How to get along with the French
Stephanie, her father Stephen and her son Carter first appeared on A Place in the Sun three years ago when Jasmine helped them to look for a property for glamping or gites, for £270,000, in the Charente, western France.
After renovating it themselves, and Carter happily settled in school, the family appeared on A Place in the Sun – What Happened Next? Showing off their lovely new cabin house (which they live in during the summer when guests stay in the main house), Stephanie looks right at home but is integrating really that easy?
Stephanie's top tips for living in France
- Be prepared to blag. I try my best in Brico and rely on Google Translate but if you get the wrong tin of paint there it’s expensive – at around £90 a tin [Brico Dépôt is a chain of DIY stores].
- Radiate warmth and courtesy when you attempt your French and you will get a better reception.
- Make friends with the neighbours. Fabrice next door can’t speak a word of English but him and Stephen enjoy a cognac whilst working on the vines. Reciprocate any offers of help with your property.
- Such neighbours can be a vital source of tradesmen. Don’t use what the French call ‘P&O builders’ – British that come over to help on British-owned homes and come unstuck with the unfamiliar.
- Know your etiquette. When everyone says hello when you walk into the boulangerie, do it too. Asking a senior person if they are well using ‘Ca va?’ lacks respect – they expect Comment Ca va?
Fancy a taste of La France profonde? Book a stay at Stephanie’s house.
Quick Fire Five
1. Favourite French dish?
2. Best local shop
Brico (yes really!)
3. Most frustrating thing in French life
Not having the vocab to make certain phone calls
4. What do you most from the UK?
Prawn cocktail crisps
5. If you do one local thing…
Visit Aubeterre-sur-Dronne: beautiful town with amazing monolithic church.