Expat Hub Feature……..The pros and cons of living in the Midi Pyrénées

So this week I’ve been working with a great new website The Expat Hub, that helps to provide expats with great resources and advice when they move abroad. Not only have they put a great guest post together for me on the pros and cons of living abroad, but they have featured me on their new ‘Expat experiences’ page, that focuses on the lives of different expats around the world……You can visit my feature here: http://www.theexpathub.com/an-english-girl-in-france-with-nothing-toulouse/2446/

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So the real question is what are the pros and cons of living in the Midi Pyrénées

The Midi- Pyrénées attracts expats from all over the world, and locals see it as the real south of France, but what does it really have to offer? Here we take a look at the pros and cons of living in this popular region.

Pros 

Climate – Everybody loves a bit of sun, and it’s not in short supply in the Midi-Pyrénées. Because of its southerly location the region is generally warm for most of the year, but its size means it’s variously influenced by continental, oceanic and Mediterranean climates. In continental/Mediterranean areas you can expect a whopping 2000 hours of sunshine a year and average summer temperatures of at least 20°c. Spring usually comes early while the summer months are characterised by intense sunny spells. Although winters can be cool the weather generally stays pleasant throughout September and October.

Location-As the Midi-Pyrénées covers such a substantial area it encompasses a varied landscape. Breath-taking mountains, limestone plateaux, beaches, regional and national natural parks, picturesque towns, bustling cities and geological curiosities like the caves of Padirac can all be found in the Midi-Pyrénées. It’s also just a hop, skip and a jump away from Spain!

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Fun-The favourable climate and varied terrain mean all sorts of fun can be had in the Midi-Pyrénées. Whether your passion is skiing, golf, cycling, hiking, sightseeing, paragliding, relaxing, walking, fishing, exploring or horse riding you can indulge it in this southerly region of France.

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Culture-In much of the Midi-Pyrénées the culture is a traditional rural one, one of markets, great food, craftsmen and artisans; a region where you can immerse yourself in a way of life which follows the seasons and celebrates heritage. The Midi-Pyrénées also has an interesting history to appreciate, evident from the ancient Gallo-Roman city of Saint Lizier with its Roman frescos and 18th century pharmacy to the powerful city of Rodez and the pink city of the Haute-Garonne.

The People-The Midi-Pyrénées has been a place of refuge for foreigners for centuries and the people of the region are known for their warmth, easy-going approach and welcoming attitude. The population density of the Midi-Pyrénées is very low at 56 people per km2 which means that many areas have a close, community feel.

Cons  

 The Climate –France is exposed to seven different climates, but the weather in the Midi-Pyrénées is generally thought to be the best. While it might seem unlikely that anyone could get sick of sunshine some expats really do come to miss the climates and seasonal changes they’re used to. When it comes to the weather it can sometimes feel like too much of a good thing!

That Holiday-Feeling-It’s easy to assume that when you move abroad, to a beautiful location with beautiful weather like the Midi-Pyrénées, your life will seem like one long holiday. Although this may well be the case for some, for others the issues, annoyances and responsibilities which existed at home will continue. If you intend to move to the Midi-Pyrénées do so with your eyes wide open – yes the weather might be glorious but bills will still need to be paid, home repairs will still need to be carried out and personal issues won’t just disappear.

Pace of Life –A slower, more relaxed pace of life is one of the main reasons why people relocate to the Midi-Pyrénées but be aware that a laid-back lifestyle can become frustrating, particularly if you feel a situation warrants an urgency it isn’t receiving.

The People-As welcoming and friendly as the locals may be they can never replace the loved ones you’ve left behind. When people first move abroad friends and family often think they’ll pop over to visit all the time, but in reality life often gets in the way and you can go far longer without seeing anyone from home then you thought. The Midi-Pyrénées might not be the moon but it’s far enough away that you’ll inevitably miss out on family occasions and events, situations which might sometimes trigger feelings of loneliness and guilt.

This Guest post was provided by The Expat Hub the number one stop online for expatriates looking for advice, support and information.

To those who have recently moved abroad or have been living abroad for sometime now, I would love to hear your thoughts on these pros and cons do you agree? or do you have your own list of pros and cons?

Au revoir mes amis x

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Welcome to Barcelona

So over the weekend we decided to take a short break to Barcelona to experience the city life and do some exploring……Only a four hour drive from Toulouse it was a lovely drive with some amazing views en route, the best parts of the journey had to be passing by the town of Carcasonne and driving along the coastal road of Narbonne.

Arriving in Barcelona we were excited but a little tired and ready to check in and relax, little did we know how our Barcelona experience was about to unravel…….

I had heard a lot about Barcelona and had been thoroughly warned about the pick pocketers and con artists that would be lurking about, however we were taken by surprise when we nearly lost our car due to a scam we were never expecting……

The flat tyre scam – As we took our exit off the motorway and came on to the main road leading into Barcelona, our car started jolting and making a strange noise which we soon realised was a flat tyre, a little confused we pulled over hoping it was salvageable and we could make it to the hotel. After pulling over we jumped out of the car to inspect the damage, when we were approached by a “nice motorcyclist” who was offering us directions to a garage…..however as we were being distracted by the motorcyclist we hadn’t notice the man behind who was about to jump into our car and drive away!!! Lucky for us a genuinely nice Spanish couple chased the thief off and we managed to save our car and all our valuables just in time. It turns out this is a well known scam in Barcelona where motorcyclists fit blades into their shoes to puncture your tyre while on the road, hoping you will pull over and that they can distract you while their ‘partner in crime’ tries to steal your things!

Thankfully after a long wait for the AA and a change of tyre we finally made it to our hotel and managed to get through the rest of our weekend scam free, and undeterred to enjoy our Barcelonan Experience.

Waking up the next morning I was glad to see the city was every little bit as beautiful as I had expected. Some of our favourite sights over the weekend included;The Sagrada Familia – a famous church within Barcelona designed by Gaudi, a Catalan architect. Construction of The Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and still continues today!

La Catedral – A beautiful gothic style cathedral dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, the co – patron saint of Barcelona.

Casa Batlló – The restoration of a house by Gaudi in 1904 that had been originally built in 1877.

Nou camp – FC Barcelona’s Football stadium, a little less cultured but definitely a must see when in Barcelona.

It was a wonderful weekend in all, and even our near scam disaster helped add to experiencing the true culture of Barcelona (although I’m sure I wouldn’t being say that right now if our car had been stolen). I can’t wait to go back as I feel we have only skimmed the surface of a city full of gems.

Au revoir mes amis x

Things I Miss Most About England….

I have been here for just over a month now, and can’t believe how fast time has flown by. We are settling in well and have met some great people, and cannot wait to move into our new home next month, living in a hotel is starting to drag…..however I have to admit that there are a few things from home that I am starting to miss, and that I definitely took for granted before I left….

Making a quick call…This is definitely something I miss more than anything else, being able to pick up the phone and have a natter, without having to worry about how much it’s going to cost, scheduling a skype date, or ending a call mid sentence because you’ve run out of credit.

English radio…Something I never thought I’d miss is turning the radio on and listen to a bunch of presenters gibbering on about completely meaningless things, but since I’ve moved away this seems a lot more appealing than listening to a bunch of presenters gibbering on in French. Also I have not yet acquired a taste for French pop music….it is much to be desired!

Roast Dinners…Roast dinners are by far my favourite meal in the whole world, and it is near impossible to get one in Toulouse, there are only two pubs in driving distance to me that do them, one is always full of 50 year old men….no thanks, and the other is so popular you have to make a reservation and arrive before midday to make sure there’s any roasts left, which defeats the whole idea of a lazy Sunday lunch!

Red post boxes…Quite a random one, but the French have these bright yellow post boxes and yellow postal vans, that I just can’t take to….give me a pillar box red post box any day!

English fashion…So I have just finished a 5 year fashion degree, and I know it’s cliched but have a serious passion for fashion….lets just say Toulouse isn’t quite Paris, and I am seriously struggling to find a winter wardrobe….what i would do for Topshop right now!

Robinsons orange squash…(Has to be no added sugar!) A strange addiction of mine that I just can’t seem to overcome, although I have managed to get my hands on different varieties of Robinsons orange squash, I have failed miserably to find the right one…..I have already insisted to anyone who comes to visit they must bring orange squash!!

Proper English pubs…Imitation English pubs just aren’t the same, they may be full of English people, but they are generally in strange shop units that look nothing like a good old English pub, and don’t serve good pub grub like you get back home.

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A good natter with a stranger…I love to chat, and I definitely wouldn’t call myself shy so generally I have no qualms about having a quick natter with someone sat next to me on the bus, or in a queue at the supermarket…..this is near impossible to do when 99% of people around you are French and have absolutely no idea what you are saying!

Screw top wine…I’m pretty sure this is one of those I shouldn’t admit, especially considering the amazing wine you can get over here, but no matter how much I try I just seem to lack the talent to use a corkscrew or need to invest in an expensive snazzy one that will undo my wine in one pop.

Although there are a few things I’m missing about home there’s plenty of stuff I’m loving over here, but that’s for next time……

Au revoir mes amis x