I’m from Melbourne, Australia, and I decided to explore the world at the start of 2000, telling my mum I’d be back in a year. Oops! I love to travel, and living in Europe has allowed me to travel widely both nearby and further afield. I left behind my surfboard in Australia and have accumulated skis, snowboards, a bike, a cat and a knowledge of the French culture and language.
Initially, I moved to London. After about five years in different places in England, I was ready to move to France for two reasons. The first is my love of skiing. The second was the French language, which just sounds so smooth and romantic.
Likes/dislikes about France and the French?
The French are proud of their food, and rightly so! It’s fantastic. In Alpine areas like where I live, there’s an overload of traditional French restaurants for the tourists and few interesting options for vegetarians like myself. I avoid some restaurants because there are simply no vegetarian options. Thankfully, this is evolving, and there’s now a decent choice of both restaurants and ingredients from around the world.
Obviously, nobody likes paperwork, and France seems to be the world leader in red tape. Administration, such as health care cards or applications for pretty much anything, tend to take a lot longer here and require more follow-up phone calls. I dislike this side of living in France, but there many worse things to worry about in the world!
France is so much more than Paris, and I’ve been surprised at just how different one region is from the next. I love that this fast country offers so much natural history as well as cultural history. Visit the ancient painted caves of Lascaux in the Dordogne, experience the hot French Riviera on the South coast, wander amongst the Carnac stone alignments in Brittany, ski here in the Alps, take a road trip around Corsica, or go shopping in Paris. It’s a surprisingly diverse country.
Has your life style changed since you moved to France? If yes, how?
Like anyone anywhere, my life has changed since moving to France. I can now speak French and my understanding of another culture has aided my levels of tolerance and open mindedness. My Australian accent has also faded a little over the years.
What is the the first thing you do when you go back to your home country?
Hug my mum, of course! Oh, and my Australian accent tends to make a full recovery.
Does France seem multicultural?
Where I am is not particularly multicultural apart from during the ski season when there’s an influx of Dutch, Brits and various other nationalities. They’re only temporary though, and I suspect the locals consider ‘multicultural’ to include French people from other regions of France.
Do you feel yourself integrated? What does it mean anyway 😉
I feel settled into the French ‘way of life’ – the humour, the TV shows, the music scene, and the cultural history. Whether that counts as being integrated or not, I’m not sure. I still speak English at home, I still get annoyed that drivers rarely indicate at roundabouts, and I don’t expect to live here for the rest of my life.
Could you tell me a few words about your blog?
Le Franco Phoney is a play on words: I’m a Francophone (someone who loves all things French), and I’m living the French lifestyle without being French — like a phoney. I write about the funny or quirky aspects of living in France, which the romanticised version tends to leave out. I also write about all the fantastic experiences on offer in France. Visit my blog to read all about it!
Have you ever experienced any cases of discrimination/racism in France?
Plenty. I said ‘bonjour’ to a nearby neighbour every time I saw him even though he never reciprocated. After two years, he found out I was Australian, and he thought it reasonable to explain to me that he thought I was English, and would now be happy to speak to me, the Australian. I was once given change in lots of 5c pieces from a local shop I’d decided to buy from instead of the supermarket. I could see the other coins in the register, but the cashier refused to give me a 2€ coin, saying she had no change at all. I went to the supermarket after that.
Thankfully, for every xenophobic person here, there are hundreds of welcoming, open-minded people who make life worth living here.
Advice to a new expat who is thinking of moving to France? 😉
Learn French is my top piece of advice. It makes things a lot less frustrating when you’re trying to sort out bank accounts, health care cards or businesses, when it’s rare to find anyone willing to speak English. There’s plenty of advice on these topics and more on my blog, so I recommend you have a read through to find out more on everyday life in France.