Living in Normandy #2: Has it Been Over 6 Months?

Time has not been quite the same this year, the months either stretching out to be 80 days long or just passing in the blink of an eye...

It only seems like yesterday I was on the ferry crossing to France on a chilly January evening. Only the week before that I was boarding a flight from Toronto to London, leaving the icy winters of Ontario to the bizarre warmth of Essex in January. It is only now, just past the autumnal equinox that I realise that I have been living in France for 8 months. So how am I finding it?

I’ve decided to split this post into different topics that have affected me specifically. If you want to know specific thing about living in France, leave a comment down below and I’ll reply!

Recently harvested maize fields at sunset
Recently Harvested Maize fields at Golden Hour

Normandy Society

It is a big leap moving from an urban to a rural area, and this is no different. Add in a sprinkle of “everything is the same but just a bit different” and that is how I am coping. I love the countryside so I am not missing the noise and density of the city, I do however miss the convenience of city living. I can not walk out my house and grab a coffee. That walk would be over half an hour on a busy road.

That being said, Normandy seems to be just a few years behind everyone else. Shops still shut on sundays and some shut on mondays, with many stores closing for two hours for lunch. It takes some getting used to, especially when you don’t follow the average french routine of eating three meals a day at designated times. It does mean that stores generally open until a later time, something I do appreciate.

The food here is cheaper and better quality, due to France’s preference of buying local. This is not just seen on the markets, but also the supermarkets and general preference to shop at independent bakeries and butchers. On this note there is a distinct lack of chain stores in rural Normandy when it comes to cafés and restaurants. (There are also many independent clothes stores too). It is a nice change of pace to be supporting people directly through their business, and the majority of the time, people seem to genuinely love what they do.

Normandy is a heavy agricultural part of France, meaning that things are generally slower in terms of life and also roads. There is not a lot of pressure or rush around here, it has given me time to step back and take a breath. Something I didn’t know I needed until I did it.

Ducey's pilgrim bridge
The iconic 16th century Bridge at Ducey, Manche

The French Language

Je parle français! Vraiment…

My confidence in french was lacking in Canada. After believing I was pretty darn good at it, the Quebecers soon threw that out the window. During my time accumulating canadian french I also seemed to develop the accent… Another thing I did not realise until I began speaking french here. So many people asked me where I came from, and denying I was from the UK, convinced that I was from North America. However, now I have been taking french lessons weekly to try and speak french “beautifully” again, it is not as bad! No more funny looks for me. (For my language skills anyway…)

Healthcare

This may not be top of the list for many people, however healthcare is imperative for me. After facing the colossus of North America Big Pharma, I did not want to pay out big money for my daily medication again. Luckily I managed to follow the system of registering as a microentrepreneur so I could start working and therefore be eligible for my health card (carte vitale). It was a bit more complicated for me as there were errors on their part in terms of paperwork, but now 7ish months later I have my health card!
How the carte vitale works is simple. It acts as a medical credit card when you go to see your doctor or pharmacist and loads up your medical file. With different illnesses, there is different coverage, for instance my chronic illness is considered a state illness. By that, it is considered something out of my control and therefore I should not have to pay for anything medical relating to it, including, doctor visits, specialists visits and medications. Did I cry when I found this out? Of course I did.

The system has little to no waiting times either. You want a doctors appointment, you call up and you can see the doctor either the same day, or same week. (This may just be rural areas). I did not have to wait for getting any x-rays or wait for months for a specialist. The efficiency on how they treat their patients is very comforting!

Kitten and Dog in a garden
I spent most of Lockdown in the garden pestering the animals…

The Pandemic

I don’t know if this will effect anyone’s stance on moving to France, but I feel like this has been a big factor in my staying in the country and not moving elsewhere.

Le Confinement was put into effect overnight in march with strict measures of why you should be leaving the house, complete with French bureaucratic love, paperwork. Overnight supermarkets and essential shops were stocked with PPE, hand sanitiser, disinfectant and screens. Security became widely seen outside larger stores policing the number of people going in and out as well as keeping people at the desired distance. This may sound militant, but it worked. PPE is sold in most shops still at very reasonable prices, and those who are most at risk are able to get it for free from pharmacies.

I can not speak for city life in France as I live in the rural fields of Normandy, but this year I have felt safe and with direction thanks to the actions taken by the French government. There has been clear concise rules that have helped my mental wellbeing more than anything.

Any questions/comments about this, let me know at the bottom of the post.

2020 Goals?

New year makes you think about what you want to get done in the upcoming year. My main goals were to settle in a country and start a masters course. But that soon changed…

From the “opportunity” of confinement I decided to start a online qualification in teaching english as a foreign language, to open the online job market for me. I am not comfortable with the idea of working in public just yet, so having the opportunity to hone my skills to work consistently online sounds great to me. So I am now TEFL (level 5) certified! It took me a few months and a lot of hard work but I am proud of this achievement.

Other things I have achieved so far!

  • Music – I have started singing again, and teaching singing and piano.
  • I adopted two yearlings french trotters, Brigadier and Bijoux. A huge horsey project that I am excited for.
  • Started an online etsy store!
  • Expanded my media business working for various brands.

And that’s just the start…

I have many big plans for the rest of year, the world situation permitting, that I hope to share with you! I want to take my blog into a different direction, expand my categories a bit and work to balance out my posts better. Having the time to slow down and reflect about what I want to do during confinement, has been nice and put many things into perspective for me.

As always, Thank you for reading and your continued support!

Drop your blog links down below and I’ll check them out

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