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It is hard to beat this magazine which features just about everything you need to know if you are considering buying a property in France, or indeed if you are already living there. What is also great is it offers very competitively priced annual subscriptions. I purchased one for my Dad a few years ago and whilst ok, he's not quite bought the dream French home yet, it has sparked his interest in buying in France all the more. This magazine offers some really interesting features and I love the way it focuses on particular regions. There are some great property ideas and it also showcases regional letting agents and estate agents with up to the minute advice on the latest property laws and trends. It has quite a British take on things but then it is written for the Brit wanting to buy abroad and so you can't expect it to suddenly make you fluent in French or a whizz at French culture. But all in all, it is the top magazine for property and life in France.
Been on holiday to France and would like to live there? Or do you just like all things French? If so then the magazine, Living France, could be very useful and interesting to you.
Published monthly the magazine is available at all major newsagents and costs 3.99 a copy. This is reduced if you subscribe and there are often special offers on with subscriptions. For example, last year when I took out my subscription there was a free book called The French Property Buyer's Handbook. Very useful - all I need now is to pluck up the courage to sell up in the UK and move there!!!!
The magazine is interesting to anyone who likes France, but as its title suggests, it is really aimed at those with a home there, or intending to move there.
Anyway, more about the magazine contents. It is a glossy magazine, but not too heavy and cumbersome. A list of the contents appears in the first few pages, with details also on the front cover of some of the features in that month.
There are regular features which appear every month. These include a readers' letters page, where readers comment on everything from commuting to buying a property in France.
Housing features largely in the magazine and there are often articles about where to buy and where property is a good investment. Estate agents specialising in French property also advertise in the magazine, offering homes to rent as well as those for sale.
Each month the magazine features a region or town of France and describes the area, what is there and what to do there. Sometimes this feature combines details of short break holidays, with adverts offering accommodation, so if you like an area it helps you book somewhere to stay.
There is a section dealing with legal aspects of living in France. This is particularly useful if you are moving there as inheritance laws, for example, are different from ours in the UK.
Every month there is a map of France in the magazine which shows the different departments, with their numbers. This is helpful as you may know the regions, but not the department numbers for each area within them. An alphabetical list helps locate the number for each area easily and the map is colour coded too. I have actually cut one out and laminated it, for easy reference as I travel to France quite often and it helps to know where I am going!
You could not mention France without saying something about their food and wine. There are often features about regional foods and wine, together with recipes. And there are sometimes articles about where to shop and what to buy. The French really take advantage of the seasonal foods and the magazine tells you about these too. Recipes feature in some of the regional articles, giving information about the specialities of each area.
Finance features in the magazine, with news about the exchange rate, where to bank, finance deals to help you with buying property and other useful information, such as tax.
If you want to work in the UK and live in France or set up a business in France, the magazine will be helpful as it often features articles on these topics. Sometimes there are features about ex pats who have set up in business or others who commute to and from the UK.
Maybe you are interested in sport. The Tour de France is a summer event and the magazine mentions where to go to see this. There are often articles on golfing, with details of the best golf courses.
Or maybe you just enjoy sightseeing and want to know where to go. The magazine covers everything from historical places to areas off the beaten tourist track. These features often include little known facts that you won't find in the usual tourist guides, so if you are going on holiday they are well worth reading beforehand.
For me the image of France conjures up a pretty rural village, found at the end of a quiet country lane, miles from anywhere and so peaceful. But for others the image may be a coastal resort. You can read about all these places in Living France and find out where you would like to go.
There are reviews on books and useful information about the language. It is no good going to France and then moaning that nobody speaks English!!!! French is the language of the country and everyone going there should make an effort to learn a few phrases at least! Of course if you are going to buy a property in France, or live there for a while, you will need more than a smattering of the language.
Every month Living France features an article about learning French. Often this takes up a particular theme, such as health care, where you can learn new vocabulary apart from the usual tourist phrases. There are also pieces with translations from English to French, which I find very useful as it helps with the language learning.
As the magazine is largely aimed at those intending to buy a property in France, there is lots of advice on this aspect. Over the last year these features have included everything from the initial contact with an estate agent, to the legal process and explain in great detail. Knowing about these things is essential if you are planning to buy in France. Useful vocab is also included to help you make sense of the property buying process.
The magazine does have a large proportion of adverts, everything from lawyers specialising in buying a property, to removal companies, language schools and learning materials to savings on cross channel travel.
Towards the back of the magazine the ads are mainly estate agents displaying the properties they have to offer. It can be a real eye opener to see just what you can buy for your money over there! Anyone living in a tiny terrace in the south of England could probably sell up and buy a chateau for the same amount in France! For anyone with the cash to invest in a second home or with building skills, there are some cheaper properties. I love reading the ads and one of these days I will go that step further and buy!!!!
Hope this review has been useful. If you love France then this magazine will certainly appeal.
Living France is one of several magazines aimed at the large numbers of British people who either emigrate to France or buy holiday homes there. It is published once a month at the price of £3.99 and is widely available in large newsagents. For anyone interested in the magazine in the long term, a subscription at £9.75 a quarter paid by direct debit (13 issues a year) works out at a saving of 30%.
Features in recent issues include a gardening article detailing how to transform derelict land into a beautiful rural garden (with a French glossary included); advice on the best places to go bargain hunting, from auctions and charity shops to car boot sales; the experience of a family with older children that moved to France; and an article on running a painting school in Languedoc-Roussillon. A dossier on the role of the town hall and the mayor included two pages of essential vocabulary and comprehension exercises to assist readers in communicating with local government officials. Some features could be of interest to a more general public, such as Provence's celebration of the life of painter Paul Cezanne, one hundred years after his death.
Each issue focuses on one of France's 95 departments: the one on Gironde and Bordeaux (its main city) described its wonderful sea-food in particular oysters - and explained the complexities of Bordeaux wine labels. There was a round-up of current properties for sale in the area along with information on climate and how to get to the Gironde from the UK. The Pas-de-Calais was featured during 2005 with articles on canoeing and artisanal cheeses as well as the vital statistics.
The following are the magazine's regulars:
- Le Bulletin 6 pages of news, events and a round-up of properties for sale plus new-builds. Events would probably include regional festivals as well as major events such as Le Mans race. Currency trends are given in graph form.
- Letters 3 pages of anecdotes, advice, ideas and opinions on all sorts of topics, from inheritance laws or installing an electricity supply to local bus services or helpfulness of French neighbours in times of need. One letter that amused me was from a retired Chief Examiner who wrote to point out several mistakes in a letter written in French in a previous issue.
- Over to you one page of topics from the forum on the website, such as the price of land, the best way to learn French, or how easy it is to run a bed-and-breakfast place in France.
- Finance 2 pages of information, for example on how French wealth tax could affect you if you reside in France.
- Ask the experts 2 pages of advice from an expert financial advisor on topics such as tax issues when selling property, or how to set up a business in France.
- Reviews 2 pages of book reviews: these could focus on books on language learning; French food and wine; or DIY and renovation. Sometimes there is a competition to win one of the featured books.
- Map of France every issue contains a map showing the 22 regions and 95 departments of France to assist readers in locating any advertised properties they are interested in.
- Properties for sale an introductory page gives a step-by-step guide to buying property in France: how it works, what to expect (don't rely on the vendor to answer your questions ask at the town hall), dos and don'ts, and useful information as well as necessary French vocabulary. There are 36 pages of ads and fact files on each region. The ads are organised into 6 geographical regions which are shown on the aforementioned map using different colours.
- Private homes to buy and rent: 6 pages of ads preceded by a brief guide on how it works, what to expect and what you need to know.
Dernier mot (Last word) - Samantha David's regular column about life in the Cevennes with her family and pets. In a recent issue she described her attempt to adopt a rescue dog and explained how her family eventually decided to become a foster family for dogs. 'If you fall in love with the dog, you can keep it.'
Small ads around nine pages of ads for builders, removals, insurance, language services, swimming pools, etc.
It is worth bearing in mind that roughly fifty pages over a third of the total number are taken up by property ads and small ads, apart from other larger advertisements interspersed throughout the magazine. If you are not looking to buy property in France, you might feel that £3.99 is a bit much to pay just for the odd interesting article. One gripe I have is that the magazine is sometimes wrapped in clear plastic so you are unable to look inside and see if you really do want to buy it. One month I think this was the case just at W H Smith, as they were giving away a free map of Paris with the magazine if I remember rightly.
The magazine has a website at www.livingfrance.com and this gives partial articles from the current issue to whet your appetite. It is also possible to order back issues here, and there is a bookshop stocking titles related to living in France as well as Michelin maps.
The magazine is published by Archant Life and contains 140 pages on good quality glossy paper with many colour photographs. It is probably the best of its kind.
Living France magazine is a top of the range guide to France and French lifestyle, it also includes a section offering a comprehensive range of properties for sale or rent. There are articles to interest anyone with an interest in France and French the lifestyle. Each month they pick on a different region of France to cover in depth, with stunning photography and well written pieces. There are regular items on such things as Food and Wine, Book Reviews, Legal Page, Recipes and Readers Letters. If you have an interest in France or just like reading and discovering foreign parts I can wholly recommend this magazine