Belonging to France – one woman’s out of the box experience!

Belonging to France – one woman’s out of the box experience!

Kerry Milligan transported me beautifully and completely to France!

Loulabelle's FrancoFiles episode 53

Guest: Kerry Milligan

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Kerry Milligan is an entertaining, intelligent and fascinating woman who appears on our Australian televisions each week on Gogglebox. I loved chatting to Kerry about another aspect of her life which is her connection to France.

Kerry has always felt very connected to Ireland due to her Irish heritage but a punk party in a Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy in 1981 changed her world. She met her French husband and started a journey uncovering all the wonderfulness of France from an “insiders” perspective rather than as a tourist.

When Kerry’s daughter was 14 the little family went to live in France for a year and Kerry has had further stints over there since. Initially they lived in Annecy and then in Paris. Kerry recommends organising as much as possible from Australia, which is not what she did! Traversing the world of resident permits and other red tape once in France is much more difficult according to Kerry! She recommends investigating your Carte de Séjour before leaving home.

Kerry has such a wonderful warmth and genuine transparency. Talking with her made me feel a beautiful connection to “her” France momentarily. It opened my eyes and my imagination further to the way daily French life would be for us as Australians if we’re ever lucky enough to be living over there. Ordinary French customs such as Parisians connecting with friends out of the home rather than having people in the home for dinner. The apartments are so small that entertaining is not always possible, so connections happen in cafes, the local tabac or other public places.

Kerry worried when her marriage to a Frenchman ended that her connection to France would wain. But what she found eventually was that her link to France was a connection of her very own and not just through her husband. She studied French at the Alliance Française in Melbourne and then took the plunge to travel on her own around France! Listening to Kerry I felt a pang of jealousy as well as admiration. After being through such a time of upheaval in her life, I imagine taking that step was liberating. What Kerry actually found was that she belonged to France, and I wonder from the way she spoke if “France” feels she belongs to them too.

I adored Kerry’s description of her perfect French day which started with the opening of the shutters. Narrow streets meant that the woman opening the shutters in the apartment across the street would connect with her. Such a lovely idea of how to connect with community.

Kerry’s favourite place to visit in regional France is Uzès. I have not as yet been there but I have heard from friends how wonderful the village is and after speaking to Kerry it is on the top of my list to visit. Uzès is a medieval town with some Spanish influence. Oh to be there to see the running of the bulls!


Cassoulet – traditional from Toulouse


Gotan Project – Diferente

French band performing Tango inspired music


The photo accompanying this post is Kerry with her Italian greyhound Pellegrini next to a painting “The Evil One” by (as Kerry calls him) “my Fancy Man” @mikeclarkartist .

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