French Education

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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

d.w - and I hope you do not object to me shortening your handle.

Please do not be too judgemental on Mint. Unlike you, a number of us have known her through her posts and know that she was not trying to criticise you or your family even if that is the impression you gained.

There is always a balance between spilling the whole family history and providing enough information while retaining confidentiality. The problem arises when we have to try and provide you with useable and sensible advice knowing that we only have a part of the picture. The parts that you chose not to disclose, can actually be those that are most important in giving you the best advice that we can collectively give. Sometimes we have to fill the gaps and sometimes we get it completely wrong. I know that I have been guilty of that in the past.

But the gaps can be very important in giving the best advice - and sometimes that advice might just be, no matter what you think now, coming to France would be a big mistake - and please do not think that that necessarily applies to you and your daughter.

Over the years we have seen many who have had vague ideas about coming to France and have convinced themselves that their worlds will change for the better by doing so - and with little or no reason to support that view. We have seen people running away but not really understanding where they are running to. We have seen people who have wrecked their children's education in order that they can live the dream. And most importantly we have seen people who have had to return home having tried and failed (in itself not necessarily a problem) and having essentially bankrupted the family, destroyed their children's education, and sometimes destroyed the family environment.

For myself (and this may mirror Mint's more direct posting) I am unsure just why you and your daughter want/need to come to France. What benefits do you see over staying in the US? It's a gap where, without a clearer view, it could be easy to give bad advice rather than good.

I don't want this to sound critical, but you have already been surprised (perhaps shocked would be closer) by the way the French education works, so to have a better understanding of the motivations will help us give good answers. You have also displayed what can best be described as a scatter gun approach to where you would like to end up. Imagine that I asked you the equivalent question about moving to the States but was not sure about whether Boston, St, Louis, Los Angeles, or Tampa would be a good choice. I think you would question what is my starting point and motivation.

I hope you read this in the sentiment in which it is written - which is to probe further about your motivations and aims without delving too deeply into the personal situation beyond that which is necessary to give the best advice. It is certainly not intended to be critical.

I understand, respect and acknowledge a degree for personal privacy and you must maintain that however I think to give advice you do need to open out rather more in terms of your motivations and aims.

I am sorry if this offends or touches nerves - that is not my intention.

A European Rahinja.
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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

Well, I was gonna try and help dharma but her less than polite outburst over Mint's well expressed concerns means that frankly, I ain't gonna, not nohow. So there, I wont I wont I wont and I'm stamping my little footie pootie! And if you try and make me, I will skweem and skweem and skweem.
Too thick for a PhD!
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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

QUOTE dharma
Mint is the antithesis of what a forum member should be.
This is certainly not the first time I have encountered hostility on social media.

Au contraire, dharma, the Mint who has been with us on here for many years had always manifested herself as EXACTLY the sort of person a forum member should be.

Like her, I have spent a lot of time and effort reading and re-reading this long thread, hoping to find any way to be helpful to you - though I don't have experience of the French educational system either, except that of having been a student there myself many decades ago.
You have received some great advice, but I fear nobody is going to be able to pinpoint that perfect house in its perfect position that is going to furnish your daughter with the perfect university course in 4 or 5 years' time.
I, too, am worried about whether you would get the necessary resident visas and - particularly - how you would fund your health care if you were on such a tight budget (I think you said your husband would be "on Social Security"; I am not sure what that means).
Also, if you did make the move to France, and life did not come up to your hopes and expectations, could you afford to move back to the US?

I wish somebody on here could wave a magic wand and give you confirmation that everything will be OK, but it is much better to be aware of possible pitfalls before you have gone too far.


PS. Regarding social media, it is easy to unwittingly give (or take) offence via an email or a posting, since it is hard to convey a tone of irony, jest, wry amusement etc.

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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

Dear Andy,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a well-informed, thoughtful, and helpful post. It is much appreciated.

Thank you, too, the the great number of people who have guided me through this thread, and thank you, NormanH, for the generous train schedules.

Before I try to answer your questions, though, Andy, I will remind Woolybanana that mint used an angry devil to precede her post to me, made hostile references to an American President and tennis player (what do they have to do with me?) and, instead of asking me for further information, made judgmental and critical assumptions of what I and my husband did and did not know. She wrongly stated (misread) that I intended to come to France alone with my daughter. I do find it sad and ironic that I am shut out and dismissed by several individuals when I was the one who was insulted, misunderstood, and blind--sided with criticism that was wholly uncalled for.

Andy, My husband and I intend to come to France with our 13 year old daughter who, we imagine, will repeat 8th grade in college. My husband has lived in France (Rennes), worked for 35 years in the French language, assisted his parents who lived in France (in Pezenas) for years, bought and sold their houses himself in French, and is current with today's immigration and health requirements for US citizens to move to France. As I thought I made clear from the beginning, my mission is simply this: to find good schools for our daughter and to settle within commuting distance from those schools. BTW the whole family are Francophiles--my middle daughter will soon be living in Aix--and my eldest daughter is entering a profession that will earn her a good salary; thus, she come to France often.

Andy, as for "What benefits do we see from moving to France?" they are the following: the US recession of 2006 - ? resulted in the unhappy fact that we will have a very frugal amount of money on which to retire and with witch to send our DD # 3 to college. At our age, the Federal gov't will probably not give her/us enough in loans for four years at a selective US college. Her choices could well be between a French University and an (undesirable) US community college, followed by four years at a less-expensive mediocre college which she would pay for with something like a waitressing job. She wants to study in France and learn French. Saying that asking for "inside knowledge" of those Universities with good reputations" (near one of which we planned to settle)is a "scatter gun approach" is unfair. We do NOT have books in the US assessing French Universities; however, our libraries are teeming with books about very expensive colleges and libraries. From where am I to gleam knowledge about the reputations of Universities? The Universities will not tell you themselves.There are, I found, no websites that assess and compare Universities in France. Only yesterday--after months of research--I found such a site made by the magazine US News and World Report. After Les Grand Eccoles, the ranking put Montpelier and Aix-Marseille quite high. Now they are at the top of my list. Poitiers was ranked much lower than I would have expected (not that I put undue emphasis on rankings). The University websites for Montpelier and Aix-Marseilles show attractive and very widespread programs. "A scatter gun approach"--which is what I was trained to use at the prestigious The Hudson Institute.-- is called research, and I am surprised that it struck a nerve with you. When we sell our house in NY, our retirement options are places like Buffalo or Utica NY (heavy snow) or places like Florida where we would not feel as at home as we would be in France.

I don't know what other "personal information" would be helpful:

1. We all/almost all speak French and have spent time in France, plan to, and have worked in France;

2. We like France better than a lot of the US;

3. My husband has done weeks of complex house-selling business in France (which mint mocked--sorry!--becausehis experience is "ten years old");

4. Economically and vis a vis Universite (especially as DD # 3 is happy to live at home) it looks like we will do much better in France than in the US, especially with our retirement income. If we sell our NY house for a good price we should be able to live well but carefully.

4. Out two older daughters will either be in France for school-year-abroad followed by a career (YES, she will have professional guidance) or can easily travel here;

I tried to look up Rahinja, Andy, but I could not find it. What does Rahinja mean? I am a practicing Buddhist (Pure Land School).

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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

Constance, maybe your desire for your daughter to be educated in France is guiding you, but as your husband will be retiring ( as I understand it ) how will you fare for Healthcare ? I have an American friend who would love to go to and live in France, but her healthcare provision is not transferable and as she too is retired French healthcare can be pricey

That is a pretty major consideration.

Secondly are you prepared for your worldwide income to be taxed in France even though you will still be required ( unless it's changed recently ) to submit a return to the IRS?

Also please be aware that although an realtor may help you with questions on education, it s unlikely that they will take any responsibility for decisions made on their say so, it's essential you check the facts yourself

Good luck with your research...

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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

Russethouse, thank you for your considerate questions. I know they are generously intended. Thank you too, Loiseau, for raising questions about aspects of life in France that are outside the confines of education.

Please be reminded that my initial question had nothing to do with anything besides specific Universities and attractive towns with quality colleges and Lycées. Here in the US we are surrounded by guide books to US colleges and Universities, but nothing, of course, about education at any level in France. It did not seem unreasonable to seek that kind of information from individuals living in France.

Before I was a University professor in NYC for 11 years, I was a researcher for Herman Kahn at the prestigious Hudson Institute. I know how to do research when the information I need is public (or not hard to understand, as I find French train schedules to be....thank you NormanH). I know what official documents are required for my family to relocate to France, I know the threshold of savings I need prove to France we have, I know that we can afford taxes on our retirement income both for the US and for France, I know roughly what our French health care/health insurance will cost (Should one of us encounter a major health need we would return to the US and use the Medicare system), I know roughly what Catholic school and private schools will cost. I know just about everything that Mint, with her sarcastic superiority, assumed that I did not know.

"Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University" is the title of my thread." Not only do I not have an answer to that question, I have a dreadful feeling of violation and unease from a Nosey Parker who addressed me as though I am an idiot, posts A DEVIL ICON (???), and threw in, for no good reason, hostile remarks about a President of a country who saved France from the Germans and Vichy collaborators and a ridiculous remark about an American tennis player. A player who is a commentator for French radio and who is coaching French player Romanic. Am I to think, "bienvenue au France"? or just conclude, "Words escape me?"
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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

DW - I don't want to get too involved in this thread - just one comment:
I can think of about 6 British families in France who we've known. All but one of whose teenage children have returned to the UK for University or work. One stayed here, in University, but may leave soon.
And leave our Mint alone - she's lovely!

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Re: Where to purchase modest dwelling 30-minutes from major University

Constance there are very few of us on this forum who have any experience of the French education system . I don't think we can begin to answer your request for advice on where to live without knowledge of your choice of university city . Both you and your husband seem to have a wealth of experience and knowledge about all things French and perhaps we are all wasting our time even trying to provide answers.
So for now, bon continuation, bon courage 😊 et bienvenue en France.

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