10 January 2017

Ashley Tinker - Expat in Provence, France

Ashley Tinker - Expat in Provence, France

We’ve had the chance to talk to Ashley Tinker, 27, a Canadian-British expat who has moved to France with her partner. Ms. Tinker who has been living there for three years, now works as a photographer.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I’m from Montréal, Canada.


Q: What made you move out of Canada?

A: I lived in Italy for a year when I was 19. I fell in love with the cobbled streets, architecture, and food. Europe is always where I felt my heart was. Then, I met a British man who was in love with France. We dated five years long distance Montreal-London, and I happily offered to make the move across the ocean.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Provence, France. We chose Provence for the climate, food, and tourism possibilities. Our first job was house-sitting.


Q: How long have you been living in France?

A: Three years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I’m living with my partner, Robin. He has adjusted better than I have. I think he still has rose-tinted glasses.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Homesickness is sometimes overwhelming. I find that I have a mini crisis every time I go back home and of reminded of what I left behind. I need to stay positive and remind myself that I chose this lifestyle. Then again, I live in one of the most beautiful places!


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: The locals are very kind here in Provence but difficult to befriend. That is one of the hardest things about southern France. I’ve even known French people that have moved here from up north and gone back after a few years claiming they haven’t made any friends!


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in France? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: At first, I wanted to be a purist and make only French friends. I’ve since found out that expats are easier to befriend and we have immediately common ground. The first expats I met were online.


Q: How does the cost of living in France compared to your home?

A: It’s difficult to compare. Quality food products are less expensive here and that is important in my life. Otherwise, housing is quite expensive, as is gas and electricity.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Depending on what you have, coffee is cheaper here. About 1,50 euros.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: 18 euros.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 50 euros +.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine?

A: Wine bottles start at 2 euros.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in France?

A: You need to have a job with a CDI contract to do seemingly anything official here.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Thankfully I have a British passport. Otherwise, the French stereotype of loving lots of unnecessary documents is true.


Q: Would you say that healthcare France reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: I’ve had limited experience with the healthcare here in France. So far, it has been reliable. 


Q: What was the most memorable about the process of packing and moving to France? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I left a lot to the last minute and oh my I had real nightmares of running around before my flight for ages. I left only a few boxes of books behind at a friend’s house.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: The language barrier.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in France?

A: For me, I appreciate the French attitudes to food and a work-life balance. On the other side, I’ve found it harder to make friends.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: The area I’m located in is stunning. Just driving around is wonderful. I never tire of visiting the local markets and going on hikes in the countryside. There’s also many great vineyards to visit and wine taste. I have lots of recommendations on my site.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No plans for it; though, it crosses my mind every time I visit home to go back.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Meet as many people as you can! Try to stay positive.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about France?

A: My blog of course! I created CuriousProvence to show the more day to day living in France rather than only luxury retreats. Otherwise, I love the videos of “What the Fuck France?” on Youtube that so perfectly describe the difficulties of being an English speaking expat in France.