Roger Titchener is a sales advisor for Selection Habitat. He interviewed his clients who now own a property in Charente-Maritime and have a gite activity.
Leading busy lives on the outskirts of London, Stuart and Sam Avery decided that, both because of and despite Brexit, they would bring forward there plans to move and live in France. Too young to retire, they decided to search for a suitable business opportunity. In October 2017, during their 2nd viewing trip to the Charente Maritime, they finally decided they wanted to be close to the market town of St. Jean d'Angély. They met up with Roger Titchener to view properties with gites or gite potential. They fell in love with a gite complex in Dampierre sur Boutonne that ticked all their boxes; in a village with commerce and tourist attractions, 3 gites and good links back to the UK. And in mid February of the following year they became the happy owners of the property.
This is their story of how they set up the gites and have successfully integrated into the French way of life…
How easy was it to set up the business with the notorious French Bureaucracy?
There is a lot of information available on the internet through Forums, Facebook groups etc. Although not all of it up to date, so you have to be careful you are not getting the wrong information. The local Chamber of Commerce were very helpful when we went to register and we are now set up as a Micro Entrepreneur. Declarations are easy to do on line and if we have any difficult official letters our French friends in the village are only too willing to help translate. We've also been issued with our temporary ‘Carte de Sejour'.
You've just finished your second season of letting the gites – how has it been?
We have three gites; a 3 bedroom and two with 1 bedroom. This year has been much more successful than the first. We were able to start advertising much earlier and get the gites and pool area more to how we wanted them. We've had a good mix of nationalities; French and English making up the most with some Belgiums and Dutch.
Where do you advertise?
We have our own website and more people are booking through that, but we advertise on Airbnb, Homeaway, Holiday France Direct and we also have our own Facebook page.
How have you integrated into the French way of life?
We are fortunate that we live in a village with commerce. We have an Épicerie, small bar and we are members of the ‘Friend of Dampierre Chateau‘, so we are able to mix with both the French villagers and expats over village meals and music evenings in the bar. The local markets in Aulnay and St Jean d'Angély are great places to soak up the French way of life. Sam is a member of the local running club. Stuart plays ‘Walking football' at the local club and we are both members of a local cycling club. We have also used local French Artisans (builders etc.) where possible.
What do you miss most about the UK?
The big miss is obviously family and friends, although with FaceTime, Skype etc. we are only a phone call away to see them. We've had lots of them out to visit and we think we have more ‘quality' time with them now than we did before. We miss some of our typical English food, but visitors are always willing to bring stuff over. The other miss is not having shops on your doorstep to do shopping, although this is also a blessing as well!
Finally, what advice would you give people wanting to make the move?
Do your research, into what you want (and don't want) and the location you want to be in. Visit out of season as well as in the summer and be realistic on what you could possibly earn and the costs you may have. Are we glad we did the move? – YOU BET WE ARE
Stuart & Sam Avery can be contacted via their website