All posts by Flemming Funch

13: Medical & Healthcare


Medical care throughout France is very good and quite inexpensive. The World Health Organization, in its year 2000 survey, classed France as first amongst more than 150 countries. The major criteria in the survey was not just state-of-the-art technology but, more so, easy access. This means principally the extent of coverage both geographically and insurance-wise. In fact, in means also the lower cost of consulting a GP, which is often a barrier to many people. Consulting your GP is key to Preventive Medicine and a tenet of French health care; Remedial Medicine being far more expensive. Continue reading 13: Medical & Healthcare

15: Schools & Education


The French educational system has the reputation of being one of the most thorough in the world. If you are a resident paying French taxes, you can take advantage of the French educational system. Public education is free at the primary and secondary levels. Instruction is compulsory from age six to sixteen. Universities are public and tuition is nominal. The majority of schools (85%) are écoles publiques (public schools). Ecoles privées (private schools), many of them run by the Catholic Church, are partially subsidized. Continue reading 15: Schools & Education

18: Shopping & Household


Shopping in France can be interesting, time consuming and from time to time baffling. While there are definite similarities to shopping in any other country, there are still differences that you need to be aware of upon your arrival in France. Opening hours and the kinds of shops you’ll be going to may differ from those you are used to. Check in advance as there will be variances. In most small villages, shops are open Tuesday through Saturday all day from 8:00 or 8:30 until 19:00 or 19:30 EXCEPT during lunch time: 12:30 – 14:00 or 15:00 or even 16:00. They may open fifteen to twenty minutes after the hour posted. Many village food-related shops like Casino (as opposed to those in the city) are open Sunday morning. There is a definite relationship between being open on Sunday morning and being closed on Mondays. Bakeries have all sorts of hours. Most post offices will close for lunch. Major supermarkets such as Leclerc and Carrefour, gas stations and stores in downtown Toulouse stay open all day. Continue reading 18: Shopping & Household

19: Food & Dining

Don’t despair, you’ll still be able to make your favorite recipes from home while in France. You’ll even find that, before long, you’ll be adding more and more French recipes to your repertoire. However, you DO need to become familiar with European weights and measures and with substitute ingredients before you try to whip up Grandma’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies or that new chili con carne recipe a friend just gave you. You just can’t go on asking your friends to send you sour cream, Velveeta, and chocolate chips forever!  You may have difficulties with some things (cuts of meat, baking ingredients) but be patient and experiment.  Part of the experience is seeing how close you can come to making your special recipe.  The experiment is half the fun! Continue reading 19: Food & Dining

20: Gifts

In most places of the world, the foreigner who brings or sends an appropriate gift is always appreciated. However, French custom, etiquette, and tradition all play important parts in the choice of a gift, its value, and the manner in which the gift is given. Before giving a gift to a French person, ask someone, (preferably a French person), if your gift, and the giving thereof, is appropriate for the situation. The following list is a guideline for different gift-giving situations: birthdays, marriages, funerals, dinner parties and other events in France. Continue reading 20: Gifts

23: Leisure

The Toulouse area provides you with the opportunity to fill your free time, for years! What with museums, concerts, movies, sightseeing in the city and surrounding areas, hiking and skiing in the Pyrenees, as well as water sports on the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and regional lakes, you’ll never be at a loss for a fun and interesting way to spend your day, evening, or weekend. Even the outdoor food markets and antique markets can be a source of entertainment. Learning French can also be a leisure activity, as it opens up so many opportunities to enjoy yourself! We’ve gathered information to get you started, but in time you’ll surely discover your own favorite spots. People under the age of 26 and students should inquire about their eligibility for reduced rates at many entertainment activities. Enjoy it! Continue reading 23: Leisure