Would you retire to France? | Beaufort County Now

I pondered that question when I read a Wall Street Journal article about a couple who did just that. retire, France
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Would you retire to France?

Kathy Manos Penn with Lord Banjo
    I pondered that question when I read a Wall Street Journal article about a couple who did just that. My husband and I are both retired, and I know without asking that his answer would be a resounding "No."

    I, on the other hand, occasionally daydream about the possibility-if not of retiring there, at least of spending several months. Years ago, before our first trip to France, I read another WSJ article about living in Dijon, France and learning French at the University of Burgundy. The writer had enrolled in a French-language immersion program and had enjoyed living and studying in that city for several months.

    Our bike and barge trip started in Dijon, and it was a picturesque and walkable city. The fact that it was situated on the Burgundy Canal added to its appeal. Of course, I was still working back then so it was a pipe dream for sure.

    Several years later, we returned to France to bicycle Normandy with friends. My girlfriend had spent lots of time in Paris, and our time there on either end of the Normandy trip was especially enjoyable because she was familiar with the city. A discussion of taking a two-week French immersion class ensued, and we emailed back and forth about it for a few months when we returned to the States.

    We pictured ourselves spending two weeks learning French and then being joined by our husbands for a week of bicycling or driving the countryside. Her husband suggested Quebec would be a more economical choice. Spoilsport! Neither trip has come to fruition, but you never know.

    My daydreaming began anew in 2017, when my husband and I took a Viking River Cruise in the south of France, topped off by a visit with a high school girlfriend who really did retire to France. She and her husband purchased a cottage in the charming village of Mirmande with the intention of spending part of each year there. Time passed, and they wound up moving to France full time. They have a condo in Nice where they spend the winter months, and when it warms up, they return to their storybook stone cottage in Provence.

    For us, the logistics seem a bit daunting plus my husband has never been quite as enamored of France as I have. Still, when the next WSJ article appeared, I was intrigued. This time, a couple had retired to Carcassonne, a medieval city in the South of France. They found the housing affordable, the weather mild, and the scenery amazing.

    Imagine walking to the Farmer's Market several times a week or taking a two-minute stroll to your choice of restaurants. Imagine a twenty-minute bus ride to the local airport with flights to England, Ireland, Portugal, and Belgium.

    The practical side of me was interested in health coverage. This couple is paying approximately $1500 annually for coverage under France's National Health Insurance Plan which pays 70% of prescription costs and doctor and hospital bills. Having just incurred significant medical expenses for my husband's heart surgery, all of which was covered by Medicare and our Medicare Supplement, I'm not sure the 70% coverage would work out all that well for us.

    Perhaps I need to stick to dreaming of a month-long vacation, maybe two months. I see us renting a stone cottage in a small village, bicycling to town for coffee, and venturing out by train or car to other locales. I think of visiting villages in Brittany and taking a ferry to the Channel Islands. A girl can dream, can't she?

    Kathy is a Georgia resident. Find her books "The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday" and "Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch" on Amazon. Contact her at inkpenn119@gmail.com, and follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/KathyManosPennAuthor/.


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