Print Posted By Lost in France on 1 Feb 2008 in Real France - Expat Interviews

A Vineyard and Gite in the Dordogne

Robin and his family moved to France 3 years ago to start a new life and business running a vineyard and gîte in the Dordogne.

VillefrancheWhat made you move to France?
We moved here in March 2005. We originally came on holiday to visit my mother who lived out here. She had been looking around at different properties and stumbled across a vineyard for sale - the Domaine De Beauregard.

We went and saw the property with her and after talking a while with the owner decided that it was something that we could do. I was not happy with my job back in England so we eventually said to ourselves "If we don't do this then in a few years time we'll be asking ourselves "what if?" so lets find out"

Which part of France do you live in?
We live in Villefranche de Lonchat in the Dordogne. It such a beautiful area with vines everywhere and lots of woodland. Our French neighbours have been fantastic and have really helped us out as well as make us fell welcome.

Do you have children, if so how easy was it for them to adjust to a French school?
Our daughter was 2 when we first moved here and so got into school life very quickly. She is quickly learning French but we're not sure how much she speaks as she won't speak a word with us. Our son who is almost 2 was born out here.

It is so important to know the language if you want to fit into the community.

What is your age?
I'm 37.

Where were you born?

Do you work, if so what do you do and how difficult was it to find work or start a business in France?
We own a vineyard and gite. We had a French lad working for us and he taught us a great deal but I am always learning. We've gone Organic so we are learning again. It's been quite a struggle on the sales side but are sales figures are on an upslope and we just aim to sell more and more each year. The paper work side of things is difficult but we have an English speaking accountant that helps us out when the French is a bit beyond us.

What was the worst mistake you made when buying in France?
We rushed into the purchase a bit too quickly and when we arrived here we sat back and just learned as much as we could rather than through ourselves into the marketing side of the business. I would do things differently if I had to do it again but it's easy to say that now. At the time we were learning so much that and though the sales would come easily later on.

Your best advice for people considering moving to France?
It's important to learn the language. We had learned French at school and took a few lessons before we made the move so had good basics but it is so important to know the language if you want to fit into the community.

Did you find it hard to integrate or adjust to your new life in France and do you have any tips to help others?
We never found it hard to adjust. The only thing that still gets me is that the majority of shops close at lunch time but you soon get used to that. I can be annoying at times when you are in the middle of a repair job and need a part but that's the way it is.

What's the best thing about living in France?
We lived just south of London before and the traffic and built up area's were really starting to get me down. Here we have so much space and it is so peaceful. I hope it doesn't change.

And the worst?
The worst thing for me is not being able to fully understand what people are saying to me all the time. I can get by but there are occasions where I find the language a real problem.

You can learn more about Robin and his family at their website


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