After 10 years I can add 10 more reasons why I like France and have chosen to continue to live here. Let's delve at PumpjackPiddlewick

I’ve now lived in France for 10 years. Wow! That just blows my mind. And recently I hit a crossroads and had the chance to decide if I would stay or go somewhere else. I chose to stay. Because? To put it simply, I like France.

I wrote originally on 10 reasons why I think French Life is Better. And my re-consideration of living here has prompted me to add on and write about 10 more reasons. Reasons I came to realise helped cement why I chose to continue to call this my home.

This time around, some of them are more practical. Which may be helpful if you are considering moving here. Others, are simply cultural differences I have discovered I really, really like. And some are just personally quirky.

10 More Reasons Why I Like France

Affordable Houses

In looking around at other places to live versus France, this was a big one. Probably the main one. If I hadn’t wanted to own a home of my own, life would probably look very different now. Because of the affordability of houses here I was able to save in one year to purchase a house outright – My Mini Medieval Manor. (This was doable I because I took a live-in job where I was paid well and did not have time to spend that pay anywhere.)

There are a few reasons houses are not expensive here, compared to what you may be used to. First and foremost, if it is outside of the major cities, there is less interest. Like anywhere, most people gravitate to cities (where typically you rent), so that leaves many houses available in more rural settings. The more rural, the cheaper the price often. (So be careful if you go super cheap, it may mean you find yourself in the middle of nowhere.)

There are many old, even ancient houses, that people simply do not want to pour their money in to, to do up. That is mine in a nutshell, except I am willing to bring it back to life. It’s a bucket list thing, and it’s a 5 year project. A good majority of people prefer modern houses, or houses you can simply move into. These come at a higher cost, but still not too bad of a cost considering.

Of note, even if you plan to do up a house here, do not expect to make much money if you then choose to sell it. France is not a good place to do up houses to sell on. We’ve all seen the TV programmes (I love them), but the demand here is simply not here. Buying a house here is about enjoying living in it, whether a primary or secondary home.

Staying Healthy

As I am getting older, health and particularly health systems have cropped up on my radar. (I don’t have to like it, but it is a thing.) France has arguably the best health system in the world, depending on who’s data you look to. Either way, it’s up there. And having lived and worked in the USA and the UK, I can attest to this.

First, it is affordable. It’s not ‘free’ like the NHS in the UK. But I have discovered, I prefer this. That adage of you don’t appreciate something as well if it is free is true when it comes to health systems. Because you have to pay (a nominal fee) to visit your doctor in France, you don’t just run to them if you sniffle. But by the same token, because it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to visit them, you do when you need to.

In France medical fees are set. A doctor visit costs 25 euros for example. Under the French health system you get back 30% automatically. You have to pay up front, but the 30% is refunded to you very quickly. Then you have your insurance, called a Mutuelle here, that then pays back or covers the remaining amount. This is a choice, but it is sort of expected that you will have a mutuelle in France. Sometimes your company pays for it.

If you have to pay for it yourself, like me because I am self employed, luckily it’s not expensive. Though it does increase as your age increases. Sigh. Unlike the USA though, this fee is much more doable. Mine, in middle aged example, is around 55 euros a month. This covers prescriptions as well. So between your Carte Vital (that is your governmental medical card) and your mutuelle you don’t have to pay (at the counter) for prescriptions.

Confidence Is

Okay, this is a slightly quirky one. One that many may not see or realise. But one that I have come to really like. The level of confidence, self assuredness if you prefer, in France is truly great. It took me awhile to recognise it, but once seen I have come to appreciate it.

I first saw this as the ability to say No. Having grown up in the USA culture of always willing to help, even if not always helpful, and then the UK version of politeness rather than saying no, encountering people who say no was a bit like a breath of fresh air. (Though beware, it is the go to factotum here, so if you don’t like the negative answer you have to push to get past it.)

In France it is the concept of being comfortable in your own skin (bien dans sa peau). And this definitely better describes it. It’s how people are brought up, and it manifests in knowing what is wanted in life. Some of this is heritage, passed down wisdom that is respected. And some is simply learned over time, eg what works for you. Then being unapologetic in recognising your own strengths. I love this.

Walk Alone

Something I hadn’t given much thought to until driving somewhere and seeing a woman out walking, on her own, is that France is a country where walking on your own is doable. Acceptable. Not thought of as strange. Walking is a very big part of health here. Go to the doctors and they always ask if you are getting out walking. There’s many forms of walking (marche), trekking (randonnée), meandering (la promenade), with or without dogs, or people. In my case I have often have walked with my cats and even ducks.

Because walking is such an expected past-time here you will very often see people walking alone, men and women. My neighbour walks each day, kitted out with the serious gear and walking poles. I see as many women walking alone, if not more so, then men. In the village itself, along roads and on country paths.

Now I know some of you are going to worry about safety, especially women on your own. But much of that fear will stem from the country you live in, as well as your own fear of getting out on your own. The lovely thing about France is that it doesn’t engender such a level of fear. That does not mean I am not cautious, I just don’t let fear blind me to opportunities, including doing things on my own. And the cultural perspective in France really helps in freeing me to do more by myself. A really important reason, for me, why I like France.

Litter

When I chose to stay in France, part of that was after a visit to the UK. I had gone there to be sure in my decision to stay living in France or decide whether I wished to return to the UK. Upon arrival there and travelling about I really, really noticed the level of litter. Like, wow, there’s a lot. At least a lot compared to France.

The lack of litter in France had been commented on to me many times by guests I have guided about. And thus noted. Then in travelling elsewhere, it was truly noted. And to me, matters. I do love that it is a natural inclination to not litter here. There’s no adopt a highway scheme, or governmental advertising to pick up after yourself. Rather an innate pride in keeping the place you live in tidy. (And yes, this generally stems to houses too.)

Now of course no place is perfect. And there are the rebellious, and lazy, who fall outside the norm here. But thankfully they are not the the norm.

Quality over Quantity

Oooo, I really love this one. As someone who loves antiques and handmade, I have long recognised that craftsmanship means it lasts. In other words, quality lasts. And France is the queen of quality over quantity. In part this is a differing view on financial awareness. Purchase less but better quality and you are investing. And there is an eco element to this as well. Purchase less and there is less to ultimately be thrown away.

Many can see this in fashion. The concept of the capsule wardrobe, a very real French thing that personifies quality over quantity. But it also can be seen in everything else in France, from pride in the home or even car to the slow pace of life. It’s not to say people don’t shop or spend money here. They do. But more thought goes into that purchase, large or small. When I sell something from my shops* to someone in France, there is always more dialogue involved before the purchase.

Portion Control

Sort of following on from quality, I can segue quite nicely into portion control. Who doesn’t automatically think of small portions when they think of French food? And this comes back to quality over quantity. Quality of food = take the time to taste and enjoy the food = don’t overdo a good thing?

The saying too much of a good thing is so very true. It’s like free health care, one tends to abuse something we can easily get too much of. Take doggie bags. A very specific USA thing. I know my parents, who live in the US, automatically assume if they go to a restaurant they will be taking food home that will provide another meal for them. And this concept/expectation is so… weird. It’s argued that it’s value for money. Except, it isn’t.

To make more quantity, you have to sacrifice on quality. That’s a given. I prefer the French way of small portions, of quality, and if I want more, I have more portions. This allows you to stop when you are full. And no need for excess to be taken home, or more importantly thrown away. Because, even if you like leftovers (and I do), they are never as good the next day. Except for curry.

Lack of Tipping

Now this one is just such a bug-bear with me. And it only becomes one if you have lived in the USA and move outside of it. Tipping. Why oh why does the US expect those being served to pay almost all the wages of those working? Why is it not the responsibility of the employer? (To answer that – read here.)

This is a minefield of emotion, well at least for me as I think it is so unfair. And so I am grateful that France pays all employees (unless they’re crooked) a fair wage. Being a waiter isn’t a filler job here, but can be a career. Because it has a fair wage. This is true of all service industry jobs.

It’s not to say the French don’t tip. They will. But tips are given when someone goes over and beyond what is expected. When you wish to thank someone for something specially done. It’s a treat, not an expectation.

The weather

And a list of what I like about France would not be complete without a mention of the weather. It’s up there with affordable housing and health in my decision making about staying in France.

It’s a big country, so of course some variety when it comes to weather. But on the whole, overall if you prefer, it is really nice. Actually quite predictable. Winters are short, and except for (or maybe these days including) the mountains a distinct lack of snow. Yet some freezing temperatures to make you realise that winter has come. Spring is lonnnnngggg. Especially where I have chosen to live (middle of the country). My favourite season as I love to garden, so just perfect for me.

But most people come to France, to live or visit, for the sunny, warm weather. And there is a lot. And it is very nice. The sun does shine a lot here, more so in the south. So if you are a sun worshipper, go further south. Summer can last way into autumn. And autumn often remains relatively warm and a time you can continue to enjoy being outdoors, despite the shortening days.

Just avoid November in France. Ewww. Dark and dank. Enough said.

And I can’t Forget the Wine

Like my first initial 10 reasons, I end with wine as the bonus number 11. Because, if you like wine, France is the mecca for it. With such amazing variety, and prices to match. It’s really hard to have a bad glass of wine here. Not impossible, but go ahead and enjoy the trying.

Read more about Wine in France in my What Goes into Making Wine articles, as well as my Wine 101 (Wine for non-snobs) insights and helpful hints.

Like to explore more about France?

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy my other writings:

Misconceptions and Stereotypes about France

Taking Time, the French way

Being an Expat in France

Is French Food Better?

and of course, the original 10 Reasons – Is French Life Better?

You can also read much more in my French Findings. And if you enjoy my musings, find them helpful or insightful, consider nourishing my writings through nourishing Pumpjack & Piddlewick.

*PS

If you enjoy items from France, do check out My Shop, where I offer the unique and sometimes down right ‘it’s very French’ type of items. Here’s a taste:

Simply click on an image to see more…

2024-02-26

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