Canadian Expat Living in France - Interview with Ashley

Published: 10 Mar at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,France
Ashley is a Canadian freelance photographer living in Provence, France. With her blog, CuriousProvence, she shares her passion for cooking, the markets of Provence and the Provencal lifestyle. Ashley's expat blog is called Curious Provence (see listing here)

Coffee at Eygalieres market where I provide market tours.
Coffee at Eygalieres market where I provide market tours.

Here's the interview with Ashley...

Where are you originally from?
Montréal, Canada.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm currently living in Les Alpilles, which is the olive growing region of Provence, France. I'm surrounded by olive groves and mountains!

How long have you lived in France and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been in Provence for three and a half years now. The plan is to stay here indefinitely.

Acacia flowers ready to be fried in a traditional Provencal recipe.
Acacia flowers ready to be fried in a traditional Provencal recipe.
Why did you move to France and what do you do?
I moved here because my partner, who is British, is a complete francophile. I was happy as long as we were in Europe and we had the sunshine. Southern France was the best option as we both spoke some French. I'm a freelance photographer but I also spend a lot of time blogging as well as giving market tours.

Did you bring family with you?
I moved with my partner.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
I found the transition very difficult. There are many ways that I've assimilated and many ways that I have not. The hardest thing, other than finding work, is having no support network. I'm only now, after 3 years, starting to make friends here.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I do mainly socialize with expats. This was not the plan. However, I've found that I crave that easy flow of conversation as well as the fact that we already have something in common. The French friends I've made all have one thing in common; they are very interested in the anglophone world or can speak French.

Provencal lavender.
Provencal lavender.
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Provence is wonderful because you have the ocean, the mountains, and chic little towns all a car ride away. There is so much to do here that I can't even begin to describe them. Contact me and I'll make an itinerary for you!

What do you enjoy most about living in France?
The quality of the produce. I just recently visited the States and was appalled at how the chicken had no flavour, the fruit had no flavour. It was quite depressing. I'm seriously in love with food. This is the right place for me. French people are always thinking about their next meal. It's normal here. I would be a bit odd in North America or Britain!

How does the cost of living in France compare to home?
This is a tricky one. Clothes and electronics are much more expensive here. High-quality food products are much less expensive. I live in Provence, which is particularly pricey for real estate.

Fresh figs from the market.
Fresh figs from the market.
What negatives, if any, are there to living in France?
The lack of customer service. Having to do everything in a second language can be a huge drawback. Not knowing all the little social customs, as for expats anywhere, can be difficult as well. Also, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, it tends to be frowned upon in France.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to France, what would it be?
Move here with a job already in place that gives you a French contract. You can't do anything without a French work contract.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
People taking advantage of our not being from here and not providing French contacts for work.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I most likely won't return home. I miss parts of it dearly. However, I feel that the longer the stay, the more French I become. I will have trouble living anywhere else.

With the patina doors we bought for our house renovation.
With the patina doors we bought for our house renovation.
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. When moving to France, you must move here with a job that will provide you with a French contract. A CDD or even better, a CDI contract.
  2. Meet as many people as you can. Don't be shy. Meet expats. They'll often lead you to locals.
  3. Learn the language! Perhaps this is obvious. The best way to learn is practice. If this means taking a minimum wage job just to improve then do it.
  4. Stay positive. Many things will get you down when you move to another country. For the first while, you may fixate only on the negatives. Remind yourself that where you came from isn't perfect either.
  5. Stay in touch. Make sure to stay in touch diligently with friends and family at home. They will provide you with the needed shot of familiarity from time to time.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Curious Provence has many photos and information on the best things to do and see in Provence, on our house renovation, as well as the best Provencal markets. You'll also find my favourite recipes and information on weekend trips around the world.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?

About the author

Expat Blog ListingAshley is a Canadian expat living in France. Blog description: Curious Provence features the best things to see and do in Provence, as well as the expat experience from the perspective of an anglophone in France. You'll find lots of beautiful photos and inspiration for your next trip.
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