Saturday, August 22, 2009

And now the end is near........

Well this is it folks, my last hurrah as Mme VLiF. The 24th August is fast approaching and it's time to draw my French blog to a close.

After almost 5 years here it's been a great adventure which I don't regret for a moment but it's time to move on. So, here are a few thoughts and ponderings about our time in France

What do I love?

Our valley

The views from the village

The weather in summer - not this summer. Too bloody hot!

My friends I've made here who I'll miss like mad but who hopefully are already planning their next trip to Wiltshire

Croissants from the lady in the village market on Sundays - but then they probably account for my expanding waistline

The fields when the wheat turns gold

The vast swathes of rape in Spring - apart from the coughing and sneezing it brings!

Sitting on our balcony watching the Milky Way and the shooting stars

What do I hate?

The nastiness that exists on some France forums
The weather for the rest of the year,

French customer services. Actually, that's something of an oxymoron, French and Customer Services!

French TV -- I really tried my best with it but it's pretty awful

The word 'integration'

People who say 'it's like the UK in the 50s' - what with malnutrition, polio, inequality of the sexes, backstreet abortions and hidden domestic violence? It's like France in the 2000s!

The word 'expats', we're not expats, we're immigrants. In fact, most of us are economic migrants really having moved to France so we could buy a bigger house. We are the Poles of France, except most don't actually have to work!

What drives me mad?
That you can't find things in the shops that have been available in the modern world for years - and I don't mean Marmite and Baked Beans, I mean, like ordinary things.

Paying for something in a shop and despite them having a drawer full of change they always want the odd centimes, even if there's 97 of them!
The lack of joined up thinking that seems so prevalent here
So not that much really!

What makes me smile?

The gallic shrug as the answer to everything.

The fact that Barko Sarko seems to be the world's biggest Francophobe, and he made Prez

Monsieur L's dancing

My lovely neighbour for whom I really hope life takes a turn for the better

What has been most suprising?

That despite everything you read it really is the same merde just different shaped bread. Maybe for the retired it's different but for me it just isn't. I'm quite convinced, as I have been for some time, that the authors of these 'Living the Dream' books are all taking mind-altering substances.

How few bilingual British people are actually employed in France.

How many people are prepared to live in absolute penury and accept things they absolutely wouldn't accept in their home countries just to live in a bigger house in France. I mean, it's great but .......

What has been most disappointing?

The education system. Dull, rigid, outdated. It's intended to produce drones who will work uncomplainingly for the ruling elite. So much for Egalité. One of the main reasons we are leaving is because our children, are so unhappy in the school system here. They can't wait to go back to 'proper' school in the UK. Let's hope it's not a disappointment.
Being ripped off by supposed friends. It can happen anywhere but it happened here.

The realisation that French couture doesn't really exist outside Paris. I can happily spend a whole day shopping and find absolutely nothing that I like. Shoes are the worst, hence my attachment to my Crocs

Hairdressers - I've lived in fear of coming out with aubergine or orange hair, or even both

The lack of opportunity for our bilingual British children. The French still seem to prefer to employ a French person with limited English than an English person with fluent French.

Best of times?

Christmas with some of our closest friends at the Chateau de L'hoste, Marchés Gourmands, time spent with friends, barbeque chez OnlyMe and Karlos Fandango, trying and largely failing to win the Quiz night (but we won this week, Allez les filles!!), the childrens' music concerts at Beauville Arts, listening proudly under the shade of the lime trees in Jon and Claire's garden, the High Security Music camp shows and singing my heart out with OnlyMe and of course, the Last Hurrah - our leaving party last weekend, of which I haven't had time to blog, sadly.

Worst of times?

Chopping wood in the winter, in fact anything to do with the winter!

Seeing good friends go through bad times and not being able to do anything to help.

Losing my beloved Mad Baz and Teabag and (whisper) accidentally running over DD's cat on the way to school one day. There.... I've said it. My name is Mme VLif and I've killed a family pet.

Telling the CH that I don't want to live here anymore because he loves it but he must love me more as he's agreed to move back. Aaaah!

Life in France vs Life in the UK?

UK for me I'm afraid. I try really hard to be a good 'expat' but I find after 4-5 years I realise just what a great place, despite everything, the UK really is and what opportunities exist for my children. France is, undoubtedly a great place to retire to but I'm not sure it's the place for families. All the reasearch I've done shows that most children brought up in France return to the UK. DD and DS are keen and very happy to return to the UK. There's lots I could add that has contributed to our decision to leave France but much of it is personal and not for sharing. All I would say is before passing judgement on someone's decision you need to walk in their shoes. I'm sure those of you desperate to leave the UK or whereever you live will think I'm bonkers but don't forget I was you 5 years ago. Sometimes it takes time away to make you realise what you had and also what you want.

Well, that's all folks, as they say. Thank you so much to everyone who has read and enjoyed my blog, to those who have commented and especially to all those clever people who's blogs I enjoy. I shall remain forever indebted to my Mum and Dad for encouraging me to start 'What French Dream'. It will serve as a permanent reminder of our French Adventure, assuming the Interweb doesn't get sucked into a black hole! Au revoir........


dND said...

I do hope you have fun in the UK VLiF, I'll miss your outlook on life here. I'm probably still in the honeymoon period; despite all the problems I'd still rather be here than back in the UK but then I've not been here for 3 years yet and I don't have children here.

So I wish you and your family all the best and bon voyage. Do leave a link on here if you blog again in the UK.

All the best,

@eloh said...

I hope you start up blogging again once you get settled...should be easy to come up with a new blog name....Home At Last!

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

What can i say?
Reading your blog has been The Best.
I've loved it all, and will miss these fantastic posts so much.
Having said that, welcome home, and do keep in touch!
Wiltshire eh?
Can we look forward to a new blog, possibly entitled 'Very Lost in Stonehenge...?':)
Love to you all,
SH xxxxxxx

Nobby Shit said...

Having spent many happy holidays in France during the past 30 years I have become an avid reader of French blogs. Most get deleted from my 'favourites' within a few weeks either through lack of posts or sheer boredom with the content; but yours has survived to its, unfortunate, demise. It has been a pleasure to read and I wish you and your family every happiness in the future.

the fly in the web said...

I hope everything works out for you all. I shall miss your blog, but can't expect you to carry on suffering in order to entertain your audience!
I do hope you blog from are bound to have a different take on things and I'll bet it won't be like Liz Jones on Exmoor.

Good luck.

syrahsuzie said...

I've been following your blog for quite a while and have really enjoyed your view of expat life here in France. Your incisive descriptions of local events (la fête, repas de la chasse) as well as local customs (toilette turque) and characters has had me eagerly awaiting every new posting.

I'm not yet disillusioned, I'm gainfully employed and my children are in French further education, but I've enjoyed your honesty and recognised a lot of the situations you have found yourself in (including looking after alcoholic expats).

Please keep blogging, I'm sure we would all love to know what it is really like back in the UK, and you are just the person to tell us - warts and all!

Bon courage.

the fly in the web said...

I tried leaving a comment, but obviously messed it up.
Good luck in the U.K. and let us all know when you are blogging again.
If only the Wiltshire border knew what was coming to it....

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Good grief, VLiF, I know I have been a bit remiss on the blogging front but My God! I've missed a lot...

Hoping that you will blog from Wiltshire. I'm still're coming back. I can understand, of course, I love being in England despite all the problems and being skint...

...but I love it.

I often think of living abroad so it's interesting to read all your comments about living in France. I can speak French so that's why I'm intrigued....but also I did work for Credit Lyonnais as well so...

I'm rambling. Have a good trip back and hope you get settled in soon! Bon voyage and all that. Hx.

Alice said...

WOW ... having just returned to the UK myself after realising that maybe the dream of living life abroad wasn't the dream we were after - I wish you the best of luck! I hope you start blogging once settled. I am finding that my new blog is keeping me focused on the great things of life here that I hadn't really noticed before.

Working Mum said...

Inisghtful. I sometimes think that people who emigrate feel the need to paint a rosy picture of their new lives and denigrate the UK, thus criticising those of us who choose to stay here. Interesting to hear both good and bad about your experience and I'm glad to hear that you still think the UK has a lot to offer.

Good luck with the move and all the best in your new home. I hope that you get settled quickly and can start up a new blog (maybe about how the UK is different second time round?). Let me know if you do start a new one.

WM x

Anonymous said...

I have been away so have only just realised you are already back here. Hope the move went well and look forward to the repatriation blog!

Ma Mite said...

Thanks for all your kind comments. Well, I've started a new blog so if you want to catch up on the continuing tales of Mme VLIF you can find my new blog 'Home is where the Marmite is' at

blogthatmama said...

The very best of luck with it all VLiF - I've thoroughly enjoyed your blog and look forward to the return! Blogthatmamax

(Very) Lost in France said...

Just a quick note to you all.The Daily Mail is printing excerpts of my blog either tomorrow 25th September or Saturday 26th (complete with photos......!). Hope you enjoy it. VLiF xxx

Previously (Very) Lost in France said...

And in a follow up to that last comment, it actually went in today, complete with horrendous photos. You can read it online at

Feel free to join the lively debate/slanging match in the comments section

the fly in the web said...

I tried to leave a comment, but the technology was too much as usual....
The measure of your success is that you managed to annoy a frenchwoman...well done.

Galli said...

Well done Mel,have you caused a stink on TF and TFF,I tried to send you an e mail,but it bounced back....keep saying it as it is....well done!

Previously (Very) Lost in France said...

Galli! How weird. I just this minute sent you an e-mail from my new address. If you don't get it check your spam box. TF have now removed the thread. Must check out TFF. Its all the same bigots so I guess it's must more of the same! Tee hee!

dulwich divorcee said...

I won't say adieu, VILF, but just au revoir, and looking forward to hearing your English adventures. For we returning expats, the UK can definitely seem like a foreign country! Bon voyage x

Miss Brodie said...

Have just read your blog. It's very funny and you're obviously a talented writer, but quite frankly I get the impression that France was your whipping boy for the other frustrations in your life. I've lived here for thirty-five years and I just don't recognize the country you describe. Hope you feel happier now you're back in Paradise Lost.