Hi All. Getting a bit dispondent at the moment and wondered if you could gee me up a little... Everything I try seems to have been done a hundred times before. Obviously I knew running a B & B would be hit and miss - but then I did a TEFL course to supplement the income - then discovered there are two people, IN MY VILLAGE, who already do it and one is a retired english teacher to give it to the community for free.... so then I thought I'd try NYRO - only to find that it's something that loads of expats do (well I know they do in the Charante, so if they do it there I'm sure they will in the Dordogne)... so all in all feeling a little flat and scared and we've not fully moved yet...
Anyone got any pearls of wisdom to pick me up pls
And yet another interloper - I live in Lagrasse, a small mediavel village in the Aude (languedoc-Roussillon, which has been renamed "Le Sud de France"). Glad to read that you are feeling a bit more "chipper". We are here two years, and our original idea was teaching art (husband is an artist for more than 40 years), and I did a TEFL course (as my legal skills are of no use here). We only have one guest room but are scratching a living advertising painting holidays/courses and also English language courses. We have made a virtue out of the one guest room by pointing out that there is individual tuition. :-) We charge for accommodation and tuition, and have had visitors from South Africa, Australia, UK, Ireland and France. We will also take B&B bookings if there are no courses booked in. Lately, we have decided to offer cookery courses aimed at the "can't cook/won't cook" people. I have started knitting and crocheting again, and actually sold some of my pieces at the market last week.
So, as other have said, you will find that you may need several small income streams. It can be hard work but I love it here. We play petanque every Friday evening, which is great fun and a great way to improve your French, and to get to know others in the village.
The children are all grown up and as Annie said, I didn't want to be still sitting in Dublin wondering "what if". The only regret I have is not seeing more of my grandchildren (aged 6 and 3 and anothe one on the way!) but Skype is a great substitute (except for the little arms round your neck giving you a "love").
Bon courage and keep us posted on developments.
Well Norman - sorry I won't be doing your shopping... but love the advice that you and everyone has given me... I'm one of those people who is an advice giver - always have been - the one that mothers would allow their friends out to play if 'christine' was going - the one that here in the UK comes up with business ideas for friends and contacts... I think on the day I posted my thoughts - I was having a 'blip'.. but I love everything I've heard and it has totally lifted my spirts and I can't wait to get on with it all... xxx
Hi Christine, I too am not in Bergerac so also am an interloper on this site. I live in the Correze (near to the Lot border of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne). That's actually about a 2-hour drive to Bergerac Airport I am advised.
I had just a couple of other random thoughts to help getting the word around with whatever you decide to do.
Get some free business cards from Vistaprint (look them up on the web). Use the free cards panels in the Supermarkets to offer services 'GIve yourself an extra hand' or something - even if you are nervous about French try it out in English you could be surprised how many will understand it. Plus of course you will be 'networking' on all levels, and who knows where that can lead?
Don't get down as that is unproductive. We all do it as you say from time to time.
Sage advice from Norman. We had a local woman who offered a shopping service when we arrived here. She had lived in the USA for a while and had done it there with a local 'ladies group'. Unfortunately she popped her clogs and nobody jumped in to fill her spot. Too far for you over this way, but just to say that it works. As I understand it, she collected a shopping list, something close to the price of it all in cash and the customer loyalty card. She charged something like €10 a week however often she went for somebody and had 30 to 40 elderly customers, including the old lady down the road who has been a bit 'stranded' since. The point that strikes me is that she did it for however many years and was well known but when she was gone nobody took up the reins. I think that is a key element of what Norman is saying, look for the 'market gap' then exploit it.
Thanks Norman - yes gardening is something that we will be doing when we get set up (well my husband will).. I feel so much better after hearing all of the comments below and speaking to other people - I think sometimes things just get on top of you but I'm rising about it now... thank goodness. Where abouts do you live Norman - I would offer a shopping service with pleasure ...
Christine, you are getting a lot of very good advice and don't stop looking as opportunities are OUT there. My wife and twin sister (French) are proving to me daily that the French don't like to do a lot of things, and this seems to be something to consider.
Garden attention - strimming, hedge-cutting, lawn mowing etc., for older people. Our house every year gets clad in ivy - beautiful, but also gets into the gutters and need cutting back. Too high for an oldie like to me clamber up a ladder (supplied though)
Yesterday as an example if not neccessarily an option for you, was Collette (twin) bought two large-ish pieces of furniture at a TROC / Depot Vente store. The order was in excess of €800. Flaw? The shop did not offer or even know of anyone who could make the delivery of some 30kms - even chargeable (which is usual). Man with a Van anybody? Handymen are not generally available to help older people - shopping service? Etc., etc.
The fact that others are running Puces stalls tells me something. I see the resurgence of sales of LP's of all types now being sold for between €2-5? Carol is totally correct in saying that British 'tat' (or better) sells in France and vice-versa. You DON'T need a retail store, at least in the Puces season - May-September. NB I have also seen 'buying and selling-on' taking place in Puces anyway. Stuff moving from the Puces side to the Brocante side is frequent - with massive uplift in price!
As many have mentioned before the French are not great on, or in service industries, particularly at the smaller end of the business.
A few not-so-random thoughts? None will make you rich, but could be 'enriching' in a new life.
Think outside the usual boxes, and don't get greedy and there is at least a contribution out there
no I'm in UK at the moment - back over there next week to work work work on the house with two friends, then back here for two weeks then back again - I think it's all of this that's adding to my 'problems'... I just need it to be done, earn a bit of money to cover this years costs from rentals and then we can come to live ... I can't tell you all how much I appreciate your ideas and friendship... It's just Nicholas and I who are coming to live - children all up and grown and staying here. Mum was coming but now wants to try her independance back again after being poorly... it's a huge relief it i'm honest. I can't wait to go for picnics, meet for coffee, have a glass of wine, etc. etc. I totally agree that waiting for the right moment doesn't work and that if it's something anyone wants to do - then jump - and that's what we are doing - jumping both feet first into the unknown.. I wish we could speak more French, I wish we were financial secure but at the end of the day - everything will be alright - i'm sure of it.
Was it you Annie that lives not far from me and you offered to come to the house when we were getting the gas tank put in??? Forgive me I just can't remember who it was..
Are you here or in England at the mo???I am here all day if you want a coffee?????
I think everyone is feeling the same at the mo, we are missing the sunshine. Practically get some vit D into yourself and you will find your get up and go comes back! you can buy it in health food shops and pharmacies. The sit witha big cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate and a pad of paper, write down zevery ideaa you can however mad, when youa re done see if any of them are possible, if so how what is the first step. I susoect that like most of us you will find you cant put all your eggs in one basket, and doing bits of this and that igets you by, and it iSo much more interesting!! Then phase three is to phone a girl friend and get out of the house, take a picnic, go for lunchanything just get out and have a bit of giggle, it will all seem easier if you canlaugh!!!!Believe me most of us have been there..................and we are still here!!Go for it! My idea was that I didnt want to reach 90 and sit wondering what would hav happened if.....I want to do it, now, if it doesnt work how i thought....Well I'll go do something else! It hasnt been easy, this winter especially, but I have absolutly no regrets.
I haven't got any pearls of wisdom, but I have just read a book by Karen Bates called 'Faking it in France' and she describes in painful detail her uphill struggles with their life in France - she wrote the book initially as a diary to keep herself sane - so maybe there is something there after all - books about 'the good life in France ' seem to do fairly well. Of course that would require time - which you are clearly short of at the moment.
I also don't know how I managed to get myself onto this group as I don't live near Bergerac!
We will still have the apartment in St Cyp Catharine..so guess i will still be surviving France!
Thank you Christine. We can be friends on SFN! we made some wonderful friends locally and we will be travelling back to stay with friends in Eymet...(which is around 30kms south of Bergerac)...we go to Castillon for the English cinema once a week...pretty place. We also have an apartment in the Languedoc, St Cyprien..and are hanging onto that at the moment...so still have a French connection!
We dont move till mid July...so maybe we will meet before then...I am flying back to France on Friday....but meeting a few SFN folk before I return...when we return I will be using some of the ideas I threw up... I intend having a stall in the markets locally selling home made perfumed candles...using unusual containers...coffee cups, large sea shells, pretty oddities I find in charity shops....I will also be nursing part time...am also waiting to see what kind of place we buy in the UK and maybe get involved in some cookery project...thats where I am happiest...in the kitchen!
Don't worry Christine - we are making Carol an honoury lifetime member of SFN (whether she wants to be one or not...) so hopefully she will be around with her words of wisdom for quite some time!
Thank you so much Carol - r u moving back soon?? shame - I could have done with a friend like you - as it's normally me with the ideas and the advise... I wish you every good luck with what ever you do... xxx
Christine...thats a beginning for ideas...4 B&B rooms are great...enough people to do courses...maybe a cookery course at your beautiful home...(get in a local cook or do it yourself, cooking local delicacies..eat the results for lunch with local wines - get in with vineyards and tell them what you are doing...aim for a reduction from them) offer wine courses....an art course...then there is the beauty side....massage is a great skill to have...Im not sure about registering in France...(on my experience its bound to be a nightmare, but its an option)....making and selling candles...scented...beautifully coloured...maybe made in pretty antique coffee cups and saucers.....another idea...I made gallons of Elderflower cordial....and everyone wanted it...you cant buy it in France...but our garden had loads of Elderflower bushes...I could have made a living making that alone...the following year I made Elderflower liqueur (added Vodka to the cordial) it went down a bomb.....there are a lot of ideas out there Christine..you need to find your niche.
As for us....we are in Eymet...or just outside...but its our nearest village...we are moving back to the UK...but thats more about us than France.... I am a nurse with a speciality that doesnt exist in France...but France doesnt have half the selection of businesses that the UK does......which means they are all new ideas and fresh for France...am sure you can find something that just works for you...
p.s. we have 4 rooms to let and offer picnics etc. - but we're not even up and running as a B & B yet - just a holiday home until October when we fully move there... You can see our website via my SFN page - Le Grand Chemin
Dear Carol.. thank you so much for the above - most of it i've thought of or done, i.e. been in contact with the Mayor, met with the most important 'must visit' villagers etc. but the second hand thing i'd never even thought of.. my husband tells me not to worry and things will happen - but i can't help it - there is an antique shop down the road selling furniture, and there is a new second hand shop in the village - but there maybe room for a clothes second hand stall etc. I don't know... I'm sure we'll make it work but today is one of those days... the mayor thinks that a B & B would be welcome in the village - there is a hotel and at least one other B & B but he's supporting us... I just wish we could speak more french. I just think everything is getting on top of me at the moment - meeting myself coming back the other way and all that.. where about are you?? cheers. x
Hi Christine.....first...I hope that SFN can give you the oomph and support you need to make a go of this.....are you coming over as a family or a couple? only asking as if you have kids you will get to know the locals in your village much quicker...and its always good to get in with the locals and have their support as well. Am going out on a limb here...but how well do you know your village? what is there and what is lacking? is there something you can see is missing? I will throw some ideas into the mix and see if anything sounds like it might be a go-er for you.
What about looking for TEFL clients further afield...maybe if you are willing to go to other villages and provide lessons in peoples homes...maybe doing group sessions? You say you are going to be doing B and B....what about providing lunches and evening meals as well? if you are a decent cook...what about once a week providing a scratch restaurant..(providing a set menu for as many folks as you can and ask for a donation of 20 euros a head...they bring their own wine..you avoid all the restrictions if you do this) How many b & b rooms do you have? could you offer add ons such as a 2 day wine tasting trip..you organise an itinerary for a couple of days...wine tasting at local vineyards... meals at restaurants and charge a fee including the B&B cost...even better if you can provide the transport.
What about offering to look after peoples holiday homes...checking them out weekly...for leaks etc. and getting them ready when people are coming out. People wanting to move to France...help find the properties they want, we all know how agents will take you to any old house they are trying to get shot of....you could narrow the choices for them and send them details..then run them around to look at properties when they come over and stay with you in your B&B.
What about offering holidays for rambler groups...work out good walks locally and you put them up and provide picnic lunches...and great suppers. Are you gardeners? If you have a great garden what about selling cuttings and plants you grow from seeds? have you thought about a market stall? if you have a talent or skill..one of my friends makes pretty material bits for the house...cushion covers, roll warmers, serviettes...her stall was so popular she featured in a UK magazine. What about running a home business...like selling Virgin Vie...from home at fetes etc? Hand made greetings cards? (the French ones are not great!)
Selling second hand stuff....especially if you are back and forth to the UK...and have a handy van...we are in the process of moving and all the 'stuff' we have....much of it came from junk shops and charity shops in the UK is selling here like mad....I am actually making money on tat bought in the UK! in France...most tat is described as antique and costs a fortune, so you can make a killing. Final idea...what about trying a second hand clothing emporium...run from home...a sort of exchange shop...popular in the UK..unknown in France...times are hard everywhere...so looking at recycling will be popular everywhere...some of the ideas...such as second hand clothes..hasnt really taken off in France...but there is always someone who does it first...
Hope something here helps or fires an idea...and every good luck in the future...if its what you want to make a life in France...I am sure you can make it work.