Endangered Villages

Endangered Villages
Many years ago I attended a reading with a friend of mine at a wonderful travel store in Seattle, Washington, called Wide World Travel, when she and I first considered the possibility of buying and sharing a house amongst our families in France. The reading was given by Laurence Raybois who had written a small book called Chez Moi – The Foreigner’s Guide to Buying a Home in France. Some 6 years later when the dream of not only owning, but actually living in France became a reality I contacted Laurence to ask if she could point me in the right direction for obtaining a visa.  As luck would have it I learned she was also a consultant, who did just that – helping people acquire visas for living and/or working in France.  Laurence is French, but has lived in Seattle for over 20 years and is thus very knowledgeable in both U.S. emigration and French immigration procedures, as well as a myriad of other related issues. Last year Laurence contacted me to see if I could help her with a project very close to her heart which she’d been working on for years called, Rural France Resources and I am pleased I can offer help in return for the many kindnesses she’s bestowed upon me.  Laurence and I both live in rural France – her village, which she visits every year, has a population of 600, while mine, which I live in year round, has a population of 39.  Both villages are endangered. She has created a website whose goal is to provide practical information for Anglophones who are drawn to life in a French village, but are uncertain about where and how to begin to make the transition work practically and professionally. Laurence says, “France is largely rural, with over 80% of all its municipalities being home to fewer than 2,000 inhabitants each.  As a whole, these individuals account for 26% of the French population. Yet, a lot of these villages could easily become extinct, and at any given time many are struggling to keep their population at a level that will enable them to retain their basic services…or perhaps it is the other way around: villages are trying to retain their basic services so that they can keep the population they have.  Regardless, a lot of hard work goes into remaining a functional, yet traditional village when, for example, the one and only bakery is about to close, or the village school is at risk of losing one of its two teachers for lack of school-age children.” And so, Laurence has compiled a list of background, ideas, resources, and government agencies that offer assistance to those looking to resettle in rural France.  She has made her site easy to understand for non-French speakers, with translations and step-by-step navigational directions.  Should you be thinking about a move, but stymied as to where to begin, Laurence provides a wealth of information.  For 12 years she has been an independent consultant for Americans wishing to relocate to France, handling diverse issues such as immigration and visa requirements, professional certifications, housing and schooling, and other related issues. Her fee is $95 an hour, well worth every cent. Laurence Raybois Consulting – United States 001 (425) 246-9649EmailWebsite

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Sue Aran lives in the Gers department of southwest France. She is the owner of French Country Adventures, which provides private, personally-guided, small-group food & wine adventures into Gascony, the Pays Basque and Provence. She writes a monthly blog about her life in France and is a contributor to Bonjour Paris and France Today magazines.