Updated: Sep 19, 2022
This October marks our fifteen-year anniversary of living in France. Time seems to have flown by since making the faithful leap across the English Channel with my family and moving over to Normandy, France. And I have to say that I don't regret it for a day. The country where we live is practically unspoiled from the past centuries with an abundance of nature and greenery everywhere you look. Brits have been upping sticks and moving over to France for many decades and it is easy to understand why. Sam's mum and dad had moved over before us and we had many family trips over staying at their property. They were a big factor in helping us decide to move over, and their house is just down the road from where my property is. When compared to the hustle and bustle of the towns and cities in Essex where we hail from, France offers a chance for some tranquility and calm - not to mention better weather as well! I believe that in life, it's the little things that make you happy and the lifestyle over here offers plenty of those little things to enjoy. Things like having a pair of tawny owls nesting in the side of our house, having our garden an allotment that bears beautiful fruit and vegetables, and having frogs living in the pond that I built. Recently I thought to myself that I should compile a list of my favorite aspects of French living. Without further adohere ares my top 5 things that I love the most about living in France
The countryside in France is the main reason as to why we moved over here. Being able to wake up in the morning and look out the window to the green fields bordered by hedgerows and listen to the birds sing - rather than looking out onto a housing estate with parked cars on the curb and being woken up by noisy neighbors - is truly wonderful. Moving to the countryside meant that our children could play outside and learn about nature which is great to see as a parent. The average house in the countryside in France is also more affordable than one in England. I really enjoy spending time outside, breathing in the fresh air and I couldn't imagine going back to spending most of my time in a town or city. We are fortunate enough to have over an acre of land and we make the most of all of it. For these reasons, it's prettyself-evidentt as to why we chose to move to the countryside
THE FOOD AND DRINK
The quality of produce on offer is tremendous. Obviously, France is known the World over for its wonderful cuisine, and Normandy is no exception, as you can read here and discover the cuisine of Normandy. The food and drink are a large reason as to why ex-pats and tourists alike flock over to France, and you can't blame them. The French have an attitude towards food that is more highly regarded than in English-speaking countries I think, where people often have to rush their lunch to get back to work. For instance, there is a larger emphasis on food being consumed in its rightful season meaning that the majority of the shelves in french supermarkets are stocked with products originating from France. It is commonplace for workers to take an hour and a half lunch break. One of my favorite things about where we live is the abundance of local and sustainable produce from nearby producers. I love going to the farm and buying milk that comes from the cows that graze the fields next to our property. There is also a great variety of wine and cheese, which are conducive to a good life.
Where to begin when it comes to Antiques, they really do speak for themselves. If you are an antique enthusiast like me, then you are in luck. We are spoiled for choice over here: quaint antique shops, brocantes, antique fairs, auctions and vide-greniers. With France having such an old and rich history you will be able to find whatever you fancy. In my case that is primarily copper. And living just down the road from Villedieu-les-Poeles which is the capital for copper, being reputed internationally, means that I couldn't be in a better place for finding those hidden gems. If you want to find an authentic french antique to add to your home then you can check out my Etsy Shop here@SeansWorldEtsyShop, and my wife Sam's shop here@AngloFrenchVintage.
The property on offer is tremendous. France has over 40,000 chateaux dotting the countryside of all corners of the country. If you are looking for something a little more modest than a chateau, there is an abundance of great properties available to purchase. You may be surprised at just how affordable some of the properties in France can actually be. For us, it was our dream to buy an old, well-built french stone farmhouse and give it some mumuch-neededLC, refurbishing it and making it our family home. When you renovate a property yourself, you get the feeling that you have built your own place, yet you are restoring a house that has been there for hundreds of years and is part of the local history. And I wouldn't have done it any other way. A lot of French nowadays prefer to live in more modern 'pavillon' houses, which are new builds that appear uniform in their appearance due to having to be painted a certain variation of colours decided by the local municipality. This means that there are plenty of farmhouses and townhouses available on the property market.
What to say about the lifestyle in France. The pace of life is slower. The quality of life is high. The night skies are so clear that you see the nebulae. The daytime is filled with the vibrancy of the local biodiversity. The level of education is good and universities are accessible. Health care is good and, depending on circumstance, free. The cost of living is cheaper than in the UK yet France has lower unemployment rates than Spain, Portugal, Gre,ece and Italy. The air quality is good. The food. The wine. Taking the time to stop for a coffee at the local bar. Taking the time to enjoy and appreciate things. They stop to talk to their neighbors. Not everyone rushes about without regard for others. They enjoy 'appéritifs' whilst philosophizing about life or just chatting about the local news. As with most places in the countryside, there is a more communal way of life here, that you can see in the village fetes. Outside of Paris, the roads are quieter than they are back in the UK. That means less noise pollution in the countryside and not having to spend over an hour a day sitting in traffic to get anywhere. I could go on. A lifestyle is perhaps an idealisation of daily life but it definitely does ring true. My personal interpretation of the French lifestyle is that it is about living a simple life, enjoying the countryside, and not worrying too much about money, status, or work. Taking pleasure in the little things.
C'est la vi !