We talk to Suzanne Sutton who left the UK for Languedoc Roussillon, southern France. She’s an agent for the award-winning Leggett Immobillier French Estate Agents and says this sunny area is great for expats to live.
Where do you live in France?
I live in a little village of around 90 residents, called Granès, in the Haute Vallée, Aude in Languedoc Roussillon (now known as the Occitanie region). I love it for the sunshine, an average of 300 days a year), the fact I can be skiing or swimming in the Mediterranean Sea – both little more than an hour from here.
There are Cathar castles and lots of historic sites. I love the myths and legends of Rennes-Le-Chateau, and the peace and quiet, the French way of life and no traffic jams!
What is your home like in Haute Vallée?
It’s a plain-pied villa set in 4000m² of land, which we have extended. Having had builders on site for more than a year, its lovely to look out the window and no longer see a digger or cement mixer!
I fell in love with this place for the stunning daily view from our window, the scenery, the foothills of the Pyrenees and of course the lovely weather.
I wanted the standard ‘wish-list’: walking distance to bakers and bar, within 15 minutes of a supermarket and one hour from an airport. I got the second two, but not the first – I live in a village with no amenities. I buy bread in bulk and freeze it and go out to meet friends in a bar in a local town, 10 minutes away and catch a taxi back if necessary. There’s always a game of petanque in the village on a Friday night in the summer months and I take a bottle of wine to enjoy with our neighbours.
What do you love about the area where you now live?
I love to visit Rennes-Le-Chateau; La Cité at Carcassonne; Cathar Castles; skiing; walking; the Mediterranean and taking a day trip to Spain.
I go to ‘home fixtures’ of the local rugby team – attending the meal before the match and to the local ‘rugby bar’ to watch the 6 Nations and autumn international matches. Attending as many village events as possible gets you making friends fast!
What tips do you have for those searching for a home?
- Have a note book with you in the car: jot down notes of any villages you pass through or stop in which ‘tick your boxes’.
- Don’t rush: view villages/towns first before properties. Be prepared to compromise (and not talk to your partner for hours!).
- Don’t view too many properties in one day: you won’t remember them
Tell us a little about your job
The best thing about being an estate agent in France is helping people to live their dream. A couple came to the ‘Place in the Sun’ Show in May, saw a photo of a property, flew out five days later, had an offer accepted and completed in September – a villa in my village.
There are a range of properties here, small and large village houses and elegant Maisons du Mâitre, Mediterranean style villas and even chateaux. The locations are stunning along the valley of the River Aude and the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Corbiere mountains. This is an area that’s just perfect for those who want to live the good life in France.