The eternal question and rivalry on the European continent: which is better: London or Paris? France or England UK? I know you are tired of Covid, but let’s hope that 2021 will be better and we will be able to travel again.
Although Europe has many wonderful cities, few have the power, prestige, size or wealth of these two rival capitals. There is of course also Madrid, but it’s just not quite in the same league. Viennaand Amsterdam are very beautiful but quite small, Istanbul is huge but leaves much to be desired, and Berlin is …just Berlin I guess.
I had the pleasure of visiting both capitals over time. Paris in 2009 long before we moved to France, thanks to my sister, to whom I wish to thank once again, and London in 2018 before moving to England.
But let’s start with the beginning: after we landed we made our way to the hotels, both in somewhat peripheral areas and this was the first impression we had of the cities:
So the eternal question and rivalry on the old continent: Which country is better: England, UK or France? Well, I lived in Marseille France, and than I moved to Hull, England, UK. It’s hard to say which is better to live in, and depends a lot on what language you speak , the region you are in and your job.
Both are somewhat problematic cities, with high unemployment figures and bad local reputation, so I might not be in the best position to judge these countries. (Or I might be in the perfect position to show the truth of each country, depends how you look at it)
In general, if you look only at the numbers and stats, life in France (if you speak French) is indeed better than life in England, UK. Everything from the weather to salaries, geography , location, infrastructure and social benefits is indeed better on the main land. It was not such a big difference before, but the gap has widen considerably since the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum and it will continue to do so unfortunately. Let’s see why:
Unlike in Romania, the expat marriage in England UK procedure is a very simple one that does not imply headaches. Remember the article about how complicated it was to get PACS or married in France? Well, unfortunately It’s just as complicated in my home country Romania as well. We initially wanted to have the civil marriage ceremony in Romania but I was surprised to find that in our country besides the usual pile of papers requirement, you are also required to provide a “Prenuptial Medical Certificate”. This supreme idiocy is required only in our country, and consists of a certificate obtained based on results of blood tests, that prove you do not suffer from any serious illness such as HIV, Syphilis or TB. This certificate issued by most clinics is valid for 14 days but must be submitted within 24 hours to the Register Office! So once you have it, run quickly to the Register Office, submit the application, and then you must wait at least 10 days to get married, but no more than 14 days, otherwise your prenuptial medical certificate to expire! Makes perfect sense, right? Only in a banana republic like Romania it does yes.
I searched the internet for a logical explanation regarding why you have to wait 10 days, but I could not find any. If anyone can explain this ridiculous request to me please do.
Overall, it seems that we had to take a minimum of 3 weeks leave for this event, so we decided to get married in England UK.
In the UK, unlike Romania, the Expat marriage in England UK procedure is very simple: you have 3 steps to follow, you pay 2 fees, show up with your passport and proof of address and soon you will be married. Let’s see these steps:
After visiting a large part of Europe, I present you my top 10 of the most beautiful cities that have left a memorable impression. The top is composed only of the cities I visited, I’m sure there are other beautiful cities out there that I have not yet had the chance to visit. For these I’m waiting for your suggestions in the comments section. We have included only the cities that have preserved their character and authentic beauty, not including those who have sacrificed their personality just for the sake of tourism (I can give Venice as an example of this)
I wasn’t sure if this city deserves to be included in the top because it can also easily be included in the list of the most overrated cities to visit and depending on the area you stay, it can also be included in the list of the most dangerous cities to visit. In principle, the French capital lives on the laurels of the past, but although the city of lights doesn’t shine so bright as it used to, it is still quite bright and appealing. The central area that you see as a tourist is still very beautiful and an example of urban planning to be looked up to. Also, the city offers a very large concentration of attractions that will keep you busy for at least a week, so it’s always a safe bet for a successful holiday. Protests, strikes and locals who do not speak English and who do not stand criticism towards their city or their country, all make sure you get a really authentic experience. (see London vs Paris article HERE.)
First of all I must mention the fact that I did not live in France, but in Marseille, a city that even many French people say it is not exactly France, and for good reasons. It’s been a year since I first came here with my work. The city is one of strong contrasts, in the center you have the natural harbor and lovely tourist area of Vieux Port , and just 2 streets away from it, you have Noailles Square, a congested smelly area, full of African minorities, where you hear more Arabic than French. In this place where smuggled cigarettes are sold openly on the street, you feel more like in Morocco and Algeria than in France. Moving away from the city center, we reach the Southern districts where we have the superb Mediterranean areas of Prado and Point Rouge. This wealthy areas come with parks, beaches and the Calanques mountains view in the background. Coming back to the center of town, if you walk just to the North of Saint Charles Station, you are afraid to keep walking on the street.
Coming from Romania, I didn’t think much of seeing homeless people on the street or sleeping in the tram stops, begging at street corners or minorities hanging around at the entrances of the subway, drinking beer and smoking pot. But even so, the large number of them concentrated in the city center exceeds any expectations, even compared to Romania! I think from the perspective of a tourist or of a Frenchman from another more “French” city, the urban landscape here must be something unreal.
The summer is fast approaching and a small holiday was the perfect opportunity to take a road trip on the Cote d’Azur towards Saint Tropez. After visiting all of Marseille’s sights and surroundings, we wanted to go with our guest on a Côte d’Azur train trip, but unfortunately the unpredictable running schedule sprinkled with spontaneous strikes organised by the French SNCF lazy workers deprived us of this option. Another inconvenience would be that the train does not go all the way up to Saint Tropez, but only to Toulon or Nice, from where you have to take a local coach the rest of the way.
From Marseille to Saint Tropez there are only 150 km, but even for this distance, the train can be quite expensive if you do not buy the tickets well in advance. If you get a ticket today for tomorrow you can also spend around € 50 per person on such a train ride, so we’ve considered renting a car to make the trip.
PACS or Pacte civil de solidarité, is a concubinage agreement that offers the benefits of a married couple but with fewer obligations. Initially developed at the request of gay couples to declare themselves a family unit, it has become very popular among hetero couples and a popular method used by immigrants and refugees to obtain a visa or residence permit.
In France, there is a well-thought-out and subtle tactic to encourage marriage and punish unmarried young people, regardless of their sexual orientation. If you are around 30-years-old and you are still alone, you are prone to being refused having social and professional benefits, you are prone to pay much higher taxes to the state (the celibate member can have 30% of his income taxed versus 14% if you are in a couple) and at any bank you you go will have lower chances to get a credit if you are single, so many young people choose to compromise by making a PACS contract with their partners.
The procedure is very similar to marriage, if not identical, and because we are in France, it is very complicated and involves a lot of bureaucracy. Although it practically takes 5 minutes to sign the papers, it takes months to get to that point. The starting point is the government site https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/N144, where you will find a list of what documents you need if you are a foreigner or you can go directly to the town hall that you belong to and ask for the PACS dossier, which also contains the list of everything you need:
Are you considering a Relocation to France? Well you’re not alone. Relocation to France is among the top European destinations for expats, alongside England and Germany. They either leave to go looking for better paid work, to take recognized studies or simply to retire and enjoy the lovely Mediterranean weather. I’m sure in every country the accommodation process is different, I’m going to tell you how it was for us here. France is not exactly a country that makes your life easy when you are new comer: the bureaucratic system is remarkably similar to the one in my home country Romania, and not in a good way. It is lengthy, slow and requires lots of running around and patience to get the essentials papers you require. But let’s start with the beginning:
1.Cash and initial accommodation. I am starting from the premise that you are leaving your country with a secured job and your visa status is OK. If you go to any country without a clear source of income you have a good chance that you will just wander a little around and return to your home country as soon as the money runs out. First of all , make sure you take enough cash to survive a month or two until you find decent accommodation. Without 2000 EUR in your pocket, do not even consider a relocation to France. Secondly, be sure to take your Identity Card, Passport, Birth Certificate in Original and be sure to make a translation and a legalized copy of it before you arrive. Here it costs around 50-60 euros to make a legal translation of this document; Marriage certificate, divorce certificates if you have , all translated, a few ID size pictures of you, and if the company will not provide accommodation (permanent or temporary) you should start to look for cheap hotels in the city. A hotel or guest room if it’s booked in advance and for long term (one month or two) can be relatively inexpensive, costing anywhere between 15 to 40 EUR per night.
2. A local phone number: This is the easiest step to accomplish and you will need it to complete all the next steps. We have chosen the operator Lycamobile, which offers for 15 Euro per month unlimited calls in France and 3 GB of internet traffic. In order to buy the SIM card, you will usually be required to present an ID for the number registration. Once you have the card, you can recharge it directly from the internet for 10 Euros, getting the same phone and data packet. Take great care not to lose the number and card, because on this number you will be registered with the bank and other institutions. In France there are also famous mobile operators like Orange, but they have incredibly expensive pricing on subscriptions (€ 20-40 per month).
One and a half months ago, I was packing my baggage to go to the airport again, only this time I was not leaving to board a ship for 5 months, but to a new job and a new life. I explained in great detail why I wanted to quit sailing in the much controversial and popular own article “After six years at sea”, so after the last voyage I made the final decision to look for something to work on land. I have ill spoken a lot about our country Romania (and for good reasons considering that people are working for 300-400 EUR / month and the government is ripping you off on absolutely every step of the way!) and I have seen too many beautiful and civilized places in this world during my voyages to ever settle there, so the only option left for me was to become an expat and luck had it to be in Marseille.
Most of my CVs were sent in English-speaking countries, especially in the UK, but since the whole Brexit phenomenon, most companies have been reluctant to hire East Europeans. Fate decided that the lucky interview would land me in Marseille, France, a city of which I did not know much about , in a country whose language I vaguely understand and speak. It was this or other positions somewhere in South Africa or Mexico so guess what I chose.
I only had sea experience on my resume so the only way to make the transition to land was to remain in the maritime business. I will not say the name of the
company, but being in Marseille I think it’s not that hard to guess. So I reserve the right to comment and engage in any talk about shipping, especially since I now have access to a more general view of the system, not just on the spot perspective from the ship, I will come back with details from the job on another occasion.
Acum o luna si jumatate imi faceam iar bagajul sa ma duc spre aeroport , doar ca de data asta numai plecam la vapor pentru 5 luni, ci la un nou job si o noua viata in Marseille Franta.
Am explicat foarte detaliat de ce numai am vrut sa navig in mult controversatul si cititul articol propiu “Dupa sase ani pe mare” , asa ca dupa voiajul trecut am luat decizia definitiva de a imi cauta ceva la uscat. Am injurat mult tara noastra Romania (si pe buna dreptate considerand ca se munceste pe 300-400 EUR si guvernul te jegmaneste absolut la fiecare pas!) si am vazut mult prea multe locuri frumoase si civilizate pe lumea asta in timpul voiajelor ca sa ma pot stabili definitiv acolo , asa ca singura optiune era de a deveni expat afara.
Majoritatea CV-urilor trimise au fost in tari vorbitoare de Engleza , mai ales in Marea Britanie , dar de cand cu Brexitul se cam sfiesc firmele sa angajeze Est Europeni. Soarta a facut ca interviul norocos sa ma aterizeze in Marsilia, Franta. Un oras despre care nu stiam in principiu mai nimic , intr-o tara a carei limbi o inteleg vag. Era asta sau alte pozitii pe undeva prin Africa de Sud sau Mexic asa ca ghiciti ce am ales.