There's a Hidden Corner of France Few People Know About...
Whether you dream of a city pied-a-terre...or a rambling farmhouse among the sunflowers...or a village house wrapped in wisteria-hung memories of long ago, France is more than affordable. In fact, there are many parts of the country where habitable homes in storybook settings cost under $150,000.
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View France in a larger map Fast Facts on France
View France in a larger map
Capital City: Paris
Climate: Generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean
Time Zone: GMT+1
Country Code: 33
Coastline: 4,668 km
Read more about France in the articles below
The Israeli city of Tel Aviv begins its three-day Taste of the City festival on May 1. Fine-dining establishments serve free portions and chefs line the streets offering local delicacies like malabi—a creamy pudding flavored with rose water. Saint Lucia Jazz is the most anticipated musical event in the Caribbean calendar and runs from the start of the month until May 12.
- Three Little-Known Havens in Italy, France and Spain
Posted on April 17, 2013 by Steenie Harvey
If you’re in love with classic Europe and its history, romance and culture, take heart: Spain, Italy and France aren’t only for the vacationer who saves for months just to visit. Each one of these three countries has numerous small towns and villages that lie under the radar—places with enticingly affordable properties to rent or buy
On April 1 only a fool would miss the feast on offer at Le Pince d’Or Crab Festival in Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean. In the capital of Fort-de-France, riverfront restaurants each set up a stall to sell matoutou (a spicy crab stew), as chefs compete to make the best bowl.
- News from Around the World…The World’s Best Health Care
Posted on March 25, 2013 by International Living
Thousands of Americans have already moved south to enjoy the pleasures of an affordable retirement. In countries all over Latin America—and Europe and Asia, too—they have found good, low-cost health care. Just take one of the world’s most popular retirement hotspots—Cuenca, Ecuador.
There is something amazing about the medical system here, and something not quite right with ours,” says Shane Simons, who moved to the tropical island of Penang, Malaysia, eight months ago from Los Angeles. “My doctor in L.A. told me I needed a mole removed from my neck.
Sarah Towle never meant to become an entrepreneur. when her husband James’ job brought their family to Paris in 2004, she thought she’d enjoy kicking back in the City of Light for a while, then return to her career as a linguistics teacher. “At the time, his assignment was for two or three years, so I didn’t think it would derail my career completely, just put it on hold for a little while. Besides, who could say no to Paris?” Sarah says. “well, after about 18 months of being a trailing, non-working spouse and mother, I really couldn’t stand it anymore. Although Paris fascinated me, I missed having a professional identity.”
What’s the secret to a long, healthy, and enjoyable life? A group of researchers believe that residents of five Blue Zones around the world know it. They have the longest life spans on Earth and are less likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer, and other serious conditions.
Unsurprisingly, Paris offers fashion mavens a clothes-shopping adventure like no other. Just passing the glitzy fashion houses like Chanel, Prada, and Dior on the Avenue Montaigne or Faubourg Saint-Honoré will make you feel as if you’ve tumbled inside the pages of Vogue. But if you don’t have $400 to blow on a napkin-sized scarf, you’re better off heading to the Marais neighborhood, where you can find classic Parisian chic at more affordable prices.
You think being in Paris is a heady experience? Try shopping in Paris. Almost every street has some irresistible shop, boutique, or market brimming with objects or edibles that practically howl your name. Deciding where to focus your search—and your dollars—can be a challenge. To help you, here’s a list of don’t-miss stores and districts.
Oak floors, chandeliers, large fireplaces, and exposed wood beams are things you’d expect to find in a chateau. And this perfect country getaway in Normandy has them all. Built in 1881, it’s set on five acres and surrounded by a mixture of lush green pastures and the forest of Eu. There’s a fruit orchard and the Yres River runs through the property, with a bridge leading to a private island.
Partnering with a friend, we lead a group of adventurers to Arles in the South of France. Our tour, “Journey of the Senses”, engaged participants in creative pursuits designed to help them experience more deeply the wonders of the world.
- News from Around the World…Destinations in Panama Today
Posted on January 24, 2013 by International Living
A dense skyline of high rises juts into the sky, homage to dozens of varied architectural styles. Numerous LED screens displaying advertisements and neon restaurant signs have led some folk to call this “little Hong Kong.” But Panama City is much more than its skyline.
For many people, the word “Burgundy” usually brings to mind either a deep purple-red color or an excellent bottle of wine. Here’s what comes to my mind… Fairy-tale woods, winding trails, velvety-brown cattle sitting heavily in the grass, nipping at clover. Springtime hills draped in lemon-yellow blossoms…
At 129 square feet, this apartment is what real-estate agents call “cozy.” But it’s Paris, city of love and romance. From your fifth-floor balcony you have a view of Place de la République. The square gives its name to the historic neighborhood that surrounds it, where the 3rd, 10th and 11th arrondissements (districts) come together. Le Marais, where some of the oldest buildings in the city line winding, narrow streets, is just a five-minute walk away.
The bane of cell-phone using travelers, the roaming charge is one of those expenses that can sneak up on you, ruining your happy memories when you get that exorbitant phone bill. Here’s a tip on how to save on these charges in France.
- Travel with a Twist: Becoming a Professional Best Friend in Paris
Posted on December 20, 2012 by Barbara Diggs
Wouldn’t it be great to have a best friend who lives in Paris? She could take you to the secret cafés and corners that locals love but the guidebooks miss. She could give you tips on dealing with surly French waiters, and boost your confidence as you test your high school French. She’d be someone to call if you get lost. And someone to laugh with over a glass of wine.
Michigan natives Kristie and Jim Worrel moved to Paris 21 years ago when Jim worked for Total Petrochemicals. Jim’s contract was for five years but rather than leave their adopted country, which they had grown to love, Jim sought another job, and the couple successfully stayed on in France permanently. But it wasn’t until five years ago, as retirement neared, that the couple finally began the search for their dream. “It had always been a lifelong ambition of ours to buy and renovate an old historic house…
Experience the Day of the Dead in Mexico on November 1 when people gather to honor their departed love ones with big parties across the country. If you’re in India the ﬁrst two weeks of November, then head to the capital, Delhi, where you’ll ﬁnd music, theater, dance, ﬁlm, and poetry in 50 venues across the city for the Delhi International Arts Festival.
Rising early to prepare a complete French breakfast doesn’t bother Kristie Worrel one bit. She and her husband Jim are living their dream, owning and operating Villa La Riante, their bed and breakfast just minutes from Paris on a regional subway ride. In English the name “Villa La Riante” means “the charming, or pleasant villa.” In French culture, their home is une vieille dame, one very classy, elegant old lady built in 1869.
The magnificent chateaux of France’s Loire Valley get the lion’s share of attention from tourists and guidebooks. But castle-lovers willing to slip off the beaten path will discover equally fascinating—and much less crowded—châteaux in the enchanting, woodsy region of the Puisaye, northern Burgundy.
France has all the ingredients that we at International Living look for: a good climate, unspoiled countryside, top-notch culture, excellent health care, affordable real estate (despite the strength of the euro, France can still has lots of cheap property), colorful traditions and history, and, of course, the glitter and sophistication of Paris. It’s not surprising that France is the world’s favorite destination, receiving in excess of 82 million overseas visitors each year. France: The Owner’s Manual will provide you with all the information you will need to turn your dreams of moving overseas into reality.
After almost 18 years in Paris, the conclusion is that my level of French is “dismal.” Recently, at the French-English conversation group that I co-founded more than 14 years ago with a 27-year veteran director of Berlitz, it was clear that, of all the people in the group, I had made the least effort.
Southern France isn’t only a dream-turned-reality for seriously wealthy buyers. Not if you target lesser-known locations. The problem—if problem is the word—is that there is a tremendous amount of south. Without months to spare, uncovering it all is impossible. But here’s one solution.
Katherine always loved vacationing with her parents in France as a child but in 1990, at the age of 22, she took the plunge and decided to try something more permanent. At the time, she didn’t speak any French and had no friends or family living there. She settled in the Loire Valley and bought a house as a renovation project.
Parades, dancing, and the election of a Sara Ñusta (Queen of Maize) mark the Fiesta del Yamor in Imbabura, Ecuador, the ﬁrst week of September. Join in and offer thanks to the sun god for a bountiful harvest. Street traders take over the French city of Lille for the Grande Braderie on September 1 and 2.
- Southern France’s Affordable Secret: Buy from $100,000
Posted on August 24, 2012 by Steenie Harvey
Roman arenas and triumphal arches suggest Italy. Bullﬁghts and paella sound remarkably like Spain. But they’re as much a part of France’s sunny south as lavender ﬁelds and bouillabaisse. So, too, are village houses for $100,000 to $187,500. Southern France isn’t only a dream-turned-reality for seriously wealthy buyers. Not if you target lesser-known locations.
- Europe: Now More Affordable Than Ever for North Americans
Posted on August 22, 2012 by International Living
Right now, doom and gloom in Europe runs deep. But there is a story not being told…one of opportunity borne of this crisis. A story of places where you could own your own piece of the Old World…for less than half the price of a budget family sedan. In Greece and beyond—prices are falling like a rock. And for anybody who ever mused about a European retreat, that’s the silver lining.
Picasso’s Night Fishing at Antibes doesn’t resemble any fishing activity I’ve ever seen. But it’s fun seeing reproductions of art works displayed where they were painted. All along the French Riviera and into the Provencal back country of hill towns, vineyards and flower fields, I kept coming across spots on the region’s Painters’ Trail.
Provence in France. Saying its name evokes memories of sun-drenched hills, starry nights, and the scent of sea-salted rosemary and thyme. Birds sing in olive groves, bees drone in vineyards, flowers spill from terracotta pots. In villages with crinkly-tiled roofs, lizards scurry into niches just as their lizard ancestors did in the Middle Ages.
With a train ticket and a point-and-shoot camera, I left the gloom of a late summer storm in Paris, France. When I arrived at my destination, I emerged from the depths of the train station into the colors of a brilliant sun just going down on the turquoise Mediterranean waters off Marseille. I was enchanted. I set my suitcase down right there, took out my camera and started snapping away.
The travel bug runs rampant in my family. That’s why, when I was headed to France for work, my mom and I decided to turn it into a girls’ getaway adventure. My mom flew into Paris the day after my work ended and our adventure began.
IL Euro Editor, Steenie Harvey, is enchanted with Provence. As a teenager she had pictures of lavender-spun landscapes and old Roman towns. These days she’s there in person…listen to her latest audio debrief as she reveals what she’s discovered in France’s most alluring region.
The Spanish Soccer team aside, the doom and gloom in Europe runs deep. But there is a story not being told…one of opportunity borne of this crisis. A story of places where you could own your own piece of the Old World…for less than half the price of a budget family sedan.
Any weekend from August 4 to September 16, head to the Parc Floral near the Château de Vincennes in Paris for the Festival Classique au Vert (Classical Festival on the Green). This year, performers will set the words of famous poets and authors to classical music. Bring a picnic and blanket: It’s a gorgeous park.
I’m writing this on a stunning terrace café overlooking the Louvre. Later, I may stroll along the banks of the Seine or among the city’s elegant boulevards. Life in Paris is good. And it’s no surprise to me that so many expats are here enjoying a better quality of life… After all, I’m one of them.
Provence. Saying its name evokes memories of sun-drenched hills, starry nights, and the scent of sea- salted rosemary and thyme. Birds sing in olive groves, bees drone in vineyards, ﬂowers spill from terracotta pots. In villages with crinkly-tiled roofs, lizards scurry into niches just as their lizard ancestors did in the Middle Ages.
Not far from the historic Bastille, in the trendy Marais district of Paris, is an unlikely restaurant. While most people associate the French capital with ﬁne dining, foie gras, croissants and steak tartare, one Texas woman has made her mark with slow-smoked pulled pork and beef brisket, topped off with spicy house-brand Kick-Ass barbecue sauce.
When I was Young I had dreams of being an artist and traveling the world…then came a short spell imagining life as an astronaut…ﬁnally, I settled on saving the planet. I grew up, spent an insane amount of money on an environmental science degree, and went to live and work in the Mojave Desert counting tortoises. It was while there that I started taking photographs.
If Money Were No Object, What Would Your Dream Retirement Look Like?
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