Leaving the French countryside behind?

I should think about 99% of UK expats moving to France end up in the countryside, usually surrounded by lovely views and in beautiful period houses packed full of traditional features – rotten window frames, lead pipes, termites and so on. Not surprising since it is the space and lack of crowding that is a significant part of the appeal of moving to France in the first place.

On the other hand, as far as I can tell larger French towns have been largely spared the arrival of the Brits (working for big business and staying in a company expense flat in the centre of Paris doesn’t count!)

So it is surprising how many people that hear about us moving to Bergerac have been quite enthusiatic about the idea. Although (like when we originally moved to France) I suspect that what people say to us directly and what they say about us later when we are not around are not necessarily the same thing (e.g. said to us: “Great idea!” and said about us when we are not around e.g. “Why would anyone do that!”)

Start of Grappe de Cyrano trail bike event in BergeracAfter a few years in the countryside I suspect the enthusiasm for continually cutting grass, chopping wood and dealing with the challenges of having an old house in the country can become a bit tiring. For me at least, for the time being it is a pleasure realising I don’t need to descale the pool pump, sharpen the blades on the tractor or spend a day hacking at brambles.

The river is just a stone throw away and the countryside two minutes by bike so we can go and admire the efforts of others to keep it looking beautiful, without having to exert ourselves too much. Perfect!

We haven’t had much chance to enjoy the advantages of the social events held in a town yet, so on Saturday morning when Mrs B told me the ‘Grappe de Cyrano’ (a trail bike event which involves hundreds of motor bikes spending two days circumnavigating the Dordogne department) was setting off from Bergerac I thought I would stroll down and take a look.

Within five minutes it was raining and by the time I got to the start it was completely pouring, and I had missed most departures anyway. The weather was so bad that I was more or less alone at the start line, and taking photos was a bit challenging anyway – a bit like trying to take a photo while someone empties a bucket of water on your head.

Of course, ten minutes after I got home completely saturated, the sun came out again.

Fingers crossed that my next effort to enjoy the local activities is a teeny bit more successful…



  1. tony hull May 22, 2013 at 7:37 am |

    Gidday Boris

    Just stumbled upon your blog. Enjoy your sardonic humour. I am one of those late 50′s dreamers, stuck in an unsatisfying job, plotting and scheming a life in France. Preferably in the southern half, without the Provence expense. My wife and I will be staying in Castelmoron-sur-Lot in October for four weeks. Can’t wait. Like so many aspiring ex-pats, money is the stumbling block. I figure we’ll need about 40k Euro a year (on top of rent) to live? Your thoughts would be appreciated. Keep up the blogging. Cheers from Adelaide, South Australia.


  2. Boris May 22, 2013 at 9:21 am |

    Hi Tony, good to have a plan. Of course, how much it costs to live is the big question! I know a lot of people who live on less than 40k euros (and others who would think that wasn’t enough), it all depends on what you are used to and what you are happy to forego in order to ‘live the dream’ (and whether like us you are paying daughters rent and living costs while they are at university!)
    I’m not sure living in Provence needs be more expensive than other nice parts of southern France, although buying a house in a nice part of Provence might be more expensive to start with.
    Personally if my dream was to live in Provence I would stick with that and try and find a smaller house / house in a less ‘popular’ town rather than compromise and live somewhere else with the risk of being disappointed later. There are lots of towns in Provence that are very nice but not part of the expensive tourist trail, especially if you don’t need to be within less than 30 minutes of the sea. You’d probably find it easier to meet normal people as well, compared with living in an apartment on the ‘Promenade des Anglais’ in Nice
    ps money is the stumbling block that stops me buying a holiday apartment in the centre of Menton, but as soon as I win the lottery…

  3. tony hull May 23, 2013 at 6:53 am |


    Thanks for the reply. I have further explored your website and it contains a wealth of information for people like me, contemplating a move to France. I’m of the view that long-term renting is preferable to buying. Having read about your experience with the costs of buying, I feel reassured in my view.
    I have no preference for Provence, but do lean towards the southern departments such as Aquitaine, Midi Pyrenees, Languedoc or Poitou Charentes. I am keen to settle in a slightly warmer clime and am very interested in organic gardening – or permaculture. I also have a passion for oysters and have visited Cancale and Bouzigues, the next place on my list is the Marennes.
    I would dearly like to take a six month rental to “test the water” before plunging in. If I can get that amount of time off work, I will.
    Again, well done on your website, it is now one of my “favourites”.