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Out and About: An email from France

Sep 1, 2021

Out and About is a column in which we chat with people who are currently living abroad, or who used to live and work there. This week we chat with Louise Uys who lives in France.

Do you still speak Afrikaans?

Yes, we still speak Afrikaans at home. Our children speak only French at school, but they are fluent in English due to the TV programmes they watch, and they also have an hour English class every week. Old oldest attended an international school where he had English as first language and French as second language.

What strange things did you have to get used to?

  1. Children’s parties are smaller and less fancy. Moms will buy a cake at the supermarket, a box of seasonal fruit and a juice for every child. The moms or dads drop their kids off at a party even though they don’t know the parents, and the same goes for play dates. Children visit each other while the parents only know each other from saying “hi” at school.
  2. Children start attending school full day from the age of 3, from 08:30 to 16:30.
  3. There are no petrol attendants, and you have to fill up your own car with fuel.
  4. You have to pack your own shopping into bags when you buy something.

Do you still have contact with people in South Africa and will you ever return?  

Our family is still in South Africa. We miss them very much and we also miss the South African culture, and we are not sure where the road will lead us. For the moment we are still in France, and we are very happy here.

Do you get the chance to travel?

Yes, often. Whenever we get the chance, we try to explore new towns during weekends. It is nice to walk through the streets, to look up each little town’s history and to experience everything that is beautiful: painted shutters in front of windows, stone houses and roads, and the many old buildings that are rich in history and beautifully maintained. During holidays we tour France and Europe. We have visited a few beautiful places like Nice, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Cannes, Lake Como, Frejus, Zurich, Heidelberg, Colmar, Strasbourg, Switzerland, Milan, Le Grau-du-Roi, Munchën, Rottenbergh, Nieuwenstein, Camargue, Antibes, Avignon, Carcassonne and Lugano.

What do you like most about your life there?

The freedom to live our lives. We love to walk in the parks and to hike. Our children can ride their bikes outside in the streets and we can walk to town. We do not have burglar bars, alarm systems or electric fences.

Was it hard to adjust to life there?

Yes, the language was a huge obstacle. For the first two years however, we stayed in a French town that had many English-speaking people from America, Canada and the United Kingdom. Children have the ability to learn a new language very quickly, but for me as a stay-at-home parent it was way more difficult to integrate and learn the language. It took us about two years before France started feeling like home. The fact that we didn’t visit South Africa regularly made it much easier to get settled in. We only went to visit family a year after going there.

Do you live abroad? We would like to hear from you. Send us an email to


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