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Every week you'll find new stories, local and national events, comments, recipes and advice on this page. Click on the Archive button to see previous posts full of interesting information and links.

I Love My Town: Charroux

Victoria Lowkis // Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Tucked away in a valley where La Charente river flows gently through, you will find Charroux. This not-so-sleepy town is the Vienne’s best kept secret.

With its abbey ruins and grand tower standing tall in the centre and its ancient covered market place you can immediately feel the history. This is the site of many traditional festivities spanning the whole year through. Small shops, cafes and bars are scattered around.

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A lovely gesture

Katherine // Tuesday, 19 September 2017

 
Gavin and Katie Dimmick recently completed on the purchase of a beautiful French house.
They called in to the Jonzac office today with flowers and chocolates for Jacqui Reddin-Williams.
 
We love knowing that our job has been done well and that buyers and sellers are happy!
 
Thanks Gavin and Katie, much appreciated!
 

A survivor's tale

Julie Savill // Sunday, 03 September 2017

Forget the donkeys you see giving rides on the beach, they are mere miniatures compared to the majestic Baudet de Poitou.  With the males standing a minimum of 140cm high at the shoulder and with their coats forming dreadlocks that Bob Marley would have been proud of, this is probably a donkey like no other you have ever seen.  

Prized in France for their size, and crossed with horses to create massive mules for work, these gentle giants have had careers of their own working in the salt marshes of the Charente-Maritime. The sand flies would attack the legs of the donkeys so the owners clad them in canvas leggings to protect them.  The leggings have morphed over time into cute gingham 'pyjamas' that the baudets wear for fetes and photo opportunities. They don't appear to mind...

But it hasn't all been fancy clothes and smiles for the camera.  A census in 1977 discovered only 44 baudets in existence.  By 2005 that number had grown to 450 purebred Poitou donkeys and the recovery continues.

The owners of Beaux Villages, Rob and Lynn, recently adopted two baudets, a mother and son pair who arrived in style at their new home to join two other donkeys and share a peaceful life.  Mum, Perle, came out of the horsebox in one giant leap.  We think she's happy to have found her forever home...

See all our Charente-Maritime properties.

Small but perfectly formed

Julie Savill // Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Just when you think you know your area really well you round a corner and something previously unknown takes your breath away.  On a recent visit to see our team in Montmorillon, Vienne, we asked for their expert view on what to see in the vicinity.  As one they all said Mortemart.  We'd never even heard of it so we hopped in the car and, 40 minutes later, drove into this dreamy little town.

One of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France,  Mortemart is undeniably tiny but no less beautiful for its lack of size.  A stunning church, the duke's castle, a carmelite convent, a pretty square with cafe, ancient houses, overflowing window boxes and planters.  Those that live here evidently love it to bits.

And then there is the horse and cart, available to hire for a guided tour of the historical highlights of the town.

Don't expect to spend a whole day here, but do make time to drop in for a coffee if you are anywhere nearby.  

See all of our Haute-Vienne Properties

 

 

Party, party!

Janet Langman // Sunday, 20 August 2017

The south west of France, and particularly my little corner of the Béarn, is colourful at any time of year . It is in summer however when the fireworks start (literally). The south west is famous for its fêtes. Unlike the damp English carnivals, they last for days - usually over a long weekend - and include much music, dancing, eating and drinking.
The French are nothing if not practical and are also very law observing. It is an offence to be in a state of manifest drunkenness in the streets. This law is suspended locally during the fêtes period (otherwise from the Mairie down to the local mice, everyone would be in trouble).
It is an offence to drive whilst drunk, so "centres de repos " are set up and people can go and sleep it off. These normally contain heaps of red and white-clad men lying haphazardly and snoring horrifically. Why red and white? Because that is the colour of fêtes, white trousers and shirts, black kepi, red neckerchief and cummerbund.
The local fêtes are animated by "bandas". Bandas are a particularly south western phenomenon. Each town has its own banda with a mixture of old and young players . There is a drummer and a leader and the rest are made up of brass instruments.
The tunes that they play are very traditional, including Roll out the Barrel, which is enthusiastically taken up by everyone within roaring distance . To my ear, it sounds like they are all playing a slightly different tune. It is a sound which is at the same time raucous and cacophonous and joyful. It is the sound of the summer in the south west.

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Snacking with the seasons

Katherine O'Neill // Wednesday, 16 August 2017

One thing I have come to love, since living in rural SW France, is the seasonal availability of many fruits and vegetables.
I’m sure you can all google the benefits of eating seasonal fruit without me harping on about better taste, lower carbon footprint, or any other reason one could come up with. I just want to share my new-found appreciation.

Only now do I realise that I took for granted that I could buy most fruit and vegetables practically all year round. Despite often terrible and unpredictable weather -- I’m from the North of England -- ASDA and Sainsbury’s meant I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted.

The delightful array above is my summer fruit binge: peaches, apricots and, of course, the Quercy melon. This legendary melon, with its aromatic orange flesh, is a staple for many living here. While they are exported far and wide, they are cultivated just down the road from me.

And, my oh my, is Quercy melon just perfect out of the fridge on a hot summer’s day; cool, juicy flesh and, yes, it pairs excellently with a glass of rosé. They’re unique: you won’t find them tasting the way they do here. This, I’m told, is down to the very clay-lime soil being ideal for them, in particular for retaining moisture.

Would I appreciate these so much if they were available all year? Not likely. I didn’t often buy widely available melons, or apricots, back in England.
I see the tractors with their trailers loaded with produce and know I’m getting the freshest.

And then it’s all over. The weather cools, the beautiful autumnal tones start to appear; no more melons and apricots. But it’s OK -- It’s time for pumpkin soup.

See all of our properties in the Quercy region

 

 

Local products Part 2

Marion Beschet // Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Espadrilles have been made in Occitania region (France), in the Pyrennean regions of Basque country (France - Spain) and Catalonia (Spain), since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (France - Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles dates as far back as 4000 years ago[citation needed]. Traditional espadrilles have a canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by both men and women.

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Time to buy!

Alexis Goldberg // Wednesday, 09 August 2017

900,000 French properties were sold last year – a significant increase on the previous year. With prices rising again and low mortgage rates, we could be entering a boom time for the French property market.
According to the official register of French notaires there were over 900,000 sales of property in the last year. This is 10% higher than the same period last year when 824,000 sales were recorded and is in fact higher than was predicted. It is being put down to prices now being highly competitive and there being low French mortgage rates.

French mortgage lenders are now offering loans to non-resident buyers and this often makes far more sense than remortgaging your home in the UK. Many mortgage lenders have a service in English too as they take advantage of so many UK buyers still wishing to purchase property in France. Interest rates are low and as long as one takes into account currency fluctuations, a French mortgage may well be far more beneficial if you are buying in France this year. It is usually better to contact a specialist such as Smart Currency Exchange before applying for a mortgage.

It remains a buyer’s market in most parts of France, but prices are slowly increasing in many areas, notably around Bordeaux which may be largely due to the high speed rail link up to Paris. Other major cities are seeing price rises also such as Paris, Lille and Nimes in the south.
The general feeling, according to the Notaires de France, is that house prices will show a general increase of 1.2% by the end of August this year with apartment prices rising even faster.

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High flyers

Julie Savill // Wednesday, 09 August 2017

A hot air balloon glides by.
We shout to the occupants and we can believe they call back.
To discuss properties for sale with amazing sunsets, contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will team you up with your own dedicated property consultant.

Fancy doing your own fly-by?  Many companies offer 'mongolfière' flights

 

France - the Global Village

Alexis Goldberg // Wednesday, 09 August 2017

People from every corner of the world come to live in France. Our village is like a mini United Nations. The only difference is that we all get along!
We live in a fast-moving world and whereas a couple of generations ago many people may only have moved once or twice in a lifetime, these days it is so much easier and more common to move many times, and very often overseas.
The beauty of France is that so many different nationalities all live together, drawn by one thing, the beauty of France and what it has to offer in terms of culture, history and space. It is not only British people who want to come to live here.
We moved to the Languedoc over seven years ago and were surprised even then at how many expats we there were either living here full time or with second homes. In our relatively small village of a little over 2,000 people there are Americans, Canadians, Australians, Dutch, Belgian and German people as well as British. We have always found it refreshing and interesting to note how many people have, like us, fallen in love with the French way of life.

If you are looking to move to France and would like to settle in a community filled with Francophiles from all over the world, there are several parts of the country where foreigners are more likely to settle, our area of the Languedoc being one of them. You might want to look at the area around Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Normandy and Brittany are merely a hop, skip and a jump from the UK, so many of us settle there. There are also areas where more of us work, such as Paris, of course, but also Toulouse, centre of the French aerospace industry.

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Your turn...

Let your inner author loose!  If you have an experience to share about moving to, living in or simply visiting France then we'd like to hear about it.  Write a maximum of 300 words, attach a photo and we'll publish the best here.

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