I was born in France in a small region in the centre of France called Auvergne, which main city, Clermont-Ferrand, is world famous (no kidding) for being the headquarters of the Michelin brand of tires. Other than that there are volcanoes (extinct), thermal waters and it’s a great spot for those who love nature and outdoor adventures. I have also lived in the South of France near Perpignan and the Spanish border. This is where I got a taste for hot climates… then I moved to the UK, go figure!
In all my years in France I’ve had the chance to visit many places, among which Paris, the Alps regions (South East), the Mediterranean cost (South), the Atlantic cost (South West), Cannes, Nice, Toulouse, Poitier… I even drove all the way from Birmingham, UK to centre of France twice (seen a few places along the way).
France, in Western Europe, is a country of many faces. It’s got it all. Really! What other country has got mountains, high plateaus, the ocean, the sea, volcanoes as well as a variety of climates to suit everyone’s fancy. It’s the perfect country if you like food, fashion, art, nature… As i said it’s got everything. And don’t fall for the typical tourist trap: while Paris certainly is a beautiful city, it is NOT France! The country has much more to offer than the City of Light so don’t get stuck on google looking at Paris, be a little adventurous and look out other places too.
As a serial expat, I only make infrequent visits to France but it’s got its good side too. A trip to France now feels like going abroad. Being a tourist in my own country is pretty awesome as I get to (re)discover places I had taken for granted for too long. With family based mainly in Auvergne and the Black Mountain region in the south of France I get my fill of nature, adventures and incredible places. There is so much to do and see…
Don’t take my word for it. Just scroll down down to the picture gallery or search the blog for posts on France and see for yourself.
It’s been more than 10 years since I left France to start a life as a serial expat. France is now a holiday destinations for me, no longer a home but not quite foreign either.
So where is the culture shock, you’re asking?
Reverse Culture Shock is something I had read about (under various names) and that I always thought was a bit of a joke. After moving to Libya in 2012 and 10 years spent in the UK, coming back to France was a very strange experience.
The country was not the same anymore, they had the Euro, the economic crisis had been there and its disastrous repercussions could be felt, life was more expensive than I had ever known it. In June 2011, last time I was in France for a long period (I stayed 3 months) I blew all my savings on basic shopping and necessary items! I just couldn’t wait to leave as I couldn’t afford to stay anymore.
People too are different when you come back after so long: they have grown up, gotten married, divorced, passed away… even family members can feel like strangers. You sit there at family dinners without a clue of what they’re all talking about.
And when the conversation turns to you and your ‘adventures’ abroad (because for many it’s hard to understand this is a long term lifestyle choice), you realise that people get bored pretty fast of your “when I was here and there”. Since they haven’t been here and there, they can’t relate much and past the polite curiosity period, you are left talking to yourself!
If you need help planning your next vacation in France You can contact me or leave a comment below.