Hi Paul, and hello everybody. I’m not an English native person, however, one year ago I was looking for any information about living in France (as you right now) and I came across this forum.
I have lived in Ireland and after 6 rainy years, we have decided to move to a much sunnier place. My husband is French so - was pretty obvious that we are going to settle in France. However, I said to him: I’m OK but only for a SUNNY & DRY place.
Surprise, Surprise - we have moved to… French Alpes, very close to Grenoble in Gresivaudan valley. Funny fact: Grenoble have more sunnier days per year than in Toulouse!
(Last summer began in April with 27 degrees and stayed until October ).
I would like to encourage you to read/check this particular region of France (Rhône-Alpes).
For example, you can ski all year long (but during summer only until noon) and ski season starts in October and haven’t finished yet! Place where I live has no snow so is easy to maintain daily duties/tasks, but if you drive not more than 30min higher- you get plenty of snow. And tourist.
In Alpes is wise to buy small apt which you could rent during ski season. Check prices in small town Val Thorens -this is a very popular ski resort for an English speakers.
( And literally, everybody there speaks English! -the waiter does not even bother to take order from you in french, even if you didn’t say a single word and he can’t guess your nationality).
Gites in such places like Val Thorens or Chamonix is a good idea. In popular places, people came during winter for skiing and in summer season to hike & climb or ride a horse. (So you might have guests all year.)
**There is also an option for being a " le gardien de refuge", - however for this you need to win the contest (refuge belongs to local area) and you need to speak good French. **
** If you are gardien, you receive 1 450 € or 1 600 € brut per month (for a person with no experience and I agree this is not much but is better than nothing.) and you are responsible to look after the place for a hikers from April until September who need a place to sleep and eat. **
I personally believe that if you move more towards south (sorry guys from Normandy /Brittany) then you have more chances in tourism.
We are thinking about buying small apt. in Nice and put it fully on AirBnB.
When we traveled around France I noticed that the cheapest gites/BnB were in Brittany. I paid 26 euro for a room with breakfast included. (and was plenty free places in July. ). Compare this with Nice, where was extremely difficult to book a place in May. We have paid 65 euro by night (no breakfast) and it was one of the cheapest options and was far away from tourist places (we needed a car). Everything closer to the coast was very very expensive. (they were places 100euros by night)
So why not to go for it? Why rural place? Be sure you will be able to live it.
For me, the regions of Rhone -Alpes, Provence or even Corse offers more options in tourism.
And boost you French- I speak Polish, English and even German - and what? -nobody cares!
Check Alliance Francaise (it is in the UK as well) or at least Babbel if do not have much time.
I also strongly advised to go for an intensive course while you are in France ( Alliance Francaise for example (20 h per week, 4h/day). Yes, it’s expensive- 800euros, but after 3 months you feel that you are much more confident.
Also, do not install UK tv when you came here- is better for you to catch french language faster- watch movies with French subtitles,(all smart TVs have those option) even if you know the movie -watch it again in French and with french subs.
Best of luck!