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Are feelings towards us etrangers changing?


westland

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Hello, I have re-joined after not having contact for a few of years, when I found the forum very helpful when purchasing my holiday home in the Limousin.

Of course when things are going well one doesn't always keep in touch, but my recent spell in France has worried me and once again I am turning to the forum for reassurance.

I was considering moving over next year on retirement, but on this year's visit I have encountered for the first time a noticeable change in people's attitude towards us: the passing cyclist mumbling under his breath at our "bonjour";  my friend who lives here being told that "the English have money but they are not prepared to spend it" when she queried a rather excessive devis and being  asked by her neighbour why she didn't "go back to England for her health care rather than using the means tested French service when she obviously seems to have money".

Perhaps I'm being a bit touchy and naive, but I just wondered if anyone in the Limousin has noticed more hostility now than there used to be.  I have even heard, albeit third hand, of a child being bullied at maternelle for being English.

I hope, as usual, that there will be lots of positive postings!  Thanks.

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We live in 56 and although our neighbours have always been pleasant and welcoming after 3 years of owning our holiday home I think maybe the "honeymoon period" is over.  We have had a little dispute with one of our neighbours and although still on speaking terms he is definitely less hospitable.  Have been told by some other French neighbours who are not local to the area that we are in the club with them and another non local French family.  Said tongue in cheek but no doubt with a hint of truth.  Totally understand what they mean and don't have a problem with it. 

As I say we are still made to feel welcome but don't appear to be such a novelty now. 

Thing is, once you start looking for it often you can read something into a situation that isn't there and normally wouldn't have troubled you.  I just enjoy being there and understand that we will always be etrangers.

 

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Thanks for your reply.  Maybe there are more non locals here now, certainly every house that comes on the market is snapped up by outsiders be they French or other nationalities, as you say what was a novelty has now become much more common place and the first question we always seem to be asked is "why do all the British want  to come here?"   Like you we feel even our immediate neighbours have cooled off.  After being constantly invited for drinks each time we were here and now just the occasional wave when they pass, we feel paranoid that we have done something to offend them when really perhaps they have lost interest rather than being hostile.

 

I too still enjoy being there, just unsure if we should move permanently as we had always planned, hopefully things will remain as they are without turning into resentment which is what I fear.

Thanks again.

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Mmmmm.  Difficult one this.  You can never look in people's minds...  How would we feel if our British villages were 'invaded' with foreigners?

We held a 'getting to know you' party for our 7 year old son before he started school.  The head mistress (who had distributed the invitations because she thought that it was a good idea) rang to say that she thought that no one was going to come.

I spent two days with my stomach knotted up, thinking that we had done the wrong thing, wondering if the rejection was that we were the only Brits in the area etc etc.  The hour of the party came and eleven laughing and smiling children spilled through the gates with their parents.

Silly me for even thinking that we weren't wanted?

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Just a thought, weve had our house on the border of limousin for 3.5 years, we used to live there, but due to employment etc, we came back to the UK.  But I still ring my neighbours in France, at least once a month, I email friends of theirs, do you think continuing communiation makes a difference?  Just a thought thats all

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[quote user="westland"]

Like you we feel even our immediate neighbours have cooled off.  After being constantly invited for drinks each time we were here and now just the occasional wave when they pass, we feel paranoid that we have done something to offend them when really perhaps they have lost interest rather than being hostile.

[/quote]

I fear you are suffering from the first signs of "integration".  [:D]

If you liked the feeling of being special, why not move to another village and start again?

 

 

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I remember when the Chunnel was being built and there were echos that brits would move to France and commute daily. We all thought it a bit of a laugh really and why not, but Pas de Calais, around Calais? hmmmmm odd old place to move to really wasn't it and we could all think of nicer places.

I hadn't really known about all the brits buying in 'lost' France until I found this board, I knew a little ofcourse, but not to what extent. I did know that lots of these regions were in need of regeneration, as due to lack of work, the indiginous young folk were leaving and moving to areas such as we live. That property would be cheap in these places was therefore no surprise, and  it still would never have crossed my mind to buy a holiday home in most of them either when they were still going for peanuts.

But before I 'knew' about this british mini invasion I did know how the french felt about foreigners, especially those that were perceived as being scroungers and using the system. And those feelings have never seemed any different to me than those articles one hears about in some of the british tabloids bemoaning foreigners and them using and abusing the system too and the way some friends an family in the UK feel about this very thing. Only, perhaps most of my friends and family in the UK are more measured in their comments and feelings than most french people I know.

What I do know is that 'I' take very badly to all those posts about 'what's in it for me', 'how can I get this that or the other out of the system', 'people not registering things properly', 'people trying to avoid paying their dues' and 'bleating about various 'charges', 'paperwork'' etc. And let's face it some of these things are actual 'rights' that people have, it being the EU and all that pap, but it still rubs me up the wrong way. AND if I feel like that, believe me or not, many, if not most french people I know, would, if they knew about some of these things, be even more bothered than I am.

However as a few of those who are working illegally or working the system are now being found out and prosecuted, french people are getting to know what is happening and if they have brits in their communes will be talking amoungst themselves about it all. And maybe, they will be wondering what on earth is going on and why these people are here, when their own young folk have had to leave. Many things will be coming into play. And if a person can't actually do more than banal pleasantries, how on earth would one know what is being said anyway. We do have gossip, tittletattle, grapevines and bad mouthing in France just like everywhere else.

Will people be welcome? I don't know. Some places, I am sure will not be throwing open their arms to welcome yet more foreigners.  We'll see in the Presidentielles next year as to how people are feeling won't we. And you'll be able to look and see how your neighbours voted.

TU, still the only anglaise in the village and soon there will be no anglais in the village!

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I think you may be being a little oversensitive.

The lady with the health service I took as a positive comment not negative - as in, since you have money and the French health service is means tested, then getting your health issues sorted back in England will be cheaper.

Similarly the bullying is probably not anything to do with being English per se but sady rather that anyone who is different in any way is likely to be prone to being bullied - in animal speak it is the heard instinct, but still not nice if you are the victim.

 

So I'll puit my rose tinted specs back in their case

 

 

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Please don't take me the wrong way here but I really cannot see what the fuss is about, except of course in Cathys case where her children are involved. (Lovely story Cathy, it touched my heart and so does your signiture).

Perhaps it is because I am from a small town where everybody knows each other and, if people do have a bad feeling towards you, so what?  You are not in control of it.  It is their problem and they are probably the same to many people.

Just stick with the people you REALLY want to be with and forget the rest. 

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Many thanks again to all of you for your comments, lovely to see that children are still being accepted in the schools and Katie I think perhaps that you have hit the nail on the head, if they want to be a bit off with us that's their problem and I'm probably being too sensitive anyway, still coming to France doesn't change your personality does it!   I suppose there isn't really anywhere that is utopia and we could well be suffering from coming down from the high of having bought the house and fulfilling the dream. 
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Or buy a second home in Devon or Cornwall and help to turn local villages into ghost towns in the winter. The locals will love you and pay special attention to your holiday home whilst you are back at your main residence.(Extracted from local paper - letter re second homes in the South West)
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[quote user="westland"]

 After being constantly invited for drinks each time we were here and now just the occasional wave when they pass, we feel paranoid that we have done something to offend them when really perhaps they have lost interest rather than being hostile.

[/quote]

 

Have you invited them back for drinks, in return?  They might be disappointed if not. I am sure they'll expect a bit of reciprocation - and an insight into how "foreigners" live...

Angela

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When people talk about all the anglais moving to France, don't forget to tell them about the thousands of young French people who are moving to the UK to work (it is estimated, not sure how accurately, that there are the same number of French living in the UK as British in France).

The French have some very odd preconceptions about the UK and the English. For example, rather than seeing British incomers as a source of regeneration, some of them will think that you have come to France to take refuge from a dickensian social system and to claim the fruits of France's social utopia. France is very inward-looking and fearful for the future at the moment, fertile ground for resentment against foreigners. Also there are a lot of rednecks around who have never left France (or even their own region)and who treat French people from different areas with suspicion too (I've been told this by several French friends who are 'not from around here'). If you want cosmopolitan attitudes and anonymity, move to Paris (I don't mean that nastily).

Having said this, I can understand the resentment of locals in those areas that have become swamped with Brits and other foreigners.

Jo

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[quote user="KatieKopyKat"]

Please don't take me the wrong way here but I really cannot see what the fuss is about, except of course in Cathys case where her children are involved. (Lovely story Cathy, it touched my heart and so does your signiture).

[/quote]

Sorry, You've overstepped the mark, KKK ... as Dick has not replied ...

[img]http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:-7KyJMrIPCm8dM:suveniri.com.ru/images/cat-heart.jpg[/img]

Aaghh!

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[quote user="Jo53"]

When people talk about all the anglais moving to France, don't forget to tell them about the thousands of young French people who are moving to the UK to work (it is estimated, not sure how accurately, that there are the same number of French living in the UK as British in France).[/quote]

The difference is that almost all the young French going to the UK are going there to work (mainly in and around London) and because they see it as an opportunity to get on in their chosen career.  That's not usually the case for British buying property here.  Plus none of the French I knew and worked with in London bought any property - they all rented.

[quote user="Jo53"]Having said this, I can understand the resentment of locals in those areas that have become swamped with Brits and other foreigners.[/quote]

Absolutely.  You will not find 'French enclaves' in London in the same way that you

find 'Brit villages' in France. 

Many Brits coming to France are

buying a holiday home which is empty for a large part of the year, or

are moving here in retirement, which does not contribute as much to the

economy as a full-time inhabitant or worker.  The fact that the house

the Brits bought may have been empty and unwanted for donkey's years

does not always register on the consciousness of the locals.  As

several people have mentioned, making a determined effort to take an

active part in the community - and especially to spend your cash and

hire locally - makes a big difference in breaking down these

prejudices.  Also, it is not just Brits - I have heard of Parisiens who

buy up property mentioned in the same way.

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Migration for whatever reason is widespread but the French don't seem to have realised this. Parts of Britain are swamped with 'foreigners',  it is now called multi culturism. But for some reason we are supposed to sympathise with the French when they feel hard done by. Not me I'm afraid.

Most Brits pay their way and don't ask for much in return.They buy houses that often the French don't want. This about the French being priced out by the Brits,no don't hold with that either as very often the French  woo the British market because they think we have more money than sense and they could sell to a local for less if they really wanted to.

By all means be an active part of the community but not out of some enforced guilt.

 

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I was out preparing for a streett party last year with some mates in the village.  A car pulled up with out-of-dept plates and the driver asked if we knew any houses for sale as he and his wife liked the area but they were having no luck finding anything with agents.  We all said sorry, no.  The driver said 'It's the English who are buying up everything and paying too much'.  My mate Eric jabbed a thumb over his shoulder in my direction and said 'Here's one of the bastards now - shall we lynch him?'

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  • 2 weeks later...
My cousin bought in Limosin ..has a fansastic social  life ...and was told the neighbors were worried the place would be bought by sombody from Paris and were delighted when they heard the new owners were English . My house (85) was empty for ages  owned by a woman from Paris who could not get the job she wanted and went back to the city. locals seem to be building new places and  did not want to take on the work I did.....  so I do not feel I am doing anybody from the village out of a home ....close to the beaches so half the village is holiday homes it seems  if the state of some gardens is anything to go by .
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  • 1 month later...

I have heard it said that in Cornwall, the day trippers are looked down on by those who are staying for a fortnight… and those staying for a fortnight are looked down on by the ones who have taken a house for the summer… who are looked down on by those who have retired down in Cornwall… who are themselves looked down on by those who were actually born there.

The only thing that all enjoy is a picture of a shipwreck – foreigners who did not make it to Cornwall.

Human nature being what it is I expect that rural France is much the same.

 

And don't we all adore those who are demonstrably more wealthy than we are...

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Hi ,WESTLAND

Ive not had the pleasure of speaking to you, But Im going to be 100% honest with you knowing I,ll get some  folk thinking Im blowing off but Im not.

Here goes, We live in dept 23 3km from AIGURANDE, we have owned one house for 6 years and bought a second house last september to make into a gite and become millionaire,s, (joke-joke)

Now the second house is again 3 km from the first house, so all the folk around here know we have two homes, and not only have they helped us from day one (6yrs ago) but every inch of the way with every problem we have had and needed advice with,

But we made every effort when we arrived in this area to knock on every door and introduce  us to them, and remember we are the foreigners and our way of home making can be different to the french counrtyside people.

the wages in this area are not high and most kids end up away from home living in the cities ect, But many wouldnt want to come back as young people to the counrtyside to live now and the buildings we brits/irish buy wouldnt stand the test of time if left,

 

A very good way to think about this situation is this, We are all only land lords at the end of the day, we came into this world with nothing and pickfords , dont deliver to that place up high do they?

Many people for get to keep on trying, they forget why they wanted to live here in the first place anyway,

Well I hope this will help you if you feel you,d like to drop in and meet both french and english who do get on? please let me know.

I must go now as we,ve been invited for a drink with our new (just moved in) french friends at 8pm.

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  • 1 month later...
[quote user="Diva Star"]

Migration for whatever reason is widespread but the French don't seem to have realised this. Parts of Britain are swamped with 'foreigners',  it is now called multi culturism. But for some reason we are supposed to sympathise with the French when they feel hard done by. Not me I'm afraid.

Most Brits pay their way and don't ask for much in return.They buy houses that often the French don't want. This about the French being priced out by the Brits,no don't hold with that either as very often the French  woo the British market because they think we have more money than sense and they could sell to a local for less if they really wanted to.

By all means be an active part of the community but not out of some enforced guilt.

 

[/quote]

Nice to read a non-apologist. I'm with you Diva Star.  I grew up in London where a chunk of Kensington was considered 'French' and the French buy in North Africa as the Brits do in France and Spain.  I have no sympathy for the French whingers and where I am, I always remind them that there are 'more' French in the UK than Brits in France.  Admittedly, it's a more dynamic set over there but thats because the 'system' makes this dynamism possible. In France, 'the system' makes practically makes dynamism a dirty word.

Recent negative Media about a handful of people claiming RMI and using the health service in the Dordorgne was blown out of all proportion and I think that has also got into the minds of some locals and may explain increased negative reaction. I've had these reports thrown at me many times by local friends (who know Zilch about the UK). Readers on this board may not have known any French, Spaniards and Italians in the UK claiming income support but, in the 90s, I knew quite a lot and I would not think things have changed that much.  A few locals here have asked me  if there is a social security system in the UK! The first time, I almost fainted from shock at such a stupid question but as someone mentioned in an earlier posting, they don't travel out of their region much.

I'm not for anybody claiming illegally but reading these reports, I also sensed the green eyes of envy as one article talked about young people living in their parents 'maisons cossues' and claiming.  So, basically, these young people should not have been entitled because their parents owned expensives houses. But if the local economy doesn't offer them work, the RMI is the basic income support to help them get out and get work. They probably would have been entitled in the UK too as the young French in the UK. Also, living in a large house doesn't mean one is rich as circumstances can change.

I live here (for the sun - hence anywhere north of Cevennes or Provence is out of the question for me-  and because i'm fluent in the lingo) and claim my rights to the services for which I pay like my French friends in the UK claim free education for their kids, free health treatment etc.  It's about time Brits in France stop being apologetic and stake a claim in a land to which they now contribute according to their means and stop acting as foreigners on a day trip.

I'm with you Diva Star....

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