We are not in MUK any longer, welcome to France


We are in France, they do things differently here, and that is as it should be. We are not the sort of traveler or expat that judges our new country based on where we came from, we may compare out of curiosity, but we try to avoid saying, “Well back home they do it like this, France is doing it wrong, they should do it like we do.” I have heard that many times in my travels so am determined to accept things the way they are. If you want things to be like they are “back home” and are irritated that they are not, my insensitive response is, stay home then.

Yet… almost daily there are new challenges, even a bit frustrating at times. We are gradually learning the ebb and flow of the French day and weeks – dont expect anything to be open except restaurants between 12H00 and 14H00, most shops close for long lunches. The majority are also closed on Sunday, and a high percentage on Monday as well.

We are in a completely rural setting and in storms the wifi has to be unplugged or it may blow the modem due to a power surge, glad we have our portables.

A few days ago we were driving near Bagnoles-de-l’Orne and came to a blocked road, no indication as to why, and we were not confident enough with our French to ask the gendarme what was going on. We figured out that it was the national sport of France, bicycle racing. So we sat in the car and waited for the pack to go by. About half way through a lady backed into our car. An accident is never fun, but in a country where you first off do not speak the language fluently, and secondly are unfamiliar with the process, it is a bit stressful. The gendarme was indifferent, spoke no english, but did direct me to the glove box where there was an accident form, they carry those here.

I must put in a plug for Renestance, which is a consulting company that helps expats navigate things here, and Sarah our consultant. I got Sarah on the phone, she talked to the driver and we got it all worked out and thankfully drove away. If you are planning a move I can’t recommend them enough, well worth the investment.

Yesterday we ran into a problem doing wire transfers from our Wells Fargo account, to do a transfer they require sending a text message to your US phone for identity verification, they have no other option, I know that because I talked to multiple customer service folks and supervisors. EXCEPT we now have a french phone number, and they only send to US numbers. I have figured out some work-arounds but spent hours getting it to happen.

Todays challenge will be to take the butane tank, which is what we use for cooking, in and exchange it for a full one. It seems pretty straight forward, but years of remodeling houses and living tells me to not be over confident.

All in all we are adapting well, differences, of course, but that is one reason we came to France in the first place, as the pillow our friends Claudine and JJ (their aliases) gave us says, it is a grande aventure.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Oh yes, one shouldn’t expect everything to run smoothly … you are after all in a different country where they speak a different language. But if you see these as challenges to overcome (which it seems you do), it’s going to be a “grande adventure” ☺️.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This blog was not as much about me as it was me preaching about people who complained about other countries. I remember being in Canada, just accros the border from the USA and listening to some Americans complaining that the bar did not hav Budweiser beer. Well first off it is disgusting beer, but secondly I wanted to remind them that if they wanted a Bud go back to where they serve Bud.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. David Buehler says:

    Funny story about the accident. Did you ever find out if it was a bicycle race or not???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was a bicycle race. Our consultant, Sarah, says they have many different bike races here in France.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As tricia said yes it was, we saw the pack go buy. It really is the national sport, I guess there are races all the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Bizzy says:

    If you have the means, you might consider switching to Morgan Stanley. I make a phone call and the transfer is done. Another option might be one of the independent services, like XE or Wise. When I was at BofA, I looked into them. I think some do the transfer for free. They hold your money for a couple of hours and earn their fee on the float. Doesn’t sound like much, but I guess it adds up.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions. Not sure what “have the means” means, but we dont need a Morgan Stanley. I have figured a work around with Wells Fargo, we do maybe one transfer a month, not really worth fussing with another service. If we do it will be Currencies Direct, recommended by Renestance, whom I think you also use.

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      1. Bizzy says:

        No, I spent six months a year here, before I moved full-time. After my husband’s death I had a French partner, until his death. Getting old is definitely a way to lose friends. Now I have an informal network of French and anglophone, but long-term resident, folks. I’ve been here full-time since 2014, so the toughest adjustments, worst of the language lessons, all that, are pretty much behind me. I would never willingly move back to the States.

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  4. I’m sure that each day will bring a new set of challenges…good luck and enjoy your new life.

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