Print Posted By Lost in France on 18 Apr 2010 in Real France - Expat Interviews

Living between Charente and the French Alps

Dave & Suzi Lynch moved to France in 2005 they spend the summer at their home in the Charente and the winters in the Haute Savoie where they run their own ski chalet business.

Alpine ChaletWhat made you move to France and how long have you lived here?
We bought our first house in France in the Charente in 2001, and tried our hand at various things to try and make a living over here, but we had to return to Ireland as we just couldn't make ends meet.

In 2005, having re-joined the rat-race and working in "normal jobs" we came up with the idea of running a catered ski chalet business in The Alps, as we loved France and skiing. We also wanted time free in the summer to travel and enjoy our life in France. It seemed like the perfect solution, so we rented out our house and bit the bullet.

Which part of France do you live in, and what's it like to live there?
We live in the Alps in the Winter in the Haute Savoie region and the Charente for the summer.

For the Winter we live in a tourist resort, which is kind of an unreal world, as everyone is on holidays and having a great time, but it is an amazingly beautiful place.

The Charente is the complete opposite - quite and rural and not full of tourists. We love the contrast between the 2 places, and really enjoy the peace and beautiful countryside.

Open quote. Interviewee gives their moving to France tips Don't listen to a word they say on those TV programmes! Close quote

What is your age?
45 - 47 years.

Where were you born?
Dave in England & Susan in Germany but we are Irish.

Do you work, if so what do you do and how difficult was it to find work or start a business in France?
We started our own catered chalet business, after working for a ski chalet company managing a luxury chalet for them, and thought "hey we can do this for ourselves" so now we look after up to 14 guests per week, taking care of all aspects of their skiing holiday and providing breakfast, afternoon tea and 4 course evening meal daily. We also guide them around the mountains to show them the best runs and restaurants, and most weeks end up having a bit of a party with them when Dave brings out the guitar.

We have found a good Accountant who speaks English and basically hand him all the paperwork, as there is a mountain of red tape. it does cost us, but its worth paying him for the stress is saves us. The tax / red tape is mind boggling, even though we don't actually employ anyone, we keep getting all kids of different tax letters from different departments.

This is now our fifth year running the chalet, and we have finally secured a great new luxury property in the village that has a 10 seater hot tub for the next couple of years, so we are really confident that it will keep working well for us. All of our landlords have been English, but there are so many people looking to do as we are, it's really hard to get a good chalet at a fair price, as there are so many large operators out whom we are competing against.

What was the worst mistake you made when buying in France?
When we look back, we really bought our first house blind. We had only viewed it twice, Dave wasn't really happy with it, but we decided to just go for it. It all turned out all right, even though we didn't understand the process, so no real problems there.

Your best tip or advice to other people considering moving to France?
Learn as much French as you can !! Be realistic. Many people holiday in France and think they can base their lives on experiences they have had for a few weeks, but living in any foreign country can be hard, especially when family are far away.

Don't listen to a word they say on those TV programmes!

Did you find it hard to integrate or adjust to your new life in France and do you have any tips to help others?
It really helps to speak French, and though it can be hard to meet with your neighbours you really do have to make an effort to be friendly. try and get to the local cafe and just sit and listen to the locals and maybe try and get involved in a conversation.

What's the best thing about living in France?
Skiing, outdoor life, not having to face the commute to the office each day, the food, the people, the weather.

And the worst?
Being away from your loved ones and red-tape.

What do you think?

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