June 15, 2013
Since moving to Normandy in December 2011, I've had a dozen or so readers ask if we've found the cost of living in the north of France to be more or less expensive than in the south of France. Here's what I've learned over the last eighteen months.
Everyone already knows that moving is expensive. In France, rental properties often come with only the key and the kitchen sink. You're lucky if they leave you with some light bulbs still in the sockets. We were prepared to either rent a truck and move furniture and appliances from our house in the south up to Normandy, or start over and buy everything new/used. Either way it was going to cost a bundle.
We decided to take our time and explore the area a bit before signing a lease on anything, so we spent our first month renting a gîte. Our days were spent driving around and getting to know which towns and villages we liked, and which ones we didn't.
The rest of our time was spent sitting in a café that offered free wi-fi, scouring the local real estate websites. We learned the hard way that the promise of wi-fi at a vacation rental can be, well, misleading.
June 14, 2013
June 12, 2013
Yesterday I played hooky. At 8:31 a.m. I hopped on a train in Bayeux and in two short hours I was pulling into the station in Paris.
I spent the morning shopping in stores that have obviously never heard of any singer other than Beyoncé, which meant that in one short hour I had heard enough of her music to last me a lifetime, but I did find a great pair of black pants that I needed for work, so she was a necessary evil.
Then I strolled across the river past Notre-Dame and across a dangerously weighed down by "love locks" bridge to spend a much needed afternoon catching up, sharing stories and laughing with girlfriends. All the while consuming some killer, freshly roasted coffee. Which is a rarity in Paris.
And as it always does, the day flies by. Before I knew it I was speeding across town to la Gare Saint-Lazare on a packed Métro to catch my train to Normandy. I arrived home just in time for dinner.
A beautiful day in Paris. I can't complain.
June 9, 2013
June 7, 2013
Nobody you meet in Normandy is ever going to understand why you left the Languedoc-Roussillon to move north. Stop trying to explain your motives. It's easier to let them think you're crazy.
Learning to correctly pronounce the word couverts* will save a lot of laughter at your expense.
When a fonctionnaire* asks you to hand over your only copy of an official ID card so they can send it off with your dossier while you wait for its replacement that they say will only take a week or so to receive, refuse.
The one day that you're running late for work is the day you'll get stuck behind a tractor hauling hay. Or cows. Or potatoes.
You are never going to break the code of the French texto.*
You've been in France for 10 years now. Stop being embarrassed when you're standing totally buck naked in front of your gynecologist. He's seen it all before.
At the rate that you're eating all that delicious Normandy salt butter, you won't be able to fit into any of your clothes by September. Maybe you should show some restraint.
Stop acting surprised when a child whom you're meeting for the first time walks right up to you and gives you bisous.*
Make sure you correctly enunciate the the word "shit" the next time you're teaching a French person the expression, "when the shit hits the fan." If you don't, they'll think the expression is, "when the sheet (of paper) hits the fan."
It's not quite the same thing.
Stop thinking you're going to wake up one day and start loving Calvados. Digestifs* just aren't your thing.
Those pesky French words that sound feminine but are actually masculine, and vice-versa, are going to plague you for all eternity. Or as long as you live in France. Learn to accept it and do your best.
Your cheese addiction means that from now on, every time you open your fridge, you will be smacked in the face with the fragrance of fromage. And that's a good thing.
*couverts - flatware
*fonctionnaire - civil servant
*texto - text message
*bisous - a greeting that consists of a kiss on each cheek
*digestif - an after dinner drink
You might also enjoy:
Notes To Self
Should You Move To France?
Ten Reasons I Love Living in France