England to France - Expat Interview With Sarah

Published: 3 Dec at 1 PM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Sarah Hague moved to France on a romantic adventure to join a Frenchman and found herself living in the glorious South of France. After 26 years there, she got things nicely organised - her kids, job, hobbies, plus a lovely man who takes her motorbiking on the back of his chunky BMW bike. Sarah loves the life she has there, the boys do too. Sarah blogs at St Bloggie de Riviere (see listing here)

St Bloggie de Riviere

Here's the interview with Sarah...

Where are you originally from?
I'm from Hornchurch, Essex although my mum is Welsh and my dad came from the north west.

In which country and city are you living now?
I live just outside Montpellier, France.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been here since 1989. It's been so long I don't see much point moving back really.

St Bloggie de RiviereWhy did you move and what do you do?
I moved here to be with my then French boyfriend who I met at my French penfriend's wedding. He was the Best Man (in more ways than one). I work for the American Embassy in a US Gov biocontrol lab, and I write educational resources for kids in my spare time. You can find what I do on Bongollp.com - it's a way of fulfilling my need to be creative.

Did you bring family with you?
I did not bring my parents or brothers out with me to live with my then boyfriend, no. Actually they were pretty horrified that I up sticks for the 'enemy'.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Not easy. I really liked living in the UK, and back then French shops were not full of all the lovely British comfort food you can get now so I couldn't even make a decent cup of tea! It took me six months before I could speak French comfortably. It's much easier to integrate when you have children as you have to get out, get them involved in activities, school, etc., where you meet people.

St Bloggie de RiviereWas it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I mainly socialised with my boyfriend's friends who were doctors. I also made some friends when I became an English teacher. I found it, and still find it difficult making friends with French women. Most of my friends are British but I do have a couple of French friends. I don't choose my friends by nationality, but I like a limited number of people sufficiently for them to become my friends. I tend to have more of a laugh with Brits.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Hérault is a very beautiful region, with mountains, the sea (Mediterranean), beautiful villages and towns etc. It's great for cycling, walking, lazing on the beach, mooching round the villages. Montpellier has a very lively musical scene too.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love the weather - the sun and lack of rain, the beauty of the area and the fact that I'm living in a peaceful place which is also near the city. I also love the fact that in two hours we can be in Spain on the Costa Brava.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
I haven't lived in the UK for 25 years so I can't really compare. The wine is definitely cheaper here though. Cheers!

St Bloggie de RiviereWhat negatives, if any, are there to living here?
French admin is well known for being a nightmare. It's even worse trying to set up a business. Being an entrepreneur is a mug's game here. French law is incomprehensible and open to interpretation. Local politics and business are very influenced by who you know.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Don't expect to find a job, especially if you don't speak French.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Getting a divorce. The legal system is a nightmare.

St Bloggie de RiviereTell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog is like a diary. I used to keep a diary as a child, and I enjoy writing down thoughts, experiences, opinions and even rants. I use it as an aide memoire for my holidays and trips, somewhere where I post a few photos and write up what we did. It's a personal blog so if people like the way I write and the subjects I write about, they read it and if they don't they stop. I'm lucky in that I've made some excellent online friends whose friendship I value greatly.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be emailed on sarah{at}sarahhague{dot}com but there are others who are way better qualified to give advice than me. I just live and work here with my kids and cat.

Sarah blogs at http://www.sarahhague.com/ which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. St Bloggie de Riviere has an ExpatsBlog.com listing here with some great comments already - but there's always room for more, so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Sarah, please let her know by leaving a comment below.
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Comments » There are 6 comments

Curry Queen wrote 11 years ago:

Interesting to learn more about you Sarah and your life in France!

Jody Brettkelly wrote 11 years ago:

Sarah, it's been so lovely getting to know you even better from these questions! For anyone just reading this Sarah's blog is a fabulous mix of intellect and fun, great writing and a jolly good chortle. Like the description of you on your boyfriend's chunky bike.

MuMuGB wrote 11 years ago:

I miss the sun too! I can't believe that you find it difficult to find a French female friend...Are we really this bad?

Joanna wrote 11 years ago:

Great to know a little more about Miss Bloggie de Rivière. It's a fabulous blog, precisely because it isn't "just" about being an expat, but so more more, with a good dose of cracking humour. I recommend a visit if you haven't already been for a read; you'll be hooked!

Pecora Nera wrote 10 years ago:

Way to go Sarah :) Keep up the blogging.

Perpetua wrote 11 years ago:

Well done, Sarah. As one of your blog readers, I've learned a bit more about you here and I so agree with your advice to would-be expats in France. Learning the language is essential.

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