Okay so gone are the days when you simple log onto Anglo Info and chose your particular region in France for research purposes. Sorry Anglo franchises the world over but it’s true. Yes, they are still a relative good source of information but nowhere near as good as the hundreds of facebook groups out there for living in France. Or any country for that matter.
Now, I belong to quite a few and to be honest if I’d known about their existence prior to moving here – I probably would have done so sooner. In particular, the mums type groups. However, unbeknown to me I thought the traditional sites were my only source of information. And let’s be honest, lots have very negative comments. So much so this was the driving force behind this blog. I wanted to write about the positive aspects of moving to France with children rather than the “too late” type of comments posted by people who invariably never moved with children in the first place.
Why, I hadn’t thought of searching facebook I don’t know. Well I do. It’s only a relative new thing – the buy and sell in your region sites, swap, renovating etc. You can find a facebook group for near enough anything you so desire.
Now the internet is not a new thing. I started using it in 1999 – but facebook did not come into the picture, for me at least, until 2007 although it was founded in 2004. I always remember my friend (also called Tash) urged me to get on facebook. She’d moved to Hong Kong you see. She was only meant to be gone for 2 years – 12 years later she returned with 4 children and hubbie in tow and I moved to France #typical.
I was very skeptical and a bit of luddite. She convinced me it was safe and that we would be able to see the kids pictures etc and she was right. That was my reason for joining as I’m sure it was for many others. It’s been a fantastic way to communicate with friends and family. With the advent of facebook messenger it’s even easier to communicate – with a live video call no less. The internet has certainly made living anywhere in the world a whole lot easier.
Turning back to the topic in hand. Forums. I have to say that they can also be quite negative places to hang out in. So with out further ado and for a bit of fun, I have categorised them for ease of reference. You’re welcome.
Poster = person who asks a question ‘post’ on a forum on facebook.
The Mood Hoover
Their traditional name my be that of The Naysayer but I much prefer The Mood Hoover. You have invariably come across these people in your day-to-day life. You know the types. The person that sucks the life and energy out of a room. When you’re bursting with enthusiasm for an idea, a vision, a dream…a….yup… The Mood Hoover sucks the life and soul out of you in one fell swoop with their put downs, derisory comments and general negative attitude.
The Mood Hoovers (the collective term) are common place and are in no danger of becoming extinct. They have their traditional safe places to hang out sites like Anglo Info, Survive France and United in Normandy to name but a few. More recently, they have moved over to the facebook side. Like their name suggests they will basically tell who ever asks any question that France isn’t the place for them. They will be ready with a big fat virtual pin ready to burst anyones dream/happiness bubble.
They’re more than likely over the age 50 can be either male or female and will typically reply to these types of questions as follows:-
“Hi, I’m not yet retired, looking to get out of the rat race and wonder if I’ll get any work?”
“There are no jobs here” “It’s very difficult especially without French” “Best you stay put and spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been”
“Hi, I’m looking to move over with my children aged 11, 8 and 6”
“I wouldn’t you could ruin their lives and it’s so much difficult for them after the age of 2 and I know someone who’s children were so depressed they all ended up returning to the UK”. By the way this Mood Hoover probably has no kids and is of retirement age and knows no one with kids.
They’re not quite as balsy as my next contender but once the poster has retreated back into their shell, dreams shattered and scurried off to ponder what an earth they were thinking. Moving to France without a job? Their work here is done.
Oh my these just pop out of the blue. The are on every forum. Yes they can’t get enough of giving the poster a virtual smack across the face. Ouch! Never quite sure how influential The Aggressor is, the poster will normally back off straight away, which is what they have come to expect.
They are normally a middle-aged, embittered female who is raging. Raging with anger, jealousy, resentment, insert word – they’re raging so they are. Positively seething at those people who are coming over here, living the dream their dream when they’ve been here for years god damm it. They can barely contain the green-eyed monster of someone who innocently pipes up “we’ve just sold our large gated manor house in Buckinghamshire and plan to come over, renovate and with the massives of equity, run a gite business if we’re not too busy having lazy two hour lunches and eating lots of delicious bread”. Brace yourselves. The sheer vitriol has the impact of a small hand grenade as opposed to a large one? Mental note to self – make sense!
The Aggressor, in reality, probably needs a good counselling session but we don’t have time for that. They need to be dealt with quickly and taken down a peg or two. Do not be afraid to confront The Aggressor. If confronted they generally sprint off as fast as they can, sometimes storming out of the forum entirely (waves) and even deactivating themselves and then returning once the red mist has faded.
You see, they scare themselves as well. They generally will have an animal type picture as let’s face it who would really want to admit that they are so vile to people to the outside world. You have been warned aggressors. I will always take you down, take you down to China town!
Yup this one is obsessed with “have they got a siret number?” if you ask for any recommendations for a builder or trades person. They’ve probably been well and truly shafted by either a Brit or French person and ironically with a siret number. They seem to think (much like the Carte Vitale – golden ticket) that someone with a siret means a good job will ensue or at the very least you’ll have a comeback. Both are a nonsense.
Firstly, anyone can get a siret. This does not mean they’re going to do a good job. Equally have they ever tried to get money back from someone with a siret? Given that I had to go all Reggie Kray, to get a siret registered person that did fosse reports (or not as the case was), to get my money back. I am aware of how difficult, getting money back from anyone is, once you’ve parted with it. Siret or no siret. They also believe that the French do not work on the black. France is the only country in the world that doesn’t have a black economy. I mean seriously. They are too old to be this naive but yes they really want to tell you how to do your tax returns, live your life and generally make sure everyone is doing things by the book. George Orwell got it wrong in 1984 – it’s not the government that will be watching you – it’s the person on the forum. They mean well but we’re not all bumbling idiots just answer the question. Which leads me to my favourite type on a forum.
I love these people. I generally find them on the mums facebook groups (which can kick off just like any other) and like I said earlier I wish I read these before. They will simply answer the question you have asked. Oh wow. How can you not love these fantastic knowledgable people. You can ask them anything – whats whipping cream, how do I change my car plates, what’s the best mobile phone contract etc etc and they merely answer the question. Plain and simple. With not a hint of judgement attached which leads me to the next contender.
Whilst they will answer your question and will be knowledgable too, it will be laced with judgement and bit more for good measure. “What’s whipping cream” “X cream (see I’ve forgotten already) is the best for whipping and can be found in most supermarkets but why on earth you want to make a Victoria Sandwich when you now live in France is beyond me – I have embraced the French way of life”. Okay then.
“I’ve just moved over here with 4 children and would like to claim child allowance” – strap in – “Firstly yes you can claim benefits but what makes you think you should claim. Coming over claiming benefits. Don’t we have enough of this in the UK”. Not quite as nasty as The Aggressor and some can be both, depending on whether or not The Aggressor is having a good day but still. Take the answer and leave the judgement behind.
See what I did there – entreprise being the French word for business. No? Oh well.
Now these types love France – hooray! But they want you to buy everything here irrespective or not it’s 5 x dearer. They cannot understand the concept of budgeting. They cannot understand the logic that, by not using up your life savings to renovate your house, you can actually stay in France (the place that they love) indefinitely. Nope. Don’t get it.
You try to explain that funnily enough the biggest companies in the world have no problem with this concept. They have no loyalties to anyone except their shareholders. Does Amazon have a problem with paying zero tax by housing their American business in Ireland? Not a jot.
They’re still head scratching – why an earth you would not support the economy you are residing in? Erm because anyone with an ounce of business acumen will want to get the best price for their renovation project. Besides, individuals will make the choice on whether or not they will go for the convenient route depeding on cost v the outsourcing route.
For instance, Mr Normandy has purchased lots from Point P – by far not the most cheapest buiding merchant around – however, he often takes the view of time, travel and service. He’s no idiot and we will be importing the render for outside our home from Poland as it is 3 x cheaper than anywhere else.
Bill Gates has nothing to fear with these guys. I do however, like their wide-eyed naivety even though they will run out of money fairly soon.
So there you have it. My character assassination of people on forums.
Forums are great but sometimes they can be toxic so take from them what you will. Also remember that 95% of people on there are good eggs and you will get the information you are after. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did writing it.
10 thoughts on “The Trouble With France Forums”
Enjoying your posts tremendously – and I have to admit a special fondness for those like this one (and the one where you defiantly refused new rescue pets that were being thrust at you). Very very real and funny. Please keep writing these wry stories!
Hi Ellen – thanks so much for your lovely comment – I will keep writing as long aa people are enjoying it. This was so much fun to do!
Ooh Facebook groups. I love how you’ve identified all the types of poster. So many people out there seem to a) want us to have a bad time because they never dared have a time at all or b) feel small about our bold and daring life decisions. But there are the good ones too. I didn’t even think about looking fur much in the way of info before we came – but I’m playing catch up! Great post x
Hi Naomi – exactly I think also they want to put people off from coming! I looked up too much to be honest and wished I hadn’t! Thank you!
Hi Natasha, your appreciation of the french forums and the resident posters is spot on. I was a member (still am under another name) of the survive in france. I was until i spoke out what others secretly were thinking about one thread. Jeez it was like an atom bomb gone off. I found the residient posters to be so patronising, exhuberent in their attitudes it makes one want to pack up and go home (where ever that might be). Keep up the good work, it is refreshing to read .
Ahh thank you! Yes they are an absolute mine field aren’t they! I know what you mean I was totally ambushed on Ladies in Business in France as I said I was pretty chilled about not getting a Carte De Sejour! Thank you I do try!
I have visited France 3 times and in love with the country so finally, since I am getting retired, I have decided to move there. I am from the UK but live in the US and I am planning to relocate to France a city called Brive La Gaillard within the next 2 months.
The difference is this time, I am planning on bringing all my personal goods which is as much a full ocean container. I have read some of the regulation here:
But I am still not clear on what I am not allowed to bring? I am not sure if anyone here with a similar experience can refer me to a good customs broker in France who can help with clearing my items when the container arrives and arrange the delivery to my home. I don’t like to deal with hassle and headaches of getting my goods there and don’t mind to pay a little bit higher price for the service.
Any help will be greatly appreciated!
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Hi Vincent – congratulations with your move. Might I suggest you join some facebook forums for your query. There will be someone out there (probably lots!) that can advise you on this. I don’t, personally, have experience of shipping goods over as we were in the UK and did it all ourselves with two trips with a lorry. I chucked out loads of stuff which I regret as its more costly to buy goods etc over here. You could try ‘A New Life in France’ https://www.facebook.com/groups/191540411389482/ and ‘Expat Life In france’ https://www.facebook.com/groups/explatlifeinfrance/ and Expats in Bordeaux https://www.facebook.com/groups/WhatToDoInBordeaux/ – there will be lots of local groups like this english speakers etc so use the search in facebook for groups that you can join and you will find a wealth of information. All the best!