Expats in Bordeaux: Justin and Vanessa Parr left Sydney, Australia for work in London and New York but it was France that captured their hearts. They moved to Bordeaux to open a B&B in the vineyards and say though it’s not always easy – they’ve never looked back…
Justin says that they really loved staying in guesthouses where they got to meet the owners, share stories and get an insight into local life. It got them thinking that they would like to do something like that themselves. Long days and nights in the office versus a lifestyle change with a gentler pace of life was tempting. They started to read inspiring, enticing stories about life in France and as Justin puts it “to have a serious think about what we wanted to do. With no big commitments and just the two of us to bear in mind at the time, it seemed like a now or never (or maybe many years later) kind of moment, so we knuckled down and started brainstorming. Setting up and running a guesthouse was the original idea, but the questions of where and how took a bit more research and planning.”
The couple’s dream destinations were Italy and France and part of their planning included making sure that they chose a place to live that was also good for business. They considered tourism statistics, competition, ease of accessibility etc. They also needed to be sure it was somewhere with the space and potential to be a true get-away destination for future guests. Living at the time in Manhattan, they knew they loved big city living but a countryside location had lots of appeal.
In the end, after endless discussions and lists of pros and cons, studying and considerations – they chose Bordeaux in south west France. “Ironically” laughs Justin “of all the areas that we considered in France, this was not actually one that we had been to before, but between our gut feel and all of the amazing things that the region has to offer – beautiful architecture, delicious food, amazing wine, a balanced climate, and a TGV train connection to Paris in around 3 hours for that big city ‘lifeline’ – it was hard to resist.”
A lot of investment has gone into re-developing Bordeaux city over the last 15 years, and although super famous as a wine producing region, it still seems to be a bit of a hidden gem on the tourist trail. With budget being an important consideration, Vanessa and Justin found that unlike further south in areas such as Provence and the French Riviera, property prices in this region had not been inflated as dramatically, which was a big plus.
Today Vanessa and Justin run a boutique B&B in a village called Camiran in the Bordeaux vineyards called L’Autre Vie (‘the other life’). They’ve been expanding slowly and have plans for more over the next few years and they’ve also launched a wine club.