Catherine’s C list

As soon as we made the decision to move to France we created a spreadsheet with all the cities we wanted to consider down the left hand column and everything we were searching for across the top. We wrote another blog post about that process but briefly we had 16 cities and a handful of must-haves such as a weekly market, a train station, and a water view. The overriding factor that eliminated perhaps a dozen of our choices was that we needed to be within walking distance of all of our needs. That driver’s license that seemed so desirable at age 16 was no longer a requirement; in fact, we wanted to live without a car. Several blog readers have told us that they too are using a chart to compare all of the possibilities and we’ve even seen some of these when visitors have come through Carcassonne. Our new friend Catherine has a lineup of what she would like to find in a new French hometown, be it full-time or part-time. She calls this her C list so let’s see what’s included.

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Getting prepared

There’s an online forum that I look at each morning (one of our Favorite Links in the right column) where expats living in or moving to France can pose questions and share their experiences. One of the threads that caught my eye is entitled “Why France? And why not…” which the moderator had hoped would generate a discussion about why people would want to move to this country in particular rather than elsewhere in western Europe, for example, or even just change locations within their homeland. That latter point, she notes, would avoid any dealings with immigration and keep you in familiar surroundings (food, language, culture, friends) that could be especially important for retirees. Since it’s a forum for people who already live in France or are seriously considering moving here, it didn’t surprise me that the conversation went somewhat off-topic pretty quickly. Instead of addressing what other countries did or did not offer, most people wanted to talk about what drew them here and especially explain how they might have better prepared themselves for the leap. 

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Where to retire in France

From Andernos-les-Bains tourism office

Bill and I have lived from one coast of the US to the other and several places in between. Each of these relocations was a work-related transfer with little leeway on the city of choice. Our final move within America, while still revolving around jobs—as in looking for them—gave us the opportunity to make our own decision about the place. We used an almanac that rated cities across the country on numerous factors such as cost of living, climate, housing, and employment. When it came time to retire in France we consulted a number of “Best of…” lists that covered the same criteria for this country and one of those rankings was published last month in the newspaper Le Figaro. For retirees, the five points they considered were the demographics and attractiveness of each of the 50 included cities, access to health care, the quality of life, housing, and services directed toward seniors. What was at the top of their list? Continue reading “Where to retire in France”

Living in France—the book

Cover of the booklet

Although probably not a bestseller, there is a publication from the Ministry of the Interior of France that anyone who is thinking of moving here will probably want on their electronic bookshelf. The price is certainly right—free—and it contains lots of practical information about preparing for the move and then what to do once you’ve arrived in your new country. Just as important, Living in France also addresses the key values represented in the Republic’s motto: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. This is followed by, “These are not simply abstract concepts: these values have concrete effects on day-to-day life by means of the rights and obligations of citizens and residents.” These benefits apply to the French themselves, to those of us living here, and even to visitors. Continue reading “Living in France—the book”

And the winner is….

The fortress at Carcassonne

After seeing a July post about a trip we had taken to nearby Narbonne, blog reader Rebecca commented that she’d driven by that city many times, and it sounded as if it were worth a stop. We certainly agree, especially given that Narbonne appeared on our original list of cities that we might want to move to. Long before we ever considered moving overseas, we tried to create in Atlanta one aspect of European life that greatly appealed to us: a village. No matter what country we visited from France, to Germany, Italy, England, Scotland, or Wales, we always started in the big cities but managed to find outlying areas that charmed us. Of course each culture was different but there was always something that brought the residents together and in the UK the heart of every small town we went to was the village pub. It was no surprise then that “village” appeared as one must-have item on any new place that we would call home. Continue reading “And the winner is….”

Green alert

The Aude river through Carcassonne

Recognizing the importance of saving the planet from global warming, the French government now offers a 4-year grant to individuals who want to move to France to continue their research, studies, and/or instruction in fighting climate change.The program is open to citizens around the globe but was announced immediately following the withdrawal by the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Continue reading “Green alert”

The second time around

The Préfecture (federal building) front entrance
The Préfecture (federal building) front entrance

We’re back for round two. If you are a US citizen living in France, you must first obtain a visa that you then convert to a one-year residency card upon arrival in your new home country. For each of those next several years that you live here, you have to apply for an annual renewal of the card. After five continuous years here you can request a 10-year card or citizenship, neither of which requires you to give up American citizenship, for which, by the way, Uncle Sam would want to collect 2,350 dollars. But that’s years down the road. Today’s news is that this week we picked up our renewed carte de séjour (residence permit) valid for the next 12 months. Continue reading “The second time around”