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Old Dec 23rd 2017, 7:29 pm   #1
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Default How is Deauville for a young family?

We are a young family living about 25 km East/Southeast of Edinburgh, I'm 26 and half-French/half-Scots, my wife just turned 24 and is from Belfast, Ireland and we've 2 boys ages 3 and a half and 20 months. For a variety of reasons we'd like to move out of the UK, and France is one of the primary contenders. However, we are trying to figure out what place(s) in France are right for our family, so that we can earnestly compare these places to the other locations that we are considering.

We are sort of traditional, conservative people, and we'd just like to live a safe, pleasant life with our children in a nice town (anywhere between 3000-20000 people) where people are pleasant and have good values, where our children can be exposed to nature and culture and history, and where we can live a sustainable lifestyle. We'd prefer to live near the sea, but on the Atlantic/la Manche and not Mediterranean. The South of France is lovely, but the Southern European culture is less our style, we don't want to live in an area too densely populated with expatriates and as my father's side is mostly in PACA we are aware of the social problems with regards to drugs and crime and gypsies and we'd like to avoid that sort of thing as much as one can avoid it.

Deauville has been recommended to us, and it was described to us as comparable to some of the old seaside resorts in the south of England if they hadn't gone into decline and become disgusting. As I understand there's a film festival which fills the area with tourists, and would be good for the business we'd like to open, but for most of the year it's a pleasant French town. Is that description accurate? Are there a fair amount of children and families there?

Can you recommend some other pleasant family towns? We would be willing to consider anywhere along the coast (or up to 50km inland), from Flanders to the Basque Country and Navarre, however it would be ideal for us to be somewhere in between Amiens and La Rochelle.
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 8:59 am   #2
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

Hello Rekkr
Welcome to the forum.
You really need to visit a variety of towns that fit your initial criteria.
In my experience many pretty towns in France become dull and dead off-season.
Nantes is a larger town but regularly comes at/near the top of the "best place to live in France" league.
Perhaps somewhere close to Nantes would be worth a look.
Not quite sure what you mean by "sustainable lifestyle".
You said that you want to set up a business but France is not considered to be "business friendly" with high social charges.
You would also need to set up a business structure and where appropriate, have the correct certificates and insurances.
You should start separate threads with questions about setting up a business.
As far as friendly people are concerned, I have met french people who are friendly and some who are less so. Same as in the UK.
However, french society is different and it can be difficult to be accepted into a group of friends.
How good is your / your wife's french?
Without a reasonable level of french it is a bit more difficult to integrate.
I would also suggest that initially you should rent somewhere to live to see if the new lifestyle is for you without burning your boats.
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 9:52 am   #3
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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Originally Posted by Rekkr View Post
We are a young family living about 25 km East/Southeast of Edinburgh, I'm 26 and half-French/half-Scots, my wife just turned 24 and is from Belfast, Ireland and we've 2 boys ages 3 and a half and 20 months. For a variety of reasons we'd like to move out of the UK, and France is one of the primary contenders. However, we are trying to figure out what place(s) in France are right for our family, so that we can earnestly compare these places to the other locations that we are considering.

We are sort of traditional, conservative people, and we'd just like to live a safe, pleasant life with our children in a nice town (anywhere between 3000-20000 people) where people are pleasant and have good values, where our children can be exposed to nature and culture and history, and where we can live a sustainable lifestyle. We'd prefer to live near the sea, but on the Atlantic/la Manche and not Mediterranean. The South of France is lovely, but the Southern European culture is less our style, we don't want to live in an area too densely populated with expatriates and as my father's side is mostly in PACA we are aware of the social problems with regards to drugs and crime and gypsies and we'd like to avoid that sort of thing as much as one can avoid it.

Deauville has been recommended to us, and it was described to us as comparable to some of the old seaside resorts in the south of England if they hadn't gone into decline and become disgusting. As I understand there's a film festival which fills the area with tourists, and would be good for the business we'd like to open, but for most of the year it's a pleasant French town. Is that description accurate? Are there a fair amount of children and families there?

Can you recommend some other pleasant family towns? We would be willing to consider anywhere along the coast (or up to 50km inland), from Flanders to the Basque Country and Navarre, however it would be ideal for us to be somewhere in between Amiens and La Rochelle.
hi and welcome to the forum!
As suggested by Cyrian, you should firstly visit towns along the coast before you decide on a location, and then rent before you finally decide that it's for you.
Take a look at the Read-Me: Moving to France FAQs above, particularly "Renting", "Schooling", "healthcare" (the most recent posts on the PUMA system) and other threads of interest.
As suggested by Cyrian, start a new thread on setting up a business in France. What is your line of work? There are different types of structures depending on what the business is. I can confirm from experience that the social charges involved are crippling....
From your children's standpoint, your elder one can go to Maternelle and will pick up French in no time, the younger one could go to an Halte-Garderie from time to time until he's accepted in Maternelle (from 2 years old, subject to availability and whether he's "clean") to give you and/or your wife a couple of hours' freedom "to do your own thing".
For your healthcare between when you arrive and when you get into the French S.S. System, you must take out private insurance. Not only it's compulsory, but you need to justify that you've been covered since Day 1 when you apply for residency after 3 months.
Back to the original question, Deauville is pleasant but very expensive....
Start another thread without specifying a town. Others who can help on other important subjects might not read this one...
Hope this helps a little!
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 10:08 am   #4
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

Hello Rekkr
I live in Normandy so I'll give you my views, but there's another forum member who lives even nearer Deauville so hopefully he'll be along soon.

Deauville is nice enough but it has a bit of a jet-set side to it - spas, casino, designer boutiques, horse racing. You might like that but it's not really my thing for a place to live, I enjoy it well enough for a day out but I do feel it's a tad superficial/artificial. Personally I much prefer Honfleur which is a little to the east and is more arty and a bit more bohemian and relaxed, little picturesque streets with artists' studios and all that, I find it a more friendly town. But you need to visit places for yourself and see what appeals, it's a matter of personal taste. There are loads of little towns along the coast - Houlgate is quite nice too, has very much the feel of a genteel Victorian resort with big grand houses etc. All these little towns have their own character so you need to spend a bit of time visiting the area and absorbing the atmosphere, but make sure you come both in season and out of season.

But, for a young family you might want to look at some of the more desirable suburbs of Caen itself. As cyrian says, small French towns can be very dead out of season and you have to travel to do things. Caen is regarded as a big town in Normandy but it's not at all big by UK standards, and there are some extremely pleasant places on the outskirts. There are things to do in Caen all year round, it's never dead, and it can cope with tourist influxes without feeling invaded. You wouldn't be right on the coast but it would be a very short drive to Deauville and other seaside resorts. That would be my suggestion for a place to live a full and active life with a young family - you'd have plenty of culture and history, with nature on your doorstep.

I get the feeling you're looking for somewhere quieter than where you are now but I suspect that after Edinburgh and Belfast, Caen will seem pretty quiet to you and anywhere smaller will seem dead.

All that said - Cyrian picked up on your comment that you're planning to open a business, so I think this has to be a factor in your decision too. France is a good place to live and bring up kids but if you look at the rankings for the most business friendly countries in the EU, France usually comes near the bottom whereas the UK is right at the top, so moving a business activity from the UK to France can be quite a shock. Businesses here are tightly regulated and heavily taxed, business structures are quite complicated and social charges are high. This may change under Macron but it won't change dramatically overnight. Of course it's possible to set up a business and make a living, but it's harder work for less profit that in eg the UK. Just something to be aware of before you make the decision, rather than risk an unpleasant surprise if you discover it after you've made the decision
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 10:27 am   #5
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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Hello Rekkr
I live in Normandy so I'll give you my views, but there's another forum member who lives even nearer Deauville so hopefully he'll be along soon.

Deauville is nice enough but it has a bit of a jet-set side to it - spas, casino, designer boutiques, horse racing. You might like that but it's not really my thing for a place to live, I enjoy it well enough for a day out but I do feel it's a tad superficial/artificial. Personally I much prefer Honfleur which is a little to the east and is more arty and a bit more bohemian and relaxed, little picturesque streets with artists' studios and all that, I find it a more friendly town. But you need to visit places for yourself and see what appeals, it's a matter of personal taste. There are loads of little towns along the coast - Houlgate is quite nice too, has very much the feel of a genteel Victorian resort with big grand houses etc. All these little towns have their own character so you need to spend a bit of time visiting the area and absorbing the atmosphere, but make sure you come both in season and out of season.

But, for a young family you might want to look at some of the more desirable suburbs of Caen itself. As cyrian says, small French towns can be very dead out of season and you have to travel to do things. Caen is regarded as a big town in Normandy but it's not at all big by UK standards, and there are some extremely pleasant places on the outskirts. There are things to do in Caen all year round, it's never dead, and it can cope with tourist influxes without feeling invaded. You wouldn't be right on the coast but it would be a very short drive to Deauville and other seaside resorts. That would be my suggestion for a place to live a full and active life with a young family - you'd have plenty of culture and history, with nature on your doorstep.

I get the feeling you're looking for somewhere quieter than where you are now but I suspect that after Edinburgh and Belfast, Caen will seem pretty quiet to you and anywhere smaller will seem dead.

All that said - Cyrian picked up on your comment that you're planning to open a business, so I think this has to be a factor in your decision too. France is a good place to live and bring up kids but if you look at the rankings for the most business friendly countries in the EU, France usually comes near the bottom whereas the UK is right at the top, so moving a business activity from the UK to France can be quite a shock. Businesses here are tightly regulated and heavily taxed, business structures are quite complicated and social charges are high. This may change under Macron but it won't change dramatically overnight. Of course it's possible to set up a business and make a living, but it's harder work for less profit that in eg the UK. Just something to be aware of before you make the decision, rather than risk an unpleasant surprise if you discover it after you've made the decision
That might be me? i agree with ET, Deauville is nice to visit but I'd hesitate to live there. It's deluged by well off Parisians in the summer and compared to nearby towns, very expensive.

Honfleur is lovely but also a bit pricey while for me at least Caen is too big and too congested (although it has a lot to offer,,,I live about 40 minutes from there and often shop and visit museums etc as well as family in Caen).

Have a look at Bayeux and surrounding villages. Even in winter there's lots to do and see and as a major tourist stop it's busy in a good way most of the time. It's not on the coast but is only 8 km south of Port-en-Bessin, which is probably my favourite place in the area.

Good hunting!
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 11:31 am   #6
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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That might be me?
It was indeed aimed at you Novo, good man you turned up right on cue

Do you really find Caen big? As a rule I don't like very big towns but Caen feels OK to me and the suburbs do actually feel like little communities in their own right, rather than overflow villages. Though I agree the périphérique is a pain, I seem to get stuck in a jam about every time I use it.

Yes Bayeux is a very good idea, could be just right for them. Also Coutances maybe if they're not particular about being right on the coast? I'm very fond of Coutances and it certainly has culture and history and open countryside all around it.

I don't know Port-en-Bessin.

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Old Dec 24th 2017, 12:05 pm   #7
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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It was indeed aimed at you Novo, good man you turned up right on cue

I don't know Port-en-Bessin.
You should put on your list of places to get to know. It's a beautiful, active fishing port with several very good restaurants, great views and a lively buzz about it for most of the year. It's never completely dead because of the fishing boats coming and going on the tides.

Every Sunday there's a street market at the habour-side and you can buy freshly landed seafood at the marché des poissons year round.

Nice place (and nice plaice).
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 3:58 pm   #8
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

Granville has a nice feel to it and doesn't get quite as busy because everyone is going to Mont St Michel or St Malo, but imho the op should rent a camper van and follow the coast. Not to mention it all depends on what the OP is going to do.
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 4:01 pm   #9
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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I don't know Port-en-Bessin.
That's makes two of us! It looks quite delightful, as does this property:-

Maison 12 pièces 285 m² vendre Port en Bessin Huppain 14520, 459 000 € - Logic-immo.com
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 4:48 pm   #10
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That's makes two of us! It looks quite delightful, as does this property:-

Maison 12 pièces 285 m² � vendre Port en Bessin Huppain 14520, 459 000 € - Logic-immo.com
Nice house but why do people put the telly in the corner, honestly Patrick Swayze wouldn't be impressed.
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 4:53 pm   #11
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Nice house but why do people put the telly in the corner, honestly Patrick Swayze wouldn't be impressed.
Old people seem to prefer the TV in the corner, it was probably to do with the shape of the TV. My dear old Mum even put her big flat screen TV across the corner of the room
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 4:57 pm   #12
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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Granville has a nice feel to it and doesn't get quite as busy because everyone is going to Mont St Michel or St Malo, but imho the op should rent a camper van and follow the coast. Not to mention it all depends on what the OP is going to do.
I agree about Granville. We got to know it better in the last year because a relative was in rehab at a clinic there after a serious car accident.

It's a very interesting town.
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 5:18 pm   #13
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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I agree about Granville. We got to know it better in the last year because a relative was in rehab at a clinic there after a serious car accident.

It's a very interesting town.
The beach is nice in Donville, Big wide open space.........
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 5:37 pm   #14
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

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The beach is nice in Donville, Big wide open space.........
Yes, the beach at Donville-les-Bains is very nice (if a bit rocky in parts) but once you've enjoyed La Plage d"Or, known these days as Omaha Beach, all else is second class.
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Old Dec 24th 2017, 6:12 pm   #15
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Default Re: How is Deauville for a young family?

Thank you. I will go through and reply to individual comments when I've a bit of time, as you can imagine today is quite busy!

I'm fluent in French, my wife speaks it but not well and our children are being raised fully bilingually. We are aware that every place has nice and not nice people, but generally we find that close, traditional villages tend to have a better community, and although we are okay with living in a town that gets holiday makers in summertime, we don't want to live in a holiday town, but a place with deep roots.

This might sound silly, but it's always been our dream to open a small cinema that plays classic and weird films. We know it won't make us wealthy, but we hope to have a modest life. We are aware that France isn't "business friendly" and not to get too political but we don't mind.


Happy Christmas
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