Expats in France coming ‘atcha! I got to know Sara on Twitter. When I started planning our European road trip I got a slew of great recommendations from her on things to do in Avignon – including the amazing restaurant Fou de Fafa, our favorite meal in France. For that, I will forever be in debt.
Meet Sara from Le Petit Village!
Name: Sara Louise
Expat Location: Le Petit Village, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
In one word, how would you describe Alpes-de-Haute-Provence? Charming
How long have you been an expat? I passed my 10th expat anniversary in August 2013. I spent six years living in Dublin, Ireland before moving to France almost four years ago (the 26th of September marks year four in France).
Before moving abroad where was home? I should say a small town in the Texas Hill Country because that’s where I was living before I made the big move, but because my pre-expat life was spent moving back and forth between Texas and New York, I never know which to say.
What is your occupation and how did you land it – any tips for expats looking for a job aboard? I am currently the COO, CFO and CEO of Chez Moi, where I manage a small (and sometimes disobedient) staff of two comprised of my husband and dog. I would like that to change, but finding a job as an expat in France is very difficult. It’s hard enough in Paris, but in a small village in Provence, it’s darn near impossible.
What kind of paperwork/documentation let you stay in France? I am extremely lucky in that I have dual citizenship, American and Irish. My Irish passport allows me to live and work anywhere in the EU.
Any tips on the process for paperwork for expats moving abroad? I’ve read some great tips on blog posts written by other expats that have gone through the process…my advice, learn from those who have done it.
What advice do you have for an expat on moving abroad? My number one piece of advice if you are planning on moving to a non-English speaking country is to learn the language! When I moved to France to be with my French husband I was firmly in the beginner category, it made life quite difficult for awhile. Other than that, have an open mind, try not to constantly negatively compare your new home with your old country, try new things, get out there, explore, and make friends. Also, start a blog if you have the time. The expat blogging community is a great resource for advice, tips and it’s a fantastic way to make new friends.
What were the hardest parts about living in and/or moving abroad? For me it’s the language barrier. I can communicate with my French friends but I don’t feel like they really know ‘me’.
What do you miss the most about your life “back home”? I miss the convenience of life in the U.S. and the (usually) friendly customer service.
What are your favorite restaurants in Provence? There are so many… Fou de Fafa and Restaurant Le Bain Marie in Avignon, Bonaparte in Cassis, Hue Cocotte in Aix-en-Provence, Les Vins Au Vert in Banon… I could go on and on…
What are your top three MUST-DOs in Provence?
- Le Palais de Papes in Avignon
- Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille
- Have drinks outside the casino in Monte Carlo (it’s not in Provence but it’s close enough)
Thanks for the time and insight, Sara – great stuff for would-be and current expats in France. Can’t wait to get back to your area to try the other restaurants – and hopefully share a bottle of wine (Barolo!?) Also good (relieved!) to also hear that I’m in good company with the language barrier struggles. I recommend Rosetta Stone to those prepping to make the move – and from my reads on Sara’s blog, a tutor is also a great help.
Song Pick! Frere Jacques
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