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Expat Spotlight: Clare Elizabeth’s Top 3 Tips for France

After a couple of years travelling in a clapped out camper van in my early twenties with my then husband-to-be, settling back into life in The UK was hard. I missed the colour, the atmosphere, the varied landscapes and the cuisine of Europe.

So 18 months later, in September 2005, my husband and I along with our baby girl took the plunge and bought a house in the Corrèze, in central France. The house was barely habitable, but with a lot of hard work and determination, we created ourselves a beautiful home.

However, 2 more children down the line and in need of something bigger, we sold up in 2009 and settled here in the North East corner of the Allier. Our lovely farmhouse sits on the top of a hill overlooking the Loire valley, with views into the distance of the Massif Centrale.

My husband now works as an artisan, helping out other expats with jobs in their homes and gardens, and I do a variety of things to keep myself busy. I recently gave up my waitressing job in a local restaurant in order to fulfill some other ambitions.

As a lover of French interior style and vintage decor, I scour brocantes and vide-greniers for homeware and accessories to sell online. Alongside that, I lead singing and vocal workshops for children and teenagers in schools and community centres, as well as writing a blog about my life here in France; www.clarelizabeth.com .

All in all, as a family we have made life as expats work for us with great success. We manage to earn a living, we have a comfortable home and our 3 bilingual girls love their village schools. I spend my free time walking along the banks of the Loire, cooking delicious French food, and enjoying good local wines and cheeses. C’est la belle vie!

Top 3 favorite foods in France?

1) Cheese! – My ultimate favourites are Saint Félicien, Boursault and Bleu d’Auvergne.
2) Bread – You just can’t beat a good baguette from an artisan boulanger.
3) Moelleux au chocolat – warm chocolate pudding with an oozy centre.

Top 3 tips for new expats in France?


1) Don’t be afraid to get out there and talk to locals. Your neighbours can be your lifeline!
2) Remember you can achieve anything you want to here, just as you can in your home country. Just work hard at overcoming the hurdles especially the language.
3) Don’t be intimidated by French bureaucracy. It will take time for you to understand how things work (I’m not denying it’s complicated!) but you’ll get there in the end if you do the research.

Top 3 tips for travelers in France?


1) Explore the lesser known areas of France. There are so many beautiful landscapes, don’t just stick to the tourist trail.
2) Be adventurous with food. I am constantly discovering new dishes and foods that I’ve never considered trying before. You won’t find them when you get home!
3) Take advantage of local specialities. For example, if you’re visiting a coastal town, sample the local seafood and fish, or if you’re here on the border of Burgundy, eat Charollais beef dishes at enjoy local wines.

Top 3 tips for what to pack for France?


1) Clothes for all weathers – the temperature can be unpredictable even in August.
2) Your camera – to record all the amazing scenery, food, and architecture.
3) Painkillers – I’m not saying you’re likely to drink one glass of wine too many (though you might!) but a box of paracetamol costs 10 times the amount here than it does in the UK!

Top 3 favorite places in France


1) Lake Annecy – It’s just magical.
2) The coast around Collioure – The food, climate, scenery and villages are stunning.
3) Lyon – So much to offer and amazing traditional ‘bouchons’.

For more tips on France, watch for posts on the France blog and follow www.clarelizabeth.com .

Interested in contributing? Contact erin {at} insidersabroad {dot} com!

Published February 16th by Clare_Elizabeth
Posted to Inside Secrets to France

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