Articles by Colin Lawrence


Helpful advice for getting married in France

Get married in France? Isn’t that difficult, people will ask, mindful of French bureaucracy? Well, I got married here eight years ago, I have just organised my stepdaughter’s – much bigger – wedding so here’s how to do it!

La Troupe d’Acteurs du Quercy

Since I last wrote a few words about my exploits with La Troupe d’Acteurs du Quercy things have moved on. Well, they do don’t they? The sands of time and all that. From a personal point of view I have really enjoyed the opportunity to murder a few people…

New Septic Tank Rules for French Property

A new regime for septic tanks came into effect on January 1st of this year, which has brought a new concern for sellers of Dordogne property. At the time the preliminary contract is signed, the seller is now required to produce a certificate of compliance in relation to any septic tank arrangements.

Chats Du Quercy

The purpose of Chats du Quercy is to find permanent, safe homes for homeless cats and kittens with responsible and caring owners. We aim to provide quality, short term housing in a safe, disease-free and stimulating environment…

Running A Gite Business In South West France

So what’s it really like running a Gîte business in France? Well, in short – it beats working for a living! So forget what you think it’s like and give 5 minutes to reading a real life account of setting up and running gîtes in France…

A Helping Hand In The Quercy

Image not found.Do you love the South of France?
Do you struggle a bit with the language and administration?
Need a helping hand to “sort things out”?
“Help in Quercy” are at your service.

Overcoming The Language Barrier

My decision to teach French happened by accident really. I had a call from a friend who had artisans on site and both sides were having trouble understanding what was required. I was happy to help but after I’d gone I was flattered to find the builder thought I was French. When my friend understood this, he said ‘Why don’t you teach it? It would really help me and I can think of several other people who would really value it too’.
And that’s how it all started…

Buying A Dream House in the Lot et Garonne

My love affair with France began nearly 20 years ago, when I was 18 years old. I was drawn to France, why – I don’t know. I had never been to France, never experience the French culture or food; I just knew I wanted to be there someday. I used to dream and believe by the time I was 35, I would live 6 months in Australia and 6 months in France…

Motorcyling in the Quercy

Like a good many of us who plunge straight into moving lock, stock and barrel to France, never having had a holiday home here, we underestimated the challenge of living in a foreign country…

A Vegetable Plot in the Lot

I spent the better part of this afternoon upside down with my head in our rainwater cistern battling the all predatory forces of heaven and earth. I think I’m winning.
Spring is the time for grand designs, and for years now, we have aspired but failed to keep up with the Jones’s, or more precisely, the Bousquets. But this year will be different…

Buying and Renovating an Auction Property Part 2

Image not found.Buying a property at auction is an exciting prospect, buying an auction property that needs total renovation promised to be an even bigger challenge for James and Vanessa HOPKINS. In the concluding artcile of this two part story, Vanessa describes the renovation work…

Buying and Renovating an Auction Property

Image not found.Buying a property at auction is an exciting prospect – buying an auction property that needs total renovation promised to be an even bigger challenge for James and Vanessa HOPKINS. In the first of a two part story, Vanessa describes the purchase process…

Musical Marmite in the Lot and Quercy

Anyone who’s spent a significant chunk of their lives in England and later moved abroad will, at some point, find themselves trying to explain Marmite to their new neighbours. Whether you wake up at 3 in the morning with an insatiable craving for a thick slice of hot buttered toast and Marmite or gag at the very thought…

Running a Gîte Business in South West France

How many of us dream about moving to France, but somehow it all fails to materialize? Mike Burrows tells us about his dream come true running a Gite business and why it could be your turn next…

Running a Bed and Breakfast in France

Mark and Fiona Vallance have been running their thriving Bed and Breakfast business in the Lot Valley for the last three years. We caught up with them recently as they were planning a new business venture and they gave us an update on their experiences of running a B&B in France…

Low Priced Properties in the Lot and Quercy

Although the property market in France is quieter than usual, some agents are suggesting this is actually a good time to buy. There is a huge range of choice available and many sellers are willing to negotiate on price which can more than offset any recent changes in the exchange rate. The current slow down is not likely to last forever and once things pick up again prices can only increase.

Tales From The Bicycle Gourmet

Want to explore the “Treasures of France” from the comfort of your armchair?
Bicycle Gourmet Christopher Strong has created a collection of DVDs recording his exploration of rural France – the people, the food and the wine.
In this article he recounts his visit to the estate of Nicholas JOLY – The Pope of biodynamic wine…

Property Bargains in the Lot and Quercy

The recent dramatic shift in the GB pound to euro exchange rate has contributed to a slowing of the French property market. The shift in the rate from around 1.45 to 1.25 has effectively reduced the purchasing power of the pound by about 15%. In response to this shift we are seeing increasing numbers of properties with reductions in the asking price.

Cahors Restaurants, Bistros and Bars

The medieval city of Cahors has a wide variaty of delightful eating place from the grand (and expensive) for that special occasion through to the simple Bistro that will provide a substantial lunch for under €10 per person. The listings are grouped by type of restaurant from Gastronomique to Pizzerias…

Regional Snapshot – The Lot and Tarn et Garonne

The Midi-Pyrenees is the largest region in France, and possibly the most diverse, stretching from the undulating charm of the Dordogne valley in the north to the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees in the south…

April Gardening Observations

Although it doesn’t seem possible, it is a year to the day since I posted the first of my garden meanderings and I would like to thank the folk out there who have read them…

The Celtic Herbalist – April Update

Welcome to another monthly update from The Celtic Herbalist. These monthly bulletins cover the development of the Celtic Herbalist’s gardens based on a four and a half acres farmstead on the Causses …

Regional Snapshot – The Lot et Garonne

Glorious Aquitaine, fabled land of many rivers, once stretched from the Loire valley to the Pyrenees, that was many years ago when it was a rich, medieval dukedom, when Eleanor was its Duchess and her court attracted the greatest troubadours of the age…

The Celtic Herbalist – March Update

Image not found.Welcome to an update of the work in progress at The Celtic Herbalist’s gardens which are developing on a four and a half acre site on the Causses (limestone plateaux), near Toulouse, in S.W. France.

The Celtic Herbalist’s Gardens

Image not found.The Celtic Herbalist’s gardens are developing on the four and a half acres around a farmstead upon one of the limestone plateaux (or causses) in the Midi, near Toulouse, in S.W. France.

Gardens in the Lot

The Gardens of the Grand Convent in Gramat, the medieval gardens at Chateau Colombier and the charming Garden of the Senses in Castelfranc…

Spiced Red Cabbage With Agen Prunes and Walnuts

This is a delicious accompaniment to roast goose, duck or turkey. Every ingredient can be sourced locally in the Quercy, and the famous Agen prunes can be found worldwide if you happen to be elsewhere…

New House Build in France – The Final Part

Stephen Leitch concludes his cautionary tale of getting a new house built in the Lot. Having waited over a year to get started on the building, the actual construction of the house goes quite smoothly and is actually completed ahead of schedule. Ready to move into? Well not quite, as EDF haven’t yet connected the electricity…

Reading Groups in the Lot and Quercy

We recently caught up with Nicole Killick at Books and Company in Gourdon and she told us about their popular and expanding reading groups and the Christmas social event in the shop which has the added bonus of a 5% discount on any books purchased.

Options for Heating your House in France

Lot resident Tim Atkins shares some of his research and experiences of trying to decide the best and cheapest way to heat his French home. With tax credits of 50% now being offered on wood burning stoves, together with reduced TVA rates of 5.5% instead of the normal 19.6%, they could be an attractive option…

The Perfect Holiday Home in the Lot and Quercy?

What makes an ideal holiday home? A property that is ready to move into, low maintenance and easy to “lock and leave”, or is a pool really an essential item for those long hot summers? Here we present a selection of properties from our Featured Property Agents.

Moving to the Lot and Quercy? €500k Budget?

The recent currency exchange rate fluctuations have reduced the buying power of people moving from the UK to France. But French property is still outstanding value compared to the UK. Sell your detached four-bedroom house in Sussex for £425,000 and see what you could buy in the Lot and Quercy region of southwest France…

January Ramblings from a New Quercy Garden

A new year and a new start – just what do you do in the garden in January? The answer is probably not a lot, certainly when it is wet underfoot. That’s the time for reviewing what went on last year, what worked and what didn’t…

February/March Ramblings from the Garden

Nearly the end of February already, so I hope that the kind folk who read my meanderings will take this entry for this month and for March! Yes, we can finally claim that we are gardening again – one of the reasons that I am late this month is that we have been gardening rather than writing about it….

Breeding Alpacas in the Lot et Garonne

With two new baby Alpacas (Crias), things seemed to be going well for Deborah and her smallholding. But then there was the mass breakout by the animals and the latest set back is a bad case of “fly-strike”…

September Ramblings from a Quercy Garden

Has summer finally arrived? September may be a bit late, but the sunshine is more than welcome. Peace is settling back on the Lot, the main bulk of the summer visitors have gone, and the traffic has become a bit saner. Time to look hard at the woodpile in readiness for chilly evenings to come…

Living the Good Life in the Lot

Having first written an article for FrenchEntrée-LotandQuercy two years ago, Tessa Collier gives us an update on what’s has been happening recently – changes in the rental market, sheep farming and her talent for sculpture…

French Destination Property Maintenance Services

Image not found.If you own a property in the Lot or Correze then we may be able to help you. Our aim is to give our customers help and peace of mind with all their property care needs. House cleaning, garden care and landscaping, swimming pool maintenance, holiday changeovers, and key holding are just some of our services…

Barn Renovation in the Lot

Image not found.Leslee Carsewell, originally from the East Coast of the US fell in love with France at an early age and dreamt of one day having a house there. Here she tells the story of her barn purchase and renovation.

Marrying Artichokes to Rocamadour

When I first came to live in this glorious part of France I had a good long meeting with the local Maire. We talked about schools and children and local services – all the usual things – then got on to fêtes and food. Finally, as twelve o’ clock approached and his tummy began to signal its need for immediate sustenance…

Early Spring Quercy Salad

The days are getting longer and the woods are full of catkins and lime-green hellebores. The breezes are softer and the sun warms your soul. Spring is in the air. The soups and casseroles of winter are banished for another eight months. Or are they? How can you construct a decent salad with the sort of half-ripe, totally flavourless tomatoes available at this time of year…

Running Your Own Business in France

Image not found.Books and Company is an English bookshop in the charming town of Gourdon in the Lot. Hugues Teulat and his partner Nicole Killick offer a range of Greeting Cards and Stationery as well as a wide selection of Books, Maps and Guides. We interviewed them to find out more about their experience of running their own business over the last two years…

Self Sufficiency in South West France

Moving to France, buying a farm and breeding Alpacas, could be a dream come true? Lot et Garonne resident Deborah shares some experiences from her first few months on the road to self sufficiency in France…

Gardening Observations for July

“Summer time and the living is easy”. July is the month when you can reap the benefits of all the hard work that you have put in May and June. With the heat the grass isn’t growing, so the mower only needs to come out once every week or ten days to top the weeds…

Gardening Observations for June

June has got to be the month of the rose. Everywhere you go now there are roses in full bloom, some of the most delightful peering over the tops of old stone walls. Roses are resilient plants – we know of abandoned houses that are almost ruins …

Gardening Observations for June

June has got to be the month of the rose. Everywhere you go now there are roses in full bloom, some of the most delightful peering over the tops of old stone walls. Roses are resilient plants – we know of abandoned houses that are almost ruins …

Gardening Observations for July

“Summer time and the living is easy”. July is the month when you can reap the benefits of all the hard work that you have put in May and June. With the heat the grass isn’t growing, so the mower only needs to come out once every week or ten days to top the weeds…

New House Build in France – The Story Continues

Stephen Leitch continues his cautionary tale of getting a new house built in the Lot. After a year of battling through the minefields of French bureaucracy, architect’s sloth and planners lethargy to achieve the full planning permissions, the building can finally get underway…

Training Guide Dogs for the Blind in France

Helping to train guide dogs for the blind can be a very rewarding experience. If you love dogs, bringing up a puppy to be well-behaved and good company is a pleasure. It’s fascinating to see how they respond to kind, patient training…