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Moving to France

As with all GSGI links, we only add the ones we like, have used, or think could be useful. These recommended links for expats in France have been recommended by GSGI editors or readers.

In some cases, the links take you to a website for which we provided some of the content (so naturally we think it's excellent!).

The books and films have been recommended by our readers and editors. Unless mentioned, most are available at booksellers or online. If you have a recommendation we should add to this list, we'd love to hear it (contact us).

Books

A Good Year by Peter Mayle - Funny book about uptight Englishman inheriting his uncle's chateau and vineyard, and of course falling in love with the most attractive restauranteur in town.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle - tried and true classic about an English couple moving to sunny Provence.

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France, But Not the French by Jean-Benoît Nadeau (Goodreads Author), Julie Barlow - The French smoke, drink and eat more fat than anyone in the world, yet live longer and have fewer heart problems than Americans. They work 35-hour weeks, and take seven weeks of paid holidays per year, but are still the world's fourth-biggest economic power. So what makes the French so different? Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong is a journey into the French heart, mind and soul. Decrypting French ideas about land, privacy and language, Nadeau and Barlow weave together the threads of French society -- from centralization and the Napoleonic Code to elite education and even street protests -- giving us, for the first time, a complete picture of the French.

The Secret Life of France by Lucy Wadham - Anyone who is remotely curious about what makes the French tick will love this book. Lucy Wadham, now divorced from her French husband, but married, for better or worse, to his native land, peels off layer after layer of French convention, prejudice and sheer unimpeachable style to lay the nation‘s psyche bare. The book examines the profound and varied differences between the Anglo Saxon and French world-views.

Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France by Michael Steinburger - France is in a rut, and so is French cuisine. For the first time in the annals of modern cooking, the most influential chefs and the most talked-about restaurants in the world are not French. Large segments of the wine industry are in crisis, cherished artisanal cheeses are threatened with extinction, and bistros and brasseries are disappearing at an alarming rate. How did this happen? Author Michael Steinberger investigates in this sharp and funny book.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky - the author was there as Parisians were fleeing the city as the Nazis poured in behind them, and wrote a novel about the lives of the occupied French in one particular village, coexisting with the enemy in their homes and, sometimes, hearts.

The Blessing by Nancy Mitford - 

Don't Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford - 

Movies

A Good Year with Albert Finney, Russell Crowe, loosely based on the book by Peter Mayle. Not to be missed if you're moving to or visiting Provence, especially the lovely village and environs of Lourmarin (where the restaurant featured in the film is located). Gorgeous scenery, light funny movie.

A Year in Provence - delightful mini-series (1993) with John Thaw, Lindsay Duncan, Jean-Pierre Delage. Hilarious, beautifully filmed autobiographical story of a British couple who moved to France and survived the hurdles of language and builders to become deeply engaged and very funny Francophiles.

Chocolat (2000) with Juliette Binoche; romantic comedy-drama about a woman and her daughter who open a chocolate shop in a small French town.

Etre Avoir – best in French with English subtitles. Gorgeously filmed, delightful story following a year in a rural one room French school room; about its teacher, students and their families. Practically a propaganda film for French agriculture.

Les Intouchables (2012) Directors Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano – A box office hit, exposing the racial/social/cultural divides in Paris through the coming together of two people living at either extreme. A buddy movie in which a disabled, rich white employer learns to live again through his black employee's life-force... admittedly with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, it will show you, in a heartbeat, the wildly divergent realities of life in Paris today.

Amelie – This 2001 Romantic comedy received 5 academy award nominations and was a huge success worldwide. It’s an extremely whimsical and romantic view of modern-day Paris and the life of one very unique woman living in Montmartre.

Zazie Dans Le Metro – 1959 Louis Malle film is a day in the life of Zazie as she runs riot on the streets of Paris. This eccentric slapstick comedy is very stream-of-consciousness and features many visual gags and editing tricks. It is absolutely enchanting and would make anyone want to move to Paris.

The Aristocats – I don’t need to say too much about this one. It speaks for itself; a timeless Parisian classic.

Ratatouille – a jolly, sinster and picturesque animated flick.

Links

AngloInfo:Paris – Really excellent resource for expats heading for -- or already living in -- Paris, with valuable no-frills listings of everything from dentists to plumbers, schools (basic info) to hair cuts, registering your car to tax problems as well as classifieds, discussions and details about what's on in your area. Useful directories, reliable information, intuitive site....goes exactly where it says it will, in exactly the country section where you'd expect to find it.

Emigrate2 – From visas to jobs, mortgages to taxes, banking to currency exchange: find helpful information about emigration generally to Europe.

www.airbnb.com/locations/paris – Great write ups of 29 of Paris’ most prominent neighborhoods (of course featuring beautiful images taken by locals) as well as guides to the best local spots. These guides paint an authentic, to the point, and contemporary picture of what the different areas have to offer.

Message Paris – Far and away the best investment you can make -- annual membership costs 64 euros. Benefits include Message’s extremely useful (and periodically updated) guide, the ABCs of Parenting in Paris, concisely written and chock-a-block with insiders’ tips and practical information. Message’s 1,800 members, from all corners of the globe, regularly come online to seek or dispense help and advice on the members’ Forum. No other forum we have frequented is quite as well organised and extensive in what it covers: pregnancy and childbirth, baby and toddler rearing, family life, education, all matters medical, health and fitness, working in France, childcare and domestic help, hobbies and leisure, special events.

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