France – Year One

It was one year ago today that theTravelsketcher, Neville, and I arrived in France. Our retirement dream was to travel, and living in France has allowed us to do just that. It has been an eventful year to say the least, and on several occasions we considered giving up and moving back to the Pacific Northwest, but we persevered and are glad we made it through.

There are many advantages of living in France, here are the ones that stand out for me.

1. Easy and inexpensive access to European countries

In the past year we have visited many locations in France, Spain (on multiple occasions), Italy, Greece, Malta, Portugal, and Morocco. We have plans to visit Portugal again, as well as Norway, Iceland, and more destinations in France in the near future. The train service is extensive and reasonably priced, and, unless there are strikes, almost always on time. There are a variety of inexpensive airlines as well making travel within Europe quick and affordable.

2. Slower pace of life

This could be attributed to being retired, but the relaxed, unhurried rhythm is a refreshing break from the frantic pace in the US. Long leisurely lunches, spending an hour or two in a cafe watching the world go by are the norm here, and it suits us quite well.

3. Lower cost of living

With the exception of gas (petrol) everything here is less expensive, most importantly, cheese and wine are a bargain. 😊 Our grocery bill in the US was at least twice as much as what we spend here.

4. Safety

France has a low crime rate and is considered one of the safest countries in the world. Living in a quiet, rural location also adds to the safety factor, although, we always feel safe when in big cities, even when out after dark.

There are many other advantages of living in France as well including, affordable health care (unlike the US which has the highest health care costs in the world), delicious food, interesting history, beautiful architecture, and very friendly, helpful people.

Et bien sur, there are some disadvantages.

1. Bureaucracy

Sorting out the details of banking, insurance, and other day to day necessities can be quite frustrating. To say getting our car insurance was a challenge, is a huge understatement. We were told we needed to have “A” in order to get “B”, but we couldn’t get “B” without “A”; sheesh! It took one month to get this resolved. These circular situations are quite common in dealing with all sorts of necessities here and are quite frustrating.

2. Waiting

It is very common to wait in a long line at the grocery store, postoffice, or any place of business for that matter. You just have to get use to it and wait like everyone else. A dose of patience is always a good thing.

3. Feeling isolated

It gets lonely at times being so far from family, friends, and familiarity. The language barrier is one of the biggest obstacles for me. I speak French, and French speakers usually understand me; but I often don’t understand their response due to regional dialects, and their very fast rate of speech. I spend time listening to French, and am slowly noticing a difference, but it’s a challenge.

Thankfully, the pros outweigh the cons in our situation, since we may be here for a few more years. And France is a beautiful place; here are a few of my favorite photos from the past year.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel

We are glad we brought Neville with us. We were a bit concerned about him on the journey here, since he is a senior cat with kidney disease. He was fussy in the car on the way to the airport in Seattle, meowing and clawing at his carrier as he usually does on car rides. However, once we entered the terminal, he went silent and didn’t utter another sound until we arrived at our home in France, 21 hours later. We were quite worried, but we need not have been since he adjusted quickly and loves living in the country. He even wrote a blog about his trip here 😉; click here to read his post.

In addition, this week also marks my four year anniversary with WordPress. I love blogging and look forward to posting something each week, and reading posts by other bloggers who also love to travel. Special thanks to my subscribers and followers, I feel there’s a special connection in this community of fellow travelers and expats.

WordPress has a few quirks that are challenging, mostly with comments. I often leave a comment on an interesting blog only to find that it disappears after I hit reply. I have learned that it goes into the comments folder under the “pending” tab where it stays until the author approves it. Once a comment is approved, future comments are usually automatically approved as well; but not always. I often find comments in the “pending” and “spam” folders from regular readers that for some odd reason, need to be approved. I have now made it a habit to check all the folders in the comments section frequently. I’m curious to know if other WordPress users have noticed this.

So all in all, it’s been a good year filled with many ups and downs; but that’s life! Oh, and one last photo, I didn’t notice this photo bomber until a few days after taking this photo since I was focused on the sign above the entrance. Cheeky!

Wishing you grand adventures,


27 thoughts on “France – Year One

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  1. A year? Time flew!! When you said cheese and wine were a bargain, I was ready to move to France 😉. And wow Tricia, you have the most beautiful photos here (Normandie’s walkways are stunning). Hooray for ‘surviving’ a year and good luck ahead!
    Most of the time comments in my spam box are from unknown bloggers (but there is the odd occasion that a follower’s comments lands there … WP sometimes has its challenges! But after a cup of tea or a glass of wine ( depending what time of day it is 😬), I try again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful photos! I understand some of the disadvantages and advantages you mention, having lived in Germany. I also found the language barrier isolating until one day when I realised that I had reached a tipping point and it suddenly became easier. Languages always take time, especially when you’re older. I hope you continue to enjoy your time there now that many of the adjustments are over. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As always, wonderful photos and super thoughtful commentary. There are pros and cons to everything we do, to all the choices we make. The worst would be not doing anything. You have both made the choice of taking this grand adventure–and what a year you (and Neville) have had and will have as you continue to make a lifetime of memories. (I do think you neglected to add one more item to your ‘Pros’ list: the croissants!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Neville seems quite happy and settled which is the most important thing, he he. You seem to have had a fantastic year, though I do hear you on the challenges part. Bureaucracy is apparently the weak spot of so many European countries. I am not surprised that France comes across as inexpensive after the US, especially cheese, wine and healthcare. Regarding WP, happy anniversary first of all. I am glad that we are blogging friends as I enjoy reading your posts and your comments on my articles are always thoughtful and interesting. I have the same issue with comments from some regular readers. For instance, your comment always ends up in my pending box where I usually only get spammy comments. I am not sure why that’s the case, it happens to me with several bloggers who comment frequently. It will be another WP glitch, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re correct about Neville; he’s one special cat. We chatted recently with some expats living in Spain, and it’s quite challenging there too; a common factor maybe? Thanks for letting me know about WP comments, so odd. But thanks for approving mine! I’m also glad we’ve connected on WP and enjoy your posts immensely.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t believe it’s been a year already!!! We have just secured our tickets to a number of events for the Olympics, so I’ll have to pop by for some of that wine and cheese 🙂
    I totally understand on the challenges, diversity of language and getting things done quickly in Europe are not strong suits!!
    And happy blog-iversary, I love following along with your adventures .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love posts that are honest and helpful, and this one tops the list. It is so interesting to read your take on living in France — your experience, both the good and the bad — and your sharing is so helpful to anyone considering moving over seas. (Which, sadly, is not me.) Your photos are always wonderful to see, but looking at a compilation of your favorites show how truly beautiful they are. Thank you!


  7. Happy “blogiversary”! I loved reading your take on living in France as an American expat, being away from family is definitely hard, but I hope the pros largely outweight the cons! I didn’t realise “waiting” in lines and such was that common in France (or not that common in the US) ahah! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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