Turning the Dream into Reality – Paul & Louise

IMG_0218_1593274002426Today I am really happy to be starting a new series here on the blog, introducing you to people from around the world who have made France their permanent home. I’ll be talking to individuals, couples and families. People from all walks of life, people who have come here to retire and those who need to still earn a living. Having started our property search service I have come to realise that people love hearing how others have coped with life in a foreign country.
So this is going to be ongoing for a long time. When people move here they frequently don’t speak French, they often have no idea quite how things will work out or what the future holds for them but they all have one thing in common: A passion for France and a determination to make it work.

I hope this is going to give you an insight into real expat lives and along the way you are going to meet some very brave and interesting people.

My very first ‘guests’ are Paul and Louise who moved here from the UK last summer.

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Hi Paul and Louise, thank you so much for inviting me over here today and I’m so excited that you are going to kick off this series for me. So can you tell us how you came to live in France and why?
There are a million reasons why! We’ve visited South Western France several times over the past five years and chose to take the plunge whilst we’re still young enough to do it. We were initially drawn to the space everywhere, the lower cost of houses (compared to the UK) and the less stressful French way of life.

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And of course the question everyone always wants to know, did you speak French before you came here?
No! But we’re willing to learn. It worried Louise more than Paul. However, we’ve found if  you’re willing to make an effort then people will help. With a lot of sign language, hand gestures and trial and error we get by. One of the first things we did was to enrol in local French lessons.

What do you love most about your daily life here?
A thousand things! But probably most of all that we have time to do things. In the UK we worked full time and anything social or leisure related was crammed into an already overloaded weekend. Now we are enjoying getting used to a completely different culture. Getting used to a two hour shift at lunch time when everything closes. It becomes normal, this slower more relaxed way of life. Oh and of course there’s the fresh bread from the boulangerie, that’s a big bonus!

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You decided to create a chambres d’hôtes (bed and breakfast) with your two guest bedrooms, what style were you aiming for and what atmosphere were you hoping to create in general?
We wanted to keep everything as traditionally French as possible. We didn’t want anything too modern. We really wanted everything to be in keeping with the age of the house but at the same time with a relaxing vibe.

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Why did you choose this area of France (Charente Maritime) and what do you love most about it?
We Only ever looked in South West France, but after some holidays further to the east and south we quickly came to realise that the Charente Maritime was where we wanted to be. We are only 45 mins from beach and the closest airport at La Rochelle. We wanted to live in a village if possible as we didn’t want to be isolated. We’re in a small village called Crazannes and we have three châteaux open to visitors close by! Saintes which is a good hub and has a lively atmosphere is only fifteen minutes away and there are good road links to the north and south. Add to this the affable local community and you can see why we’re very happy!

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What do you like best about life in a French village?
Being able to walk around with the dog and interact with the people you meet, everyone stops to say ‘Bonjour’ and exchange a few words all of which helps with our French and everyone is so friendly.

Have the locals welcomed you and do you feel a part of the community?
Definitely 100% Yes. We go to French lessons in the village hall. The French take the English and teach them French and the English take the French and teach them English, it works well! We’ve also joined in the local Quiz night and really enjoyed the Christmas evening meal.

I have to ask this, is there anything you dislike or anything you miss from life in the UK?
What we dislike has to be dog poo on the pavement, we have to look where we’re going! But do we miss anything? No, just family but mostly this is because of Covid because it has made things different. We cannot go back and visit and our children and family cannot come and visit us at the moment. Trips have been cancelled and that’s when it gets hard. But honestly there is nothing else.

What about the cost of living here compared to back in the UK?
We’ve found grocery bills tend to be higher here, and utility bills are much the same. Some things are more, some are less, it’s really a case of you win on some and lose on others, so it probably in the end works out much the same.

You have a beautiful garden and I know you have planted quite a few vegetables, and I know there is a proper potager planned for the autumn, along with a greenhouse. Do you want to be quite self sufficient?
Yes as much as possible, this was always the plan. But now even more so with the pandemic. And the great growing climate here makes it even more possible.

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And finally, what words of advice would you give for anyone else thinking of moving here?
Don’t think too big. It is easy to be sucked into the cheaper prices and think wow we could afford this and then find you’ve bought something with 4 hectares that you have no way of managing. Or your heart has ruled your head and you’ve bought a run down wreck with endless rooms. We looked at places like that and if we’d taken that route we’d still be renovating the first room! Also make lots of wishlists and try and stick to them. You will have to make compromises but it’s the same as anywhere in the end, what counts is location location location, you can change a house inside but you can’t pick it up and move it.

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Thank you so much Paul and Louise for sharing some of your experiences with us. I really hope you have enjoyed this and if you’d like to find out more about their Chambres d’hôtes you can contact them by email, lacachette17@gmail.com or you can follow them on Instagram @lacachette17

And if you’re thinking of making the move a reality and feel a little lost and need some help that is what we are here for. You can find more details on our website www.ourfrenchlifestyle.com or you can email us directly at frenchlife17@gmail.com

33 thoughts on “Turning the Dream into Reality – Paul & Louise

  • Paul and Louise have a very cute french home. How fun that they are learning French. I think we all need Covid to come to an end so we can all see family and friends. I feel for them that their family cannot visit. I like this new series.
    Hugs,
    Kris

    • What a good idea for the blog. Paul and Louise seem to have a good balance for a great life in France. Their advice to think carefully about size is spot on. I have seen so many people take on renovations because of cheap prices and spend so much time on it that the whole point of moving here is lost. It’s easy to get carried away but be realistic. So pleased that they are taking lessons. It definitely helps to make you feel more at ease in your new environment. If you make the effort the French will go.out of their way to.help. 😊

      • Love this new series! I don’t think I would be that brave but I love to read about others’ adventures!

    • They say everything is fine and family will come again soon – they are being very practical about it all, as are many. Thank you for the kind thought, though, and very happy you like the idea of the news series XX

    • I think anyone who has a chance to do so is so lucky, Patricia. For millions of us it is an impossible dream, so anyone who is able to follow their’s must make the best of it, just as Paul and Louise are doing. Good sentiment! 🙂

  • Brilliant idea! And you deal with “real people” who have everyday hopes,dreams, and of course problems.
    Love it! Thank you.

    • I’m sure they will read your comment and take courage from it if needed, Beth. It’s easy to move though, really – I’ve done it so many times now I know it is really just a matter of boxes and suitcases and a great chance to get rid of flotsam and jetsam. I think it’s that easy though. It’s a bit like childbirth, Horrible at the time but then within a year you’re thinking, “Once again? Why not?” 🙂

      • i got really good at it, and got rid of so much unwanted stuff, moving 3 times last year to get where i wanted to be ). all worth it –

  • This is a wonderful idea for a series! It is so interesting to read of Paul and Louise’s classes for both French and English lessons. And how great to find such a friendly village. I wonder what the sign’s message was–the one tucked behind the plant at the entrance to the village?

  • Dear sweet Susan 🙂 & precious darling family 🙂 & puppies 🙂 ! I’ve been so in love with all of you for so long & now even more so if that’s possible ~ as a new series that is my heart! You are a delight for the heart & bring such joy & beauty to our world! Your writing & photography are pure joy 🙂 & to think we can now dream even more of living in all of our beloved France! Thank you for you 🙂 & your adorable family 🙂 ~ & God bless you all! With all our love ~ from the countryside of Connecticut ~ but always always dreaming of living in France, Love ~ Pam 🙂 & Howie xo 🙂 & precious lil Heather Joy! xo 🙂

  • Was that Paul and Louise in the photo of your last blog? They look familiar. I would need to be about 30 years younger to join these brave people, but alas, the clock can’t be turned back. Reading about those who have made this life change is wonderful and I thank you Susan for sharing their stories with us.

  • I totally agree about not buying too big a property. It’s very easy to end up with a lovely house, but a pile of deteriorating outbuildings that just house junk and you can’t afford to repair.

    • Or even worse, Susan – one room finished in an old wreck and no money to do any more. People forget that the cost per square metre of redoing a house in France is pretty much the same as anywhere else. The buildings might be cheaper in places, but the cost of the work remains much the same! XX

  • Please resend today’s post. July 12th. It appeared, then disappeared before I read it. Thank you. Marilyn

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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