If you have always dreamed of retiring in a foreign country, why not France? France offers an amazing mix of beautiful scenery, cultural sites and activities, red wine and plenty of other goings-on to keep you content and entertained in your later years when you earned the opportunity to enjoy your life. And while its true that you probably won't retire to France to save money, you may find that life in France offers you just what you are looking for.
There are so many unexpected wonders in France and if you can cope with not being in the centre of a city you may find you can afford even the most expensive city in France, Paris. Bordeaux, although once regarded as conservative, bourgeois and unforgivably dull city has undergone a dramatic revamp of the Quays and includes a great ne tramway system which totally improves the city and has instilled a fresh jeoux de vivre. Bordeaux is often referred to as "little Paris" as it has a similar architectural style and aesthetic. Of course, in Bordeaux, there is always the exceptional wines.
The French themselves have rated Lyon as one of the best places to live in France. It is three hours from the coast and yet has a plethora of delightful restaurants which is like a "Foodies heaven". It boasts some 2000 restaurants, 17 of which are Michelin starred. If you don't always like to dine out there are also many outdoor markets which host an exceptional variety and quality of fresh produce.
Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine, Brittany. This vibrant city is a hub of culture, packed full of art galleries, museums and theatre's to entertain residents and visitors alike. The city is split into two parts, the old town and the new town which are separated by the beautiful Vilaine River. The old city is steeped in history with stunning architecture dating back to before the 18th century. The city is popular with ex-pats both old and young and with a thriving economy, there are many job opportunities available in the area.
Another suggestion which I read about on a AARP site was the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the Southwest. Languedoc-Roussillon includes Nîmes, with its Roman ruins; the bustling city of Montpellier; and the stylish town of Perpignan, with its shops and plazas. Once remote, the region is now just three hours from the bright lights of Paris via high-speed train to Montpellier. It is steeped in history, with medieval towns and castles, ancient olive trees and vineyards. Besides offering plentiful museums, festivals, and concerts, it is also a destination for the outdoor crowd, who hike in its rocky, picturesque hills and beachcomb along its lovely Mediterranean seashore.
Before you consider retiring in France is may be prudent to learn some French before you go. A lack of communication skills and the feelings of isolation that this brings are often stated as the main reason that expats return to their home country. Learning a little of the French language will really help you as you begin to integrate with your neighbourhood and get to grips with the local amenities. The French are very proud of their language, so the way to their heart really is through communicating with them in their own words. Most French people will be able to manage some English, but it’s not a good idea to assume that everyone understands it . You will manage to win enduring respect if you at least try to master the basics. It is really important to start taking steps to learn French, ideally before you get to France, and certainly once you are there. Being able to speak the language will pay enormous dividends; as well as making the difference to you staying permanently, it will also ensure you find it easier to understand the culture, deal with day to day authorities (such as the bank) and, most importantly, build friendships more easily. Communication is vital to us all; and taking French lessons at the outset will benefit you enormously as your life enfolds in France. Contact VLLC to start your French language course and fulfil your retirement dreams.
As far away as Australia, we have come to associate the 14th of July with the red, white and blue streamers of Bastille day. While we celebrate that French je ne sais quoi we have come to love, the French themselves celebrate their freedom and democracy in displays of fireworks, street parties, balls and military parades. But what are we actually celebrating?
La fête national – the national holiday we know as Bastille Day, has been celebrated since 1880, when it was proposed as a celebration of freedom and unity. However, the annual festivities not only celebrate the 1789 storming of the bastille for which Bastille day is most commonly known, but also the national unity that came with the 1790 federation.
The latter - la prise de la bastille - was a defining moment of the first of a string of revolutions which took place in France. La bastille was a Parisian state jail considered to represent the king’s power under his monarchy. For this reason, its destruction was both symbolic and logical, as it held arms needed for a revolution against the ancien régime – France’s old order. Under this regime, France’s population was separated and hierarchized into social classes : from the king – who held absolute power,to the clergy, the nobility… then the powerless masses. France’s pre 1789 monarchy thus produced extreme social, economic and political crises – and these are the conditions which the first revolution, and those which would follow, sought to ameliorate.
From the republics which ensued resulted the slogan we know so well; liberté, égalité, fraternité – freedom, equality and fraternity: a representation of revolutionary values which centre on democratic power, and the tenet that each individual is equal in the eyes of the law. So, aside from the excitement of festivities, how do these historic events affect us at VLLC? The republican desire for conformity and equality is reflected not only culturally, but linguistically – calls for homogenization saw the spread of a standard French language throughout all districts of France, most of which had previously spoken their own patois. Without the changes that followed the revolution, there’s a good chance our "French" would be much more varied, and sound incredibly different – the infamous bon voyage could have been the Alsatian Bù Voyage, or the Breton Beaj vat!
Eady McLaren, VLLC French Tutor
Whether you are a city lover, beach lover, skier or lover of the countryside France has it all, from arts and culture to fantastic food. France hits the jackpot! From the beaches of the South in Nice and Saint-Tropez to the vineyards and hop growing areas of Alsace in the North, France has something that appeals to everyone. While France has it all for many visitors, France is barely touched, let alone uncovered, because of one simple thing: French.
Fans of the hugely popular Only Fools and Horses will all know how the main character Del Boy used misplaced French phrases to make him sound impressive or to just get a point across, common phrases that really are not phrases such as “It’s Boeuf Bourguignon, as the French would say”. While people around the world, including the French, have laughed till they hurt at Del Boy’s use of French. It does nonetheless, speak volumes about the importance and even respect that the language has in getting to know France and the French people. Speaking French raises a person up in French society and shows considerable respect in a nation where respect is important.
Having more than a smattering of French makes a massive difference to any visit to the rich and diverse country. With language, a weekend in Paris becomes more than just a quick trip up the Eiffel Tower, a visit to Euro Disney and a brisk walk around Pompidou Centre or the Louvre following in the footsteps of each and every tourist. Language lifts the lid of, not just Paris, but the whole of France where small, family run restaurants can be happily visited without the worry of not being able to understand what is on the menu, or morning coffee can be shared in a pavement café, watching the world go by whilst deep in conversation with a true Parisian.
Knowing how to communicate in the French language opens up the French Culture and allows you to blend in to experience, not just a country, but a way of life. Iconic tourist attractions are seen with different eyes when you can converse in French and you can begin to understand why the people of France are so proud of what they have. Historic castles such as Le Puy-en-Velay in the South of France and the Chateau de Chenonceau, open up in a whole new way of being able to talk about and discuss the stories behind the walls in French. In their native language. Stories become more alive and you will, of course, discover little things that those without the ability to speak French would miss out on.
Even a walk in the Wine lands of France comes to life with French. Being able to discuss Red wine in Bordeaux with a local farmer and uncovering smaller wine estates that may be off the grid because you cannot speak French, turns wine tasting into a real French adventure. France has so much more to offer than just the Champs Elysees, Eiffel Tower, and Euro Disney and it can only truly be uncovered by being able to communicate in French.
For more information about learning French with VLLC contact us.
Moonlight, Paris, River Seine and the one you love. Nothing quite symbolises romance as much as France and then of course, just to add some extra sugar on top of all the love, one merely needs to speak the language of love, which for many has to be French.
There is just something about France and romance that makes the country so special. From proposals on the Eiffel town where so many couples have said “Je t’aime”, or I love you in somewhat rusty French, to the vineyards of Champagne, where the sparkling wine epitomises love itself as a cork is popped and a glass handed to a loved one with the words ‘Mon Amore” trying as hard as possible to be perfectly romantic.
Perhaps the reason stems from the fact that Paris, especially, was the birthplace of some of the greatest writers, novelists, and painters the world has known and many of these famous people put emphasis on romance and love. This, with the complexity of French culture and their “Joie de vivre’ has made Frenchmen romantic by nature with flourish and flair in just the right amount in everything they do from architecture to food, and even the language itself, with certain objects being considered female and others male. And thanks to Hollywood and movies, this flourish and flair has been extenuated and has created an overall image of France, the French language, and even the French accent as being romantic.
Today France, and more specifically Paris, are synonymous with Love and Romance making the City one of the most popular honeymoon destinations on the planet. Part of this is the world class dining where every meal is served with just that little something special, from a meal in a five-star restaurant to an open sandwich in an auberge on the side of the road in a tucked away village. The French add love to food as they do with everything.
But all that love can be easily lost for those who cannot speak French, because the language is as much about the Romance as anything else. Seeing the sights and being in the place where romance is part of life is one thing, and yes, romance will be felt, but to get the full romantic appeal out of France, knowing the language makes all the difference. Being able to ask for something special for your romantic meal or being able to ask for directions with a more romantic or scenic drive adds a little something that is immeasurable, as well as impresses the partner.
French and France go hand in hand but when you want to be cheeky with your loved one just by saying “vous êtes mignon” or when you want to simply comment on your loved one’s smile by saying “J'aime ton sourire” you will soon realise that speaking French allows love to flow. Perhaps is the very fact that the French speak French; maybe that is the real reason for France and Paris being as romantic as they are. Learn to speak French.
Travelling is an exciting opportunity which can be enhanced by learning the language before you go. This blog contains some interesting articles about language and travel.