Why we chose a French village to live in at PumpjackPiddlewick

When I move in France, I take a lot of time to choose the French village I wish to live in. I have a list of criteria that determines what I look for. And thus far it has stood me in good stead.

I took a lot of time to decide what I wanted in a place I would call home. It has helped that I have lived in a variety of places and locations in the past. This really helped me hone my list to what was important to me.

Rural vs Urban

Previously in France I lived in a very rural place, surrounded by farm fields, cows and crops. Before that I enjoyed a city life. Do I have a favourite? No, not really. Though I can agree that the isolated, car dependent, rural life is my least favourite.

There are benefits and detractions to both urban and village life. But I think that village life, and let’s be specific here French village life, pips urban. And in saying that, it does matter what amenities the village has.

Size Matters

My village has an approximate population of 600, give or take and depending how much of the environs you count. For me at least, this number of people is a little bit low. My magic number is around 1,000 to 2,000.

Once before, in the highlands of Scotland, I lived in a village this size. It had all the amenities needed for day to day life. Which was very appreciated since the nearest other amenities were over an hours drive away across very bleak high lands. There’s a definite equation, of course, of population to amenities.

Walking Distance

I can walk to everything within 5 minutes, and I do. Post Office, food shop, bar, bistro, hairdressers and especially my delicious boulangerie (bakery) for the daily Traditional. It’s like a baguette, but slightly bigger and to my taste buds, much better.

During the pandemic, having everything within walking distance was very definitely a bonus. When restrictions come into place that limited the option to travel, being able to get everything I needed by walking was truly wonderful. Not to mention the exercise that comes with it.

The size of the village is also great for going for a walk. It is big enough to have the amenities, but also small enough to be surrounded by countryside. And as an old village there are many hidden walkways, cobbled and wooded paths and old bridle paths around it. I even have a long distance path going past my house and garden.

A Sense of History

The village itself is very old, founded on Roman ruins, it has many buildings dating from the 12th century. Including a Cistercian Abbey. That’s not something everyone gets to say they live near. Just off the main street and the centre are all old stone buildings that are from a medieval village.

Like all natural progress, some have been tarted up to look more modern, but equally some are maintained in their historical significance. And if you have been to My Shop, you know I am very much into ‘old stuff’. It was made to last.

Good Management

Not all French villages are great. Like anywhere it comes down to management. It does depend if the village is progressive. Where I have lived before, I saw shops closing and villages dying. Then moved to a village that brought in at least 2 new upgrades each year. It was like night and day. It gives you a sense of your tax money is being put to good use.

And speaking of ages, that was another reason I chose my village. It runs the gambit of ages. It has a school for the little ones at the Mairie. And families who have been here for centuries. And in between a thriving artists community of varying ages. Walking down the street I can easily run the gambit of greeting baby to pensioner.

The village also tries to have some form of event each month. These range from village vide grenier (flea market) to Tour de France passing through. Add on top a fishing as well as photography club, and of course one has to have the ubiquitous Petanque club, and there is always something going on.

French Village Life

It’s quite common when walking in a French village, particularly on a very hot or cold day, to have a sense that it is abandoned. Shutters are brought into use to keep the heat out or in as needed. But it can give the place a closed up feeling. What I liked about my village from the start was that, no matter season or time of day, there always seemed to see someone walking about. Children being walked to school, people walking their dogs, heading to the boulangerie for their daily bread or simply sitting on a bench and watching the village life go past. The village feels alive.

And from the moment I moved, I have started getting to know my neighbours and the community in general. People wave as they drive by, or I chat in the queue for bread or for the post office. When my cat, Gigi, went missing, the support and concern from those I didn’t even know here was a thing of beauty. It gave me hope when I would have given up.

So, although life is never perfect, and never should be lest we forget to appreciate what we have, I can say I chose well. The more I learn about my French village, the more I like it. It suits me, and my pets, very well.

Fancy Finding your own French village?

If you are thinking about or wishing to move to France, do take the time to determine what is important to you. It’s all too easy to fall in love with a house, or even Chateau, in France. But if its location or amenities doesn’t suit your needs, your purchase may become more of an anchor than lift you up to enjoy life here.

Do check out my Fab Findings from France Facebook Group where we cover all sorts of topics on France, including regions, health care, history, food, disabilities and more. You are welcome to ask questions that may help in your decision making about undertaking a life in France.

PS

If you are a francophile at heart and love anything French, here is a taste of some things you will find in My Shop.  And if you enjoy my insights or musings, please consider nourishing my writings by joining me on Patreon.

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2022-07-06

3 Comments

  1. Your village is really quite ideally located: close to the bigger (and beautiful) wine towns of Beaune, Macon and Dijon! I would not have thought this location so much in the heartland would be so reminiscent of English, but I see what you mean with the sloped roofs. Certainly had you moved further south to Lyon where we were the villages would have felt quite different. Like you we are now within walking distance of shops, trains and essential services in our new town in Switzerland. I think a smallish city is preferable to either big and urban or very remote.

    1. We always knew we wished to be further south, but still in Burgundy. The Chablis area was too limited to the singular (ish) grape variety. And Pumpjack is interested in making wine from pinot grapes, in particular. We considered the Beaujolais area as well, but when looking there were no ‘doer upper’ houses we could find. They seemed to already be done up. Such a contrast too with that area to here. It’s like crossing a magic line into the Mediterranean. But super glad we decided on here as I am loving the weather for the garden. It has always been a dream to grow my own food (most of it), and now I can see we are better situated here for moderate climate. As well as variety of grape. Lucky us! It’s so wonderful to count yourself lucky, isn’t it? 🙂

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