Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Picking a Place to Live

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

If you were going to move to a new country, how would you choose where to live?
My husband and I have narrowed it down to a specific region of France. We chose it for the climate and the home prices, but how do we choose a town or a village?
We'd like to live in a charming village that has a market each week, and we'd prefer a town with a bakery and a few restaurants.
As we look at the map, there seem to be endless villages to choose from.
We searched for charming villages in the area and then we cross referenced with some of the best markets. Here are a few of the contenders:
Photo from TripAdvisor
Its Saturday market includes artisanale food, flowers, and clothes, according to But the market gets crowded in the summer, according to the website. It might be too touristy for us, since an article on says it has arts and crafts shops, restaurants and antique shops. That might be a terrific place to visit, but too we want to live in a village that is overrun with tourists throughout the summer? We've done that before when we lived in Florida, but, of course, the tourists and older people came in the winter for the warm weather. We definitely plan to visit Pezenas in May when we travel to France.

This is another town that made the list of charming and best markets, but the article begins by saying it isn't easy to get to. That might discourage tourists, but it might also block us in more than we want. 
I think I might like to nestled against the mountains like this. 
This village has a market on Tuesdays and Fridays and is known for its wines, according to A river runs along the town too, providing for some water activities like canoeing. 
Photo from flckr
That might be fun.

The final village that makes both articles is the medieval town of Olarques. Apparently, it has a market on Sundays that features food, including cheeses and wild boar pate.
Plus, Olargues even makes the list of 151 most beautiful villages in France.

I'm interested to explore all of these places, plus so many more, and I hope that it just feels right when we find it.
How bout you? How would you narrow down where to live if it didn't depend on a job? What criteria would you choose?


Esme said...

what about Sarlat? It would be hard to choose.

Anonymous said...

Pezenas is lovely and has tons of antique shops. It is a small city, rather than a village.
I think you will look at many places and end up where you find the right house at the right price in the right place. There might be dozens of right places.
I'd look for something with shops so you don't have to drive to town every time you need something (which is our case--I so appreciate when we're at the apartments in Carcassonne). It can be so nice to have restaurants a short walk away.
The most scenic towns and villages are going to be the most expensive.
Consider distance to things like hospitals (spoken from experience). Also you said you wanted to work so you need to have a university within a reasonable distance. On the coast, the autoroute can become one big parking lot in summer (though I don't think there are classes in summer).
Some others: Ceret, Lagrasse (in Aude), Olonzac, Caunes-Minervois. But there are so many. It's easier to make a list of the few towns that AREN'T adorable.
What kind of house do you want? Yard? Garage? If you are in a touristy town, you'll want to have a garage or courtyard where you can park; street parking could be difficult in summer. Yards are rare in town centers; they are more common in subdivisions (called lotissements). Check whether an older property is a historical monument, which will affect the renovations you can do.
Some towns have a lot of activities that can help you to build a network of friends; others less so.

Sim Carter said...

Francetaste has really enumerated a lot of points worth thinking long and hard about.
For me, having happily left the suburbs behind, I would want to live in a village or town large enough to have a few shops and restaurants I could walk to, or at the very least, a short drive away. I'd need to be able to feel like I could say "I'm just popping out to the store" rather than making any departure from home into a trek.
We happen to live in the heart of L.A.'s tourist district —right between the famous Farmers Market, CBS Studios and one of our best art museums (LACMA). While driving can be a chore, walking is a pleasure and I find the tourists add an energy and vitality that keeps things interesting. Hearing voices from around the world makes me feel connected in ways that living in a small quiet village could not. It all depends on your temperment though.
Pezenas would be my first choice, with Olargues a strong second just because it's so stunning. All those hills though! Beautiful to look at but the idea of walking them daily, not quite so lovely LOL! The middle town, Roquebrun, would not make my list because of the isolation. As she said above, think of the hospital!
What a tough decision but a pleasurable hunt! You've even got me searching properties. Can't wait to see where you end up:;jsessionid=B92D10A66D2FCA126AC5398487452902

Paulita said...

Esme, I'll check Sarlat too!
Francetaste, Lots of good points. If I teach, it is only a contract for two years, so I figured we would buy a house where we want and commute, since there don't appear to be many universities in Languedoc. We've thought about many of the points you make. We planned to search for an area first and then a house, but maybe we should turn that around.
Sim, I agree. Walking is the most important thing for us. We walk so many places where we live and it's nice to not even get in the car on many days. I'll check out your link.

our life in france said...

Paulita, Many people come over and rent for 6 month to a year so that they can get a real good idea of which village they want to settle in, we didn't do that as we knew we wanted to be near several of our friends and our house came up, it was not what we were looking for but we thought we would renovate and sell on, 16 years later and we are still here and the renovation is still ongoing, we live in a very large village with all amenities but it has been a very hard village to integrate and in the winter we never see anyone, we never have a market in our village, needless to say we are constantly looking for something else, good luck with your search but wherever you end up I know you will be happy x

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Geez all, 3 of these look and seem lovely. It will be tough to limit to one I'm sure.

Philippe F. said...

Francetaste et Sim Carter sont de grandes connaisseuses de la région Occitanie et leurs conseils sont excellents ! Pour les universités , Montpellier et Toulouse sont parmi les meilleures en France et sont 2 magnifiques villes avec toutes les commodités.A noter les universités de Nîmes , Béziers et Perpignan qui sont de bonnes réputations.//Francetaste et Sim Carter are great connoisseur of the Occitanie ( much better than me indeed ) and their advices are excellent! About Universities, Montpellier and Toulouse are among the best in France and also two magnificent cities with all the amenities.Also worth noting that The Universities of Nîmes, Béziers and Perpignan have excellent reputations too. Good luck in your house hunt...we can' t wait to know your final choice ! ( but take your time to make the better choice of course! ).Bonjour de Lyon.

Jacqui Brown said...

Lots of great advice in the other comments! I would rent if I were to do it again, that way you can experience what life in the area is like - so many villages near us have nothing like the social life that ours has, we were lucky. Having battled the Pezanas market in August, I've no desire to go back and compared to my village of under 400 inhabitants, it is a BIG TOWN not a village! However, you do get more amenities with a town, so if it has a good community it might make life easier than being stuck in village where everything is a long drive away. Happy house hunting!

But you are in France, Madame said...

Some of your decisions will be made for you (budget, availability...) but having been down this path ourselves I would also strongly suggest renting first. I'd even go so far as to suggest a couple of short long-term rentals of 1- 2 months in different places so that you can see what daily life is really like in a few places. We rented for 3 months first up but spent many, many happy days driving all around the area in that time to find out as much as we could about what we liked and what seemed to suit us. Even before leaving Australia for France, the important things for us were to be near an international airport (in our case Geneva), to not be in an isolated rural setting but not in a big town either and not to be in a popular ex-pat area ( as someone has said it is sometimes easier to list what you don't want ...). Annecy came up and it was close to Italy, Germany, Switzerland as well as the south of France which all appealed plus the mountains for skiing were a bonus. Choice of location made. Nonetheless, we still spent 5 years looking at everything in the round and visiting places before we bought. One thing is sure, you are in for a wonderful adventure. Enjoy!

Louise said...

Oh wow, you're planning is coming along isn't it? I'm so unspeakably jealous. What a magnificent adventure you are undertaking. I hope to be able to join in with Dreaming of France a bit more this year- although my dreams will be less tangible than yours. The villages all look gorgeous. I think the advice to rent is good, I'd do that I think if I was in the enviable position of moving.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

What a choice you have to make!! Pezenas would be the first choice for I don't drive but I would rather be in a town with people than in a small village that seems isolated. I know that you will have tourists in the summer but think of the months later on when you still have shops and amenities. :-) Happy choosing.

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