The joys of living in an 'expat no-go zone'

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The joys of living in an 'expat no-go zone'
Verdun, Lorraine, a huge region in north-eastern France with few expats. Photo: Antonio Ponte/Flickr

British expats in France tell us the benefits of living in some of the country's "expat no-go zones", areas where the expats are few but the quality of life competes with even the most popular regions.


Late last month, we took a look at where exactly all the Brits live in France.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the stats from France’s National Statistics Agency INSEE showed of the almost 160,000 Brits in France, most congregated in places like Paris, Poitou-Charentes and Brittany while almost ignoring other areas completely (see the map below for exact details).
But the Brits living in those areas, which we dubbed the "expat no-go zones" of France, have contacted us to tell us why they love their corner of the country. 
(NB: The number for Poitou Charentes should read 16,300)

(The map above shows exactly how many Brits live in each region)
Rebecca Pintre - Location, location, location
Rebecca Pintre says she is delighted to be among the 850 Brits living in Lorraine, where she's just a five hours' drive from Calais and thirty minutes from Luxembourg airport.
"Lorraine is big. I am in the corner which borders Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium. We came here from Paris for one reason: Luxembourg. We joined the army of cross border workers - over 100,000 of us cross into Luxembourg every weekday morning, and back again in the evening," she tells The Local.

(The town of Nancy, in Lorraine, south of Pictre's home. Photo: MorBCN/Flickr)
"The houses here are rented at approximately half the price they are in Luxembourg, so we chose to live in France. We are at the heart of Europe - Paris, Frankfurt, Brussels, the Black Forest, Alsace, all within a three-hour drive. We live in a very rural, quiet village with all the advantages of a capital city just 20 minutes’ away (ahem, outside of rush hour!)
"The local history is fascinating, and the architecture, food, and the local dialect (le Platt) is influenced by the neighbouring countries. We also have good wine. And lastly, the best fish and chips I have ever had on the continent was just 5km from my home, over the border in Luxembourg. Not the same, of course, but is it ever?"
Lesley Polley - Why return home?
Facebook follower Lesley Polley is among the 2,300 living in Burgundy and she says it has been a "fabulous experience" so far. 
"We are Brits living in Burgundy," she says. "And we absolutely love it."
"We've been here nearly nine years and despite being of a 'mature' age I found work teaching at the university in Dijon almost from the beginning - even though I wasn't a teacher in England. My husband is kept extremely busy cooking for the guests at our Bed and Breakfast - La Bagnosienne. I'm also on the municipal council. Any support we have had comes mostly from our super French neighbours and we have no intention at this time of returning to the UK. 

(The courtyard of Polley's Bed and Breakfast. Photo: La Bagnoisiene)
Pat Green - Escaping the Brits
Pat Green in Haute Cote d'Or, Burgundy, says she chose the area because "we didn't want to be surrounded by Brits". 
"We had plenty of support from the French when we arrived and I was voted on to the municipal council within the first six months. We do also have British friends and enjoy the variety," she adds. 

(The Dijon prefecture. Photo: Christophe.Finot/WikiCommons)
Tracy Thurling - Who needs other expats?
Tracy Thurling in Burgundy says she also loves living in an area that's not "overrun by expats".
"I count myself as an immigrant, not an expat, as I chose to live here. Our children were born when we lived in Chamonix where one in five of the residents at the time were non-French. It made it tough for them to learn French. Here in a Catholic school of 1,300 children, there is only one other English-speaking family.
"We enjoy the French lifestyle and culture precisely because it is very different and not British whereas in somewhere like Chamonix, it was perfectly possible to live a totally British lifestyle. This lack of French language and culture (along with inflated property prices) led to a great deal of resentment from the local people as all Brits got lumped together while here in Burgundy we are still novel enough for people to chat to us to find out why we came here. 
There are plenty of English-speaking people in the season as Beaune is a popular tourist destination (indeed I work in tourism offering tours at Burgundy By Request) but out of season we turn our heads and stare when we hear someone speaking English. I love it - I have no intention of ever going to live in the UK again."

(Stunning Beaune. Photo: Mkfsca/Flickr)



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