Don't really think of myself as an "Ex-Pat" more as a "European Citizen"

Originally from Scotland, Ian has been living in France since the early 1990s, where he moved after almost 40 years in Germany. It isn't any surprise to learn that he has mastered French and the local patois, in addition to German, and that he has become familiar with the local customs. Read on to find out what he likes and dislikes about living in France's Languedoc-Rouissillon region, and why it's important to accept and understand the local culture even if one doesn't necessarily like some of its aspects.

Ian Watson Mitchell AKA Mr le Marquis

-Where were you born?

In Paisley, Scotland, in October 1946. 

-In which country and city are you living now?

A place called Vauvert in the Department of the GARD, Region Languedoc-Rouissillon, France.

-Are you living alone or with your family?

At the moment, I am alone after my wife's death in 1992, but I'm getting "company" in October/November this year 2011!

-How long have you been living in France?

11 years here now, but in France in all since 1992, before that almost 40 years in Germany.

-What is your age?

Indiscreet people but....well....I'm almost 65 years - vintage model! 

-When did you come up with the idea of living in France?

After the death of my wife, in Germany, I needed a new outlook and a new place - France was an automatic choice because we had a small place already installed. 

-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?

In France - no. In Germany in 1969 - yes, very difficult, but it's the same all over Europe (EEC) now. Visas are not required, neither are working permits by citizens of the EC countries.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?

No, because I was insured by the German System (payable from my pensions) - it was simply transferred to France. I understand the British get it for free (under certain conditions) which doesn't please me too much, as a person who has to pay! 

-How do you make your living in France? Do you have any type of income generated?

I'm a German pensioner with A British passport, French health insurance - living in France. I didn't have to look for a job, but I know that it is quite difficult right now in the current job situation. I would recommend using the official agencies and/or private ones. In France, "knowing people who know people" is quite important in job seeking!

-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language? Please add your thoughts on local customs and whether it's important for expats to respect/observe local customs.

Yes - I speak the local language, even the "Patois" - I also speak German and English which can break the ice with locals as well. Local traditions are fine - for locals, since the bullfighting (Tauromachie) is the prelevent one, not my cup of tea. It is more than important to accept the locals and their customs, even if one isn't particularly in favour oneself. Observing them is something else, if you can then ok, if not that's ok as well. Everybody will find one custom they could and should respect/observe.

-Do you miss home and family sometimes? Describe your favorite recreational activities there or those that are available.

Not in the slightest - I have little or no family, what's left is far away in Australia and the USA.

Recreational is outdated for me now, I used to enjoy all sports. Nowadays, I enjoy Internet, blogging, creating Web sites - WATCHING sport on the TV as well, and I spend an enormous amount of time cooking, eating and wine drinking! Hey - this IS FRANCE you know! 

-Do you have other plans for the future?

Yes - I am going to be the happy guy receiving his fiancee installed here in France later this year and together we plan to open "Tian Entreprises" a web based, creative, International Site - in 2012, doing just about anything and everything (legal) for others on the Internet/Web - cheaply and openly, for everybody to be able to profit - without being exploited - in 3 languages as well!

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?

On my own currently, even with 2 later, I rent an apartment in a small Southern France village. At my age it is not reasonable to purchase. I currently pay 300 euros/month, for a 2-room apartment. About half of this sum is refunded by the French Social authority (CAF) - everybody legally living in France is entitled to these "aids". 

-What is the cost of living in France?

Locally very reasonable. A country region, agriculture, fruit, vegetables and wine is available at prices unthinkable in the UK or elsewhere. The only problems are when the tourists descend in summer - the local supermarkets drive the prices way up!

-What do you think about the French? 

Locals are relatively friendly if "introverted" - they tend to keep themselves to themselves and within small groups who know each other since birth! Simply being polite and friendly (not overly friendly) often is the best policy - at some stage, some of them come "out of their shells" just out of sheer nosiness about a foreigner....! 

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in France?

Positives are the standard of living, the quality of living, and the price of living - and, being the South of France, the air - the sea - the weather and the scenery.

Negative is the "closeness" for a long time of the locals, and negative also is the sometime arrogance of Parisians and other tourists who come to live their later years in the area, and don't want church bells ringing or cocks crowing...! Negative for me personally is the local main pastime "Tauromachie" - everything to do with bulls, arenas and bullfighting. 

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in France?

Speak the language - stand up for the same rights as everybody else French or foreign - be polite - try to mix - appreciate local things, but don't be scared to criticise also.....mildly! 

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about France?  (My main Weblogspot in English with links to the other sites and Blogs.)  (My Google profile with links to ALL my activities on the Internet - and there are a lot!) (A document link about myself)