Best ways of getting to know locals

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SteveB
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Best ways of getting to know locals

Post by SteveB »

I have recently joined this group, as I am looking to buy a house in Céret. I notice that most of the activities etc mentioned in the forum seem to be aimed mainly or exclusively at English-speaking expatriates. However a major part of my interest in buying a house here is to get to know French people and get involved in the French way of life. I have reasonable, though far from fluent, French, and am keen to improve it (helped in no small way by the fact that one of the immobiliers I've been dealing with doesn't speak English!)

My research so far tells me that there is a tradition of "associations" in France covering a wide variety of activities, and I wondered whether these are good ways of getting to know local people and how welcoming they are to English expats: for example there is one in Ceret based on walking (one of my main interests in the area) called La Randonée Cérétane: has anyone any experience of this or other such groups?

Thanks for any help and suggestions.
Daphne
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Post by Daphne »

There are association forums usually at the beginning of September which you can attend, receive information and join any of the associations that interest you.
CPB
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Post by CPB »

Hi and welcome to the PO
If you go to your mairie you can request a list of the local associations. Each Mairie holds their own ones I.e. If you go into the Ceret Mairie you won't get any Le Boulou clubs you will have to then go to that Mairie too. It's worth trying a few local Mairies to find a club you like. This info can also often be found online too.
I.e. http://www.mairie-leboulou.fr/pgs/page.php?rid=5

I have found the locals to be receptive to foreigners. I think it's easier to becomes friends with those who have moved here either from other countries or other parts of France because they are in the same boat as you. True locals already have a strong friendship/family network. We have various friends - English, French, Dutch, etc. it just takes time.
Good luck. Hopefully the Mairie can help you out with a good list of associations.
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Gus Morris
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Post by Gus Morris »

I wholeheartedly endorse the advice given by CPB.

In addition I believe a positive attitude is needed. Work on the basis that NOBODY speaks English. You can always preface conversations with the phrase "Je ne suis pas francophone". People then tend to make allowances.

From what I have observed Ceret is home to a sizeable proportion of the resident speakers of the language of our dear Queen. The last time I visited the market I overheard almost as many non-french speakers as natives.

Gus
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Kate
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Post by Kate »

Agree with all above. The associations are a great way to meet people, and they always appreciate new members and are happy to make an effort to speak slowly or do whatever it takes to help you to fit it. Joining an asooc, whether it be sport, art culture is also a great way of meeting and supporting local community. Bonne chance.
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russell
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Post by russell »

When I first moved here I joined a couple of sporting clubs and within a year was co-opted onto both club's committees. If you put a bit of effort in you are certain to be accepted.

Russell.
SteveB
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Post by SteveB »

Thanks very much to the various people who replied to my post - all very encouraging. Now to find "la maison de mes rêves"...
martyn94
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Post by martyn94 »

Gus Morris wrote:Work on the basis that NOBODY speaks English. You can always preface conversations with the phrase "Je ne suis pas francophone"

Gus
If only that were necessary. Most of us reveal our origins, and lack of fluency, just by opening our mouths. I was staggered - and flattered - a few years ago, when I found that the woman who has sold me chickens for many years thought I was Belgian. and even more so recently when a chance acquaintance though I was from Alsace.

If anything, people tend to make more allowances than you necessarily want, nowadays, by switching into English even without prompting.
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Post by Sus »

Hi SteveB,
I found another couple of ways to get to know people, one is volunteering. You can do this through associations as well but the other is just asking around, e. g. there is a group that has over the years painstakingly restored an old chapel above Montalba, carrying all material up on their backs, as it is only accessible on foot or horse... there were always looking for people to help. The other is the village fete, Ceret is bigger, but we are more in the villages up the Tech valley and it is a great opportunity to just strike up a conversation and of course listen to the mayor give his speech. And lastly, I always try and speak to my hairdresser, supermarket assistant, mairie - try and remember their names and ask for their help finding walking groups etc, my experience is that the vast majority will be more than happy to make connections for you.

Wishing you good luck with the house buying and looks like the termite problem has been resolved!
SteveB
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Post by SteveB »

Thanks, Sus, for your suggestions. The purchase seems to be going ahead - just waiting for the signed Compromis de Vente to be returned to me. I put the delay down to a combination of the Christmas post and French bureaucracy.
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Kate
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Post by Kate »

Hmmmmmm French bureaucracy. :lol: :lol: :lol: And a lot more to come! lol
All very exciting though!
martyn94
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Post by martyn94 »

Kate wrote:Hmmmmmm French bureaucracy. :lol: :lol: :lol: And a lot more to come! lol
All very exciting though!
I'm not sure that there's much more bureaucracy (strictly so-called) in a French sale than in a UK one. But on my limited experience, notaires are even more sloppy and idle (and supercilious) than solicitors. Crawl over every draft of the acte authentique word-by-word. My plot is split between 5 different entries on the "cadastre" (even though it's only about 100 square metres): my notaire's final draft left off the chunk covering my downstairs loo, buanderie, and the alleyway at the back, although it had been present in every previous draft. No doubt it could have been rectified if we had not spotted it, but it would have been a prize pain at best.
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Post by jethro »

You don't say what age you are, but there is a large and active group of English-speaking ( not necessarily British ) retired people collectively called L'Université du troisième age . They have a website which lists their activities. As I say, they are not all British and some are French. The website is U3APO, if I remember rightly, otherwise Google is your friend. By the way, keep every scrap of paper you get when dealing with bureaucracy and tradesmen, particularly receipts, as you can set them off against the tax imposed on any profit you make on re-selling your house. Welcome to the area and to the site.
an' the wun' cried Mary.
SteveB
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Post by SteveB »

Thanks, Jethro, for the advice. At present I'm deep in organising home improvements, but am spending a couple of weeks here after a week in Spain and hopefully will then have time to check out U3A and other things.
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Clubs

Post by Sandra »

Bonjour,

I have lived in Amelie Les Bains for 12 years and have both French and English friends, the best way to become part of the French society is to join clubs such as tennis or judo (which is very popular here). Hope this helps.
martyn94
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Re: Clubs

Post by martyn94 »

Sandra wrote:Bonjour,

I have lived in Amelie Les Bains for 12 years and have both French and English friends, the best way to become part of the French society is to join clubs such as tennis or judo (which is very popular here). Hope this helps.
If there were judo and tennis clubs for people with two left hands, that would be even better. One of my local cafés has started doing "philosophy" evenings: I don't think it is philosophy as Anglo-Saxons know it, but I kick myself every time I miss one.
martyn94
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Re: Clubs

Post by martyn94 »

Sandra wrote:Bonjour,

I have lived in Amelie Les Bains for 12 years and have both French and English friends, the best way to become part of the French society is to join clubs such as tennis or judo (which is very popular here). Hope this helps.
If there were judo and tennis clubs for people with two left hands, that would be even better. One of my local cafés has started doing "philosophy" evenings: I don't think it is philosophy as Anglo-Saxons know it, but I kick myself every time I miss one.
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