Retiring to France is a big step. It’s an even bigger step when moving from one side of the world to the other. In 2014, Australians Jennie and Dennis packed up their Melbourne lifestyle and made the move to Languedoc with their dog, Scooter. We asked Jennie, now living in a small town south of Carcassonne, to describe life in her newly adopted homeland.
Why did you decide to move to France?
We have travelled to France many times and love the easy relaxed lifestyle and the people who were very friendly. We spent several weeks exploring the south because it’s just so much warmer here than northern France, for Australians anyway. We chose the town of Quillan because although it has 3200 residents, it’s fairly quiet and is really well situated for airports and hospitals. It has everything we need when we get older.
How were you employed in Australia?
Dennis was in the police force for 40 years. I was a Manager in Facility Management for local and state government in Melbourne.
What do you miss about your home country?
We miss the family of course, and friends, but communication by Skype makes things a lot easier. We ring the children every week and go back for a couple of weeks every year. Friends and family try to visit us too, but it is a long way. Other Australians might understand that I also miss DimSim and Vegemite!
Did you buy or rent a house in France?
We bought a house that has apartments attached. Whilst we renovated the house we lived in the apartments, but now we rent them out to guests for short or long term stays.
What are your favourite things about living in France?
Too many things to mention! The scenery is truly outstanding – I wake up to astonishing sunrises and beautiful mountain views from my own front door. There’s so much to explore too, every day we can choose somewhere new to visit.
Do you speak French?
A little, but we are learning and we seem to get by. We brought the dog and our furniture over from Australia and all the transportation communications were by email. That made the translation process a bit easier because we could take our time to respond.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
The visa paperwork! There’s so much of it and we even had to go to Montpellier for the health screening. Fortunately we can now do the renewals closer to home in Carcassonne. It’s a shame Renestance was not around at the time we relocated because it would have been a really helpful service.
What do you think of French food?
It’s fantastic – I haven’t had a bad meal here yet. In this area it’s fairly rustic but the produce is always really fresh. In our town alone there are 17 restaurants and cafés – so there’s plenty of choice and market days are twice a week.
Have you made friends whilst living here?
Yes, our English speaking friends are mainly British but we have some American and Canadian friends too. We get on very well with our French neighbours and are invited to a 50th birthday party on Saturday – it’s our first invitation to an event like that so I’m really looking forward to it.
Has anything surprised you since living in France?
The French sense of humour is really different – I cracked a joke with a local shop owner but he thought I was being serious!
What would be your top tip to someone considering a move from Australia to France?
Do it! If you don’t, you’ll regret it when you’re older.
Jennie’s apartments Quillan Views are available to rent all year round. For more details visit www.quillanviews.com
Annette is Renestance’s 'go to' girl for all things marketing and social media. Bilingual and originally from Surrey in the UK, Annette has lived in France since 2008. In addition to her web design and marketing consultancy, Annette is the founder of Languedoc Jelly (a network of free events across the region for anyone working from home) and also Urban Sketchers Languedoc (part of a global community of people that like to draw or paint on location). A fan of all things French and Franglaise, she also has a Citroen 2CV called Beryl.
All articles by: Annette Morris