Your name, age family, and where you are from in the UK
We are the Newman family (Adrian 47, Nicki 44, Ben 20, Jeremy 18, Oliver 15 and Harry 9) from the south of England.
When did you buy in/move to France, and where?
We moved to France more than seven years ago to the Lassay area of the department of Mayenne in the Pays de la Loire region.
What made you decide to move to France?
We moved over as, like many others we knew, we had to change our stressful lifestyle and as our eldest son almost died in a nasty accident. I remember saying to my husband in the hospital that if Ben pulled through then we are going to France and going to spend more time with our children; The specialist in the hospital thought it was a great idea and it gave Ben and all of us something to look forward to.
As soon as Ben got the all clear we were off – we contacted some people we had met in France previously and rented a house near Lassay. Our boys were 2, 9, 11 and 13 when we came over.
What made you choose this particular area to move to?
To be honest we can’t say what made us choose this area, except that we loved the hilly surroundings and the characteristics of Mayenne.
Why did you choose this particular property?
We had been looking for over a year and one evening I saw an advert in a French newspaper that sounded interesting. Something on the lines of … ‘house and mill in beautiful location with forest’ etc. but no price! So I rang up and found out it was way more than we had intended – but somehow we just had to go and look. That was it; when we got to the top of the drive we both said we wanted it without even seeing the house.
We chose this property because it just had so much – a mill (there is only one other in France like it) that is of great historical interest as it is run by cable – it has a 60m cable which goes down from the mill to the wheel house on the river and powers the mill by a system of belts; The mill still has all the equipment which technically is in working order, including a generator and a large stationary diesel engine.
There is a also a large house which had a boarded loft for further development which we are in the process of doing and can create a bed and breakfast with 7+ bedrooms.
Also, facing the river (which is at the bottom of our land) is an old house and stables from which we intend creating two gîtes. There is a ‘porcherie’ in the land (currently housing our goats) and several other outbuildings. The land is natural and has also a forest, and it was really the land and of course the mill that attracted us to the property.
What kind of work do you do in France?
Work wise my husband is a cabinet maker and does a lot of work for a well known furniture maker/kitchen installer in Gorron – he also cleans gîtes and gardens. I work for an estate agency in Gorron and I also help my husband with the gîtes and I interpret and manage properties for people.
Was the process of buying the house better or worse than you expected, or about the same, and why?
The process of buying the house was fairly easy – it was just a question of waiting to hear if we could have a mortgage.
How much work did it need doing on it?
It is a big project and at times more that we can handle – which can get us down. We just have to walk down to the river to remind ourselves why we bought the place and the fact that it does not matter how long it takes us as we are lucky to live here.
If you had the chance, would you do it all again?
Yes we would do it all again but we would do it differently and we would have been far more careful with our savings!
What’s the best/worst feature of your property?
There are no worst features as the whole place is beautiful – natural surroundings beautiful buildings lots of history and of course the river – what more could we ask for…?
What piece of advice would you offer to anyone thinking of buying in or moving to France?
Best advice we can give is to make sure that you have enough savings in the first place and that if you do start work in France listen to the French and put by the money for the social charges as they are very steep.
There are many advantages in living here – excellent health care, very, very little crime, fantastic education for the children resulting in bi-lingual children, being surrounded by beautiful countryside seeing wildlife we just don’t see anymore in England, children making tree houses etc, driving on car less roads …what more can we tell you? We can confidently say that we have no regrets and that we will not go back.
If you would like to follow the history of the mill we have a blog. Please bear in mind as we have very little money things are happening very slowly and we have thought about trying to get sponsors as we know the historical value is priceless…
The blog address is: www.lemoulindefavieres.net
Why not tell us why you chose your place in France? Please email us.