Expat Voices: Janice Barnett on living in France
One of Janice's main reasons for moving to Burgundy was the local food but she wishes more local shops stocked Weetabix.
Name: Janice Barnett
City of residence: Let’s change that to ‘hamlet of residence’ - Montmelard
Date of birth: 10th August 1962
Civil status: Getting married next May to Mark
Occupation: Owner of Les Cerisiers Creative Arts Centre
Reason for moving to France: Love of the southern Burgundy landscape; being somewhere I could breathe clean air, have the space and time to think; becoming part of the community; the possibility of turning my dream into a reality (I would not have been able to afford a place like this in the Home Counties!)
Lived in France for... I’ve had the house since May 07 but finally moved here in July 2009
What was your first impression of France?
My goodness, I first came to France 34 years ago on the school exchange. The memories that stayed with me are that in France children were allowed to drink champagne, that the French took ‘It’s a Knock Out’ (Jeux sans frontiers) way too seriously and how cool it was to eat huge slabs of chocolate in a baguette.
What do you think of the food?
One of the main reasons for coming here. Burgundy (according to us Burgundians) is the culinary heart of France and as I look out the window the Charolaise cattle are looking back at me. Love the bread, love the beef (rare of course), love the fresh produce counters in Grand Frais (outdoes Waitrose any day). Just wish Weetabix was more widely available.
What do you think of the shopping in France?
As I have a huge orchard and veggie patch I don’t go food shopping half as often as I used to in the UK. With Macon Loche TGV station just 20 minutes away I can go to Paris or Lyon quite easily if I want to make a day of it. I like the DIY stores (where I spend an inordinate amount of time) and the patisserie shops.
I would like a John Lewis locally just for when I haven’t got the time to go through all the individual shops. Shop assistants in this part of the world are friendly, knowledgeable and prepared to spend hours explaining things to me if need be.
What do you appreciate about living in France?
Could be just a regional thing but the kindness of the people, the space I can call my own, the pace of life.
What do you find most frustrating about living in France?
DIY shops not being open on a Sunday.
What puzzles you about France and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
That ‘etranger’ means anyone who lives outside a 3 mile radius, that I can’t find gammon steaks anywhere, that I can’t get a mini statement from the ATM machine. I can’t think of anything I miss apart from the Weetabix that I’ve already mentioned.
How does the quality of life in France compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
I used to be a pampered diplomat and now I’m self employed so it’s a hard comparison to make. I also used to live a city life and I’m now in the heart of the countryside. For what it’s worth I feel a lot saner now.
If you could change anything about France, what would it be?
Move it south, I like it warm.
What advice would you give to a newcomer?
No secret tips, I’m afraid, just learn the language, integrate as best you can and show an interest in what’s going on.
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