British Expat Living in France - Interview With Anneli

Published: 30 May at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Anneli moved to France 6 years ago with her husband. Her love affair with France began some years before when her parents-in-law moved to Gascony and she began to holiday there annually. Having come from a hectic job at MTV, based in London, she felt it was time to change her life and settle somewhere quieter and start a family. She now lives in a 300 year old farmhouse in the middle of a field with rolling countryside as far as the eye can see and two energetic young children! She started writing her food blog - Delicieux - almost 2 years ago to be able to share her love of food and the inspirational cuisine of SW France. She is passionate about seasonal ingredients with a thriving vegetable patch and access to local daily markets. For her, Gascony is a foodie idyll. Anneli's expat blog is called Delicieux (see listing here)

Meet Anneli - British expat living in France
Meet Anneli - British expat living in France

Here's the interview with Anneli...

Where are you originally from?

In which country and city are you living now?
France, Gascony, Larroque-Saint-Sernin

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
6 years. I hope to stay forever!

Why did you move and what do you do?
My husbands parents moved here 12 years ago and we fell in love with Gascony through them. In 2005, we got married here in a Chateau and we knew we wanted to move here. An opportunity for me to take voluntary redundancy from my job at MTV arose so I jumped at the chance. And so here we are! My husband is a web designer and can work here remotely for his clients. We also have a small gite as part of our house. And I write my food blog and do occasional private dining cooking.

These are my kids - Kara & Zack
These are my kids - Kara & Zack
Did you bring family with you?
I had my two children out here - My daughter is 4 and my son is 2. My parents also live here, just 7 minutes down the road in fact! And my husbands sister and her family. And his parents too. We are all here and it really helps. It's a unique situation for so many of us to have moved out to France within 1 hour of each other but it means our kids can experience a full family life. We are very lucky.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The hardest time for me was when I had just had my first child and I felt quite isolated as we live in the middle of the countryside with no neighbours. There is not a lot going on for young Mums and I saw my UK friends having kids and having access to clubs and NCT groups and getting lots of support. I thought about going back to the UK but my husband said I should try a little harder to put myself out there to make friends and meet other Mums. I took that on board and started to make more effort and I finally started to meet other Mums with young kids. It made all the difference. Now I am part of lots of Mums groups and have such a busy social life that there is hardly a moment spare! It was hard work at first but the effort has paid off.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It is harder to make French friends because we are not fluent in French. We can hold our own but it can be hard to make close connections when the language is a bit of a barrier. So we do mostly socialise with other Brits. But there are a lot of us here so it's a lot of fun. It did take us some time to find people like us. The first couple of years here were very quiet. But 6 years on and we have a good network now.

This is our 300 year old farmhouse
This is our 300 year old farmhouse
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Being a food blogger, I am always inspired and excited by the local food culture. Great restaurants, amazing daily markets and local produce. In the Summer, the local Fetes held by each of the villages in the area are always fun and full of life. Also the many Vide Grenier (like car boot sales) and Brocantes (antique fairs) and also great. Then there are music festivals like Jazz in Marciac every year or Tempo Latino in Vic Fezensac or the Country & Western festival in Mirande. These events are great and very popular, with live music, street food and bars and entertainment through the night. The French certainly know how to party!

What do you enjoy most about living here?
The beautiful countryside, the calmness and peace. Having lived in London before we moved here, I now love the pace of life here and the country living. And the food and wine of course!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
I think it's about the same. Some things are cheaper of course, namely wine. But then some things are more expensive, like cars, or DIY equipment. It is a mistake to think that everything is cheaper here. And we Brits have suffered with the currency rate as well over the last few years.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
There is not much in the way of good shopping unless you go to a big town like Toulouse. There is definitely less choice with things than in the UK. Also, the Winters are cold and very, very quiet. It can be hard to occupy the kids when you can't be outside.

This is a view of our house from the road
This is a view of our house from the road
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Make sure you have a solid source of income. A gite alone is not enough! You still need to be able to earn proper money.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I find the French paper work and bureaucracy quite hard at times. Naturally it is partly my own fault as I need to improve my French. But they do like to take their time about things and can be very particular and stubborn about rules and paperwork. Oh how they love paperwork!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Take your time in choosing the right house to buy. It is a buyers market and many people fall in love with the first property they see and get caught up in the dream without doing proper research.
  2. Make sure to foster a good relationship with your local Mayor and get involved in village life. It is very important not to isolate yourself from your community out of fear or because of language. Get stuck in and they will appreciate your effort.
  3. Make an effort to learn the language. It's amazing how many expats I meet who have no interest in speaking French. Life will be a lot easier for you if you can speak the lingo and the French will respect you for trying.
  4. Be realistic about your finances. Having a gite alone will not provide sufficient income to live on. The cost of living is not really cheaper and you need to keep that in mind.
  5. You will need to put in lots of effort to meet new friends if you live rurally. It takes time so keep at it and you will find people you click with.

This is an example of my food - A Traditional Gascon Salad
This is an example of my food - A Traditional Gascon Salad
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started Delicieux nearly 2 years ago. I am food obsessed and I am fascinated by what other people are eating so I thought that people might find my recipes interesting too! I am inspired daily by the food and traditions of this region of France. I live in a 300 year old farmhouse and I love the notion that I am honouring those traditions and recipes that have been cooked in my kitchen over the centuries. In my blog I share my new discoveries and my passion for ingredients. It is truly my labour of love.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
People can contact me through my blog, Twitter @Delicieux_fr and Facebook page:

Anneli blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Delicieux has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Anneli, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There is 1 comment

Ginster Michel wrote 10 years ago:

Anneli, I enjoy your blog for foodies and I can relate to your situation in France, we have moved here from Germany 6 months ago. I am member of the Ladies Lunch Club Gers... Feel lucky to have them around, so many questions can be answered during a pleasant luncheon in the nice restaurants of the region. Good luck to you

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