The Good Life France

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But you are in France, Madame by Catherine Berry

What do you get when you take two parents who have three children and deep rooted wanderlust? The answer is a thoroughly entertaining book!

You’ll find yourself travelling from Australia with Catherine, her husband, and three children to Annecy in the French Alps. Through their eyes you’ll discover how very different French life is from living in Australia, not only the language, but many other things which make moving to a new country both exciting and daunting.

Their move was an adventure, born of a love for France that Catherine had discovered whilst spending time there as a young teacher. Like most of us she wanted to give her children the experiences she enjoyed and so off they went to the Haute-Savoie region and lovely Annecy. They rented a cottage initially before settling close by in beautiful Menthon-Saint-Bernard on the edge of the famous lake.

Thanks to Catherine’s vividly descriptive writing, straight away you are taken on a journey of discovery as through her eyes you explore the villages, mountains, lakes, and breath-taking scenery of one of the most beautiful areas of France. If you are fond of sports and the outdoor life then this book will have you yearning to holiday in this area, or perhaps move there… The story also takes the reader to many other parts of France including the Loire Valley and even a sojourn into neighbouring Italy.

However, this book is not a travel guide, beautifully descriptive as it is. It is in some respects a life guide as we join this adventurous family as they settle down to life in a totally different country, which feels like a million miles away from the one which they used to called home. Not only do the children have to settle into their school and learn in another language, but the family also have to overcome the hurdles which can enter our everyday life wherever we live.

I found this story compelling reading, it is one of those books which you simply can’t put down. When you get to the last page you will be sad it is finished. Being an expat, I found myself laughing at the simple faux pas it is so easy to make when one doesn’t understand the language like a native (as they say). You can’t help but sympathise with them as they come to terms with the interminable and of course infamous French bureaucracy.

I can highly recommend this as a really good light-hearted read with a French flavour. However I would also say that if you are planning to visit this area, you will find the wonderful descriptions of its villages, architecture, gastronomy and customs very interesting.

This book is a real gem, it is all so very different in France as those of us who live here can testify, and the answer to everything official is, as the book title says, ‘But you are in France, Madame.’

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