Fontenay-le-Comte: a recommended place to live?


My partner (EU National) and I (U.S. citizen) are considering moving to France in the immediate future from the US and looking at different regions of France. The main reasons we decided on France are: plans to have a family in a country with a high quality of life–education, health care, and community. My partner plans to continue working in the tech sector and I am considering running a chambres d’hotes and gites in the future.

We have visited France in 2018 for two months to get a better sense of where we would like to live: small towns/villages vs. cities. The feeling of community from our experience is stronger in smaller towns/villages and people tend to be friendlier whereas in tourist areas not so much.

From reading prior posts, learning French is essential. So, I have committed to learning French in the interim with Rosetta Stone and Duolingo until college French courses open up for enrollment and joining a local women’s club with a group of fluent French speakers who meet monthly.

One of things we used to help us narrow down the regions to our preferences is the climate map: We prefer a region with warmer climate with a good balance of rainy days in the mid-north western region; not hot like in Southern France or cold in the Northern France and Eastern France.

Currently looking at Fontenay-le-Comte, Bessac (Poitou-Charente region), Pay de la Loire and Centre regions.

May I ask those who have lived or is living in these areas to share your personal experiences and/or advice? Also, what is the current socioeconomic status of these areas? (It’s been tough using Google to retrieve such information and thought SurviveFrance would be the most effective)

Merci Beaucoup :slight_smile:

Hi, can’t help with the specifics as I’ve never lived in the regions you’re looking at, but I recommend using the website of the national statistics agency INSEE to find out the vital statistics of a town. It will give you a breakdown of housing stock, population, employment, income etc.
eg for Fontenay-le-Comte
as you’ll see it’s not an affluent town - high unemployment, half of the households earn below the income tax threshold, etc. But the same is true of so many small French towns…

Hi, We live about 45mins away from Fontenay in the Deux Sevres and 11 years ago did a very similar thing to what you hope to do. We wanted somewhere that didn’t get too hot but had defined seasons and here fits the bill perfectly. Although it’s not ‘touristy’ we’ve done well with our 3 gites and my OH ran his IT business until late last year when he officially retired. Our village is small, but everyone from the day we moved here have been friendly & welcoming and very forgiving of my less than perfect French. Whilst I don’t live in your search areas I just thought you might like to have a look at the Deux Sevres, it’s often overlooked in favour of the Vendee but it’s just as lovely but not so well known!


I have lived in the Vendée near Fontenay and would live there again should I find what I wanted and preferably 15 min max away and south/west of the A83.
In my experience of both myself and those ive known over the years is its better nearer a large town such as Fontenay.
The nearer the coast the better for me but near a decent town.
Depending on your budget the nearer to La Rochelle the better.

Hi Anna,

Thank you for the helpful suggestion with the INSEE and insight into how the vital statistics of Fontenay-le-Comte is true for many small French towns. Something certainly to be mindful :slight_smile:

Hi Debby, thank you for sharing :slight_smile: I have been lucky to experience very similar welcome while visiting small villages/towns. For example, the first week I was Malestroit, I was filling up the car with petrol for the first time outside of the USA and didn’t speak any French yet. So, the machine would repeat a prompt over and over again in French. Fortunately, a stranger (French lady) was on the other side of the pump who kindly came over and walked me through the entire process. Now, I know how to fill up the car with petrol in France!

It’s great to learn about other parts of France and will certainly check out Deux Sevres :slight_smile:

Hi Lee, thank you for sharing. May I ask what would bring you back to Fontenay?

Sorry I didn’t reply to this.
Basically upon visiting the area again after a few years leaving i liked the feeling I got from it, I like Fontenay and proximity to the coast.
All that said, we have changed tact and all being well we are buying on the Finistere coast.
I found where ever we looked to buy it was about how far we might be from the coast, adverts stating it was 1hr or 2 hrs to the beach, it was like something had clicked, why dont we buy on the coast so I looked at nicer coastal areas, I thought the Vendee coast was uninspiring and expensive whilst lacking in out of season shops.
I also wanted a shorter drive from the port, after 8-9 hours in the past to Dordogne I didnt fancy that again. Someone said what about the weather, well, I’d like 25 all year round but that isn’t going to happen, I dont want 35+ degrees and hide indoors until it cools, It is about the weather but not as much as i thought. Its about choices. I am buying in France but keeping a UK pad in Fowey, Cornwall, hopefully this time it’ll work for us having the choice of just saying lets got to France or UK, in our previous French adventure we didn’t have this.
Also lived in Deux Sevres, for me only around Niort / Coulon is worth considering, I dont like DS on the whole, its quite dull.
Dordogne is beautiful, but to far inland.
I would consider Charente Maritime, Gironde being coastal and i like the areas.