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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Must sees in the Midi Pyrénées……

Being the largest region in France, the Midi Pyrénées is a great place to visit as it has a huge variety of day trips and and beautiful places to see. During the time I live here I want to make sure that I make the most of the area, so over my next few posts I’m going to look at some of the essential places to go while over here!

The Pyréenées – Starting at just over an hour away from Toulouse The Pyrénées hold some breathtaking sights that are not to be missed;

The Cirque de Gavarnie – A UNESCO world heritage sight, the Cirque de Gavarnie is a natural ampitheatre only accessible by foot and home to one of the highest waterfalls in Europe.

The Pic du Baget – Is a mountain in the Néouvielle massif that lies within the Néouville natural reserve, a ‘must see’ on my list purely for its sheer beauty.

The Pic du Midi Observatory – An observatory that stands at a whopping 2,887 metres allowing you to get up close and personal with both the Southward Pyrénées chain and the Plains in the North. Don’t forget to visit the museum as well while you’re up there!

Keep your eye out for my next post as I’ll be looking at some of the ‘Must See’ towns in the Midi Pyrénées …..

Au revoir mes amis x

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

Our first road trip…..

After being here a few weeks, and feeling a little more settled, my boyfriend and I decided to risk the crazy French roads, and take a day trip to Andorra. Although snow season has not yet started we fancied getting a feel for the place and of course were not adverse to picking up some cheap booze!

The journey took about 3 hours in total, but the views along the way were breathtaking making the journey well worthwhile.

 Once we had reached Andorra we headed for Andorra de Vella, the capital of the country and Andorra’s most popular ski resort. We were a little disappointed by the views in the town centre, but found a lovely chalet restaurant where we grabbed some lunch and practised our Spanish amongst the locals. ( This was very confusing as we have been trying to speak French constantly for the last 2 weeks, and had now added a new language to the mix!)

After a little look round the shops, we decided to head back stopping off at a hypermarket on the outskirts, to pick up some well deserved Spanish wine and a nice bottle of bubbly which we are going to open when we move into our new house!

Although the town centre was not quite what I expected, the little towns and villages surrounding Andorra were beautiful and I cannot wait to return and try my luck at skiing next year!!

Au revoir mes amis x