Archive for the ‘Expatica’ Category

Bonne année ! France’s 2017 public holidays, time changes

Bonne année and Happy New Year! Best wishes to you all for 2017. I’ll be posting a lot more this year.

Expatica has a good page dedicated to France’s public holidays in 2017.

As you may know, the French tend to look forward to May every year, particularly if those holidays fall close to weekends so they can “faire le pont” (bridge the weekend); i.e., if the holiday is on a Thursday, take the Friday off and make it a 4-day weekend. It is indeed glorious.

You can see a brief review here below.

French national holidays

January 1: New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)

April 14: Good Friday – applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.

April 17: Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)

May 1: Labour Day (Fête du premier mai)

May 8: WWII Victory Day (Fête du huitième mai or Jour de la Victoire 45)

May 25: Ascension Day (Jour de l’Ascension, 40 days after Easter)

June 5: Whit Monday – also known as Pentecost Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte).

July 14: Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

November 1: All Saints Day (La Toussaint)

November 11: Armistice Day (Jour d’armistice)

December 25: Christmas Day (Noël)

December 26: Boxing Day/St Stephen’s Day (Deuxième jour de Noël): applicable only to Alsace and Moselle/Lorraine.

Important French holidays

March 26: Clocks go forward one hour as daylight saving time (DST) starts.

April 1: April Fool’s Day (Poisson d’Avril)

May 28: Mother’s day (last Sunday in May)

June 18: Father’s day (third Sunday in June)

October 29: Clocks go back one hour (DST ends).

French school holidays

School dates vary according to which ‘zone’ you’re in. The French Ministry of Education maintains a comprehensive list of school holidays in France.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Expats

I saw this really interesting post on Expatica France, written by Maria Foley. You should check out her blog I was an Expat Wife. I think #5 and #6 particularly resonate with me. Since my re-entry into the US since September 2012, I realize increasingly that I’m a better person for having lived abroad several years in France. It has prepared me well for many things.

What other habits do you find helpful in adapting to and succeeding at expatriate life?

I was an expat wife: The 7 habits of highly effective expats
Maria Foley takes a look at effective habits that make expats cope with integration into a new life and culture when moving abroad.

On Monday I presented my interpretation of Stephen Covey’s seven habits as seen through the lens of expatriation. Today all I’m borrowing from Mr. Covey is that iconic title. Here, then, are seven of the habits cultivated by highly effective expats:

1. They prepare: They take the time to study the new culture before they get on the plane, and get a head start on learning the local language. Either by reading, talking to other expats, or taking cross-cultural training, they develop an understanding of culture shock, learn how to recognise its symptoms and how to manage them. They’re then able to form realistic expectations of what lies ahead.

2. They introspect: They examine their own values, strengths and weaknesses. They gauge their tolerance for ambiguity, take stock of their resiliency reserves, and assess their patience levels. The work they did above shows them what’s coming; the work they do here shows them how they’ll respond to it.

3. They keep an open mind: They accept that things will be different and that constant comparisons to their home culture is counterproductive. They peel back the layers of their preconceived notions and stereotypes until there’s nothing left. They resist judgment. They don’t automatically blame everything that goes wrong on the country or its people.

4. They connect: They establish a strong in-country social support system of both expat and local friends. They nurture their family relationships. They keep in touch with loved ones back home, just not 24/7. They make a point of surrounding themselves with positive people, limiting exposure to the bitter and the bigoted expats.

5. They bend: They consciously adapt their behaviour to meet local norms. They’re flexible, but they know where to draw the line so they don’t compromise their values.

6. They take (reasonable) risks: They try new foods, activities, and experiences. They make mistakes and learn from them. They maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder that keeps them engaged in the here and now.

7. They keep a sense of perspective. Effective expats know that life has its ups and downs, no matter where you live. While they’re grateful for the chance to swim in a different pool, they know it comes at a cost. And yet they accept the downside as the price they pay for the richness and texture of expatriate life.

What can you add to my list of habits?

Maria Foley is a Canadian who lived and raised a family as an expat for many years. Aside from writing for Suite 101, Foley still writes about her expat life on her blog, I was an expat wife, and is currently working on a book about overcoming the challenges of repatriation. You can follow her on Twitter at @iwasanexpatwife.

Tips on eating in France

This piece from Expatica, written by Vanessa Couchman, gives insight into eating meals in restaurants in France, with interesting details and advice especially for the newly arrived. What are your tips about making the most of French gastronomy?

Excerpt below. For full article click here.

Surely you always eat well in France? Well, actually, no. We have had some mediocre meals in restaurants with pretensions to haute cuisine. Equally, some of the best meals we have eaten in France have been at establishments that are less than prepossessing at first glance. France rightly has a reputation for its cuisine. Sometimes, however, it rests on its laurels. But there’s no reason why you should put up with that. Here are my 10 top tips for enjoying a meal out….

1. Avoid the tourist honey pots
You visit a picturesque town – possibly l’un des plus beaux villages de France – only to have your day spoiled by an indifferent meal. I’m not saying that all restaurants in such places are bad. Far from it; but you are more likely to feel ripped off and encounter poor service in a place where they rely mainly on passing trade. Go to the next village, which is likely to have a restaurant, and eat there instead….

Top iPod apps for Expats

January 25th, 2010 3 comments

This is an article taken from, a very helpful site website that I recommend. Although the iPod and applications have made life certainly easier in some respects, I do think that there is a risk that if we depend too much on applications to determine a packing list, say or calculate a tip, then we’re doing our brains a disservice. That’s just my two cents though. These applications do sound helpful. Fellow expats do you have any other iPod/iPhone apps that you recommend for travelers/expats?

Top 10 iPod apps for expats

Sarah Novak, life coach and iPod lover, lists her top 10 iPod applications for travellers and expats.

We all know that having the right tools is critical for success. When you travel or live overseas, though, having the right tools becomes essential to completing your daily tasks. While you may be familiar with traditional resources like guide books and maps, I’d like to share how to use new technology to improve your overseas adventures.

Apple’s iPod applications (apps) for the iPhone and iPod touch have functions that can simplify life. But with thousands of available applications, the task of finding the right ones to download can be daunting. I’ve researched them and consolidated my recommendations into a list of essential apps for any traveler or expat.

Background on iTunes apps
Applications can be uploaded to any iPod touch or iPhone (traditional iPods including the classic, nano and shuffle do not use applications). All applications can be downloaded from the iTunes store, where transactions are processed via credit card through iTunes and delivered instantly.

Top 10 essential apps for expats
1. iMetro – USD 1.99 (CHF 2.02, EUR 1.38) to upload. This app provides metro maps for 28 cities around the world, including Lausanne, Paris and Berlin, keeping you from wasting money on taxi fares. The metro maps are scalable, so you can zoom in or out to find your way. There are quite a few metro apps out there, but I like this one best because of the large number of available maps for the low cost.

2. Sit or Squat – Free. This user-maintained database identifies free public toilets around the world. Over 65,000 toilets have been identified by users. To use, enter the nearest address, city, zip code or intersection and it will generate a list of the nearest toilets. You can also check out the reviews and comments for each toilet at

3. Gate Maps – USD 0.99 to upload. This app provides airport terminal layouts for over 30 international airports. It runs offline, avoiding charges for uploading data overseas. Savvy travelers can check the map of their arrival airport in-flight so that they can speed off to their destination upon landing.

4. Flight Track Pro – USD 9.99 to upload. This application integrates with the online travel organiser TripIt, saving your flight itineraries and keeping you up-to-date on delays, gate changes, cancellations and more. The offline mode allows you to check your most recent flight details without the use of wi-fi.

5. Packing Pro – USD 3.99 to upload. This handy packing checklist will keep you from arriving in the Caribbean without a swimsuit! Create your own list or work from one of several custom templates.

6. Spend – USD 0.99 to upload. I love, love, love this app! It solves the problem of how to keep track of all the daily cash transactions that occur on vacation or in everyday life overseas. This is a top-notch tool for accounting as well as budgeting.

7. WifiTrak – USD 0.99 to upload. This handy app locates free wi-fi signals nearby; perfect for the traveler on the move.

8. HiConverter – USD 0.99 to upload. This fantastic conversion tool incorporates all the usual measurements such as temperature, currency exchange rates, distance, as well as some surprises including clothing and shoe size conversions. It also includes features from the popular app Tipulator, allowing you to calculate the tip on a bill.

9. Lingolook Flashcards – USD 4.99 to upload. These flashcards list 500 translations of the most common words in an easy-to-use flashcard format (100 actual cards). Bonus: 300 of the translations come with an audio clip from a native speaker to help you perfect the pronunciation. The cards are available in seven languages including Spanish, French and German. The best part of this app is that it lives in the phone, requiring no data transmissions (or ensuing bills) overseas.

10.Lonely Planet City Guides – USD 14.99 to upload. If you don’t feel like lugging around a big guide book, download a Lonely Planet City Guide instead. For USD 14.99 you can access one of 20 major cities, including Amsterdam, London and Barcelona. Designed as a stand-alone application, this program does not require a data download, saving you roaming charges. It is however GPS-enabled, so you can find your location on the application’s city maps.

Categories: Expat life, Expatica Tags:

World’s most prosperous nations are in Europe

November 11th, 2009 No comments

The latest Legatum Prosperity Index has been released, with the old continent once more coming out on top but there are signs of potential weakness in domestic security and governance.

London – The third edition of the Legatum Prosperity Index ranks 104 countries (covering 90 percent of the world’s population), based on a definition of prosperity that combines economic growth together with measures of happiness and quality of life.

Six of the top 10 countries in the 2009 Prosperity Index are located in Europe: Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands.

“Once again, we see that Europe represents the highest concentration of the world’s most prosperous nations, thanks to an impressive blend of economic progress and good quality of life,” said Dr. William Inboden, Senior Vice President of the Legatum Institute.

“But behind the positive headlines,” continued Dr. Inboden, “the main centres of European population and economic growth are showing signs of potential weakness in important areas such as domestic security and governance. The Legatum Prosperity Index shows that Europe’s future prosperity will be assured by balancing economic progress and wellbeing, through pro-growth policies, strong social networks, strong public safety, and innovative and entrepreneurial citizens.”

Comparing European nations to the US, ranked 9th, the index finds that the United Kingdom (11th), Germany (14th), and France (17th) all trail the US in both economic measures as well as key quality of life measures.
The US outranks each of them on safety and security measures, which is somewhat surprising given public perceptions on the issue.

The UK lags behind the US in education and personal freedom, Germany in economic fundamentals and the impact of its government on economic growth, and France on social capital. All three countries turn in comparatively high ranks on entrepreneurship and innovation; with the UK ranking 2nd globally behind the US.

Key Findings from the 2009 Legatum Prosperity Index

• Northern Europe dominates the top five spots in the Index: Finland (1st), Sweden (3rd), Denmark (4th), and Norway (5th).

• Slovenia (20th), the Czech Republic (25th), Hungary (28th), and Poland (29th) constitute the Eastern European countries that made the top third of the Index. Slovenia was propelled to its position through its performance on education, security, and its government’s capacity for fostering economic growth. The Czech Republic achieved its final ranking by outscoring other Eastern European countries in personal freedom and its population’s overall physical health.

• Romania is the lowest ranked European Union country at 47th, and Belarus, at 85th, is the
lowest-ranked European nation overall.

• The current European Union candidate countries rank as follows: Croatia (35th), Macedonia (59th), and Turkey (69th).

• With only one exception, each of the top six nations ranks in the top 20 of all nine areas of prosperity. The remaining 4 countries in the top ten – Australia, Canada, the United States, and New Zealand – are all European heirs and generally enjoy similarly balanced top tier performance.
• Northern European nations, on average, perform better on measures related to quality of life than to economic wellbeing, and Eastern European nations perform better, without exception, on measures related to economic wellbeing than to quality of life.

• The top five most entrepreneurial and innovative countries in Europe are, in order of rank, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.

• The five European countries whose governments contribute the most to the overall life satisfaction of their citizens are, in order of rank, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway.

• The top five European countries ranked by overall performance in the Prosperity Index’s four economic sub-indexes, in order of rank, are Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Belgium.

• All five of the top countries ranked by overall performance in the Prosperity Index’s five quality of life sub-indexes are in Europe. They are, in order of rank: Finland, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

• Four of the world’s largest 25 countries are located in Europe, excluding Turkey. In order of population size, they are: Germany (14th), France (17th), the U.K. (12th), and Italy (21st).

The Index identified nine key factors that drive economic growth and personal wellbeing, which are foundations of prosperity. Each of these nine factors is represented in a sub-index and a country’s final Prosperity Index ranking is generated by averaging its scores across all nine sub-indexes, equally weighted. More information on the Prosperity Index, including full country rankings, background on data and methodology, and profiles of each country can be found at
Top 20 countries

1. Finland
2. Switzerland
3. Sweden
4. Denmark
5. Norway
6. Australia
7. Canada
8. Netherlands
9. United States
10. New Zealand
11. Ireland
12. United Kingdom
13. Belgium
14. Germany
15. Austria
16. Japan
17. France
18. Hong Kong
19. Spain
20. Slovenia

Rest of Europe

21. Italy
22. Portugal
25. Czech Republic
27. Hungary
29. Poland
30. Greece
31. Estonia
34. Slovakia
35. Croatia
37. Latvia
46. Bulgaria
48. Romania
61. Ukraine
69. Turkey
85. Belarus

Categories: Europe, Expatica Tags: ,
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