Life through a lens.
We are Ian (60), Jane (53) and Marmite the dog and this is our blog. That’s honestly nearly the end of the rhymes but this is the story of our French times.
Our journey to French residency started on a whim. Back in June 2015, Jane was at work and attending an AGM. The most exciting business to emerge was without a doubt that of the man sitting next to her who digressed from the procurement agenda and told her all about his holiday home in Haute-Vienne.
Three days later, we’d cancelled our pre-booked holiday in Scotland and were heading to the shores of Lac de St Pardoux. The sun shone, the lake was blue, and the countryside was endless. We were in love. Despite holidaying in France for years with our children, then aged 20 and 18, we’d never before visited this area. Like many others, we’d driven straight past to the likes of the more touristy Dordogne, Auvergne and Provence. Top tip- the Limousin, and especially Haute Vienne, is one of Frances’s best kept secrets.
Exactly a year later, after viewing countless houses during a total of three trips, we completed on the purchase of Le Pont de la Bergère, a charming converted former pump house in an idyllic riverside setting on the banks of the River Semme. It ticked a lot of our boxes; within budget, wood fire, rural, near water and ten minutes walk to a village with two bakeries, a bank, a post office and civilisation. Not all criteria were met; Jane fretted about where the children would sleep; whether the massive chimney would fall down and whether the house would flood. Ian correctly pointed out that the kids were both on the brink of independence, that the chimney had stood for over a hundred years, that the house was elevated way above the river.
Our purchase was due to complete on 27th June 2016. By a twist of fate, we travelled over in the early hours of 24th June 2016. There was only one item on the news. Brexit and the Referendum. The U.K. had voted to leave the European Union. We’d naively been confident that this wouldn’t happen, and it appeared devastating to our future plans. That said, nothing could dissipate the joy we felt as we collected our keys.
We limped along for five years visiting the house, and falling more in love each time we stayed. In 2020, it became clear that a move to France had to be now or never. In order to benefit from the Withdrawal Agreement, and its generous provisions re health care and income requirements, we needed to move now if we were ever to realise our original dream of retiring to our little pump house. But was it the right thing for us at the right time? We were both still some years off state retirement age, we had family ties, and there were all sorts of reasons not to do it.
Following a miserable Covid lock down in the U.K., however, the appeal of the warm Limousin summer climate, our large garden, rosé wine and French cheese proved irresistible. Our minds were made up. We were moving and we were applying for residency. Several months later, we are confident we’ve done the right thing.