France has always been a popular destination for expats, with its beautiful scenery and easy going pace of life it attracts both young and old looking for a new life with improved living standards. France is made up of 21 regions, each of which is divided into between 2 and 8 departments. Each department has its own capital city. This makes an impulsive choice of where to live something of a leap in the dark.
Choice of Region: Poitou-Charentes
From the days touring Poitou-Charentes in our old VW camper in the 90s to our more recent trips to the region for the annual historic street racing in Angoulême, the region had always been a draw for us. With coast and countryside and a mild climate that statistically delivers the greatest number of hours of sunshine in France, Poitou-Charentes was an easy choice for the Region of France in which we wanted to live.
The village of Vanzay, in the commune of Vanzay, is located on the southern border of the Deux-Sèvres département adjacent to Vienne and Charente. Although the choice of Vanzay was driven by the property that we subsequently bought there, it turned out to be a great choice for a number of reasons:
- Accessibility and Transport Connections – with 4 regional airports being within an hour and a half drive away (Tours, Limoges, Poitiers – the closest at 35mins – and Bordeaux) travelling backwards and forward to the UK via budget airlines is very easy to airports across the UK. The nearby TGV stations at Poitiers and Angoulême offer very fast services to Paris (1hr30) and connections to Eurostar. 10mins down the road at Chaunay the RN10 runs north to Paris and the channel ports (St Malo 5hrs, Caen 6hrs, Calais 7hrs) and south to Spain, offering a great choice for touring destinations.
- Population density – with a population of only 200 people at the last count and a square kilometre for each 18 of the population, Vanzay is most certainly not an overcrowded metropolis. In the commune itself there are some 18 English-owned residences, a mix of holiday and full time homes.
- Rural tranquility – surrounded by farmland, mainly turned over to crop production, and with farming still being the principal money earner, life revolves around rural timescales, activities and traditions.
- Village life – is surprisingly busy with events and entertainment running throughout the year: Christmas banquet and one in February; a week of amateur dramatics with the local theatre group; the Méchoui feast in June; July 14th picnic, bonfire and fireworks and the pumpkin competition in November.