Spare a thought for Eymet

Eymet is a very pleasant bastide town near Bergerac, worth a visit if you are in the region to explore the 13th century arcaded houses around the main square and to amble along the river.

It’s not exceptional compared with other similar towns in the Dordogne department, which has many stunning medieval towns and villages, but somehow the town has attracted a reputation that means that Eymet has a constant stream of journalists and reporters, and a fame that exceeds its size and importance – it is known as being the town full of English.

Not unfairly perhaps, because the town does have a lot of English families, along with an English cricket club, an English tea-shop…

If a UK newspaper wants a story about expat invasions, happy expats, miserable expats, rising house prices in France, falling house prices in France, or anything else that concerns the expat community they send a couple of reporters off to Eymet.

The reporters then presumably make a nice long weekend out of it, happy in the knowledge that whatever story they want to write they will be able to find someone to back it up, which is much easier than searching for a real story of course.

Curiously the newspapers usually start with ‘Eymet, in the part of France commonly referred to as Dordogneshire’. But in truth it is only the newspapers themselves that call it Dordogneshire. Not one single person ever set out to buy a house in Dordogneshire, no one who lives there calls it that, and it comes across (to me at least, but I’m very sensitive…) as some kind of inverted snobbery by the English press – many of whom, I suspect, would rather be living quietly in Eymet than working in the UK making up stories for the newspapers.

But here’s the interesting question – what do people in Eymet think about all this attention? Are they distressed by all the publicity, or pleased that it keeps Eymet in people’s minds. Do people still flock there to buy properties safe in the knowledge that the notaire will speak English, or have the locals started barricading the streets to stop the coachloads of journalists from entering the town.

The paradox is – if I tootle over there on my bike and ask a few people, then I’m just as bad as the rest of the journalists. If I don’t go, I’m just guessing. I think I will just cycle over quietly (its about 30 km from here) one day this week and take a look around, see if  the estate agents are smiling or miserable, and eavesdrop a conversation or two to get a feeling for the general mood.

So if you live in Eymet be careful what you say, francethisway might be listening!

Even better – if you do live in Eymet please leave a comment below to tell us what you like (or don’t like) about your town and it’s reputation, and whether you care less what anyone else thinks. And if you live somewhere else, how would you feel if your own town in France became known for being ‘over-run with English’?



  1. Johnny Norfolk August 12, 2009 at 5:32 pm |

    You know the small towns of France are a delight. You will always find that small cafe with service and seats. Instead in Britain if its good you will never find a seat and if there is space its probably poor. I hate self service, and it all costs more.

    I remember in France we walked into a town centre from our hotel. There was a small square, we arrived about 10.30 ordered coffee at the cafe, it was fantastic the place was spotless.
    The goings on in the square were so interesting and funny. This old boy arrived in his car it had a rag stuffed in where the petrol cap should be, it was backfiring clunking and finally gave up.
    Up came the bonnet and allsorts of people offereing advice.
    The couple at the next table were French from Paris and we had been talking to them. they explained that not all France was like this with people like that.
    i said mores the pity and they could just not understand how fantastic we thought this car driver was.
    They did not understand what we meant when we described him as a ‘real person’.
    Anyway by now it was 11.30 and still the car was not going. we could not leave so decided that a beer or 2 was in order. At about 12 they started serving lunch so it smelt and looked so good we decidede to stay 4 courese with wine for very little money it was so good. the time was now 2.15 and still the car was not going they had started it up a few time but after loud bangs and lots of smoke with the whole square comming to a standstill to watch.
    They came over to the cafe for a few wines. By now we were back on the coffee and brandy. At about 3 pm they got it going and kangarooed off home.
    Well we thought we would see if they had a pot of tea to finnish off.
    The cafe owner was so impressed with us we had it on the house and we are still in touch with him.
    A very simple day but so relaxing and we met some wonderful people in the cafe.
    Only in France.

  2. Bee August 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm |

    I found the above article quite interesting as we have been house hunting over here having now retired. We came on a fact finding mission last October staying in a lovely gite about 10 k’s from Eymet. We fell in love with Eymet and the surrounding area. We gazed in all the Estate Agent windows and saw several houses but none were perfect.
    Coming back this July having sold in the UK we found a 6 month rental near Duras while we carried on with our house hunt.
    We initially went back to Eymet to the agents there but sitting in the square having a drink and being forced to listen to the loud mouthed Brits at the table next to us who were loudly complaining of just about everything and were cringingly embarrasssing decided to give up the hunt there and look elsewhere…
    It suddenly dawned on us that we didn’t want to live somewhere that has so many expats living…We would never learn French properly or intergrate in the culture and spirit of France.The Eymet supermarche is full of British food, all the signs in the shops were in English. All the bars full of nauseating Expat know-it-alls who knew everything about France ( they said ) and how to ( survive) over here…
    So we have bought a house in the countryside surrounded by lovely French people near a little French village where my French is listened to with patience, kindly corrected, so it will improve with time and we now feel part of the community.
    IF, and it’s a big IF, I feel the need for English sausages then it’s a 30 minute drive to Eymet but somehow I don’t think I will get the urge to go to often…
    It is a very pretty town with lots of lovely French people within and I expect lots of lovely Brits also, it’s just I didn’t meet any and the Bar Bores are a real turn off..So I hope that it doesn’t get any more English than it already is but for those who want the Language safety net of moving somewhere where they will be understood then it’s perfect. It just wasn’t for us…
    As to the journalists visiting the town for stories, well I for one don’t read papers any more. What’s the point when the facts they write are distorted or plain lies apart from one or two still legitimate papers. So who cares what they write..??

  3. Boris August 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm |

    Thanks for that comment, it’s good to hear other opinions from people who know the town. I’m still hoping for a comment from someone who lives in Eymet and can give us ‘the other side of the coin’ (for example I think they have clubs specifically designed to help integration – it would be interesting to hear how well that works.
    Hope all is well in your new place – we are also 30 minutes drive from Eymet near a French village, and very happy here!

  4. Sallyann January 13, 2014 at 12:43 pm |

    Interesting…..that same supermarket in Eymet (and I live in Eymet) is full of French food, but it does also sell Soya Sauce, Spaghetti, Pitta Bread, Marmalade, Wasubi Paste, Chianti, Branston Pickle, Tapas, Guacamole, Mozarella, Thai Curry Paste, Egg Noodles, Canadian Maple Syrup, Moroccan spices…..what does that tell me. Nothing really, it is just a well stocked shop.
    Bar-bores, well yes, they exist….in Nottingham, Birmingham, Gdansk, Meribel, Paris, New York, Eymet, Duras, Bordeaux, Calais, Southampton…..shall I go on.
    Just learn a bit of French (or if you are moving to Russia, a bit of Russian, or if you are moving to Germany, a bit of German, or if you are moving to the UK, a bit of English and so on…), be polite and friendly, and the delightful natives of Eymet of any variety, and there are many varieties, will be pleasant company.
    Oh dear Bee the nearest English sausage is, let me think, ah that’s right, an English farmer some 50 km away who delivers to somewhere near Duras by request, or the lady in the market who imports them from a UK Cash ‘n Carry I think. None here.