Moving to Béziers : The first six months by Holly Howard

Moving to Beziers The first six monthsMy husband and I have now called Béziers home for six months. Six nerve-wracking, exciting and everything-in-between months. The summer season that greeted us when we first moved frolicked by without so much of a backward glance. Béziers was golden and warm and we ate ice-creams every day and enjoyed simply waking up within the four walls that were completely ours. We celebrated our first anniversary on the beach with seafood (from A l’Eau Christian — if you live locally, you should definitely go!) and set to work unpacking, "settling", really, and starting our renovation plan for the apartment.


Gastronomic "Delights"

We spent the summer without an oven and a hob and surprisingly, it was a lot easier than we thought! At first you eat a lot of bread (easy to do in France) with different combinations (cheese, salad, tinned mackerel, just olive oil sometimes). Then, you alternate baguettes with salads (artichokes have quickly become my favourite thing) and throw in a few crèpes and you have a pretty good menu!


Of course, we learned quickly that a café lunch hits the spot and so we made the most of being flexible enough with work to take a few French lunches with a glass of rosé. Lastly, and by no means least, we found our local pizza takeaway and oh, how I wished they did a loyalty card... They kept us sane when all we wanted was something cooked and since pizzas were something we’d make on a London Friday night, it felt familiar. As autumn turned into winter, we got our act together and bought an oven and hob. It’s makeshift to say the least but I can now warm plates and roast vegetables; oh, the joy!


Language and Life

Language is possibly the biggest element of moving abroad, don’t you think? Mastering it truly helps us to feel a sense of homeliness and belonging. Our French language is improving, little by little, but our moto, in a way, with the move to Béziers has been not to put too much pressure on ourselves and to know we’ll be trying our best. We’ve taken this with the language, too, and being easy on ourselves and watching a lot of Bienvenue chez nous (Four in a Bed in the UK) seems to be working!


Apartment Renovations

We certainly took a Mediterranean approach to our apartment renovations! With so much newness and family and friends coming to stay, patching up the cracked ceiling and stripping five coats of paint off its windows often took a back step. So, we erected our desks by the fireplace and fitted in our furniture as best we could. In the autumn, with family and friends’ Christmas visits on the horizon, we started heading to Bricoman for 7am on weekdays to buy another unknown tool and working in the evenings after our working day.


Fast forward and our first renovation attempt (the office/ second bedroom) is finished; all ready to play host to our family for our first Christmas in France. I’m really proud of what we’ve learned along the way: I now know a bit about restoring a wooden beam and Alastair can now wire a room with electrics and make a crooked wall look slightly straighter by clever skirting board tiling. We feel like the transition into being a fully-fledged adult is complete: money earned goes into conduit and sandpaper at a rapid rate! For sure, the next rooms will be a lot less daunting. We’ll start up again after a well-earned Christmas break.


The Second Six Months

We’re asked if we’re homesick and it’s so lovely that we can reply from our hearts that we’re not. We have moments — when the football team Alastair supports is playing and he’d be watching it with his Dad, or when my mum is staying and I wished she’d set up camp forever! — but these are completely what we thought they’d be and so we’re not too taken aback by them. I miss my friends, dearly, but they are still there, now chatting together aimlessly over the internet instead of over a coffee. But really, and this has only showed us how right the move was, we are so happy, here, in the south of France.


So, the second six months will be more of the same, really. More early morning bread runs and coffee at our desks. More full weekends of having family and friends with us and us travelling back to them. More incomprehensible phone conversations with electricians or broadband providers and trying to follow the plot of a French TV series. With each week that passes, Béziers feels more familiar; we recognise more faces, we’re getting to know more names. We’re feeling settled. We feel it’s home.