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.