Life in France is always interesting - a tale of 2 experiences.
When living in France you need to learn patience and to take the rough with the smooth. It can be the most irritating experience or the happiest and most sublime one. Usually both on the same day.
Especially when you see the dreaded and unannounced 'fermature exceptional' notice posted on the door. Why exactly are you closed today? And of course the funny opening times - aah yes . The local boulangerie that doesn't open Monday or Tuesday? WHY? I really want to support you and not go to Super U but you make it difficult.
Does anyone want to do any work here? Not of they can help it. Work is an irritation between lunch and the next holiday. And don't get me started on the garages!
French fonctionnaires and red tape can be an absolute nightmare and the amount of actual paperwork required can drive you crazy. It all depends on who you get on the day and what mood they are in. But you do it gracefully as the price of being in this wonderful life
When we received our carte de sejours, the guys and gals of the charente prefecture couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. The experience of getting a french driving licence on the other hand was the total opposite. Getting your parcel collected from the post office can be a breeze or a nightmare depending on who is on duty that day.
The French are funny in that they can be so charming and lovely one day and just so difficult and awkward the next. So you just take a deep breath and let it roll over you as on the wrong day when the jobsworth mood takes them, the French can be a nightmare.
France, outside the major cities feels like a country out of time - very backward in a lot of respects. You start to forget for example that in the rest of the world it is quite possible to get things done or go shopping between 12-2pm or actually get people to turn on time for a RDV when you have booked them.
French websites are expensive and slow to deliver very often with poor customer service but your local shop where it still exists is friendly and helpful.
But that is also the charm of living here. Life is slow and inefficient but the french countryside is lovely and the local french once they have accepted you are lovely (until you unknowingly upset them).
As a country it is an economic basket case, but when you compare life in France to the speed of life in the UK and the stress, you start to realise the upside of your choice of abode.
Then of course there is the cheese - but that is a whole other story.