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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

A couple standing against a stone bridge in the Charente in rural France

Living in France after Brexit | From London to the Charente

If you’ve ever wondered whether living in France after Brexit is possible, then you’ll love my interview today with Nick & Jen.

I met Jen recently at a networking event for small business owners in the Nouvelle Aquitaine hosted by Network Nouvelle Aquitaine, hosted at the wonderful Lolly’s Tearoom in Nanteuil

As part of the event, we all had to introduce ourselves and let people know who we were and what we did.

As I listened to Jen’s story I knew I wanted to interview her and find out more about how the adventure she’d embarked on with her husband Nick.

How do you go from city life in London to living the French dreamin rural France?

Not only that but they did all this during Covid and post-Brexit. And their journey was filmed for a well-known TV programme.

Living in France after Brexit

A lovely courtyard at night in a gite in the Charente

Nick and Jen, you’re relative newbies having moved over to France in 2021. What drew you to the Charente and how did you manage it in the middle of a global pandemic?

Yes, we’ve been here for a year and a few months and it’s gone so quickly! 

We looked at this area as it’s really well connected to the UK and we have to travel back for work relatively frequently. 

It really is the most beautiful area and we absolutely love it. 

We love being close to Angouleme and not too far from the coast, or Bordeaux for when we need a city fix. 

We moved from central London so it was a bit of a shock to the system. It definitely took some getting used to, but we’re very happy we made the move.

The challenges of renovating in France

A beautiful white stone house in the countryside in the Charente

You’ve taken on quite a big project in renovating gîtes and an old farmhouse. Did you have any renovating experience already or was this a complete passion project?

Yes, we sure have and neither of us had any experience in renovating before this! 

Nick watched a lot of Youtube videos on every DIY skill he’d need. And we’re obsessed with Grand Designs and George Clarke Renovations programmes, but we’d never done any actual renovations. 

We’ve both learnt a lot of new skills in the last year, especially Nick, I’m hugely proud of him.

A nicely decorated bedroom in an old gite in the Charente in France

What tips can you give others looking to renovate a property in France?

We’d say be really careful with booking tradespeople and definitely get a few recommendations from other people so you can really trust them. 

And keep a track of your budget! Materials in France are a lot more expensive than in the UK and seem to be going up. 

Don’t underestimate how much these things cost in addition to the labour if you’re getting in professionals to do any of the work. 

But, having said that, it’s absolutely worth it, it’s just very costly, so keep on top of your spreadsheets!

Luxury Vegan Holidays in France

A pebbled courtyard at night with fairylights and a picnic bench in the Charente in France

I love the fact you specialise in providing luxury vegan holidays in France. My next-door neighbour, Simon, is a vegan, and he always finds it a struggle. Tell me more about what you offer for vegans. 

Thank you, yes we really felt there was a gap in the market and it’s something we struggled with when visiting France. 

We offer a complimentary vegan breakfast twice a week. It includes lots of homemade goodies including cinnamon buns, chia yoghurt pots, and scrambled tofu, among many other options. 

Guests can also order homemade picnic baskets for days out, there’s a fridge filled with vegan goodies on arrival, a generous complimentary welcome basket with homemade vegan cake and lots more! 

We have guides on where to eat in the area on our blog and in our welcome book. Along with the food side, all the toiletries in the gîte are organic, vegan, and cruelty-free along with the cleaning products we use.

An inground pool with a terrace and sunbeds at a gite in the Charente in France

The pictures of your gite are stunning and the swimming pool is lovely. What’s the maintenance like with a pool like that?

Thanks so much, it’s quite a lot to get used to, not to mention extra work. But we really feel it’s a great feature and wonderful for guests to enjoy especially in the peak months when it gets very hot! 

It was a steep learning curve getting to grips with balancing the levels, it’s definitely a bit of a dark art! 

We thoroughly clean and check the levels every day, to keep it super clean and inviting.

Learning French when living in France after Brexit

I know you were taking French lessons to learn French. How’s that coming along? Are you fluent yet?

Haha, we’re definitely not fluent yet, unfortunately, but we are slowly improving. 

We have an incredible French teacher and we started lessons as soon as we arrived, but we don’t have as much time as we would like to study. 

We try to watch French TV when we can and listen to podcasts in French when we’re working.

Filming a New Life in the Sun

Two women in a garden. One has a video camera and the other is mending a gate

A little birdie told me you were invited to be on A New Life in the Sun on Channel 4. How exciting. I have to ask, what was that experience like? 

We were! It was a great experience. It’s not something either of us thought we’d do and we’ve never had an ambition to be on TV, but it was a great opportunity for the business. 

Before filming started we were a bit nervous. We’d never been in front of the camera before and were unsure of how to act, but the camera crew were super lovely and made you feel at ease which was great. 

I know it’s a cliché, but after a while, you really do forget that they are there! 

We only made 3 episodes, not the full 5 as I think we didn’t really have enough drama for the show haha! 

We didn’t have any disasters (on camera) and the TV does love that(!), but we enjoyed filming. And we got some lovely feedback from people after watching it, so hopefully it helped spread the word a bit. 

Here’s a link to the episode >>>

What it’s really like moving to and living in France after Brexit

How did you find the process of moving to France post-Brexit? What was the journey from seeing the property to moving in like?

It was really quite stressful as we obviously had to apply for visas before we left. 

As a part of our visa terms, we had to open French bank accounts, incorporate our company, write an extensive business plan, and do all sorts of other things before we left. 

All of these cost a lot of money and of course, there is no guarantee you will be approved for the visa. It was a real leap of faith! 

We had to wait much longer for our visas to come through than we thought we would, which meant we arrived later than anticipated and that impacted our opening date. 

We decided to use an immigration lawyer for the whole process because we wanted to make sure we got everything right, as there was so much riding on it. 

It definitely helped but it was very costly. 

We’d absolutely do it all again, but we’d definitely recommend to anyone who is thinking of making the move to thoroughly research the best types of visas for you. Take into account all the costs involved, and allow plenty of time for the process (several months from first applying). 

Good old Brexit, eh!

Living the Good Life in Rural France

What do you love most about life in rural France?

We love the space and fresh air you get here. After moving from Central London it’s really quite something! 

The people are incredibly friendly and kind. We have the most wonderful neighbours who have welcomed us as part of our community, even with our very basic French! 

The sunshine makes such a difference too. Saying that though, the winters here can be pretty tough, especially with no central heating (like us), so move much further south if you want all-year-round sunshine.

What advice would you give other young couples looking to follow in your footsteps?

We’d say just go for it! It’s a huge move and takes some getting used to, especially if you’ve come from a big city, but it’s wonderful and we’re so glad we made the move. 

We’d recommend doing lots and lots of research. 

Speak to a wide range of people who’ve made the move if you can (we’re happy to chat with anyone who’d like advice), and take into account all the costs post-Brexit when you’re doing your budget planning. 

Keep every bit of paper that you’re given filed, even things that you think aren’t important. We’ve been caught out by this a few times. 

And make photocopies of all your important documents. We know it’s a cliché, but get ready for a lot of paperwork. 

It’s definitely an adjustment but we wouldn’t have it any other way! 

To follow Nick and Jen’s adventure and to book one of their stunning gites, check the links below:


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About Me

I’m Kylie….

And I live in the beautiful Charente region of France having made the move back in 2016, and I’ve never looked back.

Now, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned about living in rural France. From visiting wineries & chateaux to negotiating French admin and learning the language.


Here are my favourite resources I use each time I travel!

🇺🇸 🇨🇦 Travel Insurance US & Canada – I use Safety Wing

🇪🇺 🇬🇧 Travel Insurance UK and Europe – I use Globelink

🚘 Car Hire Comparison – I use Discover Cars

🚌 🍷 Day Trips and Wine Tours – I use Viator

🚂 Booking Train Tickets – I use Trainline

🏨 Accommodation – I use Booking.com

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