I realised this week that last week, ten years ago, is when I first saw my dream home in France! I was in France for a day trip from London to do some shopping. Those were the days when booze cruises were popular, the Pound was high against the Euro, the supermarkets in and around Calais were heaving with British shoppers fuelling their French fix of wine, spirits, baguettes, cakes, cheese and saucisson.
It was a cold February day. I’d stocked up on wine for myself and my family and had a free afternoon. I decided to head off away from the cold wind blowing off the English Channel and ended up in the Seven Valleys about an hour’s drive inland. I had never been there before and in fact had never even heard of it. I stopped for lunch in the market town of Hesdin, the people were really friendly and I felt very much at home there. On a whim I popped into an estate agents office. I wasn’t interested in buying a house but when the agent asked about a budget I said the first thing that came into my head – a very low figure. He laughed and gave me paperwork for three houses to look at. I had time to kill, so I looked at them all. The first one was hideous, it was lined throughout with luminous linoleum (must be hiding something bad I thought). The second one was in a village where the inhabitants came out of their houses to stare – stranger danger!
The third house was in a tiny village, no shops, no bar. Not much sign of life but I fell in love with it immediately and three days later it was mine! Bon Anniversaire to my French house adventure!
Top 5 Features this week:
1. Absolutely Southern France – we meet Nancy McGee from Canada who fell in love with southern France. She runs a company from gorgeous Sète & spoils her clients with very special tours…
2. The Good Life France 2014 Writing Competition! Its free to enter, fun to enter and we’d love to hear from you. Write a 1000 word post about anything to do with France and you could be published and win a fabulous 10 week online creating writing course with the experts.
3. Passport to Paris… it’s a challenge but we think Rachael Brandt has pulled it off – the five minute guide to Paris!
4. Parlez vous politely in France… Margo Lestz visits a café in Nice where they charge you more for your coffee if you’re not polite! She tells you how to make friends and influence people in France…
5. I went to the Dordogne in February… I wanted to see what it was like without the tourists, what it was like when it was just people going about their normal everyday life – it was anything but every day for me – just brilliant!
1. Meet Richard Woollams and family in “Moving to france” – our new series follows Richard as he sticks a pin in a map of France and uproots his family to a new life! He’s a very funny writer and we just love his story… follow the family’s progress as we reveal what happens next!
2. Louise from Connecticut says make friends in France with the help of a pooch!
3. Teased, Trimmed and Trained to within an inch of their life the 150,000 150 year old boxwood topiary wonders at the magnificent gardens of Marqueyssac…
4. Beynac is the most enchanting medieval village which seems to tumble down a cliff to the river Dordogne – a fabulous place to visit…
Practical Guides for expats and homeowners in France
This week is all about Satellite broadband, phones and TV. Accessing the internet and phone services via a satellite service rather than a standard phone line is becoming increasingly popular. We look at satellite services in France in depth with Bob Elliot, telecommunications expert:
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