You left the sunny French Riviera?!

Since returning to Canada, I’ve been frequently asked why I left the South of France. To answer the question of why I left France, you need to understand partly why I left Canada in the first place. It certainly wasn’t about the weather, the food, the wine, and pretty women.

I left Waterloo, Ontario where I was working following university to Le Cannet (Cannes), France where my parents had a villa. My mother had been suggesting for years that I come work in the south of France at Sophia-Antipolis, a technology park between Nice and Cannes. After five years, I had grown tired of the work I was doing with Mortice Kern Systems and was looking for something different. So finally I caved to my mum’s suggestions and moved in 1996. Living and working in France is certainly different.

In 2001 my parents sold the villa and returned to Canada to live in Toronto, closer to my father’s business and contacts, while I opted to remain in Cannes. During the first nine years or so I worked in three different ISPs as a sys.admin. and wrote my own anti-spam software on the side. In 2005 I left my job to work for mysef selling my, now large collection, of anti-spam software. During the first year solo, I was approached by my future partners to develop a comprehensive anti-spam product that would become the focus of my software development for the coming years.

Working for myself was interesting, I created a great product at the time. Though the money wasn’t great, it would have been sufficient without the constant drain by the France gov. hitting me up for “social charges” (professional taxes, health, pension, and URSSAF (something for family aid (no help to a single guy))).

Also during that latter seven years, I was single, working from home all the time, and not getting out as much as I had when I first arrived in France. I didn’t have the regular social interaction of work, of sport, friends, nor a companion to offset the long periods I spent at a computer. It can get a little depressing being by yourself.

Last year (summer 2011), my partners informed me that they would not renew our agreement; they wanted to take the product in a direction different from my original design for which I had strong opinions (we’re still friends though, regardless of business choices). I found myself in need of stable work again, cause once my major source of income expired, the sales from my other titles was not suffcient to live on. The end of the partnership agreement though in many ways was a necessary change; a needed kick in the pants to re-enage in life. Cue job hunt.

Being single and without any ties in France, I was open to moving countries again like to the Netherlands, England, Ireland, or returning to Canada. I’m actually a cold weather person too and missed the regular change of seasons; 300 days a year of sunny weather, mild winters, and stupidly humid summers didn’t agree with me. I’m odd that way. I’ve written blog articles saying as much: The Lost Tempest, A Cuppa For Thor, Tempus Fugit.

Anyway, in a quirky twist of chance and Fate, I found work in Montreal with a company that had tried to hire me three years prior. They spotted me a moving allowance, offered Baka and I lodging, and poof! I arrived in Montreal last June. I’ve been all smiles ever since, even now with the very cold weather. I home and happy again.


Well its been about a month and a half now since arriving in Montreal. While I’ve never lived in Montreal, the experience is both familiar and new. I guess the familiar parts are the weather, sounds, and scents almost like being in l’Esterel.

And while I have family in and around Montreal, I’m having trouble adjusting my ear to the the Quebecois accent, even though I’ve heard my mother, aunts, uncles, and cousins speak often over the years. The heavier accented Quebecois sounds so different from the French that I’ve been used to these past 16 years, sort of like how the Australians sound so different from the British even though they speak English. It’ll take a little getting used to.

Au revoir Cannes

Well I’ve come to the end of my 16 years living in Cannes and France. Its been certainly been an interesting experience. So long and thanks for all the croissants.

Uncle Chauncey

drops fall
to tongue as ground
mind bends as leaf
gardener’s hands
guide water and soil
clear many ways
clouds part
eyes clear soil dries
balance regained

For Steve S. who has been a supportive friend and colleague. No bugs, no spam, all heart.