We speak to Christophe Guay of TIC Immobilier in Ruffec about the Charentes.
FrenchEntree: Why do you think Ruffec and the surrounding region is so popular with British buyers?
Christophe Guay: Being situated in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, it is within one of the sunniest areas of France. The Summers are long and sunny, and the local inhabitants know how to make the most of this: eating outdoors, sipping the local Pineau (both the red and white Pineau are delicious!), at the local markets and picnics (when we say picnic, we mean “Marché Gourmand” where everyone buys food from local stalls before sitting down with their own plates and cutlery!) or even just by the side of one of the rivers and lakes.
Although in the country, Ruffec is easily accessible by road with the N10 nearby, which leads to the motorways to Bordeaux and Poitiers. It also has its own train station, located on the Paris-Bordeaux line, and with access to Angouleme and Poitiers.
The area has a number of excellent cafés and restaurants, and in the summer local producers take the village fêtes and markets to share their products.
Thanks to the large community of Brits in the area, there are English speaking services available everywhere: from English speaking estate agents, insurance services as well as people set up to provide bilingual assistance for any need, great or small. There are also some useful Facebook groups for the area and surrounding towns where Brits help each other out with just about anything!
The area is filled with history wherever you go. With a rich history going all the way back to the Middle Ages, Renaissance and even Roman times, the architecture is simply beautiful with plenty of Medieval churches doted around. There are also quite a few Medieval fetes in the summer, which make a great family day out!
There are plenty of schools in and around Ruffec, from maternelle (Ages 3 – 6) all the way through to Lycée (16 -18).
FE: What property is most popular with your buyers?
CG: The weather plays a big part in Ruffec’s popularity with our buyers, but the area of Ruffec is also well known for its beautiful old stone houses made of cream coloured stone with pastel coloured shutters.Exposed beams and stone walls in properties filled with character and traditional features are always the most popular with our buyers. We have to say, they do look simply beautiful in the sunshine, so we understand why!
FE: How long have you been actively selling in Ruffec and over time have you seen any changes in the buyers coming to the area?
CG: TIC have been actively selling properties in Ruffec for over twenty years. Our clients have always been a wide range of people. From people buying holiday homes or investing in the area, younger families wanting to start a new life and raise their children to be bilingual, and enjoying more outdoor freedom, to people wanting to follow a long-held dream of retiring to France and/or starting a new business in France. People from all over the UK get in touch with us to help them find their dream property.
FE: What are the main reasons that people quote for why they are purchasing in France?
CG: The lifestyle is probably the main reason when asked why. Despite the fast-paced modern ways of today, the French have managed to hold onto the same lifestyle they’ve always followed: proper meals are taken throughout the day, including long lunch breaks with proper cooked food. Even “picnics” are held with proper glasses, plates and cutlery. Mealtimes to the French are religious, and it is so easy to pick up their habits when living in France. It can be frustrating at first when you keep forgetting about lunchtime closure and shops not opening on a Monday… but you soon get used to it and plan around it!
The weather also permits outdoor living over a much longer period of time than in the UK. In the UK we would make the most of each sunny day, celebrating with a glass of wine and a BBQ each time. Here in France, we still find ourselves celebrating the sunshine every day, which means a lot of good food and wine all summer long! Old habits die hard they say, but then the French seem happy to indulge in the good food and wine everyday, guilt-free, so surely so should we!
FE: What would be your number one piece of advice for new buyers in settling into the area?
CG: When looking to settle into a new area, our main piece of advice would be to learn the language and mingle. We’re not saying you need to be completely fluent, but taking lessons and making at least an effort to speak French will truly help you settle in. Make an effort to be part of the local community: meet the mayor, greet your neighbours, enrol your children in the local school, speak to French people… This may seem obvious, but we notice a big difference with people who make the effort and those who don’t.
We fully appreciate this may mean stepping out of your comfort zone. However, it will truly help your integration and set down good roots for your time in France. We’ve also found that sometimes some of the Brits that don’t mix with the French will miss out on some of the local know-how, especially when dealing with administrative issues.
There are also plenty of British events going on in Ruffec and in the area, which are popular with Brits and French alike, such as fish and chips nights or even Christmas markets.
Generally, we would advise you to take part in local events, and help out when you can. After all, when moving to a new country, it seems a shame not to mingle into their way of life and learn some of their ways. By becoming part of your community, it will truly enrich your new life in France and help you make the most of it!
FE: When looking for property what do you think is the most important aspect for most buyers?
CG: Every buyer will have a different list of what’s important to them when looking for property. For some, it will be proximity to shops: can you walk to the shops / cafes/ restaurants or do you need to drive? The reality in Ruffec and surrounding areas is that a car is pretty much essential. However, there are no traffic jams here, unless you get stuck behind a tractor or due to a deer crossing the road! For others, its proximity to the N10 and train station to be able to travel in and out easily.
Some will want a complete renovation project to create their dream home, others will simply want to unpack and settle into their new house immediately. A small no-maintenance garden appeals to some buyers, whilst others will want several acres in order to keep horses and have lots of outdoor space. Each and every buyer will have a different list of requirements, which is what makes working in an estate agent so interesting.
Our job at TIC is to help you find the perfect property for you in line with these requirements. Click Here to see a huge selection of property on the TIC Immobilier website.