Sunday, October 16, 2011

7 Things I love about Living in France

We recently passed our 7th anniversary of living in France and it’s got me thinking about our lives here and how much they’ve changed – mostly for the better.  However, looking back though the posts I’ve made over the last few months, I noticed that many of them could be interpreted as negative.  No peeing outside please, The problem with English Teachers in France, Certficiat Medical Sportif, Why? for example.  ‘Family life in France’ is positive, but apart from that, an outsider looking in may get the impression I’m dissatisfied, which is not the case at all. 

There are always things that bug you wherever you live and there’s something very cathartic about sharing these gripes and finding others out there experiencing similar feelings.  For those of you who enjoy a good moan, I’ve got a list of things that annoy me to entertain you in future posts.  But, despite my complaining (I am British after all), I’m far happier here than I’ve ever been in my life.  So, I thought it might be good to share with you some of the many things I love about France and 7 seemed an appropriate number:

  1. The food – well this is France I’m talking about and how can I not put this on my top 7 list?  For me the most important aspect of food in France is their attitude towards it.  Walk into any supermarket and you’ll find a range of local produce – fruit and vegetables in season, lots of meats, cheeses and different breads etc.  What you won’t find is rows and rows of different flavoured crisps, snacks, biscuits, cakes, sweets, takeaway and convenience foods.  You’ll have a small frozen section of vegetables, fish and meat, but hardly any ready cooked meals.  This I found really difficult to start with.  As a working mother, I was used to convenience cooking – get it out the packet, stick it in the oven/mictowave et voila!  Here, there are hardly any ready made meals (or takeaways) and the ones they do have aren’t very appetising.  So I had to change our whole way of eating – and we’re a lot better for it as I discussed in my recent post on Losing Weight in France

  1. The People – we have found the local French people to be extremely kind, thoughtful and generous.  Only this evening one of our neighbours knocked on our kitchen window “Dessert!” he exclaimed, offering me a beautiful patisserie boxed filled with a delicious looking raspberry gateaux.  “Pourquoi?”  I asked, “Dessert” he shrugged with a smile and sped of in his car before I could even ask him in for a drink! 

  1. The Mountains – I love the countryside in this part of France.  We are very fortunate to be close to the Pyrenees and there seems to be a beautiful view around every corner.  I never tire of  them as they are constantly changing.  I love the early mornings when the mists are rolling over the fields and there is only a purple silhouette of the mountains in the distance.  On a crisp, bright winters day there’s nothing quite as breathtaking as the snow covered mountains cutting through the deep blue sky when they seem so close you could touch them.

  1. The Wine  - again this has to be in my top 7 things.  I was never really keen on French wine before moving here, but now I love it (maybe a bit too much sometimes hic)..  I’m sure the wine in France is much better than the French wine I’ve tasted in England.  It’s no surprise really, as I expect the French send the rubbish over the England and keep the best wine for themselves - and who can blame them!

  1. Where it is – I love the fact that we pop across to Spain within an hour, we can drive to Italy or Portugal or any number of countries in Europe if we wanted to.  Coming from the UK where we had to get on a plane or a boat to go to a different country, that is very appealing.  We’re also only 2 ½ hours from either the Mediterranean or Atlantic Coast.

  1. The Weather – well I am British, so the weather was one of our top priorities for moving here.  Spring usually starts around the middle of March and gradually the weather gets better and better.  We have average temperatures in the summer of 28 – 30 C and the Autumns can still hit daytime temperatures of 26/27.  This Autumn has been the best so far – we spent 1st October sunbathing and swimming at the local leisure lake.  Winters are short, but can be really cold with night time temperatures of –10C, but often get up to 20C during the day. 

  1. The Family Centred Culture –  the thing I love most about France is it’s culture and the importance of family life.  The local fetes are a prime example of how the French love to spend time with their family and friends, eat a good meal, drink some fine wine and enjoy the balmy summer evenings (The French Rural Village En Fete). The weekends are sacred, especially Sunday.  When we first moved here I used to get frustrated with the long lunch hours and everything being closed on a Sunday and on a Monday!  I used to think ‘What’s the matter with them, don’t they realise they’re loosing money by not opening 7 days a week?’, but the longer I live here the more I understand and embrace their attitudes.  They’re lives are more centred on living, enjoying and sharing life with the people that are dearest to them.  I really admire them for that and it’s an attitude I’m trying hard to adopt – it’s not easy, but I’m enjoying practicing!

So, instead of focusing on the negatives all the time, I’ve found it a great exercise to think of all the things I love.  How about you?  Can you think of 7 things you love about the country you live in?  If you can’t, perhaps your living in the wrong place....


  1. Lovely post Nikki

    To which (being male) I could only suggest a number 8.....

    One of the wonderful things about France is being able to have a widdle outside!

    I was always getting arrested for doing that back in the UK!

    All the best


  2. Thanks for dropping by Keith. Glad you enjoyed it. No, the widdling outside didn't feature in my top 7. That's one French tradition I'll not be adopting, but I'm getting used to ignoring it.
    Thanks again
    p.s. I'm still waiting for the code to put up the "Blogger of the week Award" you were kind enough to award me for Losing weight in France...

  3. How on earth did you lose weight in France? I would be twice the size I am now (even pregnant) due to the lovely bakery goods etc...

    I agree with a lot of your comments about positives and can apply them to our own circumstances in Spain.

  4. Ha ha, yes it's a difficult one. I tend to only visit the boulangerie on a Sunday morning and I take just enough money for some bread for the family lunch (and maybe a few treats for the kids), otherwise it's just too tempting!

  5. I just found your blog through your post on Mummy in Provence and have enjoyed reading through your posts. I also remark often (and complain sometimes?) about the differences of life here in Japan, but in doing so, I don't mean to say life here isn't good. A list like this is a good reminder of all that is good!

  6. Your post is beautiful. It makes me convince now to travel France and feel the 7 things that France have. Hope my time will come.

  7. Wow Kate, there must be some really big differences of life in Japan! It is good to remind ourselves every now and then, of what is good in our lives.

  8. Nikki! How far are you from Paris? I will be in Paris from Nov 2-7th. It is my first trip to France and I am coming sans husband or kids...a gift from my husband (he is going to watch the kids). if you are close then i would love to meet you in person! love, katie

  9. We're at least a 8 hour drive from Paris - right down in the South West close to Spain unfortnately Katie. What a shame, maybe another time? Hope you enjoy the trip - I'm sure you will. xx

  10. Hi Nikki

    I would add thatI like people who like France as much as we do.

  11. Excellent top 7! I've recently moved and the culture and slower pace of life is certainly growing on me!

  12. I love this post. I've been renovating a house in France for the last few years ( and it's my dream to live there full-time one day.

  13. Hi Livi yes the pace of life does seem to grow on you.

    Hope you manage to fulfill your dream one day Emma - I'm sure you will, you're half way there already!

  14. good post dear blogger