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The Vendée Blog

The Living the Dream Thing

Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm
Category: Useful & Sensible Stuff

My wife was interviewed a couple of months back by one of those “Come & Live in France” magazines on the subject of moving to France with young children.

I’d quite forgotten she’d done this until the publisher concerned very sportingly sent us a copy. I’ve never really looked at one of these mags before, so it was quite an education reading through it.

If I had to pick a single adjective to describe it I think I’d choose “gushing:” rather a lot of sparkling imagery of roses around the door, chirping crickets and sipping of chilled white wine on sunny evenings.

Which is fine by me: give me cheery optimism over gritty realism any day of the week.

(As an aside, it’s easy enough to get me spitting feathers, should you wish to have me do so. Simply start a sentence with “Of course I’m a realist” and the sincere belief that this somehow improves the worth of your opinions and I’ll be hoiking up enough to fill a duvet in seconds.)

Notwithstanding, I’m not entirely clear in my own mind if magazines like these are there to provide an actual practical guide for those wanting to shift HQ to the southern side of the Channel or whether their purpose is more to entertain by piquing the aspiration, as it were. If the former, then I fear the depth of advice leaves something to be desired.

Still, I’m not going to improve matters a great deal.

I really have no great longing to go into any lengthy explanation of my reasons for being very happy to be living here or to justify my profound belief that my lot has greatly improved. I will say that my life is a whole lot less stressful, but then I used to trade oil for a living, a profession in which if one did not have a peptic ulcer, bulgy eyeballs from the rocketing blood pressure and at least the beginnings of a serious drink problem then one simply wasn’t trying hard enough, so I’m hardly the best example from which to draw any conclusions.

And I will offer just one nugget of free advice that I think was not adequately emphasised in the publication I read: if you are planning to move to France, make an effort to learn French.

11 Responses to “The Living the Dream Thing”

  1. Perpetua
    September 11th, 2012 22:42

    Oooo, fame at last, Jon.:-) I’ve actually read the article just recently, as I get the free online edition and thought I recognised the name…. My feeling is that magazines like this are lifestyle ones, rather than purveyors of serious advice, hence the swathes of pretty pictures and the lack of any mention of failure. Your point about learning the language should be in bold type at the top of every page, but of course it isn’t. Cynical, moi?

  2. Gorilla Bananas
    September 11th, 2012 23:13

    I believe Daphne Wayne-Bough has encountered English expats living in France who don’t speak French. Given that the French hate speaking English in their own country, one wonders how they get by.

  3. fly in the web
    September 12th, 2012 03:07

    I too get a free online copy.
    It’s an aspiration mag…like all the others: a bit like Country Living which sells in towns in the U.K. much better than in the country areas it is supposedly writing about.
    Your point is the vital one…learn the language!
    How else are you going to get abreast of the gossip.

  4. Pearl
    September 12th, 2012 04:02

    I absolutely cannot imagine living in France, but I like to think that a magazine article could paint it fantasy-worthy.


  5. Evan
    September 12th, 2012 21:36

    I, like Alex, prefer Viz.


  6. Lesley
    September 13th, 2012 09:46

    Those mags. do the rosey glow, while the TV versions only appear to want discord and failure.

  7. dolores doolittle
    September 13th, 2012 19:47

    We lived nine years in France, and one of the joyous things was how Everyone smilingly encouraged us & put up with our at-the-beginning Appalling French. Hugely miss the constant hearing & speaking of it now.

  8. Jon
    September 16th, 2012 09:03

    Perpetua – I thought some of the photos were nice, but otherwise the content was as you describe.

    GB – You might be surprised. French businesses and even the bureaucracy are realising that there is money to be made from expats whose language skills are inadequate. Many supermarkets have English speaking checkout assistants with a Union Jack hanging over their tills to hammer the point home, and there is no shortage of bilingual expats willing to help out, for a fee.

    Fly – Well, quite. Mind you, I reckon one needs five years service minimum before the real dirt starts to be discusses within one’s hearing.

    Pearl – maybe not living here, but you could visit. I know some really top-quality rental accommodation…

  9. Jon
    September 16th, 2012 09:06

    Evan – The rag concerned does bear some similarity to Viz in its realationship to reality!

    Lesley – I fear that while we might be happy to read a happy ending, when watching TV some curious part of our make-up enjoys watching disaster. Why else is Johnny Ball doing “Strictly” this season?

    DD – It is quite a surprise to some the extent to which the beginner is encouraged. What I want to know is when you are going to start writing again?

  10. dolores doolittle
    September 16th, 2012 11:19

    You’re exceeding kind to ask, Jon. Blog-brain seems to have melted – thank you hugely for the Encouragement!

  11. Lesley
    September 17th, 2012 09:30

    Strictly has to make the numbers up and The Vintage and The Chubby will serve their purpose over the weeks. We will still watch avidly!


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