Type to search

Life in Rural France

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

A swimming pool in a garden in the Charente in France

Setting up a Business in France | A New Life in the Charente

For many people setting up a business in France is the easiest way to support themselves when thinking about relocating.

If you don’t speak French it makes getting any type of job pretty hard, and if you’re going to rural France, there aren’t that many jobs available.

My interview today is with Katrina Wylie who took the plunge and moved to France leaving the hustle and bustle of London for a new life in the Charente with her husband, over twenty years ago.

And I take my hat off to her, as she did all this before the days of mainstream Internet relying on good old Royal Mail to deliver her property details. And lots of telephone calls back and forth with agents.

But that’s not all. She did this whilst expecting her first child.

Making the move to a new country is one thing, but doing it when pregnant adds another level again.

A lady artisan setting up a business in France in a home studio

Katrina, you’ve been living in France for over two decades what was it that enticed you about life in rural France?

Like a lot of people, my husband and I lived in London and had a busy life. 

Me being a Flight Attendant and my husband a Pilot (and no, not the same Airline), we sometimes didn’t see each other for days. 

It was all great until we decided to start a family and realized that something had to change. We always really liked France and so we decided to be a bit crazy and start a new life by moving here. 

So, the house hunting started.

A new life in the Charente

A misty view over green fields and countryside in the Charente in France

And how did you end up in Poullignac in the beautiful Charente?

Well, at the time house hunting was a bit different to what it is now. (I guess I am showing my age 😁) 

With no modern equipment like mobile phones or the internet, as we know it now, I had to speak to Estate Agents and request details by post. 

Then the wait started, as it normally took a week to get all the details. I remember waking up in the morning and looking out for the Postman…..😀 

Anyway, we requested properties close to either an airport or a train station. The reason was, I decided to carry on flying out of Paris and my husband quit his job to look after our baby, as in the meantime I fell pregnant.

So, after about 2 trips to France, we narrowed down the area and on our 4th trip we found our beautiful house in Poullignac in the Charente. 

We arrived here in March 2001, me being 7 months pregnant and our new life began.

I have to ask, how have you adapted to French village life and what do you love about living here?

After living in London and being surrounded by noise all day long, it was absolute bliss to wake up in the morning to nothing – no noise, just the birds or chickens. 

I found it very easy to adapt, as we have lovely welcoming neighbours and the whole village, about 75 people at the time, made us so welcome. 

I think it really helped that I was pregnant, bringing new life into the village.

After 22 years I still love it here as it feels safe, there is a great community, so much space and the summers are still long and hot. 

Of course, things have changed, but I’ve made it my home now. Mind you, sometimes it’s great to return to London for a long weekend and soak in some packed bars and restaurants.

The ups and downs of setting up a business in France

Handmade black soap with gold logo

You have a great business making soaps. How hard was it to set up the business and what’s your journey as an entrepreneur in France been like?

It’s not an easy thing setting up a business in France, as the French love their paperwork. Also, working in the cosmetic business there are a whole lot of different rules and I have to admit that sometimes I thought not to go ahead with opening a business. 

But I continued and with some help from the Chambre de Metiers, I was able to set up my business. It’s necessary to have a fairly good understanding of the French language. So, the journey has been full of paperwork and inspections, but I don’t regret it, as I love my Soap making business.

Three handmade soaps sat on a bed of straw

Tell me more about the inspiration behind Pure RoK.

I was always quite interested in natural products, but when my son was a baby he suffered badly from eczema. I started to do some research into soap products. 

My son always wanted the shower gel in the fancy Disney bottles and I noticed that every time he used it his eczema was worse. 

I then started to look at the ingredients in soap and shower gel and realized that maybe I could do better. 

Together with a friend, we started to do research and so Pure RoK was born. We worked together as partners for a few years, but I now run the company by myself.

A selection of handmade soaps from an Artisan setting up a business in France

Your range of soaps is amazing and I was looking at one called Sweet Crush which is a new one to the collection. How do you come up with these soap creations?

That is a very good question. It normally starts with me thinking that I need to create something new and wonderfully fragranced. I then decide if it should be citrusy or maybe herb-orientated. 

Once I come up with a fragrance I research to find out which oils mix well with the base fragrance. When I finally decide I order some samples and start experimenting with fragrance, colour and design. I love this part!

From setting up a business in France to fitting into the local community

A pool and gazebo in the garden of a French house in the Charente

Living and working in France is very different to doing the same in the UK. What would you say has been your biggest achievement or a moment where you felt it was all worth it and you were finally part of the community?

Luckily I felt part of our community shortly after we arrived. As I mentioned before, I am very lucky to live in a great village. We used to have a Patois festival in our village and we all got together and helped. These moments were great, as I really felt at home and totally accepted.

Apart from that I do feel it was a big achievement to get my company off the ground and have local support.

And how is your French? 

My French is certainly not perfect, but I can talk to authority, and teachers, and just chat with people and that is not a problem. 

My grammar might be all over the place, but I know French people appreciate it if you try. I learned most of my French at the school gates when my kids were in the local village school. 

Quite often I got involved with school projects just to talk French all day.

Is there anything you miss from your life in the UK?

Sometimes I do miss dressing up and going out on the town for a night. Over here it seems to me that people don’t dress up so much and I love dressing up. 

But really, that is just a very small thing. Otherwise, there is not much I miss.

Katrina's advice for others setting up a business in France and pursuing rural French life

What would be your biggest piece of advice to others looking to pursue a life in Rural France?

My biggest advice is to do a lot of research before you make the change. Make sure you bring your work with you, as it is hard to get a job over here. 

Try and learn to speak at least some French. 

Don’t get defeated by all the ‘lovely’ paperwork.

To find out more about Katrina and her range of gorgeous soaps use the links below:


Daydream about France?
Living in France Quiz

Take our 60 second quiz to discover the region in South West France best suited to your personality, pastimes and passions.

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

You can share this post


Join me as I live my French Dream and subscribe to the Life in Rural France Newsletter Today!

Living in France Quiz
Life in Rural France