We live in the Poitou Charentes region, in a hamlet near Bouresse, a small village about 10 miles from the nearest town. This is true rural France with fields of sunflowers and gently grazing cattle. There are oak forests, rolling countryside and our favourite day out is hiring kayaks on the river Vienne; mostly gentle paddling, but some of the rapids are truly exhilarating.
Old men really do cycle along slowly with a baguette on the bike rack and everybody’s vegetable garden is bursting with the season’s produce. The markets too are laden with excellent locally-produced food at reasonable prices.
We adore the architecture of the area, particularly the medieval heart of Chauvigny where there is also a bustling weekly market and a spectacular demonstration of falconry at the Birds of Prey centre. The wild birds here are fascinating too - we have buzzards, hoopoes and redstarts among our most regular garden visitors.
One of the big attractions of the Vienne is the monthly market at Les Hérolles. This is the largest open air market in France, selling everything from live poultry to furniture to tractors as well as the more usual fruit, vegetables, patisserie and meat. It’s a wonderful day out and who knows, you could even find yourself coming home with some goats, sheep or even a lama. (6 point-of-lay chickens in our case).
We’re only half an hour from Poitiers, with its excellent airport, Futuroscope theme park, boutiques, department stores and hypermarkets. Paris is only 90 minutes by TGV from Poitiers, so many of our visitors travel from the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, one quick change at Lille and straight to Poitiers without any airport queues. We are half a day’s drive from the western channel ports.
We met in 1987 at a railway station in the Poitou-Charentes region, when working for a holiday company near La Rochelle. Not quite the era of steam trains, but still very romantic. We always promised ourselves that we would return here to live one day... In the intervening twenty years we worked in the UK and got caught up in the rat race.
Our dream of the good life in France was always there, but always “tomorrow”. With four young children, and both of us working, there was always something more pressing to arrange. We suddenly realised we had to make the move before GCSE coursework took over our children’s lives or we’d be stuck for another 15 years until all their schooling was completed. So we decided to jump, sold our house, packed up our belongings and started our adventure.
Now – we have a lovely house with a huge garden, no mortgage; most of what we eat is produced by us or very locally; we have chickens and ducks, grow our own vegetables and have time to spend with our children. The summers here are long and hot, and we spend summer days nonchalantly bicycling along deserted country lanes between the sunflowers or swimming in the local lake.
We received the most amazing and touching welcome from our local community. We all have close friends here, despite the children being able to say no more than bonjour when we first arrived – they are now completely fluent. They also noticed the difference in school dinners. Four courses here, much of it from the school’s own vegetable patch, planted and tended by the cook and the children themselves. Our boys play for village football teams and our girls take dancing classes and go riding.
It’s family life and the local community that are important here; there is no hunger for money or status symbols, although the neighbours will always take a lively interest in your tomatoes!
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50755 M2 land
Region: Poitou Charentes
26955 M2 land
1080 M2 land
622 M2 land
274 M2 land
695 M2 land