We’re here! Enfin en France! The year 2020 affected everyone negatively one way or another and we were no exceptions. But we had long since made our decision; we were moving to start a new life in France and nothing was going to stop us. Not covid, not the ‘B’ word, not a stuttering property market or a catalogue of false starts and frustrating delays. We had properties to sell, jobs to leave, friends and family to leave behind and a house in France to buy. Even if it wasn’t 2020 that would never have been a breeze, but put the catastrophic events that the year has brought us into the mix and well… literally until the moment we took our first joyful steps through the front door of our new house in Rochechouart, the endless doubts and worries remained.
Border controls, restrictions, attestations, notaires and the ever-present risk of not following UK and French government guidelines to the letter were our primary concern during our two-day trip from Edinburgh to Rochechouart. That and a new car visually bulging and straining under the weight of all we could squeeze into it and the newly acquired roof box. See, we were expecting to come back to our old Edinburgh home for the festive season, to spend time with our beautiful family and reload the car with another two tons of stuff. But after three weeks here, as lockdown was lifting in France it was set to be reintroduced in the UK, so that was the latest plan to be scuppered by covid. But, we were here.
A move to France may seem like a strange decision considering we were working for Shelter doing a job that brought us huge satisfaction, and were living in Edinburgh, a city almost unrivalled in its richness, and close to family we love. But we wanted a change of lifestyle. A warmer climate and a life spent more outdoors amongst a green landscape and natural beauty. We wanted an opportunity to embrace French culture and explore everything the country has to offer. We want to make new friends, enjoy new cuisine, learn a new language, enjoy endless new walks and trails with our wee dog, Pepper, and live in a house that offers views that we feel blessed to wake up to. Our need to earn money still very much exists but our nine to five (six) existence is to be replaced by a life as gite hosts and sellers of French curios and objets d’art. Both things are works in progress and both hugely exciting.
We took two years of house hunting to find our new home in Rochechouart, but now we are here we’re glad we took our time. Yes, the ‘B’ word transition period was looming ominously, but we wanted to find exactly the right house, town and region. We got it right. Despite arriving as winter was setting in, the beauty of Rochechouart and its surroundings was everything we had hoped for. We have everything we need within minutes of our new home and here the town’s vast history is matched by its sense of community and bonhomie. We are resigned to earning very little for at least six months and to have the joys of discovery dampened by the ongoing covid restrictions, but now we are here we are in no doubt we’ve made the right choice.
There’s plenty of lovely administrative duties to be taken care of – we’ve found a spirited French translator to help us with the bits that are beyond us – and the next few months will be spent searching for a second property and scouring auctions, flea markets and garage sales to find some French antiques and curios. Pepper seems to love her new daily walks as much as we do, finding new paths, new trails, new vistas and endless new sniffs. As we see in 2021 we do have a touch of sadness about what we have left behind, but more than anything we feel a huge sense of excitement about what lies ahead. The ‘B’ word is a stain on the UK and covid continues to challenge everyone, but once the masks are off and our freedom of movement is restored, we’re overjoyed to be in a country that celebrates cultural diversity and offers a stunning landscape of opportunity.