May 31, 2012

The North vs. the South


Not Quite Ripe

I don't want to spark a big debate about the north of France vs. the south of France or anything, but hey, this is my blog, so I'm just going to say far living in Normandy has been so much better than living in the Languedoc-Roussillon.

For those of you moving to or already in the L-R, please don't get all up in arms just yet.

Port-en-Bessin Market


The Languedoc is a very special place and we love it there, especially our little village tucked away in the Minervois vineyards. Our neighbors couldn't have been any more friendly and we were warmly welcomed into the community from the moment we arrived. We made lifelong friendships and spent 9 very happy years there. We wouldn't change it for anything.

But since coming to Normandy we can't help but notice that it's as if we've moved to an entirely different country. And as much as we loved living in the L-R, things here have just been easier.


Gruissan Port

We've noticed that when we walk into a shop or a business we don't get the I'm-too-busy-not-working-to-help-you attitude. I've even returned things on three separate occasions, without any argument and with no trouble whatsoever. And that's nothing short of a miracle.

The landscape is a bright, vivacious, rollicking green as opposed to sage-colored, more muted, Mediterranean green. Both beautiful, but very different.

The fish and dairy products in Normandy are better, but the wine selection is seriously lacking. Do the locals think that there aren't any decent wines produced south of Bordeaux or something?

We've exchanged olives, tapenade, fromage de brebis from the Pyrénées and local wine at the market in Olonzac for shellfish, teurgoule, Camembert and cider at the market in Bayeux.

The climate is softer and gentler. Of course Normandy gets more rain and is generally cooler than the L-R, but is that such a bad thing? I can definitely say that we won't be missing the extremes in temperature, the winds that blow for days on end and the dramatic, computer killing thunderstorms.

Café de la Poste

My husband once told me that moving to France was the best idea I ever had. Now I have to say that moving to Normandy was the best idea we've ever had.

Has anyone else had the opportunity to live in both regions? 
If so, what are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them!

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Tami said...

I love all parts of France but I always have a soft spot for Normandy - maybe because it reminds me of Marin County, CA.


We really wanted to be in Menton, but reality ($$$) dictated a different region for us to live.

The Charente so far has been an outstanding choice of putting up tent. We have yet to have one of those horrible experiences everybody talks about on their Blogs....

ardiola said...

My husband lived before in Brittany, your close neighbour and I liked it much better. Mostly because it reminded me my country, I mean the crops on the fields, plants, animals on the fields, old houses,the saint crosses everywhere, temperature- I hate hot summers and the wind here, plus a lot of Polish literature people use to spend time in Brittany and there are many more things I like about Brittany. L-R is completely strange for me, no mental connections except general and common French things.Normandy is for me mainly WW II history and the agriculture which also reminds me Poland.
I like it here but in fact I am not happy to live in the village.
All the best.

Liza in Ann Arbor said...

Great post! I love 'em both. Never lived in either, only traveled through, but, man, I love all parts of France and if I ever have the opportunity to live there, I'll be hard pressed to choose which region.

Miss Expatria said...

I can definitely see your points; I too find it refreshing up there. But recently I traveled through, well, ALL OF FRANCE (long story), and I have to say, coming down into the Languedoc felt like home - in a good way. (Even if the PAC region is what really gets my heart racing...)

Ksam said...

One of my favorite things about France is how different each of the regions are. As you know, I wasn't the biggest fan of Bretagne, but I have always found the Normands to be very open and welcoming. I also really like les Landais. And of course Paris has turned out to be so much more than I had ever imagined - instead of all the "Parisien, tête de chien" that I heard en province, the Parisians have turned out to be absolutely fantastic!

chickster said...

I ask French sailors all the time which city / region they prefer, Brest or Toulon, and they ALWAYS prefer Brittany. I'm surprised, because I seriously miss sunshine, but if the French even prefer this area . . . that's saying something!

Veronica said...

It's been interesting following your adoption of Normandy after all those years in the Languedoc. I enjoyed your pros and cons, but you didn't mention one key factor: the Languedoc is one of the poorest areas of France, with one of the highest unemployment rates. People in Normandy are generally better off. And as you know, the job situation is a whole lot better! It's great that you've settled in so well.

I love visiting green, pastoral areas like Normandy and the Basque country. But although I adore the Basque country, the rain and grey skies in winter are a deal breaker for me in terms of living there :) I've actually grown to like the wind here!

Loulou in France said...

So true! When the fog was rolling in he other day, we said that it reminded us of northern California.

Yes, Menton is expensive! We would have loved to have lived in Cassis or Antibes, but €€€ dictated our decision as well.
We almost moved to the Charente, the region around Cognac, but in the end decided on Normandy.
The Charente is a wonderful region! Who has been writing about bad experiences?

Loulou in France said...

Normandy reminds me of where I am from in the US as well, so I feel more at home here. I hope you're able to find a home in the countryside of the L-R where you'll be happier. :)

It is a difficult choice! Each region is beautiful and offers so many different things.
We did tons of research when we started thinking about leaving the Languedoc. We knew we wanted to stay near the coast and I wanted to be closer to Paris. Normandy gives us both of those things.

Loulou in France said...

Miss Expatria
I'm glad you were happy to come home to Montpellier, because I know you miss Rome.
Thanks for stopping by and nice to see that you're back!

After your experience in Brittany, I can see why it wouldn't be your favorite place. Fortunately you didn't give up on France and gave Paris a try! It definitely worked out for you. :)
We've never been to les Landes, but have heard it is a gorgeous region. I also love Gascony and the Lot.

Loulou in France said...

That is really interesting! I would have thought it would be the opposite response.
I've heard from most people that Brittany is wonderful and know that we'll get over there for a visit one of these days. I definitely want to see St Malo.

I was hoping you would comment! (and hoping I didn't offend you or any other friends in the Languedoc)
The lack of sun in winter will probably be an issue after so long in the south, but the wind...I never got used to it.
When we moved, the job market wasn't an issue as we didn't have the right to work for the first 5 years in France. But I didn't realize that our part of l'Hérault was as depressed as it is. Also, if we weren't losing so much in the exchange from $/€ every month, lack of work wouldn't have been a problem. Oh well! C'est la vie! :)

Veronica said...

:) I think our area is probably windier than where you were as well! I never thought I'd get to like wind, but it's different here. You're always aware of it -- you only have to look at the sky to know where the wind's coming from, something I was never aware of when I lived in the UK (and we lived in a Cotswold town reputed for its wind!).

Offended, no! Life would be boring if we all liked the same things. Finding a place you love is brilliant. And I can see the attractions of Normandy. But coming from a rainy country, I appreciate the non-raininess here :)

Betty C. said...

I saw this post fly by on Twitter, but hadn't had time to read it. I liked living in the Tours area and, as you said, found there to be something easy and restful about it. But my husband could not bear it. Personally I like the lower temps here in fact, I would not like to live any further south because of the heat.

Loulou in France said...

Thanks! :)

You live in a gorgeous spot and the area around Tours is beautiful too. I will not miss the heat this summer!