Pont Noir

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What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by howfeness • Tue 24 Apr 2007 21:09
During the course of following the forum chat over the last few months,I can almost detect a kind of inverted snobbery going on about Brits meeting up with other Brits whilst living out there.
All of the people I have met or conversed with have been lovely, helpfull, friendly whether French, British or any other nationality, and of course we have not decided to buy in France and try to recreate little Britain, but we do welcome the chance of meeting other like minded people, to share and enjoy stories and informtion with.
Of course for us novices, the language does cause us some problems, but I am sure most people serious about staying will, like me, be striving to mprove thier language all the time. I would love to launch into a French debate in the local cafe or converse easily with my neighbour and his children but I have a way to go yet. In the meantime though, discussions in English are sometimes much needed and this socialising must help fill that need.
However, I often get the impression that some Brits living there see this need to gather as almost bad practice and wonder why. I know there must be the odd nuiscance to contend with and yes the British do not have the best reputation in Europe for thier capacity to be pleasant and tolerant, but we are all trying to escape that and be happier aren't we? What do you all think?
Live the dream for as long as it lasts!
Apr 2006
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by thebiglad • Tue 24 Apr 2007 22:56
In my opinion, for what it's worth, the problem comes when a whoop or a flange (not sure of the correct group name) of English get together and as a result slip back into their previous behaviour patterns learned over many years in UK.

So much so that a perfectly calm and normal bloke who wants to intergrate into the Creuse way of life starts to talk about where the French are going wrong about such & such......

It amazes me that the French govenment hasn't thought to ask for guidance from Tony and his pals........cos they always know better don't they??

Anyone notice the voting figures for the last weekend - 86% of the French population participated in the Presidential elections !! And at the last British election it was........wait for it............26% !!!

Democracy alive and well in the UK then.

Was that a hornets nest I heard just revving up?
Blissfully happy in France.
Apr 2007
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by danny • Thu 21 Jun 2007 22:38
Ive read with interest the two ways of thinking on this subject and if I may would like to add mine.

Why not have the best of both worlds, ie enjoy the new french way of life you couldnt have in the U.K., ie we enjoy a much larger home here in france for a fraction the price we couldnt afford in the u.k. and the safe feeling ref the security we have here of very little if any theft of property, being mugged, ect. and the smashing views and smashing french people all around us,
Why not have english expats who have thought alike and made the same move to this area to share a new friendship and if needed a shoulder to cry on?

We have made friends here on both sides, french and english and the only two small comments I would make are these. (1) some folk have little or no intention of giving but only taking all they can get, ie they will attend the verious meals /drinks ect and never dream of trying to give any conversation.,or having a event themselves.
(2) A lot of brits come to france without a long term plan and soon fall flat on thier faces due to no earnings or way of paying to support the new life style,
little or no experience of how to do up the property they've taken on and no idea of cost for work by the local builders etc, once this has sunk in its then that the penny drops and the honeymoon period is over,

It's times like this that a good expat system comes into its own and good solid friendships are made,

Ive found that the really good friends ive made are always willing to help out if needed and without being asked.
It takes very little time to find the free loader infact they will find you.
I myself are all for the friendship of both french and english

(I do of cause mean :wink: scotts/irish/welsh etc)

I pride myself that we make sure we give a warm welcome to anyone who calls on us and we never forget that we are the guest's in this country.

If you ever feel the need "Howfeness" to have a coffee and a chat? just let me know,

Regards, Danny.
Jun 2007
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by rayh • Fri 22 Jun 2007 12:23
It seems to me that Brits buy in France (or anywhere abroad) to establish a better lifestyle for themselves. This should include embracing the local way of life.

We have little chance of integrating if we ghettoise ourselves, so as Danny says, a compromise (now, there's a British trait!) is the best way forward.

Secondly, on the point about "givers" and "takers"

As some of us are on a steep learning curve, it may be that we will be more "takers" than "givers" for a while as we will draw upon the experiences of others. However, when we are in a position to offer advice or a cup of coffee, we will be more than happy to do so (when we have some furniture to sit on!)

So, until that happy day, I and all the new members appreciate the advice we can draw from this forum and look forward to the day when we can give more than we take.
May 2007
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by Mikeovers • Fri 22 Jun 2007 23:37
Interesting question, but the answer is very much dependent on the life style you choose to live in France. Many English people come here without any real idea of what it is like to live in one of the most under-populated areas of France, and if their only experience of this country is gained from holidays in coastal resorts, La Creuse must come as quite a shock!

If you can speak only a little, or no, French, living in a hamlet or small village will be fairly trying to say the least, and I'm certain that this kind of situation leads English speakers to want to get together for a chat, it's the most natural thing in the world. What is not natural however, is that this scenario is allowed to continue for any length of time. To live in small community without being able to engage in it's everyday life would be very frustrating, and it is a source of total bewilderment to most French people, who are naturally talkative, quite kind and good natured, eager to make friends, and, in the countryside, very curious.

We have lived here for three years, and during that time we have been the recipients of more kindness, generosity and help than it is possible to imagine, and have become firm friends with most of our neighbours. Neither of us are fluent in French, but we can hold a conversation about most things, politics included (but that's a dangerous path!), tell or understand a joke, and generally hold our own, and this has allowed us to be able to understand, a little bit, of the way our neighbours feel about "l'invasion anglais".

We were the first English people that any of our neighbours had ever spoken to, and they were deeply apprehensive about us, but when they found we could speak a little French, things became a good deal easier. We live in a little house that belonged to the grandmother of Maurice, the mason, half of our garden once belonged to Roget, the menusier's father, and so on. You get the picture, it's very parochial, but great fun. The neighbours kids come round pretty often, we get given fruit & vegetables all the time, we do a bit of shopping for anyone who needs it, I run an elderly friend to the train station in la Souterraine occasionally, Jan does an afternoon at the Red Cross most weeks, it's the same sort of swings and roundabouts life that we had in the UK, but far more tranquil.

Now, having said all that, I still enjoy occasionally talking with some of the British people who live in North Creuse, it's great to be able to revert to ones own language, exchange experiences, have a laugh, remember past times, and so on, and we are members of a little Anglo-French society, but we came here to enjoy the French life, not to perpetuate the Anglo Saxon one, and although I shall always be proud to be English, I am delighted to have been accepted as a French resident by my many friends and neighbours.

I am quite old, and although I am a trained engineer, and have worked in a lot of European countries, my parents and grandparents were country people, and the life here reminds me very much of my childhood and early youth, as D.H.Lawrence put it: "My manhood is cast down in a flood of remembrance, and I weep like a child for the past".

I'm sure all the English people who live here have different backgrounds, different hopes, and different ways of achieving them, it would be very boring if we were all the same, but in the end, this is France, not the UK, so enjoy your English friends, but remember that you live in your next door neighbours country of birth, and behave accordingly.

Regards, Mike
Nov 2004
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by james419 • Sat 23 Jun 2007 08:15
I agree with Mike to a large extent - we have been here for 2 years now and whilst we have some very good english friends have also made some very good french friends, both sets of frienship we value highly.

We have also met some Brits who seem to have a pride in making no attempt to learn french and feel the french should learn english,(or they have a tame brit who translates for them, we feel they are missing out on so much and aas Mike said they dont seem to have understood what rural french life is about before they made the move.

Having travelled through France for most of my life (half Dutch so traveliing home was often through France) either on holiday of for business I now enjoy yhe pace of life even with its frustrations, the OH was a nay nurse for 16 years and tralleved well (courtesy of RN) and has found her place her, the neighbours daughter often pops in for a chat !! Pigeon French - Pigeon English. Their son 11, comes round to practise his English as he will be studying English next year when he changes school.

We have experienced a generosity of spirit here that we never enjoyed living in the UK (everyone is too busy and we all had 6ft fences round our little plots to keep everyone else out.

All in all a good move to retire out here and never a moment of looking back.

We will never be french and dont want to be - we are us and happy with that. (years ago lived in North Yorkshire and was told in no uncertain terms that I would never be a Yorlshiremand as I had not been born there! Welcoming - not a bit of it, accepted here much more quickly)

Hey Ho back to the gardening and the animals - could not have themin the UK
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Sep 2005
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by moses • Sun 24 Jun 2007 02:18
yes it amazes me brits buy without the slightest effort on language my french is terrible but the neighbors are so welcoming its unreal but i did ask if they minded me buying a propety before i bought it(i was told they did mind in two hamlets so did not buy there)i have spoken in very basic pidgeon french language quite a few times with my neighbors and they always show lots of patience i think they understand im trying to learn and i always check even the slighest thing is ok before i do it,even though i own a property here i consider myself a guest and dont intened to blight there lives with poor attitude language is never a barrier with a smile on your face and a bottle of best scotch and have made french friends everywhere.
in the uk iv mostly only ever encountered jelousy nastiness etc etc off my neighbors which ended with my wife on anti depressants and moving from a house i spent years rebuilding (we had 2 neighbors from hell)at which point i bought a house in the creuse by accident after i stayed here a few times in gites and realised not everyone is like this and we wanted more of this lifestyle and always feel free when we are here.
im 10 times more wary of the english than the french these days, iv found a few that i really dont think should be here and will probably have no end of problems with the french but luckily my french neighbors are not so wary of me now they were to start with a little but strangely i have found the younger ones the worst for this the older ones are very patient and welcoming.
ps its called respect you receive as you give
Aug 2006
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by useless • Sun 24 Jun 2007 09:09
Anthony's comments certainly go some way to expressing my views, and his reasons for coming here are spookily close to mine! We've been here over eight years now & have had lots of ups & downs. We too are very wary of other Brits, much more so than any French, and I think this boils down to a sense of 'closeness'. We feel closer to other Brits we meet on first encounter, like meeting someone from your home town when you're thousands of miles from anywhere, we quickly share experiences, difficulties (language being the most obvious, culture & administration/laws of the land also) and a bond is quickly formed - a situation that would not arise back in Blighty, with people with whom one would not nessecerily mix or associate with, either. We seem to be attracted, initially by 'our own kind' - ie those of the same mother-tongue. This brings a false closeness, in my opinion, and one slips all too easily into a frequent and intense relationship, which is not wholly merited on the normal grounds of longevity, with which other more stable relationships are formed.

I love the French, their attitude, pragmatism, oblique sense of humour and their warmth, patience, passion, tolerence and understanding (especially of us 'foreign jonnys' and I am also proud to be a Brit. Although when I see the news from England I feel that their are fewer and fewer reasons to be proud to be associated with 'our sceptered Isle', even less proud to be recognised as a Brit (Anglais covers all in local vocab) when I see countless times, in countless ways, our fellow countryman behaving so arrogantly, rudely and being so down right bad mannered to these wonderful, warm community-minded, tolerant people, who have an awful lot to teach us - on so many levels - not to mention society as a whole!

So it rests as a bit of an enigma - pround (ish) to be British, proud and glad to be living here as a 'guest' - not being French, not having dual nationality - living somewhere in a no-mans land, but very, very happy to be here, with many, many French friends, and only a few good British ones - although I would stand up and fight to the death to defend them.

My experience is, (to respond to the title of this thread, and its various posts) that its irrelevant if someone is British, French, Dutch or Chinese, we are who we are and some people will get along fine together, and become friends, and others never will, despite language, culture, background etc. What I do find sad is that people seek out others from the same background, exclusively!!! They do this and miss out on so much, not to mention the gift of learning the language, on the hoof, as it were. I wish I had a pound, or euro, for every time I heard the old "Yes, but we can't speak their language" routine when it comes to mixing with the locals - they won't mix because they can't speak French, but they can't speak French because they won't mix with them!!!

I think its good that these issues are raised here and discussed, and views aired, this shows at the very least that some people care about their surrounding populous, and together, (all of us - Brits & French & the rest of the world) might have a chance to co-exist, and hey, even laugh and joke together in the years to come.

I have heard lots of Brits saying, both to the French and to other Brits that there are too many of us arriving here to stay. That's just jealousy isn't it? Keeping everything good for oneself. I agree that if the Brits out-weigh the locals by 2:1, then obviously the whole society changes, but come on, we must still be less than 1 percent of the local population by now. Be realistic, lets stop over analysing the situation - and get on with living it - life really is too short.

Well, that's my take on the subject, hope no-one feels too offended, I'm sure you'll let me know if you do!!
Jun 2006
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by danny • Sun 24 Jun 2007 13:58
I couldnt put it better, both useless and Moses have put it in a nut shell,
We couldnt have the garden/house the feeling of being able to leave our car unlocked on our own drive at night, the only thing we must lock is the hen house at night and thats due to the local fox,
We are the first in this hamlet (8 props) to have a in ground pool, its farming land and we had to ask and the first time NO was the reply,
it was our own neighbour who advised us about how to appeal, and since the pools gone in so many have said how good it looks and are pleased we got on ourselves with doing the house up.
We feel the locals are very much nice people and make sure we have that big smile and a wave.
Jun 2007
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by CaroleandClive • Tue 26 Jun 2007 15:19
Hello there

Just thought I'd add my tuppence...

I often think that the danger in groups in general can be that: and I give you a for instance, I've spent lots of time in the horse world, with people from A-Z and that's how they can be. Say the ONLY thing thing that got us together in a group, was we've all got a horse at a particular farm or yard. Now you could have people who know little or nothing about horses, and people from 5 - 70ish with all A-Z levels of sophistication and experience or not. People with little or no practical skills, intellectual skills, communication and social skillls, et al.

Translate the same thing to coming to France. Wealth of different reasons for coming, sophistication, methodology and experience to name but a few considerations.

oh and not forgetting, the language thing can't be underestimated, some people work at it, some don't.

And yes, sometimes you get your fingers burned, someone takes more than they give. But who wants to keep score. Things have a habit of working out as they are meant to somehow.

it was only going to be a quick one...
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Dec 2006
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by danny • Tue 26 Jun 2007 20:20
that was threepence worth,(joke)
You couldnt be more correct, who gives a dam anyway.

As Ive said Ive friends in all walks of life and you cant decide if youve made a friend until you try to get to know them,
If for any reason your not liking them or they dont like you, there is only one thing to do, spend as little time as you can in each others company,
and hope one day you both change and understand
the clock of life is still ticking, you get no browny points for living life to its end and know nothing about anything.
I didnt have a great liking for the teachers in school
but thanks to them I managed to feel an later understanding "they didnt have any special feelings for me at the time "
But now we are all older and wiser Im sure if we met again today both parties would have a very different view of each,

But having said my (two penny worth)
Its nice to have you both on line, welcome. :lol:
Jun 2007
Re: What do you think about Brits wanting to get together?
by moses • Wed 27 Jun 2007 00:18
yes i was the proverbial pain in the butt at school and why is it the lessons i failed at so badly FRENCH (i spelt my name right)is my major interest now ????????? poetic justice mrs deacon???????
ps carole yes it can be dangerous for a common interest to cloud your decision to be a friend with someone or not and i also think its a good idea to have occasional ad-hoc meet ups ie like the book swaps if it was too planned it would start becoming a club(that might be your cup of tea but not mine).
it is good to know a network of people that share a common interest it can prevent costly mistakes etc etc this is where these forums work very well.
Aug 2006
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