HOW has the internet changed the way you live as an expatriate? Has it helped you to understand the French administration, better integrate and make new friends?
Has it saved you money - or allowed you to earn a new living? Do you feel more connected to your native country as a result of the web - and do you think you rely on it more now than when you were living elsewhere?
Connexion newsletter readers share their thoughts.
A simple answer - we would never have moved to France in the first instance without internet access. It is (and has been for almost 20 years now) an integral part of our lives for information and communication.
Jos & Carol Haynes
Having Internet access in France has proved to be a costly exercise. Four years ago I was talked in to having a 'dongle' which never ever worked properly and I had to see out a two-year contract and two years ago we plumped for a rather costly satellite access with monthly limits. At last, our small village has broadband access and we will gain access for no more than our current landline contract.
On the other hand, it is indispensable for making contact with both the UK and France. Companies like Ebay and Amazon do not have the depth of use in the Hexagon and the culture of on-line shopping hasn't really taken off here compared with the UK. It certainly saves me money on buying travel tickets and being able to manage on-line bank accounts on a daily basis but it will take a long time to recoup those original losses.
I have used the Internet in France since 2001. Initially it was a mobile system which cost me around 800 EUR over a 2 week period, compared to 1/10th of that for the same system in the UK.
After that I moved onto a France Telecom /Wanadoo/ Orange system which had a reasonable cost of 16 EUR / month for the landline and around 60 EUR per month for the Broadband service. This gave 1Mb/s speed. Line noise was 56 Db. Hence this system was quite poor but at least stayed at a constant level.
Having now experienced a new ISP (Free.fr) I found that I am subjected to huge peaks and troughs of speed and the same line noise levels. There is no immediate prospect of our exchange in Azille, Aude going fibre optic, so the only recourse I have is a hugely expensive satellite system.
My independent consultant who has now clarified the situation for me advises me to petition the Marie to get the exchange cleaned up of noise etc.
I have just spent 5 hours downloading a TomTom map upgrade and since the internet system went down toward the end, I now have to do it all over again, with no guarantee it will complete correctly. I await TomTom advice on that one.
Generally speaking I have managed to keep working, but at a great stress level. France Telecom now has an English speaking Help line, but many including Free.fr do not and communications can become farcical.
I have a gardening business in France and use the internet every day to keep in touch with my British, American, and Belgian clients. I send my bills and discuss work progress by email.
However, the best use I have for the internet is to talk by video chat to my 83 year old father who has been online since last year when he visited me in France and managed to speak by video to his brother in New Zealand. I chat to my Dad several times each week and it enables me to see that he is still in good health.
The internet has made our new life in France possible.
With the internet we can keep in touch with friends and family by SKYPE & e-mail, shop for stuff that is difficult to obtain locally, do banking both in the UK & France, do currebcy exchange deals and keep abreast of local and international news.
The internet is vital to us and life would be very different and difficult without it!
As a graphic designer, it would not have been possible for me to live and work out here. A year before moving, I decided to quit my job and set up on my own, with a plan to move to France and carry on working for my English clients, as well as gaining new ones in my now adopted home. If there was no internet then we simply would not have moved, or I would have had a career change!
The connection speed is not great, living out in the sticks, but at least there is one. And as we lived out in the countryside in the UK and worked with 500k before, I am used to working with slow connections.
As you can imagine, I am emailing and on the internet constantly, as well as having an IP phone, so it is vitally important that this is working constantly, and I can maintain the quality of service my clients have been used to back in the UK. Funnily enough, I have had to pick up yet another replacement router this morning and I have had occasional issues with them in the past but it has to be said I do get a good service.
Our son is over in Bristol studying, so keeping in touch with him regularly through Skype is a comfort. All in all life with the internet in France is good, feeling connected with the outside world from a relatively remote place is great. In fact, if it weren't for the internet we probably wouldn't be here in the first place.
With all the new users no wonder the service is slowing.
Having been on the internet in the UK before we left 2 yrs ago having the service here presented no problems except for the COST and the somewhat un-reliability, this Orange Livebox is a lovely piece of stylish design work but is a load of crap as to its functioning. I want functionability not fancy design. If French telecom engineers had been involved in the last war like GPO engineers - I refer specifically to Bletchley Park etc. - we'd have lost it.
We speak about once a week via Skype to our families and friends in the UK. We e-mail regularly - especially as my Partner is in Hospital at the moment.
We use it for buying goods (my model railway) from the UK - sometimes books, clothes and CD's.
We also use it to 'look-up' information, check the weather, keep up with the what's going on in the world via the BBC, Bank (both here and in the UK), keep up to-date with the Heritage Railways I am a member of, receive Anglo-Info and boatloads more.
The Google translator has been of immense use. My French is not as good as it should be but using the translator for translating forms documents Hospital info. Etc. it has been of estimable value and saved hours of work. Naturally care must be exercised with the translation but Google is now so powerful that, with my limited French, the gist of the statement is rapidly realised.
Without my computer and the internet I'd be like 'a man with no arms'.
I do not think that I could have done without internet access in France. Initially in 2004 it was through dial -up & proved useful in getting money transferred for the house purchase. It also proved very useful for internet banking, either with Britline, Nationwide or HSBC back in the UK.
When ADSL became available to us I was also able to download the necessary documentation from the Impots website, translate it & submit my returns, as well as cancel a doubling up of my fiscal number.
Nowadays one can also search on-line for DIY & luxury goods (cameras, Computer spares etc) without spending a lot of energy & fuel tramping from one place to another.
Latterly Skype has been used for video contact with family in the UK.
Am I missing something with all this internet hype? It has a place in modern society and at times is undoubtedly useful. But that's all. I managed my life for 65 years without it, I also, much to the astonishment and disbelief of an assistant in a mobile phone shop managed to live without a mobile phone for nearly 70 years and for 30 years without any telephone at all. I was even 25 before we had a television.. I managed to travel reasonably widely without the internet, making bookings in hotels, on airlines and trains without any real difficulty The world did exist before it was invented.
I am not a blithering old (although admittedly I am old) idiot who regards anything new as worthless. It is remarkably clever; it has its place but the hype that surrounds it and people's reliance on it worries me.
Think of how the world ran without it; in my view, generally much better and more effectively. As a sales rep I kept in touch with the office, leads were passed on quickly and my orders were processed; as a manager it was my job to know what was going on, and I did The NHS was (perhaps unbelievably) more efficient, the Royal Mail worked better, the railways managed to provide an incredibly more complicated timetable without it, banks provided a personal service and understood their customers, electoral Rolls and the Census were more accurate and less prone to fraud, State and military secrets were more secure, Social care and probation services kept better tabs on their 'clients', there was far more personal privacy - the connection of general purpose and random CCTV linked to the internet is a gross intrusion, The Vehicle and driving licence system worked perfectly well. ....... and believe it or not, there was less paper and more jobs. I can also read a map.
I do not shop or bank on line as I do not trust its privacy or security - if the CIA, NASA, The UN, The NHS,The whoever you care to think of can be hacked, what chance has a bank or a shop got of keeping personal information confidential? The answer is none. I do not Tweet,Twitter or bling (whatever that is), neither do I subscribe to any social network; blubbing out inconsequential, incomprehensive inanities,thoughtless chatter to all and sundry, as many people do, is mindless. If I want to keep in touch with people I go to see them, telephone them or write (either electronically or in ink). I do not find it necessary to spend my life looking at a screen and fiddling with a keyboard of whatever size, with a plug in my ear to keep in touch .