Testing the Waters

Hi Andy - thanks for the welcome, sounds like you had an easy ride over :)

David thank you for your kind welcome and encouraging insights.

I suppose the reason we focus on the weather so much before moving as because France has ticked all the other boxes for us :)

Just one left...

Hear you loud and clear Andrew :)

Welcome to SFN, Elaine!

A lot of interesting and useful coments on here already regarding the weather - but don't ingnore other factors that can be very important once you have been here for a while. Apart from the farily obvious ones, such as 'how far is it to the nearest supermarket', you do need to consider such aspects as cultural activities. Living in a warm, relatively dry area with lovely views is one thing - but if it is a 90 minute drive to the nearest cinema, concert venue etc, then you may find (if that is your scene) that things are not quite so rosy.

Even at the local level (ie the local French) things vary considerably. Someone has already marked up the '5km away is foreign parts' theme - and it is very true in some areas. If you enjoy stimulating quasi-intellectual conversation, then be careful - our local French are absolutely charming, but have no conversational topics beyond farming and the weather (a bit like Cumbria!). You may then find yourselves reliant on the ex-pat community for this aspect - but of course SFN is always there (thank heavens) to provide some stimulation!

At which point - I add my thanks to all on SFN whose contributionsto discussions over the past couple of weeks have pulled me through a period of depression!

Hello Elaine - Before I moved to France I did a lot of research as climate was a consideration for me too and knowing about the winds I wanted to avoid the notorious ones.

'Living and Working in France' by David Hampshire, (I think), is a brilliant book and has information on landscape, climate, crime levels etc. I found it invaluable to complement my holiday knowledge of France.

I started off in Lot et Garonne (47) then moved to Charente-Maritime (17). As always there are pros and cons for every region. LeG is hillier therefore some spectacular scenery but it is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter than where I am now. The more temperate regoin suits me better but the triangle between roughly Rochefort, (on the coast), Cognacish and Bordeaux is second for amount of sun only to the South of France and I'm right in the middle of that. Hooray!

Driving is an absolute pleasure here because the contours are more gentle, though it's better than the UK wherever one is in France!

Good luck!

can heartily agree with Zoe on this one......you will get weather wherever you land! This summer has been a real mare....in the Southern Dordogne where I live...a 10 minute walk across the border into the Lot...its usually very warm by May...and hot all the way through till October....this year its been all over the place...last week 33 - 37....this week 22 - 28.....yesterday we had a hot one...went out to a restau for dinner..sat outside with friends till midnight and it was still 19...then at 4am..a storm and today its April...20, dull and drizzly...

Weather all over unpredictable these days...but go for the nearest type of weather to suit you...then try different towns/villages etc till you find the right one for you...

Hi, Elaine, welcome aboard.

My first question is why those particular areas, and have you other areas in mind. I live in Haute Savoie (the 74), it gets pretty hot in summer, pretty cold in winter, and in between, yes, it rains a little.

I love having seasons, being Irish also, I was sick of the rain, and having spent a quite a bit of time in Australia, New Zealand, and pacific islands like Vanuatu, and Fiji, I was also a little tired of constant sunshine, and humidity.

everyone in the area works "winter season", and "summer season", and in between, everyone is on holiday, pretty much. That's why I love it here, and having done Hotel management, I quickly found work.

the weather is a tough one, because, well, it rains almost everywhere,Today, it's 30 degrees here, when yesterday, it absolutely lashed rain all day. honestly though, I prefer it here than somewhere constantly hot, and humid, where there is no winter. Also, even in the hot humid places, it rains, they get quite big thunderstorms, but, hot rain, I seem to love, lol.

Couldnt agree more with James...or is it Jim? above....advice that is good for everyone moving to France...my own opinion is that you need to rent for a year...no less...to be absolutely sure...too many people spend a lifetime planning the move then loose the rose coloured specs after a a few months. And try different areas... the forecast for French property at the moment is that it could fall by as much as 40% over the next 18 months, and most of us aware in our area that nothing is moving...everyone scared by whats happening with the Euro and Europe in general. The Brits scared of plunging money into Euro land and getting their fingers burnt. So be wise...rent in an area or three till you find exactly what you want....then you wont be making an error you cant erase.

Hi Elaine,

Welcome to SFN! OH and I are also a “mixed” couple, me being the German and Brian the English one :wink: And just like you, our families are spread all over the globe, Germany, UK and the US.

We are fairly new on here too, having only just done what you are planning to do. We sold our house in the UK at the beginning of this year, and moved lock, stock and barrel to the Hautes Pyrenees in February, only to arrive to the coldest winter they have ever had here, water in our rented Gite was frozen, toilet cistern one solid block of ice!!! Great start :wink: As already mentioned by others, the weather here this year hasn’t been exactly stunning, but everybody here keeps saying, this is really exceptional, so there’s hope for the rest of the summer and autumn :slight_smile: Local friends have told us that autumn is usually nice, dry and mild, sometimes right until beginning of November, look forward to that! :slight_smile:

We have always had a loose plan to move to France (thought about it on and off for the last 10 years or so), and had looked at various different areas in France, such as Limousin and Charente, but in the end decided on the Pyrenees. Mainly because of the great landscape for cycling (we are both road cyclists, Brian being the really serious one, even doing the Etape this year!), good climate with proper seasons but really decent summers, almost equal distance to both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coast, good transport links, and the locals we have met so far have all been wonderful, helpful and very friendly, so I can only confirm what Andy McNee has said. And as we are not old enough to retire yet (although we sometimes feel it, lol), we had to come up with some way of earning a living, have decided to try running a B&B/Chambre d’Hotes/Gites for cyclists, offering guided rides into the Pyrenees as well, keep fingers crossed it’ll work out ok :slight_smile:

Just like others on here, I would also recommend renting for a while, even once you have decided on a department/region, it really pays to live in a rental place for a while to explore the area more and then start looking for properties to buy. We are certainly glad that we did, we had a rough idea of where we wanted to be in the Pyrenees from trips last year, but living here since February has been a great experience and has been very educational, it has given us a much better idea than any holiday could have done about where we really want to be (and need to be from a buisness point of view!) and what kind of house we’d like to live in. We viewed about 35 properties in different areas of the Pyrenees and have now bought a place just over the border from the Hautes Pyrenees, in the Haute Garonne region, small village near Montrejeau, only half an hour cycling to some of the great Cols, but situated in rolling hills with a great view of the Pyrenees, half an hour by car from Spain and some of the ski slopes, we hope we have found the best place for us and for what we are trying to achieve.

I wish you good luck with your own move, just like everybody else on here I’d be happy to help or just listen :slight_smile: Bon courage!

Elaine, since this is your first move to France, it would be smart to rent for a while to avoid making a big mistake in sinking your fortune into a place you come to regret. The taxes (Frais de Notaires) associated with buying a house in France are outrageous and selling houses, if you wanted to move again, is very difficult in this economy. I imagine the housing market here is exactly like Ireland. Many sellers, few buyers, tight credit conditions, etc. With a rental, you can give a 3 month notice and move on to some place else if you find one more agreeable. I have a friend who lives near the Med and he says the climate is moderated there by the sea. Jim Kearney, Irish-American whose father was Irish from Newport, County Mayo.

Hi. I have a home in Lamalou les Bains, which is a spa town in the Haut Languedoc National Park in Herault. The surrounding area is very green but still has the benefit of a very mediterranean climate with very warm long summers. It does still have cold winters and sometimes heavy spring showers. From our experience of the climate when we are here, and as a general rule anything south of Magalas is normally a few degrees hotter. Indeed one summer we were experiencing 28 degrees in Lamalou but it had soared to 36+ when we arrived in Beziers (only a 30 minute journey by car). We did not notice the difference until we got out of the car at the supermarket and nearly melted! For us the mix of hot days with cooler evenings and gentle breezes is perfect. That said 15 mins north and they have heavy snow and heavier rains in the winter - but on the plus side the area is one of outstanding beauty. We have the river beaches of the Orb on our doorstep and a reasonable drive to the sandy Med beaches (35-45 mins) if we fancy it. There are a lot of walking routes, horseriding and outdoor pursuits if that takes your fancy. We picked Lamalou as we just wanted an older property that was within easy access of services and entertainment as we planned to use it as a holiday home only at the time. It still suits us as we have young children who will attend the local school and enjoy having a Lido in the summer and lots of events being run for the tourists/curists.

Prices are generally much higher the closer you get to Beziers, Montpellier or Narbonne. It depends on the sort of property you are looking for but you get a lot more for your money as you go out towards the Orb Valley or the Aude. 1st for French Properties is owned by a chap called Freddy Rueda and he tends to deal with most of the local agents based in these areas. His website is in English as well as French.

Hope this helps - I will be moving to France from August so I will be joining you in a new adventure!

Hi Elaine and welcome,

As Andrew suggests, the Limoux area is lovely...not only that they produce the original forerunner of Champagne...but at a far more user friendly price! its also not so far to travel to the Languedoc coastline, which is stunning, has lots of different and wonderful towns along its length and is by and large pretty hot, if windy in the summer.

Wishing you all happiness in France....and a good time on SFN!

Bienvenue a SFN,

I ended up in the Haute Pyrenees because a friend bought a house 20 years ago just over the border in the Gers, I helped him renovate his house over next ten years, visiting most years for a holiday. Before buying his house he had spent years worth of annual holidays touring France looking for a place to retire. So he did in fact do all the ground work for me so in 2000 we bought one ourselves. The climate is agreeable and the locals are some of the nicest people i have ever met in France.

Hi Elaine,

Welcome from me also - I am a much more occasional visitor than some of the folk on here but all the same, Barbara said it above. You can be yourself. On another forum I regularly get deleted because I mention I am an IT Professional. It is advertising apparently! Even when I get involved with helping people get their WiFi working or some such - clearly if I want to tout for business, I mail them directly and thank goodness, I actually have more than I can handle anyway hence I am on here once in a blue moon. However, welcome from me...

The weather. It's our favourite subject isn't it. I think there is some genetic code to have this interest and we inherit it from our parents. I haven't been here anywhere as long as some people - coming up on 8 years now - but I can tell you overall it is cold in winter, gets wet in spring and nice in the summer. But, the devil is in the detail and I think no two years have been the same since we have been here. My abiding memory is of our first winter. Freezing cold but crystal clear blue skies, sunshine and everything covered in hoare frost. This went on for a week or so. Truly stunning. But whatever happens, they will carry me out of here in a box. I don't plan on moving again.

parts of Italy and Spain are wetter and windier than where you're looking in France. Best advice is to study the statistics and don't go on one off visits ;-)

Very wavy so far Brian!

I think it may be a case of - check as many boxes as possible. It seems we cannot have it all :-/ but I will keep searching and asking and learning

Hi Shirley,

Thank you so much for the warm welcome. Merci beaucoup!!

Now I am slightly scared. We are seriously considering Mirepoix and south of it as an option. That wind sounds awful. I really don't wish to replace our constant rain here in Ireland with some other extreme!!

Just googled Port Leceute - you are right in windy corridor there no? We did stay a week near Albi last year and it was beautiful - we loved the Montagne Noir, but experienced a lot of rain there last year (further down near Mazamet - big no-no for us.

Thanks for the tips :)

LOL I said 2009 and 2010 earlier, I meant 2010 and 2011. 2010 was ith the bike and I got really ill from the constsant cold and rain (we even missed an opportunity to drive over the Millau Viaduct we were so miserable. That's what helped us realise when it rains in the mountains (Massive Central) it can be just like home.

Last year was the Montagne Noir and the Pyrenees. The rain was so bad one day we had to drive (in rental car) off the motorway, heading from Toulouse to the coast. We ended up in Andorra that day!! And it was sunny.

So we are not misguided as to "sunny days forever in France", and still need some seasons (otherwise we would consider Spain / Italy). We also know that you need rain for green, and I need trees around me.

So it looks like the search continues :) [btw - I could have told your wife that you were lying about going slow haha] I have only a 125 for now and will upgrade when we move to bonne France :)

Elaine, has anybody asked yet? No. Well how do the waters look having tested?

Hi Elaine the summer of 2011 wasnt much better here in Mazamet in the Montagne Noire it didnt really start until end of July then went on until end of October friends came over and couldnt believe we had 36 deg during that month but boy o boy did we get a cold winter i have toured all over France on the bike met my wife and she came with me i promised always to go slow, sorry to say i lied, lots of Brit bikers around this area so far this year we have had =15 and below in Feb june we have had 38 so looking good so far but its green and very much a forest area so we do get rain from time to time, each area suits different people its a case of search until you find the place for you