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What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by Jeanne • Wed 21 Nov 2012 11:41
I wondered if anyone had changed their opinions of the Creuse after moving here?

I like everything about it here EXCEPT I always have to travel out of the department to do anything social.

This department is so bad for such a lot of things. I travel to the Indre for free French lessons supplied by the Conseil Generale. In Gueret they are 8.60 an hour and aren't worth even that.

Most of my friends are now in the Indre, simply because that is where I spend most of my time.

I am tending to feel that the Creuse is as the Parisiens describe it these days, except of course for the people.
Jun 2010
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by Dave • Wed 21 Nov 2012 13:41
I've lived in a few places, both in the city and in the countryside and they are all a mixed bag. The Creuse is what it is I guess; rural, relatively poor, not very good at integration, basic in social outlook except in a few places and these are mostly cliques. The people are friendly and welcoming in the main but they tend to see all non-Creusois as outsiders and it is hard even for the French to integrate. I'm not sure why Indre is any different, but it isn't quite so rural or poor and has larger towns and is in a much more populous region so I expect it has more going on and more services for foreigners, because I expect it has more of them.

Integration services are often one of the first things hit by cuts because they aren't noticed by most people. The Creuse did have a good programme for a few years, but now things are almost back to the situation 15 years ago when we first moved over. i.e. you moved here and so it's up to you to sort yourself out. It was clear cut and fair enough IMO. Nowadays people expect much more help and are frustrated and disappointed when there isn't any.

How to integrate is one of the most overlooked factors for immigrants, especially those without children. It's not a place with a big social scene and "off-season" it is cold, dark, wet and mostly shut. You need to be self reliant, like your own company and have your own transport. It is a very big department with very few people. You must expect to travel to do stuff. Often stuff in another department will be closer than what's on offer to you in the Creuse; this does depend a bit on what you like to do. If you like fishing, walking or motorbiking in the woods, then there is lots of that. If you like socialising in English or specific cultural or arts events then it's going to be thin even in the 10 week season.

This can take a bit of getting used to and some sustained effort on your part. If you sit inside watching UK TV, surfing the net and drinking supermarket wine moaning about how you aren't part of anything, then it will become a self-fulling prophecy. You need to speak French to French people. You need to do the things that happen in your commune, or travel to do what you like elsewhere. You need to introduce yourself to neighbours. Or you need to be happy in your own domain, doing stuff yourself, by yourself - there's nothing wrong with watching TV, surfing of drinking wine so long as you're happy doing those things.

Most people will arrive with no friends, no job and no idea how things work socially. If you are a catholic church goer, have kids, speak French and work at something with a high social status, then things will be hard but you will be able to mix regularly with people with the same interests as you. Not so if you can't speak a word, like cricket, ten-pin bowling, take out curry, going to the pub to talk nonsense about the pope's silly hat. You should have realistic expectation of what you will do here - if it isn't what locals are doing themselves then there is much less opportunity to fit in and mix socially.

I think some of this stems not from the Creuse per-se but from the fact that it is very rural. Much more so than where most people move from the UK. Like moving to western Scotland after living in London all your life. It's not the same. Sure for two weeks in the summer it's great having nothing to do, taking long walks and reading a book everyday, but can wear thin during five months of winter. Consider carefully how you will spend your time once you settle in.
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Aug 2004
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by lestroisours • Wed 21 Nov 2012 17:45
Well said Dave, end Everywhere has its own peculiarities. But I 've said it as well, you have to be pro-active, otherwise, you can get cabin fever. Mind you with weather such as today, staying in is a good idea.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~ Charles Darwin
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Oct 2007
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by Lynn • Wed 21 Nov 2012 19:57
There is stuff to do out there but you do have to go out and look for it.
I find I read anything and everything that I can find from notices in the local shops to signs on the road telling you what's going on.
We have had our house for 8 years and it has taken time to settle in and make friends but that's the same the world over, I think you do get out what you put in most of the time. It's a chance to do things you might not have done in UK, with a bit of luck you may enjoy them; I wouldn't want to live anywhere else now.
Apr 2008
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by Jeanne • Thu 22 Nov 2012 09:37
Lynn, I do agree with you but I do all that. I go to the local repas, etc. Having lived here several years now but it is still dead on traditional stuff.

Dave, I agree with what you say too, but I actualy do all that too. I am integrated, I speak French, 75% of my friends or more are French. I don't have any problems with Creusoise people at all. I just drive to La Chatre and beyond all the time to get a decent "French" social life.

I do a lot of dancing and the Bals are rare in the Creuse for this (not the tea dances!). I went to one expensive one at St Georges Nigremont and there was another the other side of Felletin. I tried to get cornemuse lessons at Gueret and could not. Socially I do not go to English or Anglo English because I have been there, done it and got the T-shirt and detested it. For example this weekend I have to go to Luant to see Remy Villeneuve in Radical Strapontin and La Chatre for the Eul'Glaude. It should be the same in the Creuse because the musicians I see have trained at the Conservatoire at Chateauroux. There is one in Gueret, but they don't seem to get any good musicians coming out of it. At least, none I have heard of, would love to be proved wrong.

In the Indre I can go to Bals almost every week, there is a trad boeuf every 2nd Saturday, these are all at small towns, no different to the Creuse. They just seem so much more proactive in keeping their heritage alive. Creuse is the appropriate name for this place. I won't be moving unless the price of fuel increases any more because I have wonderful French neighbours, but I am just disappointed with the social side. :down:
Jun 2010
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by maryr • Fri 23 Nov 2012 13:31
Jeanne you must not have been to La Celle Dunoise - it's about 30k from you. There are lots of music events in the village throughout the year and in the summer months many are outdoors and in the afternoon. In June there's the Course de Côte and an all day music festival with at least 10 groups playing. As well as these there is a brocante in June and an annual carnival in August both followed by music events. There is an "end of the world" music night on 21st Dec and a big New Year's Eve party. so lots to do in La Celle Dunoise.
Nov 2007
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by virtdave • Sat 24 Nov 2012 04:37
We bought our place in Creuse in 1985. It took us several years to make it habitable (it had been empty for over a decade), and while I was working came to France a couple of times a year for a few weeks at a time. When I retired, about 8 years ago, we decided to spend 6 months a year in Creuse, which has (except for the increasingly ghastly airplane ride) wonderful. We were more or less forced to learn French, there were no anglophones anywhere for quite some time, and it did require a lot of effort--but it was worth it. I got some learning-French tapes which I played every day when commuting--they were originally designed for the diplomatic corps, so one of the first sentences I learned well was "Il a été nommé à Londres, et nous ne pouvons pas considérer un projet d'une telle envergure en son absence". This has, of course, been of considerable utility in the Felletin market.

I strongly advise making the effort (and it's a big effort, at least it was for us) to learn French if you plan to spend significant time in Creuse. Not only is it excellent mental exercise, there's a large amount of wonderful French literature which is not translated (or poorly translated) into English. And although our neighbors were very indulgent of our fractured French, as our fluency improved, many folks who had been merely acquaintances became close friends. One has to enjoy the rural solitude of Creuse to be content there, but at least in summer there are plenty of cultural events. Limoges and Clermont-Ferrand ain't Paris, but one can take in opera and other musical amusements of high quality in those cities
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Sep 2008
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by Jeanne • Sat 24 Nov 2012 09:53
Mary, I do go to the Auberge des Pecheurs now and again but I like to do something every weekend. The events at La Celle often clash with my preferred choices of traditional stuff which seems more based in the Indre (Chateau D'Ars in the summer for example). And unfortunately there are often too many English at La Celle during the summer months which I prefer to avoid, just my personal choicebut good for tourism.

I love rural virtdave and the Indre is just as rural. I have come to the conclusion that no one understands or read my post properly.

BUT the Creuse is dead for traditional type of social events. Yes, I can go to see a rock band, a jazz group etc but can I go to a Trad Bal (not to be confused with jazz please) NO. There have to my knowlege been two only in the Creuse.

Here is an example of what I do at a weekend and this is this week's: Last night was an acoustique boeuf, today I will drive to Nohant-Vic for a cornemuse workshop, then return home to go to a Trad Bal at Luant, over an hour's drive. I will return around 4am, tomorrow I will drive to La Chatre for the spectacle Eul'Glaude. One typical weekend which is impossible to do in the Creuse.

People here are obviously content with the social life or lack of it that they have, :bore: so am quite happy to leave it at that.If I win the Loto then I'll move :woot: :woot:
Jun 2010
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by TournesolKate • Mon 26 Nov 2012 12:10
Jeanne, I'm starting to feel like you!

My (French) partner and I moved here in 2008. I learnt French, got a full time job and together we bought and renovated a house which we've been living in since May.
I'm now 4 months pregnant with our first child and I'm trying my hardest to find some antenatal classes or some mother and baby groups for when the baby comes and I can't seem to find anything.
As for integrating, we chat to the neighbours, but we don't seem to have any 'real' friends out here. The impression we get is that unless you're a Creusois farmer, people don't want to know.
Maybe we haven't tried hard enough, but you can't force people to be your friends can you?
Anyway, we never planned to stay here for the long haul, so as soon as the house is paid off and sold, it's off to search for the next adventure. Maybe a bit further south this time....
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Oct 2008
Re: What do people feel about living in the Creuse?
by Jeanne • Mon 26 Nov 2012 13:55
Kate,I'd like to say I was pleased you feel the same, but somehow that did not seem the right response.

I can't help you with the mother and baby groups I am 60 but I do understand how you feel. The places we go to have a younger age group (20-40); there are the odd few that are our age. I do so hope you find something; it can be lonely with a young baby.

A stagiare we had last year who was doing a formation here but lived near Paris said it was terrible to find anything for him to do in the evenings and he was living in Gueret.

There is quite a nice French bar; recently opened in Gueret, that has the occasional live music, serves tapas, now which used to be a Cave (just at the lights past Noz going towards hospital); we had a nice evening there a couple of weeks ago but its just not sufficient.

Real friends are definitely more difficult to find I agree. You seem to have done all the right things and with a French partner you would have expected it to be easier. I was lucky, found a lovely couple the first year we were here and then the other good friends I made are all in the Indre and I met them through music and dancing.

Good luck on your next adventure :-D
Jun 2010
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