I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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Permies in France, looking for advice, experiences, suggestions and Things Not To Do.  RSS feed

 
Rus Williams
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We are intending to buy a property in france, probably near Besancon and over the next 5+ years transition it to a permaculture demonstration site/ bolthole during the zombie apocalypse/ working holiday destination.
I would really appreciate any information that anyone has about what to do, what not to do and anything you think I would benefit from knowing.

I'm also sharpening up my Google-Fu as we speak, so I'm not asking anyone to do any hard yards for me, just what you know from a permaculture/ agriculture perspective.
For instance, another family are interested in joining, so does anyone have experience with how the French system deal with multiple ownership? Can you build on agriculture land (don't think so from the little that I've read), can you agriculture on building land?

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Rus


 
Miles Flansburg
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Hello Rus, hopefully David will have time to offer his view.

http://www.permies.com/t/31583/projects/Permie-Pennies-France
 
Danielle Diver
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Hey! Have you had any luck in your research? I know there are loads of English folks buying up country land, sometimes as individuals and sometimes in groups. I could prrrooobably find a friend of a friend that could help and we some questions OR there are free regional magazines for English residences that advertise group meetings and even services exactly like you are seeking. So I can't answer your questions directly, but if you'd like, I could try and help guide you towards someone who can.
 
lil hodgins
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Hi Rus and welcome to france ...i am over in the south west , though i have been to Besancon years ago...youwill be up high there ? hope everything works out for you !
 
Rus Williams
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Danielle Diver wrote:I know there are loads of English folks buying up country land, sometimes as individuals and sometimes in groups.
I could prrrooobably find a friend of a friend that could help and we some questions OR there are free regional magazines for English residences that advertise group meetings and even services exactly like you are seeking. So I can't answer your questions directly, but if you'd like, I could try and help guide you towards someone who can.


I'd really, REALLY like some or any information that you can dig out about groups or magazines. I really like the idea of living in the same area as other permaculture folks. The language at the moment is the big issue for me to be able to find local information, so expat groups seemed to be one way to start.
Thanks for taking the time to reply!
 
Rus Williams
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lil hodgins wrote:Hi Rus and welcome to france ...i am over in the south west , though i have been to Besancon years ago...youwill be up high there ? hope everything works out for you !


Hi lil,
We're not there yet, but the plan is in motion. I think it'll be 18-24 months before we can buy something. Besancon seemed to be a good bet at the beginning but many things look good about the Limoges area. It's really hard look at a country on a map and make decisions on where to go, so I'm about as curious as can be about anybodies story! I'm british originally and my wife is dutch. We spent 6 years in New Zealand so we've got experience with being an expat.

How do you find your area to live, how did you choose it and how's it going?
 
David Livingston
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Hi Russ
I have lived in France for over six years now and love the place the people climate the space ... The govt and complicatred tax system plus paperwork not so much
I dont know the area you are looking at but in my experiance keeping away from the big town and above all Paris is a winner . France is full of wonderful properties and they love there food ( wine is also available ) . Have you guys kids ? as there are hundereds of villages crying out for children to keep the schools going where you will be welcomed with open arms. How is your french ?mine is terrable but I keep smiling and trying and folks like that. Yes there are some grumps but where in the world are they not ?
Joint ownership is not a problem as I know quite a few properties like that . What exactly are you going to live on ? Growing stuff fine but once you try to sell stuff life becomes so much more difficult involving paper work by the tonne . plus health and saftey stuff so beware ...yet ... in the country in the little places folks dont seem to give a toss frankly Here in Anjou at our local market there are a row of mostly elderly locals who sell there garden stuff and no one seems to care at all whilst when I lived in a big town you never saw stuff like that .

David
 
lil hodgins
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Hi Rus, that is the question where to settle? it's not easy one when you come to a country the size of france. weather for me is a huge issue, that will dictate a lot of what and when you can sow food. Too high and you have snow from december to april, get inone of those windy areas, e.g le mistral as one example and it will drive you nuts......Too far north and you might as well stay in britian or ireland without the language hassle. luckily you have the intenet and you can do a lot of research, going by average temps. really doesn't mean much, if you get it all in 1 or 2downpours and zilch then for the rest of the year....i like growing peaches, grapes etc. so i am south of bordeaux, they grow easily, literally wherever you stick them. climate change is noticeable here in france since i have come and some places get floods, very strong winds, heavy dumps of snow etc. the alps get a lot of tourists, do you like that?, i spend time down in the pyrenees and some valleys get very busy , pollution is an issue in some parts of france, so i am sure there is a map on that somewhere. good luck and feel free to ask any questions !
 
Francesco Delvillani
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A real good zone of France is the South-est...on the Italian frontier....The French Riviera is one of the warmest place of France, here you can grow Avocado, Citrus and much more...as well as Peach, Vitis and Olive
 
Rus Williams
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David Livingston wrote:Hi Russ
France is full of wonderful properties and they love there food ( wine is also available ) Have you guys kids ? as there are hundereds of villages crying out for children to keep the schools going where you will be welcomed with open arms. How is your french ?mine is terrable but I keep smiling and trying and folks like that. Yes there are some grumps but where in the world are they not ?
Joint ownership is not a problem as I know quite a few properties like that . What exactly are you going to live on ? Growing stuff fine but once you try to sell stuff life becomes so much more difficult involving paper work by the tonne . plus health and saftey stuff so beware ...yet ... in the country in the little places folks dont seem to give a toss frankly Here in Anjou at our local market there are a row of mostly elderly locals who sell there garden stuff and no one seems to care at all whilst when I lived in a big town you never saw stuff like that .
David


Thanks for the reply David,
Food and wine. Check.

We do have small kids actually. That's quite an interesting thing you've said there.

French can't be harder than learning Dutch, (which I'm beginning to believe consists of many, many long plateaus interspersed with tiny, occasional, incremental improvements) Also I had several years of it at school and was apparently pretty ok at it. I'm going to file this one under wishful thinking (probably requires serious work)

Joint ownership is only one way things could go, although it's nice to know it's possible, even quite straightforward(ish) from what I've read.

Growing and selling is not really the model we're going to go on, my business will provide a way to earn over the internet if I can get it over the bump in the road. I'd like to farm but as a farm share type arangement, to be honest I'd like to move to a village with a bunch of other permies and locals and live around each other, investing time or money in businesses as appropriate, shoving as much money back into the local economy as possible. It's a big dream but not impossible.




 
Rus Williams
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lil hodgins wrote:Hi Rus, that is the question where to settle?
climate change is noticeable here in france since i have come and some places get floods, very strong winds, heavy dumps of snow etc.


Climate change is indeed the driver for us moving. The Netherlands is not sustainable in the long term, (50 years or more) too many people, too little land, too vulnerable to sea level changes. I was pushed into thinking what the world would be like for my children's children and decided that the thing to do would be to set up a permaculture system in a place that seemed to be more resilient than where I currently am. I get two goals aligning nicely, planning for a murky, potentially challenging future and enjoying and developing my understanding and practice of permaculture.

For that reason I'd like to be west rather than east due to having more of a maritime influence on the climate and halfway down is enough of a bump into a warmer system than I currently have, without going too into the Mediterranean climate, which is only going to become more extreme.
 
Corrie Snell
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Hello, Rus, and all other Permies in France!

My name is Corrie, and my husband and I are working on a very similar plan. We are currently living in Morocco, where Jeremy will be working for the next couple of years at least. We have a 2-3 year timeline to work through before our goal of purchasing our FINAL property is feasible. I am a total "francophile," and have always wondered in the back of my mind whether or not living there permanantly could be the thing for us. So, I plan to live in SW France (our favorite area) for 5-6 months out of each of the next two years. I have rented a small loft apartment in a hamlet on 40 acres near Gaillac, and take occupancy in November. My goals are: mastering the language (I already have a very strong base), finding and connecting with other Permies in the area, and figuring out if I want to live permanently in the French countryside, or just continue vacationing there.

I would love to stay in contact, Rus, as we both do our research, to share nuggets of wisdom learned along the way, and then once these dreams become realities, we can share seeds-n-stuff!

I do wonder why you left New Zealand, though, and why you don't consider it as the place you want to do this.
 
David Livingston
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Rus
I dont own my own property I rent . Check out Le Boncoin and prepare to move fast . I would also avoid the coast and any tourist "hot" spots

For Instance this place may interest you for a start http://www.leboncoin.fr/locations/860353677.htm?ca=18_s
Pity you are not round here I could do with some help in return for produce shared

David
 
Irene Kightley
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Rus,

I'm Scottish from the UK but chose to settle in France after travelling, working woofing, teaching and meeting people in New Zealand and some Pacific islands, then the USA then finally I spent more time staying in different parts of France - which I already knew quite well as I spent a lot of time here when I was a student.

It probably took me two years to finally choose the right spot where I could have enough of the right things I considered important.

I've lived in SW France (Like Corrie my favourite place in France !), near Bergerac for 25 years and over that time, my French husband Fabrice and I have created La Ferme de Sourrou, which, to be absolutely honest, is a dream come true.

David's right, the administration and paperwork will drive you mad but at least it works once you understand it.

What sort of place are you looking for ?
 
Irene Kightley
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Oh, and to answer the questions you posed in your first post :
how the French system deal with multiple ownership? Can you build on agriculture land (don't think so from the little that I've read), can you agriculture on building land?

Multiple ownership is usually done by creating an SCI (Société Civile Immobilière) which consists of society with shares and the decision about how those shares or parts are worked for or paid for or even given, is up to the partners in the SCI. You decide your own conditions and work out solutions for "worst case" scenarios then find a lawyer (Notaire) who will draw up a contract for the partners. Shares can be sold and bought in the way decided by the partnership and all sorts of other clauses can be written into the contract. We have an SCI for some land we own (Possibly for a joint project) and it's not too difficult to set up.

Yes, you can build on agricultural land. We did when 50 acres of land came up for sale next to our little plot and because I was already a registered farmer, I had the right to build a farmhouse on it.

The use of land can be changed, it depends on the laws passed which change the way communes (villages) can designate land for different uses. They are called the POS (Plan d'Occupation des Sols) or the Plans locaux d'urbanisme (PLU) http://static.reseaudescommunes.fr/cities/305/documents/xjibzccymlzmxyo.pdf

Go to the local marie where you'd like to buy land, the mayor will tell you what you can and can't do. Normally, if you've lived long enough in a village, or have family or friends in the village, or even if the village just want new people (Especially with kids to keep local schools open) then you can ask to be considered as someone who is interested in building a house and a farmer or someone with some spare land may be prepared to sell you a plot with outline planning permission.

You can also farm on building land (That depends on a lot of factors including the type of farm you will have) but you'll pay a lot of taxes on the land because the land is more valuable for building than for farming. In France, the taxes you pay on your land depend on what you could do with the land and its classification, not what you do do with it. (Like having a car that you don't use as a taxi but you could, so you're taxed as a taxi driver, if you see what I mean. )

I hope that helps.

Irene
 
Corrie Snell
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Yay, Irene chimed in! Hello! Your blog and Flickr albums have been my new time taker-upper the last couple of days. Your place makes me absolutely ache with longing. Looks like paradise. I love your selfie with turkey.

Not to take over Rus's thread, but, would you answer a couple quick questions about SW France please, Irene? I guess he did mention that lately the Limoges area was looking like a better bet, and that's SW-ish, so the information you provide could help him, too. I'm from NW Montana, very near wheaton labs. I was fortunate enough to volunteer there several days their first summer on the property (Hi Jocelyn and Paul!). My husband and I had purchased my childhood home and had been trying out farming. I quickly learned that although I grew up there, my adult years of being out and about in the world had opened my eyes to other things; Montana is a wonderful place, it's just not where I want to live permanently. Mainly, I want less winter. I like four seasons, but I want winter to be the shortest, and for it to be somewhat mild. In the Flathead Valley, there are no leaves on the trees from mid-October until mid-May. That's SEVEN MONTHS! And, it will regularly be nasty and snowy on my birthday in mid-April. And, because it's a valley, it's gloomy, ALOT. So, we had decided to pursue selling and then checking out central, coastal California. That coast range, with gorgeous rolling hills partially covered with oaks is very appealing. But, as I said in my above post, France was always in the back of my mind, too.

In the U.S. there's a show called "House Hunters International," and it's a favorite of mine. A couple of years ago, on a dreary day in March, I binged on a HHI marathon. There were a couple episodes in France. One, in particular, was very enlightening. A young couple, French/American, had decided to move back to where she was from. They had a very small budget, like $50k, and bought a nice little fixer-upper on, I want to say, at least a few acres in the Aveyron area. I started browsing properties online, and thought, "wow, France definitely needs to be considered." I mean, wine, cheese, truffles (the underground kind), duck fat, walnuts, chestnuts and oaks to fatten up pigs...

Fast forward a couple of years, through two seasons of trying, and failing, to sell our property in Montana (highway bypass under construction nearby was probably the reason), and we find ourselves in Morocco. My sister and her two boys are living in the house in MT for the time being, and we're going to give it a couple of years before trying to sell it again. With short, direct flights between Morocco and every city in France, I decided it was the perfect time to go check out life in the French countryside. My husband's job typically has him working in a new place every year or two, and about 1/2 the time so far it's been in a place where I have not been allowed/have not wanted to go. So, one of the biggest things I will be determining this winter and next is, do I feel comfortable living in a foreign country, albeit one that I LOVE, if I'll be alone on t.he property a lot of the time over the next 20 years? Will it be too lonely to be so far away from other family members?

Where are my questions? Ok. Irene, what particular areas of SW France would you avoid? I know it's a popular area with expats purchasing vacation and retirement homes. I know I'll be an expat myself, but it will drive me nuts to be surrounded by a bunch of people IN FRANCE, who refuse to try to speak FRENCH. Sorry, pet peeve. What areas do you think might have the best hidden treasure properties? I know David L. has mentioned that anywhere from about 50 miles outside of a major city, and the French are by and large not interested. I will get a taste of it soon, but what are the true winter months? And, what is winter like? I read about a banana belt area in the Poitou-Charentes... Are there huge differences in climate throughout the SW? You mentioned being "registered as a farmer," what does that mean, exactly? That you are in business as a farmer? What if I'm just looking to become fairly self-sufficient, does that count as being a farmer for tax purposes? Any information on the French mortgage system, and how it differs from the one in the U.S. which typically requires 20% down, and has a term of 30 years? How much land would you recommend purchasing if one's goals would be to raise almost all of one's own food: eggs, meat birds, pork (pastured, of course), probably some beef and dairy (grass-fed ONLY), slight chance of sheep, NO goats , veggies, fruits, nuts, plus have wild areas on the property, and plenty of buffer and room to grow? You mentioned that, "it probably took me two years to finally choose the right spot where I could have enough of the right things I considered important. " What were those things? And, why were they, seemingly, so hard to find? And, after 20 years there, what changes would you go back to make, if you could? Merci mille fois, en avance, pour votre réponse!!!

Rus: YES! The zombie apocalypse! I did some research on population density, and here, in ascending order, with pop./km sq in parenthesis are the départements in the SW-ish area: Cantal (26), Gers (30), Ariège (31), Aveyron (32), Lot (33), Landes (42), Dordogne (46), Hautes-Pyrénées (51), Charente (59), Lot-et-Garonne (62), Tarn-et-Garonne (65), Tarn (65), Charente-Maritime (91)...
 
Irene Kightley
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Whoooah, loads of questions.....

Your blog and Flickr albums have been my new time taker-upper the last couple of days.

Sorry about that.

Areas to avoid : Anywhere near Sarlat/Caves and pre-histoire are full of visitors in the summer, extremely expensive and dead in the winter with not a lot of alternative type activities. I can give you a longer list when you start to get serious about looking.

Where we are is extremely rich in wild food, game (if you eat meat, which we do) and gardening is a real pleasure because there's enough sunshine for a long growing season and autumn is usually warm enough to be able to harvest summer veg until November. December can be sunny and cool, with BBQs outside and meals on the terrace. Winter Jan/Feb/beginning of March can be cold, which is good for a thousand reasons.

In our village of only 150 people we have six residents who are my ex-students, a little private Montessori type school, a café/library, several "alternative" type associations, an AMAP (A sales point for local bio vegetable and meat, which I don't use for obvious reasons but which I may one day if I'm ever too infirm or lazy to grow our food and keep animals), a seed swop asso, an archery asso, a festival and cultural activities asso (We were founder members of all three but they're now autonomous). We also have fabulous neighbours who share tools at harvest time and produce a surplus which is also shared.

It took me a long time to decide where to live - but I'll have to find my old notebooks to give you a fuller response on that one.
 
Corrie Snell
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Thank you very much for the information posted so far, Permies in France! And, looking forward to reading more.
 
Corrie Snell
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Another question to add to Rus's original question/post.

For a lot of ("new world") Permies, I imagine that moving to SW France, or anywhere in the "old world" for that matter, would mean that the (romantic) idea includes buying property with an old farm house. Maybe this is even a huge part of the dream, to rescue an old house and outbuildings that need some TLC. But, is this a bad idea from a permaculture perspective? Or from any perspective (financial, etc.). After looking through Irene Knightly's Flickr albums, I see that it's possible to build a house that looks like an old French Farmhouse (keeping the romantic part of the idea), but having been able to add modern, energy-efficient systems easily to the design, as opposed to having to shoe-horn them in to an existing structure, or being in a position where it's just not even possible without more effort than it's worth. Not to mention being able to design the home just the way one wants it.

Maybe there aren't many properties out there that are just bare land, and so maybe the point is moot? Maybe it's more important to keep your options open? I would like an old farm house, but I also have ideas in my head on how I would like the layout to be. Am I setting myself up for frustrating years of searching for the PERFECT place? After a decade of real estate disasters in our lives, we are very keen to do it right this time. We want to stay in our next place until the end, and so I'm putting a lot of thought into this. Even to the point of thinking about how the property could be designed for accessibility and efficiency for an elderly person (parents, then us).

Any advice or thoughts are greatly appreciated!
 
David Livingston
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I think you need go look and get some boots on the ground . You never know what you will find . Talk to folks in the area you are looking at . Word of mouth should do the rest. The housing market is slow slow slow . Go to an estate agent tell him or her what you are looking for talk to the owner of the hotel you are staying at , tell everyone I am sure someone will say ' I have a freind who is ....'

David
 
Irene Kightley
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I agree with David.

We stayed in a gite for a while, it was expensive but worth it as the owners were lovely and asked around for us and saved us a fortune in travelling, fees and the price of the house. They found us a perfect house with ten hectares of land in the same village. I wasn't advertised widely and we'd never had known about it otherwise.

We later separated and sold the house but the time spent there gave me the opportunity to get to know the area and the people and Fabrice was my next door neighbour !

I don't know if this is of interest to you but we have a house to rent which we'll be advertising soon after we've finished some renovation work. Here are the details which I've prepared for Le Bon Coin : http://www.leboncoin.fr/locations/offres/aquitaine/dordogne/?f=a&th=1&mrs=500&mre=600&sqs=13&ros=5&ret=1&ret=3&ret=4

Bourrou 24110 - équidistant entre Bergerac et Périgueux 4km de la RN21.
Maison de compagne mitoyen de 120m². Non meublé. 580€ par mois.
Cour privé fermée 200m² avec barbecue et coin repas couvert.
Grande pièce à vivre 35m² avec cheminée (Cuisinière a bois), coin cuisine, salle à manger, trois chambres, salle des bains et WC. Parking pour quelques véhicules.
Un potager privé (Avec d'arbres fruitiers) de 2750m² conduit en permaculture depuis plus que 20 ans pouvant être mis à disposition gratuitement - mais seulement dans l'esprit bio - donc strictement pas de produits phytosanitaires ou de granulés anti-limaces ! En plus, un terrain/verger de 3000m² clôturé avec quelques abris pour volailles etc.

Les animaux domestiques sont les bienvenus.

La maison fait partie de La Ferme de Sourrou, un lieu bien connu dans le mouvement de la Permaculture - une science et un art de l’aménagement des écosystèmes humains dont les trois piliers sont : Prendre soin de la Terre, Prendre soin de l’humain et Partager les surplus.


That's a shot in the dark but as well as being admin in the French permaculture forum, I'm also admin in The France Forum - an English speaking forum where I have a lot of contacts and there's a free small ads section. You'll find everything you need to know about living in France here. http://www.thefranceforum.net/viewforum.php?f=141





 
Corrie Snell
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Thank you, Irene, I may be interested in your rental home in the future. This winter, I have already committed to a gîte near Gaillac, but the plan for now is to rent another one next winter (5-6 months) in a different area. You're probably looking for more permanent tenants, but I will touch base with you again in the future to see what's going on.

My question is not as much about tips for how to search for and find a property, as it is what people's opinions are with regards to choosing between renovating an old farmhouse, or building from scratch. But, thank you to both of you for having been so quick to reply. I'm definitely looking forward to getting my "boots on the ground" in a few weeks!

Thanks for the info on the other forums, too!
 
David Livingston
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New build vs renovate ? How big are your pockets ? How good are your DIY skills ?
I have the impression that French folks on the whole prefer new build and this can be reflected in the cost but you can get some great companys out there building one off properties really well insulated passive heating etc but they cost .
Renovation is the way I would go doing the donkey work myself and getting in experts when needed. Incidently here in Anjou I saw a small advert for a house to do up near Angrie 49 with its own well out buildings etc only 35000€ There are bargins out there . I dont know why North Anjou and north Vandee dont get more people looking to move to as both are cheap , good land and climate

David
 
Irene Kightley
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Corrie,

Sorry for the very late post, I haven't been on the internet recently. You're probably in the thick of it now - dreaming about your future home.

Buying or building - as David says, a lot will depend on your finances and your skills.

Skills can be learned, before I came to France I'd tinkered with solar which was relatively little known technology and now I'm confident wiring a off-grid house with solar and wind energy. I'm no genius but I work and learn slowly and deliberately. It depends on you and your partner.

Sometimes it's worth working to pay someone else to do the work but in France you'd have to earn a hell of a lot more than the builder who will have to charge you more than double the daily rate just to cover his or her social charges.

Something not to be forgotten is also the joy and achievement of building your own house, your self-respect grows alongside your competence. Adding an extension, a lean-to greenhouse or a terrace to a house you've built seems easy compared to what you've already achieved. You develop skills which are useful not only for building your own animal shelters etc. but which you can use to help your neighbours with their projects.

In my experience old French farmhouses are badly built. Very few take advantage of solar gain, they are not insulated at all despite the intense heat in summer and the cold in winter. Doors and windows have no protection from the sun, wind or rain. I've visited lots of houses with kitchens blackened from smoke from the huge fireplace. Many people I know keep their door ajar when their fire is lit to create a draught or have a curtain in front of the fireplace to help reduce the size of the chimney. The old houses are huge, cold and draughty and the old people who live in them wear outdoor clothing inside in the winter.

We bought an old house, it was pretty, authentic and had lots of lovely qualities but it cost a fortune to restore and it was still lacking in the basic factors which makes a house easy to manage and economical to run. I'm sure you'll see what you mean when you start looking at properties.

Keep your rose-tinted glasses off and think "permaculture".....

 
Alex Tourehote
Posts: 14
Location: Mayenne, France
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Hi Rus !

we leave near Brittany, and to give you an idea, we got 1 hectare of land + 1 main house + a few out-buildings (massive garage actually bigger than our house, pigsty, chicken house, cellar, a barn) for 65000 euros. we've had to add a bit more in fees and... renovation. It is a on-going process (doing most of it myself) and with 3 kids under 6 and no particular skills it takes time. The house was in good condition I suppose but we've redone it completely...

I would advise on getting a small property, and then doing extensions to it to make it bigger and better (as mentioned, old farm houses are usually facing east-west, which is not good to catch the sun at mid day, BUT is great to keep it cool in summer and to have a lot of lights all through the day in winter). We are going to work on an extension next, working with cob probably.

the hardest when leaving in France is the community : either you have it and it's great, or you don't and it sucks. Most French people are not very "open" I am afraid. Our current neighbours are moving soon, I pray for some neighbours with kids who would share our permaculture views. Maybe we could share a milking cow, learn to make cider together, run hands in hands together in the meadow while the sunshine brushes our laughs....

aaaahhh.....
 
David Livingston
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I have had a great idea ( ok I think its a great idea ) for someone to set up a little biz in France - Sweet potatos
I love them and am finding how easy they are to grow here. Problem is lack of choice ! I can have either orange ones or white ones in plant form at 15€ for three including post ! or orange ones at 5€ a small potato ( from Jardinland ) None of them organic . I can see from the web that in other parts of the world there are literally hundereds of types . I think they will be big in france and now might be the time to get in at the ground floor either on your own or supply one of the more established companys .
If I was younger and had my own land I would be certainly be checking this out.

David
 
Rus Williams
pollinator
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Location: Zutphen, The Netherlands
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Thanks for all the replies! Been super busy for months so I haven't been able to spend the time on this.
We're now looking at a different part of france down by angouleme and limoges. I'd like to be within 30 minutes or so of those cities. Got a holiday booked to go and have a look at some properties and get a feel for the life there.

I've had a few serious upgrades in my thinking since I first started this thread and the focus has moved firmly towards farming and community. We've discovered that our next-door neighbours are wanting to move to France and have started online businesses specifically to be able to make money without being tied to a place.
I trained as a carpenter and as such can always find some sort of work and also have another business that is beginning to show signs of life that will enable me to earn money remotely, my wife is also busy with exploring some ideas.

We're starting to turn some of that inspiration of ideas into definite action and doing which makes me really happy!

It's a shame we are not looking at Brittany, Alex, you sound like just the kind of neighbour we're looking for! I have a vision of a collection of permaculture homesteads and farms with people being friends/ neighbours/ business associates as the fancy takes them.




 
Olga Booker
Posts: 101
Location: Pyrenees Mountains, South of France
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Hi Rus,

Nice to hear that you will be coming further south. The Limousin is full of English ex-pats so it will be fairly easy to communicate if your French is not up to par (How's your French by the way?). It is a lovely area, the summers are beautiful and you can often see temperatures going up to 40C. Personally, I think the winters are much too harsh and much too cold; it can be very wet and windy also. Of course, with climate change, no one can rely on anything.

On the other hand, properties are very cheap down there. It very much depends on what you want. It's great that you are going to visit the area but like someone suggested previously (I think David and Irene also) it would be best to spend some time there so that you can really get the feel of the place. I know it's not always possible to do that, but being on holiday can sometimes make you see things with rose tinted glasses.

Most French artisans are expensive and unreliable at the best of the times. If you just call back people when you said you would and turn up when you said you would, you won't be short of work. Carpentry is a great skill to have and very much in demand.

Anyway, since the original title of the post was "looking for advice, experiences, suggestions and things not to do" I hope you don't mind me putting my two cents worth (I did live in the Limousin many moons ago). Good luck and keep us posted.

 
David Livingston
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I second that about Artisans . Most areas of France outside of Paris have large British expat communities* and I am sure you will find work there as long as you turn up on time and do what you say you will . Plus not milk people by giving poor advice ( making bad suggestions that lead to other work later )

David

* Part of the secret plan to take over France -so best keep that secret- Brittany and the Dorgdoin are nearly ours
 
Olga Booker
Posts: 101
Location: Pyrenees Mountains, South of France
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I agree with you David. I have often thought that the French invaded England in 1066 and forced their language and customs upon the population, but that now the Brits are quietly getting their own back and softly, softly,(but smartly and surely) invading France!!! Even the language is getting corrupted and so many English words and expressions are slowly creeping into the day to day parlance of the French. I don't know about Brittany, I haven't been there for many years but my daughter lives in Dordogne and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in Little England when you walk in the street!

There are a fair few down in the Pyrenees but the Gers is probably a firm favourite and is slowly but surely getting invaded too.

It is also true Rus, that English people have been taken advantage of over the years in terms of being overcharged for shoddy work, so as David mentioned, if you do a good job at a reasonable price, you'll be swamped. As an individual and an artisan, you could set up yourself as an "auto entrepreneur" or a "micro entreprise", depending on your turn over.
 
Corrie Snell
Posts: 64
Location: San Francisco, CA for the time being
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I spent a lovely 5 months in the countryside near Gaillac this past winter. I loved going to the organic market in Gaillac each Tuesday evening, and there was a very nice group of local producers (instant community?). I want to attach a photo of my haul from March 1st, as the veggies were so beautiful (les navets, particulièrement). Comme des pierres précieux.

SW France is the best! But, I'm looking forward to exploring Brittany in September, too...
DSC_0748.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC_0748.JPG]
 
David Livingston
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spring turnips are good here I admit
bit of butter on them
 
Christele Geuffroy
Posts: 2
Location: Edinburgh-Scotland
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Irene, just to say that I am really inspired by your farm!

I'm French but currently in Edinburgh/Scotland (20 years in the UK), looking at moving back to France (on my own)...to set a small self-sufficient project...my dream although rather daunting but the idea is nagging nagging nagging so I am looking into it one step at a time. I'm orginally from North Normandy but not considering to move back there, although open minded to anything. I have a PDC and currently doing another one online with geoff lawton, also got a lot of teaching from Benjamin Broustet too. I take part in urban growing here but not an expect though.

Like Rus, I don't think I can manage this on my own and would rather settle near like minded people to exchange help, knowledge etc... My initial idea was to join an 'eco hameau' and enquire about this on the website Colibris. At the same time, I don't really fancy the idea of being in an all french environment as I don't want to lose my English and I have really enjoyed living in a multi-national environment while abroad. I am training in Bi Aura Therapy (bio energy) and also hoping to develop some business online so internet access might be essential. At the same time, maybe I could develop something for the british expat as there are a lot in some places. I love Dordogne and the french actually call it 'Dordogneshire' given the British demography! The only thing I would be a bit worried about Dordogne is the thunderstorms there in the summer. They've always been pretty violent at times but that does not seem to get any better, with gust wind and massive hail stones!

David, I have also checked out the Anjou Region, seems to be a convenient location near Nantes, Anger, Tours etc..

I also love the Alps but I am still looking at some French speaking info/places about specifically developing permaculture projects for an Alpine climate (apart from Zepp Holzer, mostly in German, same in Switzerland, not much stuff found so far)

Christele
 
David Livingston
master steward
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Welcome and a big Bonjour to Permies
If you are thinking of settling near here maybe we can do some stuff together
I am still looking. For some help / partner ( in the business sence ) to help me manage where I live ( see link below )
Anjou Bleu as it is now called as part of the latest local govt reorganization has a mild climate relative to other areas although we are having a bit of a cold spell at the moment we have not had snow for three years   Land and housing is cheap and lots is available If you are prepared to work also rented land it sometimes available . Drop me a PM is you want more info also check my blog thingy below for pictures
A+
David
 
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