - just out of interest - how would one identify a picture through a search engine?However, many of us Brits love Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker's Guide, though his constant use of irony does not...[/quote]

**Ray - just out of interest - how would one identify a picture through a search engine?**

I didn't say anything about pictures.

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No Boghound,

You said:-

> So you still hold on to your safety blanket mummy gave you!

Ludicrous and malicious misinterpretation of what I said. OP arrived in Poitou-Charente with absolutely no idea of what it was like, and not much idea of how they were going to live. They were miserable as sin and asked us what WE thought of France.

It's not insisting on a comfort blanket to try to minimise the chances of screwing up, it's exactly the opposite, It's throwing away any emotional crutch and deciding on the basis of facts, whether the move is worth while. I've been here 15 years, coming up 16. Don't pontificate to me about not daring to take risks.

> Life's full of risks but unfortunately...nowadays...not full of people willing to take them without having their hands held all the way.

No one held our hands, we made our own decisions and we did our own research. I'm finding it hard to work out whether you believe the nonsense you're writing, or merely being perverse for the sake of it. There's nothing wrong with taking risks, as long as you know what the risks are and do it with your eyes open. I know Tillich described faith as "a leap in the dark", but before you take that leap of faith in yourself and the future you've got to know enough about the world to know it's a leap.

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Read back to what the OP said. I paraphrase. "We've never been so poor ... trying to live over the winter on the income from 2 gites."

There was no mention of children, my comment came from the many instances I've seen of parents doing this.

Hell's teeth, Hegs, no one's suggesting adventure is a bad thing, but for every adventurer who actually bothered to equip his ships properly and came back to tell the tale, there were three who set off into the wide blue yonder and were lost because it never occurred to them to take a flipping compass or find out that they were heading off in the middle of the hurricane season!

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[quote]I still would like to know...how the Hell the British who came here years ago...managed to survive without sites like this and DIY books about living here. Easy, they were generally very, very diffe...[/quote]

... and, most importantly, they weren't one of umpteen people doing exactly the same thing.

It's like mobile phone shops. In Norwich, near where I live, there was a time where you could stand near the market and there were NINE shops in sight. It is now something like three or four.

Any market full of people doing the exact same thing will be swamped.
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[quote]Annoyed, I can think of many other scenarios in which moving to France for this couple is a better idea than staying put in the UK. It makes my blood boil when other suppose they know how to run someo...[/quote]

It's true that there may be scenarios where moving to France is better. There may be scenarios where it's better to move to Rockall as well.

What I am suggesting is that people should try to avoid the obvious mistakes which are repeated endlessly, which include :-

- no French language at all.

- no other income beyond the "tourist" income or whatever.

- underestimating costs and time of conversion/renovation

- no idea what the area is really like in terms of life, tourism etc.

- no plan 'B', contingency fund, fallback position etc.

It is true that house prices in France have been boringly stable.

However, the UK in France tends to focus on a small subset of this, the renovation/gites/b&b market which it is trying to drive in a similar way to the UK market.

The French aren't interested in this market. Overall economically it is swamped by the mass of French housing, but to the UK market it is key. If you renovate an old house and sell it the French are unlikely to be that interested. There's a reason all these cheap old homes are about.

The two housing markets are inextricably linked because people are funding the "dream" from the high resale housing market. If you can sell a cupboard for £500,000 and buy a Gite Complex for half that and invest the rest, yes, it might well work.

But if the UK housing market goes badly the "dreamers" will drop away. They won't be able to sell their properties at all, let alone at a premium, and making ends meet will be the main focus.

The OP has no young family or really no ties at all ; I think it is "just her". This is fine, with two corollaries. Firstly, operationally, she's on her own, Secondly, her costs are reduced accordingly.

But the math still works, or doesn't.

Estimate what your income is going to be in several scenarios ; good (say 18-20 weeks) average (13-14) poor (7-8), add in any UK or other income, deduct running costs, then ask yourself do you want to live on "that". (Knock up a little spreadsheet).

That's the real unquantifiable. Some people have more and less expensive tastes. If you spend your lives walking in the woods you'll be better off than if you want to go boating on the Riviera.

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"And what sort of attitude do you have Boghound, to those people who follow their ill considered dreams and leave the rest of us to pick up the >cost in benefits etc, when they go wrong ?

That would be the same attitude that mastered fire, that discovered America, that made the first flight, that discovered Penicillin and vacination..."

What about NASA and the no small matter of going to the moon, a bold, and risky decision, but very well planned?



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Thank you Simon - I am all for people following their dreams, having an adventure etc, life throws enough s*** at us even when we have the best of plans. I think doing some basic homework, whether it be learning a little language at least or exploring the area you intend living in before moving are just good old plain common sense. For parents bringing families doubly so.
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Ian Hoare,

> Read back to what the OP said. I paraphrase. "We've never been so poor ... trying to live over the winter on the >income from 2 gites."

Ian, my comments were referring to Russethouse's neighbours parents; they are apparently only guilty of not speaking French, not being quite sure where in France they want to go yet and (unpardonably) having a holiday somewhere else than France. I don't think that calls for a public hanging yet, in fact I am sure a lot of regular posters on the forum, now happily settled, were in just that position as well.

Annoyed, I agree with nearly all you have said.

Simon, the moon landing program was a lot risker than it appeared and people did die, it could have been much worse too. My grandfather kept a Sunday Times magazine from the week before the moon landing and I enjoyed reading what they were expecting then, diamonds the size of fists lying around on the surface was my favorite. You cannot plan for every circumstance, the moon surface could have been so powdery the moon lander could have sunk, which was a big fear, by the same token your new next door neighbour might turn out to be a lunatic.

Russethouse, I agree with you too with everything except your certainty it will all go wrong. Do you know for certain that they plan to move before they have explored the area they intend living in or is that just an assumption?

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Human migration is evolutionary. Homo sapiens have been at it for thousands of years ever since someone decided to move out of Africa. Doubtless it will continue like that until the sun dies.

The British moving to live and work in France is just another small form of evolutionary behaviour.

Darwin believed in his book the Origins of the Species’ that successful evolution occurs because the strong and resourceful are able to overcome adversity. The weak and less able usually fall by the wayside and fail to thrive.

So it will be over the coming years in France. There will be those of the current generation of migrants who will remain and thrive and the majority who will fail. The economic cycle will shift and the status quo restored.

It’s just the way it is. There really is nothing new under the sun.

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My wife & I have been reading this thread with continued interest. We're about to send off the deposit on our new place in France. Yes, it's a Gites complex with attached small campsite. Yes, we're 'chasing a dream', yes, we're excited. YES we're also scared sh*tless! What we want to do is (like hundreds of thousands of others) live a fairly simple life, in a beautiful part of the world. One which we've enjoyed for years on holidays, short breaks etc. We KNOW it's going to be hard work. We KNOW there's a chance we've overestimated our expectations. BUT, we're hoping to follow in the footsteps of those of you that HAVE 'walked on the Moon'!

Just taking the space analogy a bit further; how far behind would mankind be right now without the bravery of the early space missions? There will always be failures, all you can do is try to arm yourself with the best advice, and give it your best shot. There always has to be someone to take the risks in order that others may follow. YOU all have taken the risks. Those of US that follow are grateful for any help & advice we can glean from you. Honestly.

We're fairly new to posting on here, but have been avid readers of ALL of the magazines, got the books, seen the TV programmes etc. We're not stupid, we're prepared to work bloody hard to make this work. My kids are crapping themselves, wishing they'd tried harder in French lessons, but ultimately prepared for this big 'adventure'. We've driven them and my mum-in-law crazy. we're asking at every turn....'You DO know what this is going to mean don't you?' The answer now is 'YES! And we STILL want to go, Dad'. Both the wife & myself are trying to get to grips with the language. It isn't easy, not alot these days is. BUT, we are determined that our kid's future, and that of our family will be a far, far better one in France, than in the UK that we know now.

Thanks for listening.

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This sounds exactly like our 2nd venture in France !

We survived and built it up very well and sold it on for a fair price (smug you might think ! no not really, it was bluddy hard graft for over 5 years just to build it up to a good living). You have a fighting chance, if I may ask a few questions though?

You are bringing older kids if I remember from previous posts of yours ?

How do you see there futures to be better here ? It is not much good saying they have none in the UK, because the future even for the French born, bred and educated kids is pretty dismal and has been for many years. Some folks wil tell you how their kids have found it easier to go and find work and a career in the UK, than here.

Finding work for them will be hard if not impossible or will they be working for you, in which case, at some time, they and you will need to be paying their cotisatons for health, chomage, retirement etc. This is expensive and a further drain on resources. They will need a social security number and health cover of their own and will be too old to be put on yours as kids.

All this has to be taken in to consideration, not a big deal but another expense. I am a little worried, in that I believe you are a taking out a loan on this venture ? I take it therefore, that the business is showing a healthy set of figures if that is the case and you are able to get a loan ? Sorry if I didn't read that bit correctly?

If they are not all going to school and if they help you in the business, they are of the age that will require them to declare if they are at work or still in education. You may well have to declare their earnings on your yearly returns or will the company be a SARL ? It is a minefield and I have no doubt we had to go through all this but I guarantee you have probably not been told of half the problems and regulations etc by the agent immo (probably doesn't know then anyway, not their domain to be fair !) or the Mairie.

To live a simple life, I am sure you realise, it is not just a case of opening the doors and closing them when you have enough money, you have to build up the business to able to stand still ! I know you will work hard and fully understand the pay will be lousy at the end of the day but will ALL the family be able to go along with that for many years, may be that is another matter ?

Where abouts exactly are you to be in France ? Is the season fairly long there? Most parts of France have a very short season, most municipal sites open from either Easter or May until mid September but even then, that still means very quiet periods out of the high season summer weeks.

I really do wish you the best of luck, it goes without saying, that for the size of your family and ages etc, you are going to need a large slice of luck, rather like many before you (us inc for some part)Do enjoy your journey but keep your moon boots firmly on terra firma !

You simply MUST get up to speed ASAP with the language but the problem is, you will have piles of work to get on with and so spending time on doing so will be difficult. Buy and watch French TV as often as possible, read local papers, make French friends etc all the obvious points but often forgotten in the quest to get ones place up to scratch.

Bon courage........you will be told that many, many times I can tell you !!

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Hi Miki,

many thanks for the words of encouragement. Yes, we are bringing all of our 3 kids with us. Aged 13, 16 & 18! We all fully realise the implications that arise from this, and we've thought long & hard about it. The eldest will work alongside me for the moment. There's some possibility of him joining the forces, which will effectively get him off my hands! LOL! The two youngest will start school over there, (in 49, Maine et Loire). The youngest will probably be kept down a year to try and get to grips with the language. My middle teen has already been exploring the possibilities of re-taking her final year when we do move to France, she wants to get her GCSE's in the UK (this May/June) then try and go to College in France. We're still working on all of this. Indeed it's all-consuming at the 'mo. I realise also that there's a potential minefield around every corner. To mitigate against this, we're already seeking help & advice on literally EVERYTHING from a network of friends already over there, and some who've had to come back unfortunately.

Yes, we're taking on a mortgage or a loan if you prefer. At the 'mo, the site's only operational for 5 months per year with 2 gites. there's room initially for 3 gites with a quick conversion of an en-suite bedroom. We also intend to open all year too. We're close to some fairly major attractions in La Loire, le Mans, Cholet, Saumur, to name a few. We've researched fairly thoroughly, and visited the area many times. The season's fairly long, and there's a good base for winter lets too, which hasn't been explored fully by the current owner. Indeed, the current owner is the first to admit that he's only really done it for 'fun', as he's comfortable enough as it is.

It is a possibility that I can continue in my present occupation for the forseeable anyway, commuting between the UK and France if needs be. We've thought about the proximity of Ports/Airports etc. we're ok there. The Atlantic's around an hour and a half away too.

Yep, we realise that it'll be hard work. Both the wife & I are well accustomed to that, and the knowledge we have of the caravanning fraternity, and of the B&B industry means that we're well up to speed on people's likes/dislikes. We've already begun advertising among colleagues/friends and the biggest on-line camping/caravanning forum in the UK, where we've been fairly active for the past few years. Things are looking reasonable.

I re-read this and I can see how utterly naive it all sounds. Apologies. Still, if we are THAT naive, and it all goes fruit shaped, then surely the old adage will kick in?

Fortune favours the impeccably stupid?

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".....Fortune favours the impeccably stupid?"

Absolutely and true as well ! but I rather like the signature (and I cannot find it now, so apologies to the member of a forum that shows this)

Boldly going where thousands have been before

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We did look at buying a campsite some years ago before we bought are first house in france and decided against it for quite a few reasons,just to give one or two pointers if a campsite is not open all year round that could be because there is no permission for it to do so or that it is near a river and there is a chance(even a small chance)that it may flood.A small point by no means a reason to pull out if you have a site but at the time we where looking seemed a little strange was that you need to have £5000 in the business account at all times???


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I think the reason most campsites are not open all year round is simply because the French season is pretty short and there is not a great demand outside of May to September. Another reason is the costs of having hot water ready for any possible passers by and also the cost of heating the shower and toilet block(s) In many instances, finding anyone willing to stay open, simply on the off chance someone will appear, is just too time wasting and just not financially viable!

Sites that flood do now have rules and regs, especially any plans for new sites in an arera known to have possible problems.


The £5000 you were asked for was probably for opening of the SARL, where you open a company and the sum shpould be shown on letterheads etc. Typical France, the money only has to be in your account for a small time and now I think it is even legal to use that money, whereas many years ago, it had to be left in place (legally !!)

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Hi Outcast,

the campsite we're buying isn't near a river per se, but the field we'd use for tents is. The site doesn't flood, it's had extra drainage installed which takes care of that aspect. Because it's only 6 pitches there's no need for it to be registered. It's a manageable size for us, and coupled with the 3 gites may give us enough to 'tick along' quite nicely, I'll still commute to work in the UK for a few months, just to see how we do.


Fair point about the reasons why lots of sites don't open year round. BUT, my research has shown that there's actually a growing demand for it, it may help that we're going to be on route for the south too.

Right, must dash, have to try some more French lessons!

Bon Soir!

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