Better off in France or England?

21 October 2014

Are you better off in France or England? Recent criticism of France has its points – the economy has problems, the thirty five hour week and employment laws make it very difficult for small businesses and the inflexibility of being tied to the euro does not offer an easy way out.

However, this is predominantly the “Anglo Saxon” view and misses some vital points. We, and the 85 million tourists who visited France last year, are not going on business; we are going for pleasure!
And pleasure there is in abundance!

Whilst my head tells me that France desperately needs their own version of “La dame du fer” aka Maggie Thatcher ( unfortunately Sarkozy met Carla and took his eye off the questions of reform), my heart is happy that as visitors we can forget that France is not run on Anglo Saxon lines.

Compare the average artisan in France and the UK. In England, lunch consists of a sandwich, eaten behind a copy of a tabloid with no conversation. In France, you will see many of our local artisans lunching together in our local restaurant, having the menu du jour and enjoying their conversation together over a glass of wine.
In the evening, you are very unlikely to see people staggering around under the effects of cheap booze.

Whilst rural towns in France are definitely suffering as in the UK, our local village still boasts a grocer, a butcher, a baker and cafe/restaurant along with weekly markets. Whilst European farm subsidies seem mad, and French farming is probably inefficient compared with the UK, the result is that much local production is small scale. In turn, this means that most of what you buy and eat has been produced locally and has been lovingly cared for and grown as nature intended – even geese run to the person feeding them! What a beautifully bucolic way of life!

The great benefit for all of us is that we can dip in and out and enjoy it all at our leisure. There are plenty of restaurants local to Milandes that are excellent value and consistently good. Throw in the sunshine, the Dordogne river, the lack of traffic and the scenery and it’s easy to forget the benefits of one economic model over another. Finally, another benefit, Bergerac wines are underrated worldwide and therefore you can enjoy them for very little outlay – you could even have a second bottle but that might be veering towards the anglo saxon model!