Transcript for Episode 453: Why Life in France Is Awful

Table of Contents for this Episode

Categories: French Customs & Lifestyle, Moving to France

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France episode 453, quatre cent cinquante-trois.

[00:00:23] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France, everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy and news related to travel to France.

Today on the podcast

[00:00:37] Annie Sargent: Today, I bring you a conversation with Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about why life in France is awful.

[00:00:48] Annie Sargent: There’s nothing more French than complaining about poor, poor, pitiful me. Sylvain Tesson is a French doctor, traveler, author, and radio personality who is famous in France, and he’s famous for saying this: La France est un paradis peuple de gens qui se croient en enfer. France is a paradise full of people who think they are in hell.

[00:01:17] Annie Sargent: I’ve lived outside of France so much that it’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t have an international perspective on France, but I talk to my family and friends and many of them have not lived anywhere but in France and some of them really think things are dire. Are they? Really? Stay tuned!

Podcast supporters

[00:01:42] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my Itinerary Consult Service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. And you can browse all of that at my boutique And if you just want to read details about the tours and read reviews go to

The magazine part of the podcast

[00:02:08] Annie Sargent: For the magazine part of the podcast after my chat with Elyse about awful life in France today, I’ll discuss some news about the Paris Olympics, specifically about accommodations and things that are going to drive people crazy about the Olympics.

Annie and Elyse

[00:02:33] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Elyse.

[00:02:33] Elyse Rivin: Bonjour Annie.

[00:02:34] Annie Sargent: Today, we’re going to talk about reasons why perhaps you should not come to France.

[00:02:41] Elyse Rivin: Oh, well, it depends also on whether you come to France just to spend a week or two or whether you are coming to France thinking of staying here.

[00:02:51] Annie Sargent: Correct. Yes. So we did an episode called, Why Life in France is wonderful, you know what’s wonderful about life in France, in general. And we planned on doing both sides of the coin in the same episode, but we weren’t able to do that because there was so much to say.

[00:03:07] Elyse Rivin: Because it’s so wonderful.

[00:03:09] Annie Sargent: So today we are talking about why life is awful in France. What makes it difficult in any way, especially for people who live here, which is not the same as, you know, if you just come and visit, but even if you just visit, you’ll get to see some of these problems, I guess.

[00:03:27] Elyse Rivin: Yes, I think some of them. There’s clearly a difference for some people between skimming the surface for a few weeks and just enjoying what there is to enjoy and then coming heads against some of this stuff.

[00:03:40] Annie Sargent: Right. Okay. So we have 20 points, and like you mentioned just now, some of them should really be grouped together, but we’ll just go through the 20 points anyway.

[00:03:49] Elyse Rivin: Sure.

[00:03:51] Annie Sargent: And just to repeat how I got these to begin with, I asked ChatGPT what’s wonderful and awful about life in France, and this is what I came with.

[00:04:01] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. We should have asked, or you should have asked if ChatGPT was doing a trip, a two week trip or deciding to look for house to buy here, you know, maybe that would’ve made a difference.

1. High taxes and social charges

[00:04:11] Annie Sargent: Maybe. Alright. So number one is high taxes and social charges.

[00:04:18] Elyse Rivin: Well, now, I would say immediately that high taxes and social charges really is something that is only going to concern you if you live here. This is certainly nothing that you’re going to come across as a short-term visitor. The high taxes are part of the social program of the country.

[00:04:37] Elyse Rivin: If you work here, you have a lot of what are called charges, right? And the thing about them is, yes, there are a lot. I think there are just a couple of other countries in Europe that have more. But I would say that you get something for what you have to put in. That’s my personal opinion.

[00:04:55] Annie Sargent: Right, so this is what my husband says as well. He says, you know, here you pay for, you know, quite a bit gets taken out of your paycheck every week, or every month, sorry. Because we get paid by month here, that has to go towards social charges, yeah? But at least you get something out of it because it’s going to be for, mostly for your retirement and for your health benefits, for your health insurance.

[00:05:21] Elyse Rivin: And it also helps pay for all of the maternity leave for women, for the public childcare. It helps really cover a lot of services that luckily they exist here in France.

Income tax, impôt sur le revenu.

[00:05:33] Annie Sargent: Right, and so I just made a list of what we pay in France. We have income tax, impôt sur le revenu, which it’s a very progressive tax. So a lot of people actually don’t pay this at all because they don’t make enough to pay it. And in France, they don’t withdraw taxes in your paycheck and then give it back to you the way they did, at least when I lived in the US. Typically they only withdraw if it’s pretty clear that you’re going to have to pay. But sometimes if it’s a couple, so perhaps one of the two doesn’t make quite enough, but once you add them up, you know, it complicates things. But typically people who are low income don’t even pay this at all.

[00:06:14] Annie Sargent: And then you have cotisations sociales. They’re mandatory and both employees and employers pay some of that, and it covers healthcare, pensions, and unemployment benefits.

[00:06:28] Elyse Rivin: That is the biggest, as far as I can see when I get a paycheck, which I don’t do very much anymore, I teach one class a year where I actually get a paycheck from the school. That is the biggest chunk that comes out, that is visible on the stub when you look through the breakdown of everything, because the taxes up until a couple of years ago, I believe it was two years ago. Unfortunately, the only drawback to income tax here was at the time that you didn’t have it taken out at the source and you had to save up your money, just in case you had to pay in at the end of the year. Now, if you are salaried, it is taken out of your paycheck.

[00:07:05] Annie Sargent: Right. Yes.

VAT, a consumption tax

[00:07:07] Annie Sargent: The next one is something that even visitors pay, for the most part, it’s the VAT tax or value added tax. This is a consumption tax that’s applied to all goods and services. Now, if you buy a big ticket item in France, such as if you buy a Louis Vuitton bag while you’re visiting or some sort of luxury item that’s going to cost more than, I think it has to cost more than 350 euros.

[00:07:36] Elyse Rivin: Oh, I was going to say 300, but I am not sure anymore.

[00:07:39] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Then before you leave the country, you can ask to have that refunded, but to do that you have to have your passport with you when you make your purchase and the store has to give you a form to claim that money back. Which shows that France values their big ticket item purchaser and luxury goods.

[00:08:03] Elyse Rivin: Yes.

[00:08:04] Annie Sargent: Yes.

[00:08:05] Elyse Rivin: And also, let me just say something about sales tax here because one of the things that I appreciate in France is that the sales tax is built into the price. And I really have gotten used to the idea that when you see a price of something, that’s the price.

[00:08:18] Elyse Rivin: It’s not like in the States, which is havoc because not only is sales tax added on, but it changes from county to county, it changes from state to state, and you have no idea in the end how much you eventually have to pay.

[00:08:33] Annie Sargent: Right. So it’s very, very rare for people not to know the price of an item, including tax. But if you order, I don’t know, like we’re going to get new shutters on our house, and when you get a bid for such things, you have to, they will list it before tax and after tax, so you have to be careful that you read the right line.

[00:08:56] Elyse Rivin: And that, since my husband, well, he’s pretty much retired now, but as a, what they call here an artisan, I have begun to really understand, yes, that is true for things like household goods, replacement, repairs, they list it that way because the person who’s doing the work has to declare the sales tax to the government.

[00:09:16] Elyse Rivin: So they separate them so that they’re two different items on the bill.

[00:09:20] Annie Sargent: Right. It’s a pay forward kind of system. So if I sell, like for instance, I need to replace my oven in my kitchen, because the glass blew up, which was like, oh, but I mean, we’ve had this oven for 18 years, so I can’t complain.

[00:09:36] Annie Sargent: Anyway,

[00:09:36] Annie Sargent: they will list the price “hors taxe” and with a tax, because if I was a restaurant, for example, I could push the tax forward to the next person. Right. So that, anyway, we’re not tax accountants, but you will pay the VAT tax when you make everyday purchases in France, you know, when you buy your lunch, anything you buy, and that if it’s anything under 350 you can’t claim it back. That’s just how it is. Okay.

Corporate tax, Impôts sur les societés.

[00:10:05] Annie Sargent: Then we have corporate tax, Impôts sur les societés, so this is complicated, I’m not even going to go into it. But yes, and as a freelancer, and Elyse is also a freelancer, we pay our Impôts sur les societés, you know…

[00:10:21] Elyse Rivin: And that’s a chunk. And unfortunately, it’s separate from any other tax. And if you work for yourself, not even a corporation, I mean, technically I’m not a corporation, I’m just me, but I am declared working I’m sole proprietor of myself.

[00:10:36] Annie Sargent: I have to put in 22% of anything I earn. And so that whatever the prices are for things, for instance, and just to give a perfect example, I mean, I’m sure nobody realizes this, if I ask a certain amount of money for a particular job as a guide, that money, I have to pay 22% off the top that goes right to the government.

[00:10:57] Annie Sargent: Correct.

[00:10:58] Annie Sargent: Yes. And it’s the same with me and my Voice Map Tours and my services that I provide. I pay tax on my income. That’s just how it goes.

Taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation

[00:11:07] Annie Sargent: We have some local taxes in France, taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation, these are changing, Cotisation Foncière des Entreprises, which I have paid. I stopped paying for a while, now they want it again, I don’t understand why they asked for it this year. But as a visitor, the only one you will see is, there’s usually a few euros on hotels that every visitor has to pay.

[00:11:32] Annie Sargent: And if you happen to be someone who’s thinking or have rented an apartment for instance for a minimum of a certain number of months, you might have to pay, is what they call a, taxe d’habitation.

[00:11:43] Annie Sargent: Right. Yes.

Wealth tax, impôt de solidarité sur la fortune immobilière

[00:11:44] Annie Sargent: Wealth tax, impôt de solidarité sur la fortune immobilière.

[00:11:48] Elyse Rivin: I’m not there yet.

[00:11:49] Annie Sargent: No, I’m not there yet either. But this happens to people who own a lot of properties in Paris, especially, or any city where prices are very high, because some of these, the average price per square meter in Paris, I think is around 2200 Euros,

[00:12:09] Annie Sargent: it might be 2300 Euros, but there are some highly valued properties that are pretty much only bought by investors,

[00:12:17] Annie Sargent: I mean international fortunes, and they will pay up to 10,000 per square meter. And there’s a I’ll probably do a Patreon reward about this, about the places, the most expensive streets in Paris and places like that. It’s quite interesting. It’s a very different type of thing. But yes, there is a wealth tax and it mostly has to do with property you own.

[00:12:41] Elyse Rivin: And of course then I assume you have on their property tax.

[00:12:44] Annie Sargent: Yes, I do. That’s the Taxe Foncière.

[00:12:48] Elyse Rivin:

[00:12:48] Elyse Rivin: Oh. I think, I just think of it as, I mean, that’s really only if you own, and that again, strangely enough depends on the region.

[00:12:54] Annie Sargent: And also the city. Some cities you pay a lot more than the city right next to it. But we do pay those things.

Inheritance tax and Gift taxes

[00:13:00] Annie Sargent: There are also inheritance and gift taxes. So just like in America, if you want to give a hundred thousand to your children before you pass away, you’re going to have to pay taxes on that.

[00:13:13] Annie Sargent: That’s just how it is, you know, so, but there are also ways to do it. You can give them in smaller chunks regularly every year. And there’s a bunch of, I mean, I’m not a tax accountant, but I know these things happen.

[00:13:26] Annie Sargent: So for inheritance tax, there is a fair chunk of money that you can inherit from your parents separately. So you inherit from your mother and from your father. And there’s a big chunk that you don’t have to pay any taxes on. But again, if you live in a place like Paris where prices go up and up, and up, and up and up, perhaps that little apartment that they bought for not that much, by the end of their lives and by the time that they’re ready, you know, you’re going to inherit, it might cost you some money.

[00:13:59] Annie Sargent: I think though, that we should let people know that if you are a resident here but you’re legally a citizen of another country, it’s not the quite the same and it’s very complicated. If you are talking about owning property here and leaving it to children and the children do not live in France, you need to just see a good tax accountant.

[00:14:16] Annie Sargent: Definitely.

[00:14:17] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yes, definitely.

Capital gains tax

[00:14:19] Annie Sargent: We also have capital gains tax. We also have financial transaction tax. I’m not going to get into all of these, but yes, France is a country of high taxes and socials charges. There is no doubt about that.

[00:14:33] Annie Sargent: I, like you Elyse, I think we get our money’s worth, but we do have to pay quite a bit.

[00:14:40] Annie Sargent: We do have to pay quite a bit. Yes, we do.

2. Bureaucracy and complex administrative processes

[00:14:42] Annie Sargent: Number two is bureaucracy and complex administrative processes. Oh, this one is near and dear to my heart. I’ll let you go first, Elyse.

[00:14:52] Annie Sargent: Well, you know, right now, the last two days on the news, they’ve been talking about the fact that there have been a lot of complaints because people have been having to wait six months for a renewal of their passport.

[00:15:03] Annie Sargent: So clearly, there are blocks somewhere in the system where either there are not a lot of people or they haven’t brought things up to date. It’s really hard to know. There is a lot of bureaucracy in France, an enormous amount, and it really depends on what you have to deal with.

[00:15:19] Annie Sargent: I mean, I personally have very little contact with the administrative processes in France. I have hardly anything to do with them. When I have to renew my papers, I usually follow the guidelines and renew them without too much problem, so I’m not someone who is really a victim, I think, of bureaucracy. But I know that it can be very painful.

[00:15:41] Annie Sargent: Yes, and for foreigners who want to live in France and want to get the necessary paperwork to live in France, they should really get some help from a professional. I mean, we’ve done episodes about relocating to France, but this is not what I do, and so I only know the tip of the iceberg. And you really need to hire someone to help you with this.

[00:16:05] Annie Sargent: You can do it by yourself, I’m sure some people have, and I’ve talked to some people who have, but be prepared for some head scratching moments.

[00:16:14] Annie Sargent: Another thing is I just thought of, and that is that don’t expect people in bureaucracy to speak English.

[00:16:20] Annie Sargent: They don’t. Correct.

[00:16:21] Annie Sargent: They do not. They do not.

[00:16:23] Annie Sargent: And even if they do, they probably don’t want to speak English with you because it would put them at a disadvantage. You have to understand their logic, French is their native tongue, English is your native tongue. Whoever’s speaking their native tongue has the linguistic advantage, and they don’t want to put themselves in that situation because they’re the boss of you in that situation.

[00:16:47] Annie Sargent: You are the one applying for something, you are the one who needs to be prepared and be able to speak French. Unfortunately, that’s a fact. And I’ve had to deal with minor things like that in Spain, just basic paperwork, and it’s no easier, like if you don’t speak Spanish, which unfortunately I don’t, they look at you

[00:17:07] Annie Sargent: like… what do you expect?

[00:17:09] Elyse Rivin: Like, this is Spain.

[00:17:10] Elyse Rivin: Exactly. Yeah,

[00:17:10] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. They’re not there to help you translate something. You need to be prepared.

[00:17:15] Annie Sargent: Correct.

[00:17:16] Annie Sargent: So yes, we have a lot of that. And this is one of the things that Macron is well hated for, is the fact that he wants to get rid of some layers of administration. And people aren’t ready for that. You know, they just don’t want any change, they want things to remain the same.

[00:17:36] Annie Sargent: Well, it’s also that bureaucracy everywhere is the same. I have to say that if you have a federal or a state job in the States, quite honestly, it’s the same thing. You have a job for life. You have to commit the greatest sin in the world to be either put on suspension or actually fired.

[00:17:52] Annie Sargent: And so when you have a country, I think in France, if I’m not mistaken, it’s over 20% of the workforce that is administrative. And so a lot of people hold onto their jobs and they don’t care.

[00:18:04] Annie Sargent: Yep. That is true. That is true.

3. Strikes and labor disputes disrupting daily life

[00:18:06] Annie Sargent: Okay, number three is strikes and labor disputes disrupting daily life. Now, we have talked about this ad nauseam on the podcast. I think we’re at the, as we record this, middle of April 2023, it’s probably not going to go out for several more weeks, but we are at the tail end of a major disruption in French life having to do with retirement age changes.

[00:18:36] Annie Sargent: I think things will get back to normal, but it’ll be a few weeks before it’s back to normal.

[00:18:40] Annie Sargent: And it’s just a way of life in France that people do this. A lot of people have, I know, asked you, a lot of people have written to me and asked me, I’ve even gotten phone calls from part of my family, most of the time it’s very localized, you see a lot of news on TV about it. It looks scary.

[00:18:58] Annie Sargent: It’s actually not. It’s just that this is a heritage from the French Revolution. And that’s just the way it is in France.

[00:19:04] Annie Sargent: Correct. And also just because somebody is burning a car somewhere doesn’t mean that cars are burning everywhere. You need to be able to understand that news reporters want images and sensation. The more sensational, the better.

[00:19:23] Annie Sargent: And so we have a lot of idiots who are, I mean, I’m going to just go on a tiny rant here, we have people who keep saying that Macron does not listen to them, but whenever you do listen to them, they have nothing to propose. There is a problem with paying for retirement. Macron is proposing a solution to this problem, the people who oppose him propose nothing. They want to change nothing. They want us to continue to go into debt and that’s not going to fly.

[00:19:58] Annie Sargent: So yes, they say you’re not listening to us. And what I say is, well, if there’s nothing to listen to, you know, propose something and then we can talk. Anyway, but yes, French people will protest and this right is sacrosanct it for as annoyed as I get with them, they have a right to, and they should be able to, about this issue and others, they will always think of something.

[00:20:25] Annie Sargent: True.

[00:20:27] Annie Sargent: Okay. But as a visitor, it doesn’t really impact you that much, your train might get delayed, you were planning on the 8:51 train and that one’s been canceled, and perhaps you need to get on the 10:51 train, but you will get on the train anyway. And the one thing that drives people bonkers is that all of these people who go on strike do not have to announce whether they strike or not until the day before.

[00:20:54] Annie Sargent: So do not ask me six months in advance just because they said, you know, we are striking next week.

[00:21:01] Annie Sargent: They’ve announced that they’re striking next week. That says nothing. You don’t know who’s going to strike and who’s not. You don’t. You will not know until the night before. So don’t ask me how it’s going to affect you next week.

[00:21:13] Annie Sargent: I don’t know. Nobody knows. Nobody. The Pope doesn’t know. God doesn’t know. Nobody knows. So stop worrying about it and just roll with it. If there’s a disruption, just understand that there’s going to be a few trains, they’re going to be packed and it’s going to be unpleasant, but you’ll probably get this.

[00:21:31] Annie Sargent: It does happen that people get upset and frustrated because they may have missed a train, they may actually miss a connection to something. However, just keep in mind that this might happen a period of a couple of weeks out of the year. We’re not talking about this as a constant permanent situation. This is something that does not happen all the time.

[00:21:49] Annie Sargent: Correct, correct. Most of the time it’s fine. Your train is scheduled and it’ll go just as planned. Okay.

4. Challenges in learning the french language

[00:21:55] Annie Sargent: Number four is challenges in learning the French language.

[00:21:59] Elyse Rivin: Yes. yes, yes. The French language is not an easy language to learn. Those of you out there, and there are many of you who have studied Spanish, will have a much easier time, even though there is a big difference in some ways between French and Spanish. But it will give you a clue, because obviously we’re talking about two Latin languages and there is a certain similarity and certain notions in terms of grammar and things like that, and conjugation.

[00:22:25] Elyse Rivin: However, the French language is not an easy language, and since I, part of my life has been spent as a language teacher, let me just say this, English is not either an easy language. Exactly, exactly. And the reasons are, it’s very similar in spite of what most people think, and that is that neither language is phonetic. So when you look at the word, a word is written, it doesn’t mean that gives you a good clue as to how it is pronounced.

[00:22:49] Elyse Rivin: Well, there you go. So one of the things to do is learn certain basic things like basic phrases, I would say. And obviously, if you’re on a short term trip, just being able to say Bonjour, Merci, and two other things like that is enough. Don’t worry about it really. If you want to pride yourself on using some of your French, learn some of the vocabulary you need for doing the things you want to do.

[00:23:17] Elyse Rivin: If you need to know the words for what’s in a bakery, that’s one of the first things I learned. Yes. if you need to know how to order a good coffee, learn those things. Think about what it is you want to be able to say.

[00:23:28] Annie Sargent: Well, one thing that you should be able to say is perhaps the name of your hotel, perhaps the name of the metro stations you’re going to be using all the time. You need to have an idea how to say these things, okay?

[00:23:41] Annie Sargent: But just pay attention, just listen to people, you know, open your ears and you’ll be fine. But yeah, people are stumped by… Is it stumped or stamped?

[00:23:50] Annie Sargent: Stumped with a u.

[00:23:51] Elyse Rivin: Yeah. Stomped is when somebody walks on you and crushes,

[00:23:55] Elyse Rivin: See, English is difficult. Right?

[00:23:57] Elyse Rivin: That’s a good one for me to tell my students.

[00:24:00] Annie Sargent: You might be stumped by the, just, how do I say this name? Like…. uh… whatever…

[00:24:07] Annie Sargent: Yeah, whatever name it is. Have it written down, if you don’t think you can say it, put it on a little card and just pop your card up, like this is what I’m looking for.

[00:24:16] Annie Sargent: Hey, hey. Real true to life, real anecdote from way into my past, I was traveling in France with someone. It doesn’t matter at this point who, except that he was very bad at languages. And didn’t know a word of French, and walking around Paris and he just looked at me one day and he said to me, why is pain everywhere?

[00:24:34] Annie Sargent: And I went, what are you talking about? You know, Hey, that’s bread! That’s bread! Pain is not pain. Pain is pain and there you are.

[00:24:42] Annie Sargent: My mother, when she visited us the first time, she would see the signs that said

[00:24:47] Elyse Rivin: For Sale

[00:24:48] Elyse Rivin: Yeah.

[00:24:49] Annie Sargent: Which is for sale. And she asked me why people were forced to put a sign in front of their house that says their house was very dirty.

[00:24:59] Annie Sargent: Hey, there you go.

[00:25:01] Annie Sargent: Then she figured that’s not what it meant, but it amused her.

[00:25:06] Annie Sargent: Okay. Yes.

[00:25:08] Annie Sargent: Learn a little bit of French, but really Bonjour is what you need to know.

[00:25:11] Annie Sargent: Bonjour and Merci are the biggies. And look, at least it’s not Chinese. Okay? You can read the characters. This is not like you’re going into a country where you can’t even make out the alphabet.

[00:25:25] Annie Sargent: It’s the same alphabet. It’s not rocket science. If you open your ears, and you really try to repeat what people are actually saying rather than what your brain is telling you you should be saying, ignore your brain, you don’t know French, ignore your brain, just listen and repeat. It’s not that hard, really.

[00:25:46] Annie Sargent: It’s not. This is how I got fluent in English and I didn’t even get started when I was two or three and or because I had a parent who spoke English. I spoke zero English until I was 11. And then I opened my ears. You can do it too. Okay. Let’s see.

5. Perceived unfriendliness or indifference towards foreigners.

[00:26:03] Annie Sargent: Number five, perceived unfriendliness or indifference towards foreigners.

[00:26:09] Annie Sargent: Uh, untrue.

[00:26:12] Elyse Rivin: Mostly, I would say untrue. I find that that’s a cliché, especially associated with Paris that goes back 40 years. My first trips to Paris, I was warned, of course I did speak some French.

[00:26:25] Elyse Rivin: I had studied French and I was so happy to be able to go and say, you know, and things like that. But, it is really a cliché that seems to stick, and a lot of people still ask about that. I really don’t find it to be true.

[00:26:41] Annie Sargent: Okay. So some people are unfriendly and indifferent toward others. It doesn’t matter that they are foreign or someone they just don’t know. There are people who just don’t give a hoot.

[00:26:53] Annie Sargent: Yeah. But you know, again, it’s like, imagine, I think sometimes people have that kind of commentary if you ask somebody on the street for help, it will more likely happen in a busy, big city than in a small town where people will stop and talk to you.

[00:27:07] Annie Sargent: It’s a way of life. It’s the same thing in a lot of big places, I think. It can happen rarely, but it can happen that you will ask somebody in a store or something and they will just kind of look at you and go, they don’t know and they don’t want to talk to you. But I really don’t think that’s the general attitude.

[00:27:25] Annie Sargent: Yeah. I agree. I agree. Most people want to be friendly and nice, and then you have the few that just don’t give a hoot, and I think you have those few in every country. It’s not that different, you know?

6. High cost of living in major cities, especially Paris.

[00:27:35] Annie Sargent: Number six, high cost of living in major cities, especially Paris. That is true, although America has gotten very, very, very expensive as well.

[00:27:46] Elyse Rivin: Yes.

[00:27:47] Annie Sargent: Now it’s a fact that in the last few weeks I’ve had to explain to people that if they haven’t visited France and Paris in particular since before the pandemic, they are in for a surprise when it comes to hotel prices. They have gone up a lot. That’s just how it is. You know, prices go up, there’s lots of inflation, and that’s how it is.

[00:28:10] Elyse Rivin: I would say that that’s actually true, pretty much of prices in general about almost anything in the last couple of years, anyway. But it is a fact that transportation and hotel prices, not just in Paris, although Paris of course is clearly the most expensive, have gone up a great deal in the last couple of years.

[00:28:30] Elyse Rivin: Yes, that’s, that’s right.

[00:28:32] Elyse Rivin: Although, honestly, just an addendum if you want it, the cost of living and the prices of things in the United States, I was just back in New York, which of course is a very expensive city, I have to say that in comparison, it is not expensive here at all.

[00:28:45] Annie Sargent: Right. Yes. I do think that America overall is more expensive than France, overall.

7. Traffic congestion and limited parking in urban areas.

[00:28:51] Annie Sargent: Okay. Number seven, traffic congestion and limited parking in urban areas, which is true!

[00:29:00] Elyse Rivin: I mean, I’m looking at Annie saying me never take car into city center, never, you know. And we live in a city, Toulouse that has excellent public transportation, has really excellent bus system. Has metro that works fine most, most of the time. Has a tramway that takes you out to the airport. Urban parking is a problem. And one of the problems in cities, in a country like France, which I don’t think it’s limited to France, it’s certainly true in Italy as well, and probably in Spain too, is that the city centers were not designed for cars.

[00:29:34] Annie Sargent: Right, and it is true that if you are taking your car into a city, any French city, you need to be prepared to pay for parking.

[00:29:43] Elyse Rivin: Absolutely. And there was just a notice in the local newspaper that here, even in Toulouse where it has now a sufficient number of underground parking lots I think, they are now going to make all of the city center paying. And that’s the bottom line.

[00:29:58] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s just how it is. If you don’t want to pay for parking, take public transportation. Most cities have large parking lots at the end of the line, the metro line or the bus line or whatever, there’s usually a large parking lot there. And park your car, get on public transportation.

[00:30:15] Annie Sargent: Nobody wants your car inside of the city. That’s just how it is.

[00:30:19] Elyse Rivin: That’s right.

8. Limited job opportunities in certain sectors

[00:30:19] Annie Sargent: Number eight, limited job opportunities in certain sectors or regions.

[00:30:26] Elyse Rivin: Well, again, for those people who are not here on a permanent basis, I don’t think this is really a concern of any kind.If you have come here as a retired person,then it doesn’t concern you either. If you are here because you have a job, I don’t think it concerns you because you already have the job lined up. So, I think that this is a French – French issue. I honestly don’t think this is a French – other people issue. It is a fact that there are certain sectors that have a problem with job opportunities and it is a complicated issue. I do not begin to understand.

[00:31:04] Elyse Rivin: But I would say that unless you are a young person who shows up and thinks that because you have a degree in something, you will be able to get a job easily, then I think you have to think more than three times about what you’re doing.

[00:31:17] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:31:17] Annie Sargent: Yep.

9. Difficulty integrating into French Society for expats

[00:31:18] Annie Sargent: All right. Number nine,

[00:31:20] Annie Sargent: Difficulty integrating into French Society for expats.

[00:31:25] Annie Sargent: But, I’m not sure I agree with this.

[00:31:28] Elyse Rivin: I think that this is a two-way problem. That is if you are an expat and don’t know French, you’re not going to integrate into French society, so you have to make an effort.

[00:31:42] Elyse Rivin: And I think that personally, I mean, I’m talking as someone who has chosen to come and live here, although I did study French, so I did have the advantage of having some French before I showed up. I think that for expats, I know a bunch of people in the surrounding areas around Toulouse who live in little isolated communities where they only speak English and they feel that they have sufficient services within the little group that they have, that they basically don’t care whether they learn French. Well, I really have a very hard time with that, I have to say. I think if you choose to live in another country, you should have some contact with that society. You should know the language. And it is a choice that people make and I don’t necessarily think it’s up to the French people to do it. I think it’s the expats who have to do it.

[00:32:29] Annie Sargent: I agree. Yes. So obviously, there are English speaking people who live in France quite happily, whether or not they speak fluent French. We’re not talking about fluency here, we’re talking about you’re not going to fool anyone that you were born French, okay? That’s not the point. The point is being able to have a conversation and be able to be understood.

[00:32:52] Annie Sargent: And as you get older, it’s important to be able to discuss with your nurses, with your doctors, with workers who are going to come do things around your house or whatever. And if you know that much French, then you’re going to be fine. I don’t think French people are particularly averse to having foreigners move in, most places, there might be some exceptions to that, but typically, yeah, it’s okay. So long as you make an effort and you learn the language and you say Bonjour, and you try to talk to these people, you know, try.

[00:33:23] Elyse Rivin: I also think that, knowing a few people who live in small villages, it really makes a difference. You will find that people are much more welcoming and will help you if you make an effort because you know the language a little bit. Then you get invited for a cup of coffee or a tea. I mean, that is how you do make friends and integrate into French society.

[00:33:42] Elyse Rivin: But again, I think this is not just a French thing. I think this is true of anybody who chooses to go, imagine a family that goes to choose to live in Greece or in Portugal, which are two places that are very much fashionable these days for people to go to. You have to make a choice and it’s I think a choice that’s both philosophical and political, which is, do you live in a bubble or do you try to make contact in with the society that you’ve moved to?

[00:34:07] Annie Sargent: And you really have to try, you have to join associations, you have to go out and meet the people in your area. It usually works out. This is an interesting little detail but the statement was difficulty integrating into French society for expats. Notice the difference between an expat and an immigrant. Really, it’s the same person. It’s just that the expat has money and the immigrant usually does not.

[00:34:34] Elyse Rivin: And the expat has chosen to do it, for whatever reason that is not necessarily a bad reason.

10. Air pollution in larger cities

[00:34:40] Elyse Rivin: Number 10, air pollution in larger cities, which is, yeah, but I think that’s true anywhere, right?

[00:34:47] Elyse Rivin: I’m holding up my hand going, what else is new? Right? There are lots of times when there are alerts that go on about pollution in Paris, people are trying to limit the circulation of cars. Toulouse has been in the news recently because Toulouse has decided to create a zone where only cars with a one, two, or three label on them can go into the city center.

[00:35:09] Elyse Rivin: Which means that the car has to have an exam to see how polluting it is. And there are lots of people that are complaining because it is a fact that people who can’t afford a brand new, spanking new car are usually the ones that have cars that are polluting. But my feeling is that’s what they got to do, guys.

[00:35:27] Elyse Rivin: That’s it. You know? So take public transportation if you can’t use your car in the city center.

[00:35:34] Annie Sargent: Right. So that’s called ZFE, I don’t know what it stands for.

[00:35:39] Annie Sargent: It’s where certain higher polluting vehicles are not allowed to enter. And so in Toulouse is one, two, or three already.

[00:35:49] Annie Sargent: In Paris it’s one or two, but they haven’t started handing out tickets to people who either don’t have the sticker that you’re supposed to apply for.

[00:35:57] Annie Sargent: It costs like three bucks or four bucks or whatever, but you’re supposed to affix it to your car.

[00:36:02] Annie Sargent: Some people, most people I would say, haven’t even applied for it because they know they’re going to get a three or more and they’re not happy about that. But it’s going to get to the point where they’re going to have to start handing out tickets to people who violate this.

[00:36:15] Annie Sargent: And of course, we’ll have strikes.

[00:36:17] Annie Sargent: I mean, but this is, yeah. Okay. No, my little car, which is now 11 years old, has a three, it’s good for twos, I’m not taking it to Paris, and that’s just the way it is.

[00:36:27] Annie Sargent: Right. And besides, you probably hardly ever take your car into Toulouse.

[00:36:30] Annie Sargent: Never. Unless it’s the 1st of May and there’s no transportation.

[00:36:34] Annie Sargent: Or there’s course the one day of strike of the year when there’s no transportation.

[00:36:38] Annie Sargent: Right. Yeah.

[00:36:38] Elyse Rivin: NO, seriously, I don’t.

[00:36:40] Annie Sargent: Yeah. And my daughter just bought a new Citroen C3 is what she bought, brand new, and she has a two sticker. I tried to get her to buy an electric car, and I was denied.

[00:36:53] Annie Sargent: It was, it was expensive. And also she worried about the wrong stuff.

[00:36:55] Annie Sargent: But anyway, we’re not going to litigate this one here, but a two is fine.

[00:37:01] Annie Sargent: A two, she’ll probably be able to drive into the city and she avoids driving into the city anyway, because it’s expensive, you know, it just is.

11. Rigid labor market and strict labor laws

[00:37:09] Annie Sargent: Alright, number 11, rigid labor market and strict labor laws.

[00:37:14] Elyse Rivin: Strict labor laws. Okay. I grew up in a family that was basically working class family where we really believed in unions as protection for minimum wage and things. So I’ve maintained a certain attitude towards things like that. Yes, sometimes it can be a problem, but basically there’s a certain amount of protection for people that I really appreciate here, even though I’m not directly involved in it, because I know for a fact, for instance, in the United States, and I don’t know if it’s true everywhere, that you can be fired from one minute to the next, and that’s the end of that.

[00:37:49] Elyse Rivin: Here, you have to have a certain amount of warning. You have to have a certain amount of protection in terms of how it’s done.

[00:37:56] Elyse Rivin: So I would say that yes, the rules are strict, perhaps sometimes a little bit too strict, I don’t know, but at least there is a certain amount of protection.

[00:38:07] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yes. Yes. And this is something that, again, Macron is trying to change and it results in people being unhappy because change, you know?

[00:38:18] Annie Sargent: But I think it’s getting a little easier, we’ll see. These things will take a long time to change in France, you know? And it is good that people are protected and cannot be fired from one day to the next.

[00:38:30] Annie Sargent: Like I’ve seen in corporations in the US, you know, you show up at your desk one morning and the boss wants to talk to you, and while you’re talking to the boss, they’re clearing out your desk.

[00:38:40] Annie Sargent: Absolutely.

[00:38:41] Annie Sargent: And you’re out. So, yes, this is not something I’ve enjoyed about American life, and it cannot happen here.

[00:38:47] Annie Sargent: So, in a way it’s much better.

12. Slow pace of life may frustrate some people.

[00:38:49] Annie Sargent: Okay. Number 12, slow pace of life may frustrate some people. Hmm. Hmm.

[00:38:55] Elyse Rivin: Okay. Annie, what is your definition of a slow pace of life?

[00:38:59] Annie Sargent: Oh, it’s the fact that, okay, when I moved to my village from the US from, I also lived in a village in Utah, but it felt like the pace of life matter what much slower here because everything took longer. We moved into a house where we wanted to have some work done and things like that, it would take forever to get someone to come give us a bid, come do the work. You wanted to go look at things to buy, you couldn’t buy them right away, right away. You know, most places don’t have a lot of stock, so you have to plan on ordering and waiting. So there’s a lot of waiting around. Instant gratification is not a thing in France, so we do eat well and you can get instant gratification that way, but in a lot of other dimensions of life, you got to wait, you got to chill and wait your turn.

[00:39:58] Elyse Rivin: Okay, so here’s one of my pet peeves, interestingly enough. It has to do with service, especially as I mentioned to you the other day, in food stores, a lot of times, not necessarily even in supermarkets. I have been in different kinds of supermarkets, some supermarkets the cashiers are relatively efficient.

[00:40:17] Elyse Rivin: Sometimes they’re not. I’ve actually been in, in supermarkets where the cashier will have a conversation with somebody in front of me and you’re just sort of standing there waiting to see when they finish their conversation if your stuff is going to go through and get checked. And then, I was in food market that I love the other day and trying to get some prepared foods, which is what they call here.

[00:40:38] Elyse Rivin: And the guy just took his time with the client in front of me and it was like, who cares? You can stand there forever. And me, that’s when the American comes out, it just bubbles to the surface, after 15 minutes of waiting, I just walked away. So I think that it’s really interesting to see what we tolerate and what we don’t in the different pace of life.

[00:41:01] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and it’s definitely slower, and here it’s considered just fine for a worker to take their sweet time with one person when they have three or four people waiting.

[00:41:11] Elyse Rivin: And nobody complains.

[00:41:13] Annie Sargent: No. No. They just wait their turn. Yeah.

[00:41:16] Elyse Rivin: Yeah, except big mouths like me, sometimes. Yeah.

[00:41:19] Annie Sargent: But it’s totally fine to walk away too. I mean, if you can’t take it, just walk away.

[00:41:24] Annie Sargent:

13. Stores and businesses closed on Sundays and Holidays

[00:41:24] Annie Sargent: Let’s see. Number 13, stores and businesses often closed on Sundays and holidays.

[00:41:31] Annie Sargent: Now, this is not as true as it used be.

[00:41:34] Elyse Rivin: Exactly.

[00:41:35] Annie Sargent: A lot used to be closed on Sundays and holidays. Now even in smaller towns, you can expect that the grocery store is going to be open at least on Sunday morning. Yes.

[00:41:45] Elyse Rivin: Yes. And all the supermarkets are now open Sundays until noon, basically, 12:30. What is not open on Sundays is, you know, your little clothing store, those kinds of things. But basically because food is so important in France, anything that’s connected to food is open the first half of the day on Sunday.

[00:42:01] Annie Sargent: Right,

[00:42:02] Annie Sargent: but they do close at 7:00 or 7:30 PM

[00:42:04] Annie Sargent: unless it’s in a big city.

[00:42:06] Annie Sargent: In a big city, it’s going to stay open till 9:00 usually, sometimes 10:00. There’s some stores that open, you know,

[00:42:12] Annie Sargent: I don’t know that any grocery stores are open 24/7?

[00:42:15] Elyse Rivin: In Toulouse there are now a few that are open, no 20, no 24 hours a day no, absolutely not. But there are actually a few stores that are open all day on Sunday. And it’s interesting because they’re shifting their attitude towards it.

[00:42:28] Elyse Rivin: Yeah, it used to be funny to see, so smokers used to be on the hunt for the tobacco shops that were open on Sundays. Do you remember? No. I don’t. I actually live with someone who’s an ex-smoker, but I think he used to have enough cigarettes in the house that, that never happend.

[00:42:43] Annie Sargent: Oh man, that was always the thing. I mean, people in the city, they would stop you and say where’s the nearest tobacco shop that’s open on Sunday? That’s long gone. Not, yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore.

High unemployment rate, particularly for youth

[00:42:55] Annie Sargent: All right. Number 14, high unemployment rate, particularly for youth.

[00:43:00] Annie Sargent: Yes, this is true.

[00:43:01] Annie Sargent: It’s getting better. In the last few years, the policies that Macron has implemented despite considerable opposition is working. And he’s trying to turn France into a country where people realize that if you want to have money, you need to work.

[00:43:20] Annie Sargent: And that’s like not a given for some people. Yesterday I was talking to my sister about some of her friends, who have made really poor choices all of their lives and now they’re in their sixties and they’re finding it difficult to make ends meet. And I’m like, okay, this is a horrible thing to say, but what did you expect? Anyway, okay. We do have a high unemployment rate.

[00:43:46] Annie Sargent: It’s coming down, I think it’s around 7% right now.

[00:43:49] Annie Sargent: Yeah, but I think there’s something else involved, I mean, it’s a very complex question and I don’t think really it’s worth going and spending too much time on it. But I was just talking to some of the students in the one class I still teach about it. And these are high tech, high scientific students and the unemployment is more than a question of who’s in charge in terms of the government and things like that. There is a certain rigidity in the way people are hired and the way people see a job description in France. And even for people who have degrees that are not just high school diplomas or things like that, there is a need to change a certain attitude towards who is qualified for what. This is a very interesting social question that goes back to society and education, and I really almost feel like we could do a podcast about it because I have a lot of experience teaching in France and this is something that I really have some very interesting opinions about.

[00:44:49] Annie Sargent: Hmm, perhaps, perhaps.

15. Strikes and protests affecting public transportation and services

[00:44:52] Annie Sargent: Alright. Number 15, strikes and protests affecting public transportation and services. We’ve already talked about that, so moving right along.

16. Rising social tensions and political polarization

[00:44:59] Annie Sargent: Number 16, rising social tensions and political polarization.

[00:45:04] Annie Sargent: That is true, it’s not getting any better. It’s a fact in the US as well, that the political discourse has gotten more polarized, and it’s the same here. And the people who are the loudest get the most cameras pointed at them. And so their message is getting amplified even though it’s not that many people who feel that way, but since they are loud and obnoxious, we talk about them.

[00:45:32] Annie Sargent: That’s pretty true everywhere. And in spite of, I mean, it is definitely getting more polarized. I would say that so far, and I hope it is that way. It’s not as bad as in the States.

[00:45:45] Annie Sargent: True. I don’t think it’s gotten quite bad, but it’s getting, it’s getting more tense and it really is. It’s very hard to have dialogue these days, really. I mean, we still have a hobby of talking politics at the dinner table here, it’s getting harder. It’s getting harder.

[00:46:02] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

17. Limited customer service culture compared to some other countries

[00:46:03] Annie Sargent: All right. Number 17, limited customer service culture compared to some other countries, and that’s probably true.

[00:46:12] Annie Sargent: Yes. Sadly it is. You know, there are acouple of chain stores that sell auto appliances, little and big, and all kinds of electronics, that use as part of their advertising spiel, that they are really great with customer service. They’re not, they’re not, and I can attest to that directly. It seems weird to me, but this is, the other side of the slow paced society is that the customer is not always right in France.

[00:46:42] Annie Sargent: And I don’t know what to do about that, to be honest, because it annoys me.

[00:46:47] Annie Sargent: Yeah, like I mentioned earlier, I need to replace my oven and so I went into one of these big stores that sells major appliances, and I have no desire to buy anything from them. I’m like, is not going to go well. I know it’s not going to go well. So I talk to my acquaintances and ask, you know, do you know a cuisiniste?

[00:47:06] Annie Sargent: So this is somebody who’s just designs kitchens and sells appliances, but higher end appliances. I’d rather buy a higher end appliance and not have to mess with the retail stores.

[00:47:17] Annie Sargent: But talking about customer service. Customer service, you know me, I love going into cafes, even in city center in Toulouse and just getting a coffee. A perfect example of what I call a strange attitude compared to what the service attitude is certainly in the States. Last week I was in, it was a day that was lovely, warm in the afternoon, I’d been walking around, I decided to sit myself down and ask for an iced coffee, and I specifically said to the waitress, I do not want sugar in it. I don’t want syrup in it. I wanted to be not sweetened. And she looked at me, she said, fine, I do speak French, you know? She came back a few minutes later with the sweetest, most disgusting drink I’ve ever tasted in my life.

[00:47:56] Annie Sargent: And called her over and I said to her, I don’t understand, I asked for something unsweetened. She said, yeah, but you asked for no sugar, they always put sweet syrup in it. I said no. And so I had her take it back. She wasn’t going to take it back. I asked, I said, I’m not going to pay for this. I’m not going to drink it.

[00:48:14] Annie Sargent: And I thought, this is for a stupid thing that costs two and a half euros. What is the problem? You really have to, but customers should be right, I don’t know. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:48:24] Annie Sargent: This is, I can’t argue with you here Elyse, I can’t argue with you.

[00:48:28] Elyse Rivin: Okay, so please, if you ever have this kind of a little frustrating experience in a place, just the only, I would like to just say one thing.

[00:48:36] Elyse Rivin: Do it politely, if you’re frustrated or if you’re upset because you don’t get what you want, or something like that, I was polite, I was just firm. I was just saying, no, I don’t want this. You know? But try to, even if you have limited French, do it politely.

[00:48:51] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

18. Dog waste on sidewalks in some urban areas

[00:48:52] Annie Sargent: Number 18, dog waste on sidewalks in some urban areas. Yeah, it’s getting better. We did a whole episode about this. Yeah, it’s getting better. I think if you are walking around a neighborhood that has this problem, you need to walk around a different neighborhood because that one is clearly one where they don’t give a hoot.

[00:49:11] Annie Sargent: And most places do now, I think. I think so, too.

[00:49:15] Annie Sargent: Yeah, Yeah.

19. Inconsistent business hours or long lunch break

[00:49:15] Annie Sargent: Number 19, inconsistent business hours or long lunch break in some areas. That’s not so much anymore. I think that certainly, I mean, I’ve been here long enough. I don’t think that’s true as much anymore, and I think that now people don’t take such long lunch breaks either.

20. Occasional language chauvinism making it difficult for non-French speakers

[00:49:33] Annie Sargent: And number 20, occasional language chauvinism, making it difficult for non-French speakers.

[00:49:39] Annie Sargent: Well, yes, I mean…

[00:49:41] Elyse Rivin: What is language chauvinism?

[00:49:44] Annie Sargent: Well, apparently it’s French people want to speak French and not English.

[00:49:47] Elyse Rivin: Well.

[00:49:48] Annie Sargent: Well.

[00:49:48] Elyse Rivin: Okay. Okay. I mean, that certainly is, sounds like a normal logical thing to me, you know?

[00:49:55] Annie Sargent: No. So, we don’t really, okay, in America, long, long, long ago when I moved to Utah, I met a member of my husband’s family, he was not a very close member, he was some five times removed kind of person who was invited to a party, who complimented me on my English. And I was pleased, you know, and then he started talking about stuff that seemed very narrow-minded to me because he was talking about how foreigners don’t learn the language and blah, blah, blah.

[00:50:30] Annie Sargent: And then I mentioned that conversation to other members of the family and they were like, oh yeah, he’s an English first type of person. So he was, he’s one that says, you know, you should never speak in a word of anything besides English in America. It’s not quite that in France, it’s just that other than in the service sector, like if you are a hotel worker or a restaurant worker or someone like that, obviously you have to know English, but there’s a lot of other sectors where people don’t feel like they should have to speak English for their daily life. Absolutely.

[00:51:07] Annie Sargent: But also the other side of that coin is, and it is annoying, my husband is certainly someone who is really like that. It is annoying to see that ads on TV are almost so least exclusively in English.

[00:51:20] Annie Sargent: That ads on the sides of trucks.

[00:51:22] Annie Sargent: You mean in France? In France, yes.

[00:51:24] Annie Sargent: You don’t watch French television, you watch…? No, everything ads, I was walking with Renee and Bill, who I did a walk with the other day in city center. And we passed a foodie thing on one of the streets in the city center.

[00:51:37] Annie Sargent: The entire thing was written in English. And why? There is no need for that. I mean, really there is absolutely no need for that. And that is the kind of thing where I can see that French people are upset, but it’s the younger generation that’s like that.They it’s hip and cool, right?

[00:51:54] Annie Sargent: Yeah, but the problem is very often it’s not great English. Their idea of what cool English is, is really strange.

[00:52:02] Elyse Rivin: And anybody over the age of 23 doesn’t know what the hell is going on. You know? I mean, really I think that there’s, I think that’s the other side of the coin.

[00:52:09] Elyse Rivin: I don’t think it’s French chauvinism to be in a country where French is the language. If you go to Spain, everybody’s going to assume you speak Spanish.

[00:52:16] Elyse Rivin: You know? So it’s like if I go to Denmark, I know some people learn English, but still the language is Danish.

[00:52:23] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and in Europe we have all these languages packed close together so we’re used to it, but in a way, English is the lingua franca, I guess.

[00:52:34] Elyse Rivin: It’s very cultural.

[00:52:35] Annie Sargent: And it’s annoying to some French people because French used to be the lingua franca, yes, that was a hundred years ago.

[00:52:40] Elyse Rivin: But, well, I think the difference is though, that French is still the diplomatic lingua franca. It is. Even in the UN. But what is with the younger generation, it’s because of music and it’s because of films that English has become hip. And I think that even hip is the wrong word. because it’s an old fashioned word.

[00:52:56] Elyse Rivin: Whatever the right word is these days. What the French would call “branché”, you know, this is what you do. You put up the sign in English and you wear a T-shirt that says something in English and you’re with it. But I think that it’s not unusual to imagine that somebody who is in France speaks French.

[00:53:12] Annie Sargent: Yeah, so here are, these were our 20 things that make life awful in France. So I hope we did not make you want to stop visiting France.

[00:53:22] Annie Sargent: Most of these issues really do not impact visitors to any extent. And despite it all, I’m very happy to live in France. And of course this is where I was born and raised, so like, I expect people to love the place where they were born and raised. It does not surprise me.

[00:53:40] Elyse Rivin: Well and look at me, I chose to live here, right? Right.

[00:53:45] Annie Sargent: And I chose to live in the US for I think 16 years and two years in England. And I was very happy there, as well. So, it’s okay. We’re very privileged we can choose these things, these days and that’s a very happy thing.

[00:53:59] Annie Sargent: Merci beaucoup, Elyse.

[00:54:01] Elyse Rivin: You are welcome, Annie. Au revoir.


Thank you, Patrons

[00:54:10] Annie Sargent: Again I want to thank my patrons for supporting the show and giving back! Patrons get several exclusive rewards for doing so. You can see them at PATREON.COM/JOINUS.

[00:54:26] Annie Sargent: Thank you all for supporting the show, some of you for many years now, you are wonderful. And a shout out this week to new patron Laura Cantrell. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible.

New patron rewards

[00:54:39] Annie Sargent: Patrons, I’ll be adding a Zoom meeting to the lineup of rewards, we’re deciding on a time right now. I’ve messaged you and that will start very, very soon.

[00:54:50] Annie Sargent: And thank you also Emily Latono and Howard Kantoff for sending in a one-time donation using the green button on JoinusinFrance.Com that says, Tip Your Guide. And while I appreciate that, you know, perhaps look at the Patreon stuff as well because you get a lot more stuff out of your donation. I mean, you get the podcast and probably you’re donating because you love the podcast, but think about doing Patreon instead.

[00:55:18] Annie Sargent: And patrons I would also like to encourage you to install the Patreon app on your phone, it’ll help you enjoy your rewards while on the go, including audio and video rewards, invites to Zoom meetings and private messages and all of that.

Preparing a trip to France?

[00:55:32] Annie Sargent: If you’re coming to France soon and you’re listening to as many episodes as possible to prepare, keep doing it, it really helps.

[00:55:41] Annie Sargent: And you know, this podcast and hearing about my guests experiences is an excellent resource to help you get ready for your own trip to France.

The Bonjour Service

[00:55:49] Annie Sargent: Searching the website also helps but you can also take advantage of my expertise as your personal itinerary consultant. I offer two levels of service. The Bonjour service where we talk for an hour. You ask me all your questions, I give you my suggestions, and then you’re ready to make decisions about whatever you were struggling with.

[00:56:11] Annie Sargent: You can also go with the VIP service where we talk for an hour. But then I send you a detailed document that outlines everything we discussed, as well as a summary of the best advice shared on this podcast over a long time.

[00:56:26] Annie Sargent: To get started, purchase the service at, and you’ll get emails guiding you through the process. It’s pretty simple.

VoiceMap App Tours

[00:56:35] Annie Sargent: And if talking to me is not going to work for you, you can still take me along on your Parisian adventure with my GPS self-guided tours available on the VoiceMap app. I’ve created seven tours, each showcasing a different iconic neighborhood of Paris. Choose from the Eiffel Tower, which is available in English or French, Ile de la Cité, Le Marais, Montmartre, Saint Germain des Prés or the Latin Quarter. You download the tour as soon as you buy them, and then you can listen at home if you’d like. And then when you get to Paris at long last, open the VoiceMap, go to the appointed start of the tour, and I will start talking. Amazing.

[00:57:18] Annie Sargent: You can access my tours directly from the VoiceMap app if you’re in a hurry.

[00:57:23] Annie Sargent: But if you purchase the tour codes from you’ll receive a special listener discount. But that’s not an immediate purchase, and I do sleep, so give me a few hours before you get your codes.

Olympics 2024 in Paris

[00:57:38] Annie Sargent: Let’s talk Olympics for a minute. Prices of accommodations are going through the roof.

[00:57:44] Annie Sargent: The average price per night went from 207 in 2023 to 1,079 in 2024. So this is average, you know, but it gives you a good idea of what’s happening. Now, we’re talking about prices getting multiplied by five, and this is for people booking a year early. Yes. It’s price gouging, I think, and yes, it’s legal.

[00:58:11] Annie Sargent: I have no idea what anybody can do about this. I certainly don’t have a magic solution for you. Personally, I plan to be nowhere near Paris during the Olympics. If I lived there, it’d be different, but I don’t live there, so there you go. I may venture a visit during the Paralympics, but that’s about it.

[00:58:29] Annie Sargent: I think 2024 is going to be a great time to visit places that are not called Paris. There will be some Olympics events in Lille, Nantes, Châteauroux, Lyon, St-Etienne, Nice and Marseille as well, nothing in Toulouse or Strasbourg or La Rochelle or Normandy or Brittany, et cetera. So, pick your France destination wisely in 2024, unless you have a big budget.

[00:58:59] Annie Sargent: Security is going to be very tight in Paris, which is a good thing. But I think getting around the hyper center, you know, along the river between Tour Eiffel and along the river there,

[00:59:11] Annie Sargent: the City Hall or places like that, it’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be okay on foot or on a bicycle perhaps, but even then, roads are going to be closed, et cetera. There’s going to be a lot of security. We’ll know more in a few weeks. They’ll test some things with the Rugby World Cup coming up in just very soon here.

[00:59:30] Annie Sargent: So, we’ll know more. But Paris is a city that’s probably going to quadruple in size and that’s a lot of people. It’s already a lot of people, it’s going to be a ridiculous amount of people, is what I think. But I’m a country girl, you know, that’s just who I am.

[00:59:48] Annie Sargent: My thanks to podcast editors Anne and Cristian Cotovan who produced the transcripts, this is a great resource, please search the transcripts because we talk about all sorts of things on this podcast.

Next week on the podcast

[01:00:00] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, an episode with Eva Jorgensen about Marseille as a solo woman traveler. Now, Marseille gets a bad rap and you’ll see much of that is not deserved, so we’ll see what Eva has to say about it but, you know, some cities get a bad rap. That’s just how it’s.

[01:00:20] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you join me next time so we can look around France together. Au revoir.


[01:00:28] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2023 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons, attribution, non-commercial, no derivatives license.

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Categories: French Customs & Lifestyle, Moving to France