Apart from my job as webmaster of Immogo, I have also kept a Dutch web log with daily tips about France, with an ongoing discussion about France in a alternately humorous, vivid, knowledgeable and ignorant atmosphere. The nice thing about it is that people are evidently interested in France for many different reasons. Let’s try and make an inventory of the people who (want to) move to France. Or not.
First of all, of course, you have the real Francophiles. They know the wine atlas by heart, have their own addresses for monks cheese, goats cheese and she-ass cheese, blue veined or not, and talk about the perfect glass of Chateaubriand with their Médaillon de Veau aux truffes. They are the people who bring home stories about obscure restaurants with a divine cuisine, where they have lived in an olfactory and tasting paradise for a few moments and only a few sous. Those who happened upon a chambres d’hôtes owned by a dying countess, who showed them a cellar full of oenological masterpieces. And who would not want to live in France for anything in the world, because their stories would not be considered as interesting by the French as by the bumpkins at home.
Then you have the sunbathers. They only want one thing: Go south as quickly as possible, to the same campsite every year, to get undressed and lie down on the beach or in front of the caravan. Mostly they don’t speak a word of French and they don’t have to, because the owner of the campsite is a multilingual Dutch and the French waiter in the restaurant is able to recite the whole menu in Dutch as well. With an awful French accent, but we won’t mind. But then, Dutch is a difficult language for the French. You can’t blame them. At least they try. They do so because we’re not German.
And of course there is an intermediate category, of people who just like touring around France, do what they can to speak French and enjoy culture and nature at least as much as they enjoy the sun. They don’t count the cathedrals they’ve seen and will also take refuge in a hotel if the weather’s too bad to set up the tent. A very sympathetic group, with only one disadvantage: You can’t make fun of them.
That’s all about the holiday people. Then you have the emigrants. Let me try to sort them in categories
Adventurers. Yes, some people move to France just because they have that possibility and because they want to give it a try. I am one of them. But this category is much more complex than that. In my opinion you’re not very adventurous if you can just bring your work with you and do speak some French to begin with. Your basic income is maintained and you just move within Europe. You could have gone to Friesland instead, that would have been the same thing. Although at second thought, it might have been more adventurous with all those Frisians.
No, I think the real adventurers are the ones who give up their job in The Netherlands, sell all they have and start all over again in France. I have friends in the Morvan who did just that. At the time, their daughter was three years old and their son several months. That’s what I call adventure! Fortunately everything turned out well for them, but it could have been much worse.
Concerning the pensioners, they are either permanent movers who do not fit into the adventurers because they have a fixed income in The Netherlands. Or they are holiday people, who can be sorted in Francophiles, sunbathers and the category in between.
A second important category of emigrants, in my opinion, is the refugees. For instance the people who were unable to make a living in their own country and have left for that reason, many of them farmers willing to reinvent the milk quota over here. But I think a much bigger group moved to France because they went mad in Holland. They did not choose to go to France, they chose to leave Holland.
They are the people who are fed up with ‘Holland with all the rules’, ‘the insecurity’ and ‘the immigrants’. They wake up quickly after moving here because in France the paperwork is even worse than in Holland and teachers are not safe here either. And then, more and more foreigners arrive here as well, refusing to integrate. These immigrants often stick together and keep speaking their own language. They also bring dozens of their family members to France every year. Who bring in as much stuff as possible from their homeland, since these badly integrated immigrants can’t live without some essential things like peanut butter, liquorice and Dutch cheese.