SW France - recommendations for a good place to live

I agree. But st junien does not have public transport. There may be the occasional bus to Limoges though.

We're with Peter - we live in Haute Vienne and love it, the countryside is beautiful, there's plenty to do with Limoges and Poitiers close by, and as one of the cheapest regions for property in France, it's inexpensive too! There are pockets of lots of Brits but they do tend to be lovely - and we live in a little village that's predominantly French with very friendly welcoming villagers.

Very happy to answer any questions you might have about living here if that helps at all, and bonne courage!

We came to Salies de Bearn in the Pyrenees Atlantiques over nine years ago now. It is a thermal town with golf, spa and tennis clubs and lots of interest groups. always lots going on and, very important for us, very few British in the area. Have a look on the internet. the Pyrenees Atlantiques is a fantastic place

Or you could be nearish to Bordeaux and in wine country....

THE very best of wine in France.

Await attack....
St Emilion/Libourne and around.

We are just over half an hour from Bergerac airport and Mobazilliac and area is


Actually Medoc....POSSIBLY THE best wines????

But the landscape is a wilderness of trees and it is easy to

get lost between chateaux.

Going on hols in March....to France.

Having no car puts you out of reach of the traditional ex-pat destinations.

You could do a lot worse than Bordeaux.

Nice weather, nice restaurants, and very good public transport links. For 1€60 you can travel for one hour by bus, tram, or boat.

hI vALERIE.It depends what you mean by "good transport links". Puylaurens [southern Tarn] is our local town; very friendly, good Wednesday market plus two small supermarkets and a full range of services; frequent bus service between Castres and Toulouse [20 minutes from Castres, 45 from Toulouse]. Fantstic views south towards Pyrenees. Being a hilltop, can be windy but nothing like the plain round Carcassonne and Castelnaudary where it is like living in a wind tunnel. A sprinkling of Brits in the area [such as us!] but who have gone native and don't form brit-cliques.

If Puylaurens [pop. about 4000] too small for you, Castres is a fantastic town [pop. 45,000]. Quaint town centre with Agout flowing through; small airport with daily flights to Paris and railway link to Toulouse as well as bus links to Albi, Gaillac, Beziers, Revel, Toulouse etc. It is close to Montagne Noire and Sidobre but snuggles down in a dip; generally good weather and protected from the worst of winter. Not at all touristy and not many non-French. Excellent copmmunity spirit and Top 14 rugby to boot!

You say " not overrun by ex-pats of any nationality.".....in that case I would say that you need to look at somewhere that is well away from airports served by the cheapo airlines.

yep, too small for some but I'd happily live there, nearly did at one point when I was teaching at the IUT

wine's not bad either ;-)

yeah, Albi is a really good place to live tho' quite expensive for taxes etc - Gaillac is just down the road and cheaper but with all the amenties plus a short hop to Toulouse etc via the excellent motorway links

Ok for very good and cheap train links then Limoux is favorite, 1 euro to Carcassonne (where you can connect to the fast trains services) and 1 euro to Quillan.

Also property prices are very low even overlooking the river, but if you go outside the main town you've got little public transport, have you thought of a cheap scooter? for which you'll need to do a test or a bike -most of the roads immediately around Limoux are reasonably flat.

There are a fairly good range of shops and a swimming pool, cinema, museums, train station and lots of bars +plus one Irish Pub all within walking distance and a 3 month long carnival in the main square. Also it still doesn't feel like a town with too many expats. The train are good but they do not run too late so late night clubbing in Carcassonne can be a bit tricky!!

Villages on the rail line would include Alet les Bains (hot baths, right on the river Aude) which is just lovely and in fact where I'd like to live and Couiza which is not as pretty. Any further down that line and the weather can be tricky of course if you're a hippy type? in which case Quillan might be just perfect.

I know what you mean about Figeac - I was there for a rugby match a couple of months ago and liked it v much but not necessarily to live in.

... or Albi, it has everything and isn't too big, unesco world heritage, countryside on the doorstep. A couple of hours from the sea and the mountains...? And Rodez too... or a personal favourite is Figeac but that maybe too small for you. I wouldn't go for Bédarieux (sorry Shirley but that'd be like me suggesting Decazeville, lived and worked there, son born there, (daughter born in Rodez) people are great but not somewhere you'd choose when there are so many nicer places! ;-)

How about Bordeaux? I know it is big, but it doesn't feel big and it has excellent road/rail/air links and you can go to the ocean easily, and the mountains, Spain etc are a short train-ride away.

Thanks a lot for writing to me, Shirley.

I must admit that, although I know France pretty well, I had never heard of Bédarieux. So I got out my Michelin map and then 'Googled' it, and very nice it looks too.

However, the big problem is that I don't have a car, and so I really do have to live near good rail links.

But it does sound a lovely place to live, so I might do a bit more research.


I've just switched on my computer to see if I had any replies to my message, and I'm absolutely delighted with the response.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to write to me. There's some very good advice, and I have to admit that I'm now spoilt for choice.

Of my 14 years in France, I spent over 12 working and living with the French, and any English I met were somewhat far and few between. Going back to England to live rather than to spend a couple of weeks holiday a year has been a culture shock, and I simply do not feel 'at home'. Added to that is the fact that I was the victim of a particularly nasty scam on the part of the British removal firm (contacted through a British removal broker based in France) which moved me back to Exeter.

Also of possible interest for any of you who like a good moan about French bureaucracy (and who doesn't?), I can assure you that the worst bureaucratic muddle I have ever been involved in is the fault of my local city council in the UK.

Back to France - you've certainly given me food for thought. Villeneuve-sur-Lot I know quite well because I used to live in Agen, and all the other places you've mentioned - Pau, Albi, Céret, Béziers, Limoux - are all possibilities.

Thanks also for confirming what I suspected - that the Dordogne is not for me. But then again, there's Périgueux.

Merci mille fois à tous mes amis de SFN !!

It depends on what sort of weather you want too. If go for Beziers as someone suggested or any where along that coast, you will be very hot in the height of summer and overrun with tourists. If you try further inland into the Midi-Pyrenees you'll get less tourists and better value. Check out summer and winter temperatures before you buy. Where I live in Aveyron we get four seasons, the Brits are well spread out and it's a bit off the major tourist routes. I agree with John Rolfe though, avoid the Dordogne at all costs, besides the house prices there are quite high.

Think about Albi, a really charming town and not too far from Toulouse airport. Its big enough to have everything you need, markets, shops etc but small enough for you to get to know people. Best of luck for wherever you choose.

We now have a village house a few miles from Beziers, which is a good location for travel (regular buses into Beziers for the TGV, airports Carcassonne, Beziers, Montpellier, Perpignan and even Catalonian), weather, proximity to sea, mountains, Spain, Canal du Midi etc. We previously had a house in Peret, near Lodeve and Clermont l’Herault. Clermont must be one of the nicest small towns in southern France.

I would agree with John about Limoux - we're only 10 mins away, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, where it's not as windy as by Carcassonne. Limoux has the €1 train to Carcassonne, Quillan, etc. And we lived there for a couple of months before we bought our house here. The summer evenings are great in Limoux - lots of events organised (and having said that, the square is always busy, so if you want peace and quiet in summer, don't buy in the square!), restaurants, AVF, all services. If you end up in Limoux to take a look, let me know and we'll see if we can meet up somewhere. :)

We are in 64 inland of Bayonne. It is very beautiful and halfway between the ocean and the mountains. We have found the locals to be very friendly and welcoming once they realised we were living here permanently and weren’t just ‘second homers’. Our nearest town is St Palais which has an excellent range of shops for a town of only 5,000 inhabitants. There is a daily bus service to Bayonne, useful if you have any admin to be done at the sous-prefecture or the impots. St Palais has its own CPAM and a small hospital tied to the University medical services in Bayonne.