From the UK to France: Turquoise Moon
My name is Catherine Broughton, I am English and I have lived in France since 1989.
I am an author, and one of my books is largely about life here "A Call from France".
I am married to Bruce, we have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
1. Why did you move abroad?
We moved abroad because we were hit by the property crash in 1989 and lost everything, but we did already have a house in France.
2. How do you make a living?
I am an author now. In the early days I set up my own estate agency and did very well, despite dreadful DREADFUL French red tape.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
We go back to the UK 2 or 3 times a year and are in regular (daily) contact with friends and family there.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in France?
I have to say there is nothing that I particularly LIKE about living here except that when it is summer, it truly is (usually!) summer.
Also, I have lots of chums via the AFA (Association Franco-Anglaise) and I enjoy that.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in France?
This area is immensely drab in the winter.
6. What do you miss most?
The lovely homey atmosphere of an English town in winter, when it is all lit up, the shops are clearly OPEN, there are cosy pubs to go in to, people on the streets ... French towns look so dead.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Although I spoke fluent French when I arrived I found it very difficult to get past anything other than a superficial friendship, but I met people via the children's schools mostly.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
There is nothing that I find specifically strange, though a lot of things are very different. They don't seem to invite each other around the way the British do, and the French are immensely pleased with themselves.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
The food! I have no idea why they think their food is soo good. I have travelled a great deal, and lived in several different countries, and there is nothing special about French food.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
France has become expensive on the whole - depends on which country you compared it to. Compared to Mexico France is excruciatingly expensive, but compared to Italy it is not.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
Whatever else you do, you must mix with other expats. They will be a crucial life line for you when things go wrong - and things will go wrong sometimes. Also, don't try to learn the grammar nor worry about verbs. Just speak. If what you say is ungrammatical, it really doesn't matter too much. The big thing is to communicate. I know lots of expats who have been here many years and who still cannot speak French - because they spend too much time trying to learn the grammar.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blogs partly to "get it off my chest" and share my experience with other expats, and partly because it is part of the marketing technique for my books.
Catherine's blog, Turquoise Moon
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