Move to France, But Where?

Hi all,

My wife and I are in a fortuitous position of being able to retire in approx 2 year, we'll be both in our mid 40's by than, a very blessed position.

We are looking for advice on which part of the country to move to, the benefits of and recommended towns.

What we are looking for, somewhere that is warmer weather than UK (haha not hard), but not too hot and mild(ish) in the winter months.

We aim to be semi self sufficient as far as possible growing our own veg etc, so fertile land and temperate climate is essential.

AND we want to be in the country as we aren't townies, although the wife does like to spend a little now and again!

We intend to come over with 2 years self study of the french language, so we will be speaking in pidgeon tongues and estimate after the house purchase to have approx 1700 euros per month to live on (this includes bills).

This income doesn't include any income we could generate out there (wife does nails, I make garden furniture and our Pug does his bit ;)

We would like information on energy grants i.e. renewables, PV, thermal if anyone knows any info.

Thats all for folks, I will probably have a million and 1 questions later, thanks in advance.


We've lived in Pas De Calais for 6 years now in Parenty, a lovely Hamlet with only one other English family, whom we have never met, and I believe are not permanent residents. No light polution, no street lights, no crime and no sirens!! Boulogne our nearest town is 20 minutes drive and Calais 45 mintues, so great if you want to keep working. We are self sufficent in veg, and have had chickens for 5 of our 6 years here. The soil is good in this area, hence the many farms. I still work a couple of days a week in the UK and this regular secure income has certainly helped out with the current financial climate. We know of friends who moved down the south of France and relied on the income from Gites and have come unstuck. You need to research which areas suit the work you intend to do, so I agree with most that you must visit as many areas and villages as possible. Maybe renting would be a good idea to start with.

Pas de Calais weather is similar to the south of england but most definately hotter inland in summer and yes we have had several bouts of snow in winter.

I wish you all the best in your search for a new life in france. We most definately would not change a thing.

Bon chance :)

We are practicaly on the border of the Aude and Tarn halfway up a mountain another couple of Ks we would be in the Aude 45 min from Carcassonne spend 30 years in and out of the Aude prices were so low years ago then jumped as it was supposed to be the next developed area roads were put in then stopped but from what we heard the wind put a lot of people off, lovely area though need a good water supply to grow anything Dutch friend lived close to Narbonne had a lawn only one i ever saw but he was constantly watering we offered 18K€ under the asking price for ours and it was excepted, what you ask and are prepared to except are two different things as we have seen with friends buying and selling each area has its price

Sounds a bit aggressive?????????? Give the man a chance.

Like the camel one you posted!

depends where in the aude, as it does where in the tarn ;-)

a couple of examples here which are about the same as what's on the market in the north of the Tarn too ;-)

Yes, quite right. Good info on those sites. As for prices, well my OH has had one fantatsic house on her books for over a year now. It started at €600,000 and is now on offer for €380,000. It was NEVER overpriced. It is simply that some areas have really gone down like a stone.

Hi Brian,

I would also suggest that visiting some of the tourism websites is no bad thing to get a feel of a region either. Plus town websites, all good for info. Especially when they have a Union Jack alternative on display.

Re House prices again it is a regional thing but my sister-in-law (French) has just negotiated a house down from €299,000 to €225,000 as an indicator. It is a jewel of a place that has loads of love spent on it.

Finally Ross, of course speaking French is important, but some of us never seem to get to the more than adequate level - something I am religiously abused for with the Frogs in my house! However and for what it is worth, if you are anything like me, hating taking courses and classes, the best method I have come across is the 'Hugo's French in 3 months' book. Definitely gets you through the basics quite quickly and without too much pain. Where you go from there is up to you.

Forgot to add that quite reasonable property available around here (Saintes) for 120K or less

Charente-Maritime. Micro climate; friendly neighbours; easy connections with UK.


Things that are not taxable in the uk are taxed here i'm afraid and all uk accounts,investments should be declared a mistake a friend of ours made now there is rather a nasty mess to clear up

A house with good land and in the country is 350 500k i wish Andrew, we have a 4 bedroom, double garage and 1 acre of land bought for 83k in 2003 friend who is an estate agent recons nothing is selling at the moment in the Tarn we made a suggestion we may be up for a move he told us to think hard about it as house prices here have dropped like a stone with some on the market for 5 years

Brilliant site. Thank you!

It depends Jayne, but for Ross's benefit: We live in a hamlet. The rest of it was only ruins until a couple started to self-build beside us and a second home was put up for another couple. They are all here just a few days a year. Apart from a Belgian neighbour, everybody else is French, although there is an English couple about 1km away, but in four years we still haven't exchanged names. But then I am not married to a first language English speaker. People in the next hamlet are really great, good friends now because we made a little effort.

Our social life is in a range of 15 to 30 minutes away, all French and a real mix from teachers, gendarmes, an insurance broker, printer, farm workers and who knows what else. My point there is that whilst there is a bit of a class thing, that is probably mostly restricted to an elite few but the norm is that everybody in and near small towns intermingle. That is not just here but wherever we have been in France. When ex-patriots cluster they are more likely to be excluded, when they just mingle it really does not matter about the level of French because people will help. Essentially most people are actually fine but as ever a few are not. There are places to avoid in France, but I do not think you wish to go to Alsace-Lorraine with its freezing winters as an example and where there are large concentrations of FN supporters it can be quite horrible. When looking get as much info as you can about the local council, especially the mayor.

If there is somebody who appears to have been in office since Noah's Ark passed then there is a fair chance that outsiders do not have good treatment. We had one until last year but he was forced to stand down by 'X'. He said something about people with accents in their French not being 'proper people' near my OH once. Her first language is Italian but she has used French for well over half her life, however we happened to know his parents were part of a sizable number of Italian migrants to the area. My OH and I contrived the situation whereby in front of a fair sized group of people I said something about my Scots ancestry and our thousand year plus alignment with France and threw in that the children of Italian immigrants don't seem to know that though and throw scorn on anybody not quite as French as they. OK, naughty anecdote, but we knew he was going and also that a fair few people present had been denied permission for building work to modernise houses, all of them French. However, all such things are fair once you know the 'rules of the game' but not where the present mayor is likely to be there until he is laid to rest. That may be 30 years from now, he is only 74 years old ;-)

My point is really, do your homework thoroughly rather than see a dream house and end up in problems up to your neck. Be aware that everybody including French who are newcomers are treated with suspicion at first. Without fixing on one agency or signing up with any who might then get on your nerves, do web searches to look at a selection of French estate agencies. Then just look at the properties you like. Note the areas, find out about them, look at satellite shots of the area (beautiful house and all but there is a major road beside it hidden by trees, a military airstrip or...), if using Google then use the road map view as well. You can find out about climate, markets, local festivals, you name it the same way. Look for WHAT you want rather than WHERE somebody says you should be, that way you will get what you are looking for.

Always a subject with a huge response and definitely think you should seriously consider renting for a while.

So much depends on what you want for a lifestyle. Being isolated may sound idyllic but in reality you can go stir crazy. Social life is a lot different here and unless you just go for meals and visits to friends then nightlife does not start till around 11pm. There are pockets of English speakers which you may or may not want. Every area is vastly different.

The Centre to be honest is not that much different to the UK, just a bit warmer but the winters are still cold and long; so definitely would not describe them as mild. Generally get snowed in for a few days each year. I would not comment on other areas because I havent lived in them. My husband worked near Carcassonne for several months during the summer and we hated the heat. It was too much for us.

A lot can happen in two years but I would suggest a holiday travelling to a few areas that may have caught your eye.


We are a couple ofyears out before our move, and would love ot see your numbers. I think we are on target, but would like to see if we missed anything in our planning. Thanks.

Jerry Berard

You have had many good bits of advice but can I add a couple. On location, there is trade off between the romantic image of isolation (that is also good for price and self sufficiency) and closeness to neighbours which is pretty essential if you actually want to become relatively fluent in French. We find that the fact a walk round our village usually involves three or four conversations is very helpful. We have friends who live further into the country who actually find it quite hard to find opportunities to speak French apart from shopping etc.
The second is to check that your investment has the same tax effect in France. Some "wrappers" work fine in the UK but not in France though suitable French ones (usually assurances vie) are available.

why no photo ????????????????

you are happy to pick our brains

Great idea to travel around France a bit before deciding. It's surprising how the climate, terrain etc can change within a few miles, depebending on which side of the hills or mountains you may be, for instance. Not only does the climate naturally change from North to South, even going West to East, Atlantic to Mediterannean.

Margo, we are half way between Narbonne and Carcassonne in the Minervois plain, twixt the Montaigne Noir and the Corbieres. Very hot in Summer, surprisingly quite cold in winter (look at last years freezing temps!!), surrounded by vineyards ++ and the magical Carcassonne la Cite on the doorstep. Also the med close by, personal favourite being Gruissan Plage les Chalets!!

Hi Ross,

As this post is now number 1 in the top content leaderboard can you upload a photo for you profile avatar please?