by Adrianne George


“I don’t have any inclination to move back to Canada. Plus, I feel quite at home here in France”. – Tanya Tait


Tanya’s family moved from warm and sunny Kingston, Jamaica to the cold climate of Canada’s Toronto when she was a girl of 8. While she doesn’t remember a longing to live abroad she has always enjoyed travelling and dreamt of a job that would allow her to feed her travelling habit.


The skinned heads of 3 cows.

Today Tanya lives in Nice, France. “My husband, a French national, had always dreamed of living in Nice. So, when the opportunity presented itself we decided to make the move”, she explains. Adjusting to life in France means that Tanya eats more cheese and drinks more wine. In exchange she doesn’t snack anymore. “I do my grocery shopping at the market and very rarely at the grocery store. I’m able to interact with various farmers and growers of the produce I buy and I like that”, she reveals and adds, “Just today, while waiting to pay for my purchases, on the counter to my right were the skinned heads of three cows.

Like many locals she and her husband opted not to buy a car and instead go everywhere by foot. “Thankfully, we’re close to the city centre so getting around is easy. It’s also a great way to get exercise”, she confesses. But like someone who grew up in Canada, Tanya missed celebrating Thanksgiving with her family. “It’s really the family gatherings that I miss the most”, she laments.


The French they teach in school is not the colloquial French you hear every day.

Tanya can’t stress enough how important it is to understand and speak French. Tourists may be able to get by with weak French skills but that won’t work when you live there. In order to get anything done one needs to speak French. In addition to falling back on university French Tanya is able to polish her French skills with her non-English speaking in-laws.

But knowing French doesn’t make it any easier to make francophone friends. Most of Tanya’s friends are fellow expats in Paris, Nice and the Cote d’Azur region, the majority being ESL teachers and part time writers. There are expats who work for multinational companies but they are in the minority. “I expect that making French friends will take some time”, she reflects.

Photo of picturesque Villefranche sur Mer

France can be an interesting place for Blacks to reside.

Living in France can be interesting. “It can also be challenging”, Tanya explains. The notion of political correctness is a foreign one which can lead to some incredibly open conversations where non-Blacks express themselves quite freely. “I much prefer knowing up front whether someone is worth bringing into my personal circle”, she admits. Tanya feels that North Africans may face more challenges and a strained relationship with the French than blacks from North America. She feels it is a holdover from France’s presence in that part of the continent and the war in Algeria.

With a new found confidence that often comes with living abroad, Tanya decided that she would venture out and learn her way around Nice. She joined a French language group and goes out once or twice a week to the markets and the butcher shops to interact with the community.


Visa vie privée et familial.

Tanya’s ability to work, like every other expat, is tied to having a valid Visa. Otherwise it is nearly impossible to find a job. But as the wife of a French national Tanya is privy to the visa vie privée et familiale. “Although I’m not currently working we do not have the high monthly charges that came with our previous home”, she reflects. Certain things are cheaper than in Toronto so we are able to do more with less. For example, “in France, it is possible to call the US and Canada without incurring long distance rates”, she reveals.

Finding a place to live, either renting or purchasing, can be a challenge for many North Americans. Mainly, this has to do with the size of houses and apartments in France as compared to homes in the US and Canada. Houses and apartments are considerably smaller and generally a family home or apartment will have only one bathroom.

The process to complete a sale, however, can be a lot longer. Even confirmed sales can take several months to close. People tend to keep their homes longer and only move if there is a job change/relocation or a life event change (birth, marriage, divorce, death, etc).


Why not visit Ventimiglia???

The best place to vacation as a single person or a couple would have to be Paris. It’s very easy to get around the city and the metro and other public transportation is inexpensive. Also, there is a lot to see and do. Restaurants, bars, and bistros are aplenty as well, so every budget and taste can be satisfied. Outside of Paris, Provence is an ideal vacation spot for couples. The region is dotted with medieval villages that are too picturesque for words. For added fun and a taste of two countries, Tanya recommends the Cote d’Azur as another stop. There is a lot to see and do in Nice and the towns east of Nice and from there you are 30 minutes from the Italian border. Why not visit Ventimiglia? A same-day return trip from Nice to Venitmiglia via train costs approximately 30€ for two people.

Photo left: Medieval village Saignon, right: at a beach in Marseille.

The top three attractions or places of interest in Nice and the surrounding area are: Cours Saleya in Nice – for the market and restaurants; Grasse – the world’s capital of perfume, and Cannes – for the festivals, shopping, beaches, and people-watching.

Be sure to visit Tanya’s Blog:


Living & Spending in Nice


Monthly rent:

1100 – 1500€ (for an apartment for two people; this can include certain maintenance charges)


Cost for meals:

25 – 40€ (includes a glass of wine and taxes)


Transportation costs:

1 € (bus, tram in Nice)


Compared to your home country are most things cheap/same/expensive?

Some things are a lot cheaper while others are about the same.


Recommended monthly living budget:

For a couple I would budget 2000€ for living expenses.


Note: Currency converter set to the Euro for your use, just select the currency you would like to convert to in the lower menu.

How modern are basic amenities/infrastructure?

In general, the same amenities and infrastructure found in North America exist here in France. There are some surprises, to be sure, such as the public washrooms (from modern self-cleaning pay toilets to less-than modern holes in the ground on the highway). Public transit is modern and for the most part well used by citizens.


Any legal hurdles all foreigners have to face to live there?

Lots. There is nothing the French like better than bureaucracy and legal hurdles. After getting a visa, foreigners look forward to getting a carte de séjour, renewing the carte de séjour, getting health insurance, getting a job (unless they are lucky to be sponsored by their company), etc. The list is long.


Top 3 things you would recommend someone to bring when they come:

Patience; patience; and a sense of humour.


Top 3 things you would recommend for someone visiting or living here to do:

1) get to know your city/neighbourhood

2) learn the language (if you don’t already speak it)

3) have fun and enjoy the experience.

The Matisse Museum in Nice
Photo credits: All images courtesy of Tanya Tait except small image of Nice at night sourced from Wikimedia.


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One Response to “Tanya J. Tait – From Kingston to Nice”

  1. Juila Browne says:

    Very interesting interview – reminds me of first experiences in French provincial life when I studied in Aix-en-Provence, then Paris. For Tanya, and anyone else going to Nice, take the trip to nearby St.Paul-de-Vence. It was a renown artist colony and where James Baldwin owned his beloved villa. Ask at the tourist office and they’ll point you in the right direction.
    Julia Browne
    Walking The Spirit Tours of Black Paris.

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