Having fallen for a French girl whilst working as a barman in the Dordogne one summer, it was perhaps inevitable that I would one day live in France. I was studying French at university when we first met and the relationship enabled me to perfect my language skills and obtain a real insight into the French psyche. The last part, in particular, has served me well during holidays to France and even more so since we made a permanent move here in 2012.
As an example, each year for the past few years, I have spent 7-10 days bicycle touring around the French countryside with friends from university. They also love France and one of them has a good enough grasp of French to make himself understood in most situations. However, during our most recent trip away, they revealed that they enjoy having me along with them on tour because when I’m around to do the linguistic heavy lifting, they get better treatment in comparison to when I’m not there.
Although some people may have been offended to learn that it wasn’t for their great stories and brilliant sense of humour that their friends enjoy having them around, I was actually really flattered. It’s taken me years of hard work to raise my French to the standard of fluent (I can actually make a French person believe I’m French for a while) and it was great to receive confirmation that it’s a valuable skill to others, as well as allowing me to live in a foreign country and still communicate with those around me.
Since we moved here permanently, the value of this skill has become even more apparent. The Dordogne is a huge draw for English expats thanks to its climate, landscape and way of life. I have met numerous other English people already living here and they too have been impressed with my ability to get things done in France.
Having gone through the process of setting up a life in France, I have been exposed to most of the administrative hurdles required to do so e.g. taxation, social security, registering as self employed, buying property, opening a bank account, working with architects and builders, applying for planning permission, joining clubs and societies, subscribing to water, gas and electricity suppliers, receiving English TV in France, etc. and know where to go, who to see and the pitfalls to be avoided. Based on the feedback I’ve received from assisting others abroad, I decided to put my language skills as well as IT, web and photographic skills to use and came up with Franglais-Services.
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