Expat Voices: Delorys Welch-Tyson on living in France
Delorys first arrived in Nice airport to a balmy 20° Celsius and has never looked back. Like many others though, she is frustrated by France's ever-evolving bureaucracy.
Name: Delorys Welch-Tyson
City of residence: Villefranche Sur Mer
Date of birth: I’m not telling
Civil status: Married
Occupation: Author and Artist
Reason for moving to France: I fell in love with the South of France the first time I visited many years ago. I returned every year for longer and longer stretches of time until my husband was able to retire here and I was able to comfortably pursue my career as a writer from Europe and jump start my career as a painter.
How long have you lived in France? We arrived in France in 1999 on an incredibly gorgeous February day prepared to make the South of France our new home.
When we left JFK for Nice, it was one of the coldest nights of the year…-1° Farenheit with an added wind chill factor. When we arrived at Nice Côte d’Azur airport it was a golden and balmy 20° Celsius. We arrived at our new home in a Cabriolet with the top down.
What was your first impression of France? As a Native New Yorker growing up in Manhattan and a student of Fine Arts, it was encouraged and expected that I would spend some time in my life in France. My first time in France was in Paris, the summer before my junior year at New York University. As a struggling student I found Paris to be curiously dreary, defensively arrogant, it seemed - and expensive. Despite the magnificent gardens and architecture, I had this nagging feeling that Paris was the kind of place where the citizens surreptitiously swept debris under the flowers…so to speak. After a while I came to realize that my first impression was partially colored by the impact of the policies at that time of the Nixon administration on Europe in general.
Need I say more?
I’ve since grown to love Paris, it’s diverse population…the parks… the art galleries…museés…marchés… boutiques, bucheries…epiceries…boulangeries…. and actually divide my time between the City of Light and the South of France.
What do you think of the food? I love French cuisine. The portions in restaurants have appeared to become more copious since I first visited France, many, many years ago. Or perhaps, I’m just no longer a struggling student.
I also love the fact that France offers the highest quality of foreign restaurants to choose from as well. Since I also love to cook, I am elated to discover that I can find ingredients for almost every type of cuisine in the world in the various shops, here in the South and in Paris.
What do you think of the shopping in France? The shopping in France is extraordinary. One can find almost anything (perhaps everything) one could possibly desire in France as long as one has the financial means. In terms of price, Paris and the South of France are comparable to New York City or Los Angeles. Of course the cost of living is far more reasonable outside the major cities, as it is in the United States.
What do you appreciate about living in France? The wonderful quality of life which is sustained by an ever-evolving bureaucracy, high standards in goods and services, the excellent infrastructure and the blessings of natural beauty. I enjoy my interactions with the citizens, who have taught me a great deal about diplomacy and grace. I find the complicated nuances in the language quite thrilling and compelling.
What do you find most frustrating about living in France? The ever-evolving bureaucracy.
What puzzles you about France and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
Nothing puzzles me about France as long as I seek out the appropriate person, authority, specialist, or government agency to answer whatever questions I have, or to help me solve whatever problem may arise.
How does the quality of life in France compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in? France’s quality of life rates quite highly compared to the other Western nations. Let’s just say that my husband and I prefer the slower pace and Mediterranean flavors of the Côte d’Azur to the horizontal peril of Manhattan, or the dead weight of steamy subtropical South Florida.
What advice would you give to a newcomer? Learn French. Take an intensive course in the language, study the culture. Take at least one basic business language course in order to better negotiate the French “paperasse”. Learn to open one’s mind to new ways of thinking and interpreting new and old ideas and events. In other words leave ethocentricity behind, while still maintaining pride in your own culture.
Read French newspapers of the various political leanings…read “Le Canard”, for example…go to French movies…read French contemporary literature and the popular magazines…watch the documentaries on French TV.
Travel the country…both Metropole and DOM TOM. Due to its location and history, France is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth.