It’s been ten years since my “Great Adventure” in Uzès began. Truthfully, I’m amazed I’m still here. It all has to do with managing expectations.
Uzès on that Saturday morning ten years ago was more than I expected. The weekly market was in full swing. The circular street that surrounds the historic district of Uzès was lined with vendors’ tables and covered booths. Cars crawled slowly along the one-way road, often stopping to give way to pedestrians crossing from side to side.
On both sides of the narrow street, garments swirled on plastic hangers from the awnings of makeshift stops. Displays of shoes, jeans, handbags, and jewelry lined up on a succession of folding tables. Samples of bizarre-sounding saucissons, chewy nougats, and exotic flavors of honey were all along the way.
As I entered the heart of the market, the Place aux Herbes. It was magical. Sellers with cheeses in refrigerated cases, more cheese in huge rounds on wooden blocks, fancy cheeses with flowers on top. Wine in bottles, wine samples in glasses, boxed wine. Season-ripe fruits and vegetables. Butchers, bakers — lavender soap makers. They surrounded the Place’s centerpiece fountain in orderly rows. Women with straw hats and flowing scarves caught my eye as they breezed through the scene. Couples and families were gathering chairs at cafes to reserve the best seats for lunch.
The sights took my breath away. That was the day I fell in love with Uzès. I swore to myself I would return.
Three months later, I was living in Uzès.
Life in France: Managing Expectations
Moving to France happened so quickly that I’m not sure when reality kicked in. I’d never really thought of living abroad. It just happened. Because I’d been transplanted so many times during my life, it was just another move.
But wait a minute. What about the language? The red tape? A new culture? Strangers? Loneliness? Outfitting a home? Buying groceries? Getting around?
What did I expect to move to a new place? A different world?
Now that I’ve lived in France for eight years, I look back and wonder how it happened. How did I find my way, make friends, buy groceries, serve a meal, find a doctor, or accomplish any other daily task?
Those who have followed my blog since the beginning know I have been incredibly fortunate to still stand. Yes, there was that fall in Aigues Mortes.
You have heard the good (travel and friends), the bad (annual Carte de Sejour), and the ugly (driver’s license).
It’s been an incredible ride. An opportunity I never imagined possible.
Over the years, I have watched several American ex-pat friends come and go from the “dream” life in France. For most, the language, paperwork, and bureaucracy were too much. Others missed family and their former lives in the US.
A few friends expected lower costs in France to stretch their retirement monies. While some things may be less expensive — like housing and utilities, it is not significant enough to relocate.
Healthcare, on the other hand, is a huge bonus. Residents have access to “free” healthcare after three months. There is a small charge for services, procedures, and some drugs. A low-cost private health insurance policy (mutual) covers those expenses.
What is the best part?
Friendships. Easy travel. Experiences.
My friends are from all over the world. Like me, they came to France to find out what life is like elsewhere. Not unlike my longtime buddies, they are fun and adventurous. Supportive and caring.
Traveling around Europe is inexpensive and accessible. You can get to the most exotic, unique, and famous places by car, train, bus, or air. Paris, thé Coté d’Azur, the Loire Valley and Dordogne. Spain, Italy, the UK, and Croatia. They’re practically “next door. “
Bulls run in the streets in my French world. Flamingoes gather for winter. Roman sports events happen in nearby arenas. Pre-historic historic caves are open to the public. I can roam the trails of famous artists, taste the foods of the finest chefs, and walk in the footsteps of pagans and kings.
While the days of my life are flying by, I am blessed to still have the curiosity of a child for new adventures. Years of Covid, with its confinements and fears, are altering many of my plans and dreams. Nevertheless, I believe I need to do a few more things. Places I need to see. The hard part? Managing expectations.
Thank you for staying on this journey with me. I appreciate hearing from you, and I love meeting up with many of you in Uzès.
But wait … there’s more ahead. Stay tuned…
More to read about living abroad from the Barefoot Blogger
Categories: Around France, Occitanie, Uzès
Deborah, new here just came across you today. We are planning a move to France in 2024 so that my husband can retire early. We do not plan to purchase a home as we would like to do 6 months in one area and then 6 months in another for a couple of years. Do you have advice for long term letting and areas that are walker/carless friendly? We want the charm of the countryside and possibly gardening but able to walk into town within 10 min? Or bus friendly to town? Our favorite thing to do is stroll the market place and then prepare something yummy for our meal with our fresh finds. Does that paint a good enough picture? Any input will be appreciated. We are spending a month next spring to scope out some areas, but trying to narrow it down before then. Thanks, kay
Oh, there are so many towns and villages in France that would meet your requirements. Of course, I love the south because of the warm weather. Check out Uzes and the towns around — San Quentin la Poterie, St. Maximum, St. Siffret, Vers Pont du Gard. Some are farther away from a town than others, but the bus service is really good. If you’d like to talk more, we can set up a call. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Looking forward to meeting you!
Had to get my coffee and into my comfortable chair, since I spied there was a new episode of Barefoot Blogger. I knew there would be down to earth beautifully written prose and striking photography that would transport me, even for a few minutes to a place I love. This journey always involve incredible architecture, history, gourmet food and well -the good life. Your travels are inspirational, informative and fun. You have allowed others to “taste” slice of the meal you have savored. Many dream to have the grit and gumption to do the same, in the meantime we can read the Barefoot Blogger.
Oh my goodness! I don’t know what to say to such flattery! Thank you! I am so glad you enjoy reading about my experiences — the ups and downs. It’s a joy, myself, to have this log of experiences to look back on. You won’t believe how many times I have to research my own blog to remember events and places. I hope that someday you will visit Uzes and we can meet. It would be such a pleasure. Thank you again for making my day!
That was a good one, Deborah!
You’ve been through most of this adventure with me. Thank you for your friendship, encouragement, and patience! Love❤️
Very honest and helpful.
Glad if it helps you in some way. Thank you!
I am always struck by your courage, Deborah! Lovely to read about the obvious highs, but also your determined desire to make it all work out. In the end, as you say, it’s friends and experiences that make it all worthwhile. You have managed your expectations incredibly well and come out on top at every turn, even in those moments of despair. It’s a pleasure to read all about your life in your blogs, I look forward to them! Thank you.x
Thank you for your message, Simon. I love hearing from you. Hopefully you’ll be visiting again. I miss seeing you two. Happy New Year!
A lovely and honest post about your life in France. I agree life is short and we should travel and explore as much as possible.
Travel is something we sometimes take for granted. So glad you’re not wasting valuable time. Thank you so much for following and your message.
It’s such a delight to read your blog, Deborah, and to hear the note of realism in your voice. I wish you many more adventures as you find your best path! We’ve booked a property north of Orange for 4 weeks (24/9 – 22/10) and hope to connect with you at some point!
Judith, I’ll be here most of October. Let’s do plan to meet! Hopefully, you’ll find your way to Uzès. Fall is fabulous! Thanks for your notes and encouragement!
excellent description of why we are here!
You are one who knows the ropes, for sure! I’m sure there’s more, but aren’t we glad we persevered? See you soon!
Just live one day at a time and enjoyed to the fullest. As Scarlet says, “I’ll think about that tomorrow. “
One of your best! Really enjoyed going along on the ride!
It’s fun having a friend from that “other world” close by. I’m sure it keeps me grounded in many ways. You know too much! LOL. Thank you for reading the posts and commenting. You keep me going!
I’ve been in Uzes 30 years and never regretted it. My children invite me to join them. I love my independence. They say I will die alone. We all must die. I chose my place and don’t regret.