SW France - recommendations for a good place to live

Salut !

After 14 years of working in France I made a big mistake last year and returned to the UK when I retired. I hate it. How about a sister website - 'Survive GB Network'?

Although I've lived in Brittany, Paris, Tours, and Lot-et-Garonne, I've decided that now I'm officially retired I'd rather like to live somewhere in the greater SW of France.

Can anyone recommend a good place to live - not too big and expensive, community spirit, things to do, good transport links (I don't have a car), and not overrun by ex-pats of any nationality.

I really would be grateful for your feedback.

Merci beaucoup d'avance.


Hi Valerie, what an awful experience! I am sure you are probably sorted by now but if not I have a lovely place near Royan, I would be happy to let for a while to see if you liked the area and were interested in buying, if not then no problem. the place is mostly french and close to beaches busier during the summer but quiet the rest of the time.


Glad to be of service, Valerie. Please let us all know where you decide to put down roots. If it's the Tarn, soyez la bienvenue and come to us for apéritifs! Finally, yes, perhaps Albi is the best suggestion of all [more culture than Castres and fantastically beautiful city centre.


Its Passport to Pimlico all over again !;-)

The idea there is great Kwashie. The two hamlets next each other here have both a white on black and black on white depending on which side of the hameau/lieu dit you are on. According to the commune both are a hameau, La Poste says lieu dit.

I can't possibly reply to each of you, but once again I'm extremely grateful for all your comments.

Thanks, Chris, for remonstrating with France-bashers. Nowhere's perfect, and, as I mentioned in an earlier reply, last year I was the victim in France of a scam by a BRITISH-owned removal firm and removal-broker at a particularly low point in my life, and at the moment I am trying to sort out the worst bureaucratic mess I've ever experienced which was caused by the incompetence of a BRITISH local authority.

After 35 years of close connections with France and 14 years working there the fact is I love the country and can't wait to be part of it again.

I really am grateful for all your comments. They're giving me plenty of food for thought.

We are a funny bunch of people us Brits. Why is it we want somewhere in someone else’s country that is not overrun with our fellow countryman or other non French? We have, possibly, 10 weeks a year where some unfortunate people visit the South and they only get 2, possibly 3, weeks enjoying what we take for granted. We don’t go out of our way to socialise with fellow Brits, and likewise neither do our fellow Brits.

We found our house in 2000 having explored France for 10 years in a Type 2 camervan. We never ventured over the Millau valley as we had a non modified engine which tended to cook No3 pot in hot weather. However, once over we never bothered going anywhere else. There is a magical point as you exit the last tunnel just above Lodeve when the view reassures you that you made the right decision.

We live in Pepieux a gorgeous village with about 5 UK homeowners of which, I understand, 4 are permanent residents. The village has everything, with the exception of a cash machine and station, and enjoys views of both the Pyrenees and Black Mountains. We have just disembarked from the terrace where the temperature is still registering 32. Over the last 12 months my digital weather station tells me that the lowest temperature in the house was 12 degrees. We have no central heating.

If it sounds like a Channel 4 docu soap I’m sorry, but, whilst struggling with Vertigo up a ladder today my neighbour, French, jumped in to help with a minor shutter lubrication job. This afternoon a knock at the door brought a kilo of potatoes from another neighbours allotment and this evening we received 5 Figs and a Melon from another. This doesn’t occur everyday!

The Aude and Herault are wonderful. Tourists are here for July and August and then go home. The people are honest friendly and accommodating. The temperature is V Hot in the Summer and, with the exception of February, mild in the Winter.

I can't help noticing that many suggestions are not strictly "South-West France". St Junien? Virtually in the Centre. Deux Sevres? Definitely West. Beziers? Deep south. Look at the Tarn, Valerie: relatively cheap, lovely friendly people, good transport links [in the towns. Not swamped by Brits.

Chuck - Valerie is trying to move to France, so stop rubbishing it! It may not be perfevct and clearly you've had a bad experience , but you are NOT HELPING!!

The Brits go all over...here there and everywhere.

France happens to be the most appreciated country and mighty

beauitiful she is too.

Wine is very subjective.

Like food....I guesse.

a bIG SURVIVE France party and some blind tasting...WOULD BE


Fun for all of you and interesting for me.


But only out of choice...Not an alcoholic.



Is it an hameau or a lieu dit ? ( Is your sign black writing on a white background or vice versa)

less than 1% where I am ;-)

Hey, Kwashie, 66% of our hamlet are Brits, but that's only 'cos there's one old lady and us 2!

How many ex pats constitutes "enough"? In my little Hamlet in the charente there are 3 English out of 11 houses..... have we reached tipping point? :-)

Fair enough Barbara, but I also agree with Peter. I live in the Corbières, in the South of France, and we have some very fine wines here too.

Good point Clive, but Valerie specified South West France. Capestang is in the South of France, as is my village and I think we already have enough ex-pats here (from Germany, UK, USA and Ireland).

Capestang west of Beziers should meet your requirements as would my village, but not telling as we have very few English here !

Best advise would be to rent somewhere in your chosen region for 3-4 months and then look around.

Give me a call if I can be of help

doesn't need public transport - not big enough as the town is compact with everything within easy reach - I live in the second from last house on a road out of town and I am a ten minute stroll to the centre

several buses go to Limoges as well as 7 trains per day on the Limoges - Angoulême line

agreed Barbara , some of the Bordeaux and Bergerac wines are relativley quaffable but to state they are the very best in France is a bit OTT !

How can anyone dispute the fact that your average Gaillac (the oldest vines in France) or Corbières, to name but two compare very favourably to anything in the same price range as the woody tasting tannin infested Bordeaux can offer !

Maybe we should arrange a SFN wine tasting soirée to prove my point ?