Moving to Brittany
Brittany's warm climate, spectacular coastline and proximity to the UK make it a popular city for expats wanting to live in France.
Brittany is a popular choice for second-homers, retirees and expats wanting to start a new life in France.
It's easy to see the attraction of coming to live in Brittany. It's got a spectacular 2,700-kilometre coastline and lush green countryside, crisscrossed with canals and rivers and dotted with charming villages. While it doesn't have the scorching hot temperatures enjoyed further south, it's sunny and warm (if windy) and rarely snows.
Brittany is also close to the UK, which makes it easy to keep in touch with friends and family. There are ferry services from Poole, Portsmouth and Southampton to St Malo and Roscoff; the high speed TGV train (from Paris to Rennes in two hours); and lots of flights from all over the UK to Brittany's regional airports.
Almost half the population of Brittany live along the coastal strip with its many fishing villages, harbour-side restaurants and white sandy beaches but house prices tend to be higher as you're paying for the privilege of being next to the sea. There's plenty to enjoy inland with weekly markets, beautiful countryside, castles, megaliths, and properties like traditional Breton farmhouses, which have far more land.
Sarah, husband Nigel and two young children moved to a village in eastern Brittany not far from the city of Rennes over three years ago, after searching for a family house in the south west of England without success. "We chose Brittany, partly because I knew it very well from years of family holidays but also because it was easy to get to by ferry from Dorset, where the rest of my family live," says Nigel. "We bought a ramshackle house with a lot of potential, and a bit of land as we wanted to have a few sheep and some hens."
Sarah is a trained nurse and a fluent French speaker, so she was able to get a job quite easily (unlike a lot of other expats in this area) as a school nurse. Most of her female expat friends don't work, although many of their partners or husbands still have UK-based employment.
The couple's young children started at the local schools. "Our oldest found it very difficult as all the teaching was completely in French. I went into school every day to go through the lesson with the teacher and then teach him it again at home. He ended up repeating a year," says Sarah. "But my younger girl went into the maternelle (kindergarten) so she spent her first year in France playing – and unconsciously learning French. Both are completely fluent now and doing well at school."
At the very least, they're both really happy in Brittany: "I love the pace of life here, it's so laid back and slow, even compared to the rural area in England that we've left," says Nigel. "You wouldn't come to Brittany for the nightlife," agrees Sarah, "but it gives us a quality of life that we just couldn't afford in the UK – and the kids are now bi-lingual, which is a huge bonus."
For information: www.brittanytourism.com
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