It had always been our intention to live in France when my husband retired, to escape from the ‘rat race’, so when the big day arrived in 2006 we decided to go to The French Property Exhibition at Olympia in London, to see what was on offer We liked the idea of Burgundy because we had been on holiday there and had fallen in love with it.. We had a chat with a few Agents at the Exhibition and came across one agency who couldn’t have been more helpful. They told us to get in touch with them as soon as we were ready and they would show us around the region and find us some houses to look at while we were there.
We returned home quite excited but I knew we couldn’t do anything until the following April because, as I bred Golden Retrievers in the UK, I had just mated my bitch and she was expecting her litter in February 2007 so after her puppies were born we waited until they had all gone off to their new owners and then went to Burgundy in April for a short break.
We arranged to meet up with the agent and she showed us around a few properties in the Autunnoise area of Burgundy. The first three we saw we discounted for one reason or another and we were beginning to get a little despondent because we couldn’t find what we were really looking for. Then she showed us the last property on her list and as we turned into the drive of the house we both knew that this was the one. It was a renovated Farmhouse right in the heart of the Morvan National Park with two and a half acres and the views were absolutely stunning. We wanted a place with land for the dogs so we couldn’t believe our luck. It was everything we had dreamed of and, although the décor wasn’t to our taste, there wasn’t a great deal to do inside the house. The shocking pink and orange wallpaper was definitely a’ No No’ for me and that had to go but, apart from that, installing a new kitchen and renewing the bathrooms, we could move in straight away.
We made an offer the following day, it was accepted, and we immediately returned to England and put our house on the market. We had a buyer within 6 weeks and everything went according to plan. I had all of my 9 dogs injected against rabies and applied for their Pet Passports.
On 10th October 2007, we hired a van large enough to accommodate all the dogs and set off in torrential rain that evening to travel through the night with the dogs, duly sedated of course, to our new home in Burgundy.
We arrived the following morning after a 13 hour uneventful journey, I’m pleased to say. just as the Removal Van was pulling up outside the gate and we had not had one peep out of the dogs. When they awoke they were in their new abode and when they got out of the van and saw all the space around them I think they thought they’d died and gone to heaven by the looks on their faces.
We have settled in really well here. The people are so lovely and are always eager to help you. We are beginning to slot into the French way of life so easily. I am fortunate that I speak French reasonably well but my husband still sounds like the Policeman in “Allo Allo” but the funny thing is everyone understands him!
We have started redecorating the house now and are in the throes of having the new kitchen installed so we are almost ‘camping out’ while all this is being done. We have turned the downstairs bathroom into a temporary kitchen and are cooking either on a camping stove or standing in an icy garage barbequeing . It is quite an adventure but we know it’s not forever and it will be worth the sacrifice in the end.
When the workmen finish for the day we always invite them to have ‘an apperitif’ . and they are always willing to accept! I think it is essential to do this. Not only for the hour’s free French lesson but also to acquaint oneself with the French customs, not to mention the enjoyment of sampling the wonderful wines of Burgundy.!
The Village in which we live is only two minutes by car from the house where there is a Doctor, Dentist, a Boulangerie, Epicerie, a Boucherie and, of course, The Mairie. What more could one ask for?
Life is different here; it is like stepping back in time. No one hurries and everyone has the time to stop and pass the time of day with you. We love the tranquillity of our little hamlet and have made friends already with the locals. It is a pleasure to drive on the roads, A traffic jam is something unheard of in these parts!
I have heard lots of horror stories about people moving to France and trying to cope with the French beaurocracy but, quite honestly, we haven’t come up against anything we couldn’t handle and people are always so willing to explain things in great detail to you.
I would advise anyone who is thinking of retiring to France to ‘go for it’ . We have a better quality of life here and certainly don’t regret it, in fact we wish we could have done it years ago.