A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum…

“Seems to be a very unusual social structure. For instance, there is leader who seems to pride herself on her organizational skills and a certain amount of discipline. She does seem to do an awful lot of scolding. “You’ve posted in the wrong place. Stay on topic people. Don’t use capital letters. I don’t have time to tell you twice,” when clearly, she does have time to tell us twice. But that’s not the problem.” Josh Lyman, The West Wing: ‘The U.S. Poet Laureate’

One of the first things I discovered when researching moving to France was the proliferation of online forums. I have since spent many a fruitful hour browsing hundreds of threads on subjects as diverse as chimney liners for stoves, French inheritance law and what to do about guests who overstay their welcome. You soon learn who the regular posters are; the people who respond to or comment on pretty much every post irrespective of the subject, as well as the etiquette.

Some forums are more active than others, but the following are the ones I visit most frequently and have found most useful.

Survive France

This forum covers a wide range of subjects, usefully divided into categories such as politics, health care, politics or property & home. People can start discussions by posting a new topic, tagging it with any relevant categories. Other posters then respond with opinions, information, personal experiences or links to articles and other discussions that help to address the issue. Like in life, discussions can be rambling, long-winded and prone to misunderstandings but most contributions are well intentioned and useful to not only the original poster (OP) but also the casual browser (or lurker).

Expat Forum

This forum, part of a much larger worldwide platform, also features some very useful discussions about all sorts of topics. It is primarily aimed at people who are already living in France but it is also a very useful sources of information for people who are planning the move, like me. The forum’s moderator is much more active in contributing to posts, being particularly knowledgeable about the complexities of French health care, social security, taxation and visa requirements. Also useful are a number of guides to these subjects that permanently remain at the top of the forum (or are sticky).

Lay My Hat

As the home page says, “Lay My Hat is a unique resource for holiday rental home-owners, by holiday rental owners – it’s full of free advice, ideas and discussions on what we all want in life…more bookings.” It is not specific to France but, as many of the issues raised apply equally wherever you may be, it is still very useful. Having said that there is a sub-forum for questions relevant to France though I have found the generic pages equally useful. It is primarily aimed at people offering rental property and gives a fascinating insight into how badly some holidaymakers behave!

Tips:

  • Browse and search forums thoroughly before posting a new topic as your question may already have been answered.
  • Don’t take it personally if someone replies rather brusquely; though all forums do seem to have their resident grouch.
  • Ask for help as many people on these forums have been in similar positions and can offer useful advice to help you avoid the same pitfalls.

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