The moment you know you’re in France for the long run

Credit: ABC


After moving your life to France, there are the inevitable ups and downs but often there is a eureka moment when realise you are here for the long run. Some people who have been through it all tell us when theirs was.

When you start thinking and dreaming in French

Most people who move to France need to improve their language skills — at least a little bit —  so for many, thinking and dreaming in French come with the relief that they are becoming fluent.

And after turning that corner, they realised they’re in France long-term.

When you’re invited for an apéro by French friends

As everyone knows apéro is a big deal in France, so being invited to share it with the locals is a significant step towards making your home here.

The moment Marco St James’ local bar let him stay for a lock-in before and served caviar on ‘toast’ as an apéro was when he was knew he was in France for the long haul.

When you don’t notice people are speaking to you in French

For many, a sign they have cracked the language is often the moment the know they are comfortable in France.

Jackie Clarke put it like this: “The day I thought ‘did that French person just speak to me in English’ and then realised no they were speaking to me in French and I wasn’t having to translate every single thing.”

The village of Moncontour in the Côtes d’Armor, Brittany. Photo: Muffin/Flickr

When you stop being afraid of French bureaucracy

French bureaucracy is notorious for being complicated, difficult to navigate and a shortcut to a big headache. So unsurprisingly the moment you conquer it can leave you feeling like you belong.

For Magdalena Fitzrichard her moment came when she “stopped being afraid and started arguing with fonctionnaires (civil servants)!”

Or just any bureaucratic victory…

Moving France obviously involves a lot of paperwork so every step marks a crucial point on the path to settling down. For Martyn Dyer it was this moment.

“When after weeks of struggling with my basic French and poor understanding of French administration and bureaucracy I succeeded in changing the car registration from British to French.”

When your carte vitale comes through the letterbox

When that infamous green and yellow Carte Vitale card (that you need to get health costs reimbursed) is finally posted through the letterbox, it’s definitely a landmark moment…and time to crack open the champagne.

…Not to mention

When you get your French nationality

While getting the carte vitale is certainly an achievement, for many, it was successfully applying for French nationality that meant they were here to stay.

Why we think the French all wear berets and carry onions
Photo: Photonquantique/Flickr

When you’re accepted by the locals 

For Michelle Gray, it was a local family who had a hand in making her feel like she’d be in France long-term, saying her moment came the day she and her family were invited by a French family to the vineyard nearby to pick grapes with them.

While for Angela Christian it was when she’d been laid up by the dreaded grippe (flu) and her French neighbours stopped by to make sure she was ok.

“When I’d only been here a couple of months, a deputation from the Town Hall knocked on my door as they hadn’t seen my car move for a couple of days and I had closed my shutters as I was ill in bed … Minutes later a couple of the wives stood on my doorstep with a pot of hot soup and I just burst into tears at their kindness and concern,” she said.

When you find your dream property

Unsurprisingly many find that they feel at home in France once they actually have a property to call their own here.

When you start seeing people from your own country as foreign

It’s no surprise that once you’ve been living in France for a while, you’ll start adopting French habits and assimilating. And for some, this is the moment they really feel that they’ll be in France for the foreseeable.

For Tammy Summers, her moment came she and her family started describing new expats as “very British”.

“It’s not that we have a single thing against newbies or being very British – we just see ourselves as different to them,” she said.

And Joy Lang said  the moment for her was “When I stopped saying ‘I’m going home’, and started saying ‘back to the UK’!”

Many others said the key moment was when they started to refer to France as “home” and didn’t feel at home at all when they went back to the UK.

When you start driving like a French person

Rob La Frenais knew he was here for the longhaul when he started driving at 110 km/h “up the valley…on a tiny road”.

“I know. It’s wrong. Tell my neighbours,” he said.

When you can navigate your area (without a sat nav)

Even if you struggle with directions, you know you’re at home in France when you don’t need a map to get around.

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