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A new life in France

Updated on September 27, 2011

My new life

I rewrote my goals after a car accident reassessing my direction in life knowing that you never know when your number is up and decided to sell up and start a new life in France.

In 2005 I came over on a weeks house hunting mission after spending weeks searching Internet property websites and viewed 6 properties within 5 different regions of France. 5 of the properties had lakes within the grounds as the initial idea was to run a holiday cottage in France and offer on site fishing for guest, but either the lakes were to small, the houses in need of total renovation or the lake to far away from the property.

Its amazing how much is missed off the details on properties, when you have driven over 1500 miles in a week and spent £1600 plus it makes the property search process very frustrating and costly.

I have always been very lucky in the past with buying my homes and on the second day of my property search viewed La Forge - La Vielle Maison in southern Brittany and fell in love with the properties on sight. I have always been attracted to older styled properties, my last house in Cambridgeshire being over 400 years old and this pair of French cottages just oozed character and charm. Basically both were being run as holiday cottages and because it was an up and running business both were totally renovated and it was a 'turn key operation'.

Its always been said that you know as soon as you walk through the door when you find your ideal property and it felt like home as soon as I walked in.

I went on to see the additional properties that were booked for that week and just kept coming back to La Forge - La Vielle Maison and at the end of the week went back to the owners and placed an offer which was accepted.

The previous owners had 2 pairs of holiday cottages that were being let and sold and of the 4 cottages La Forge was the most popular property being let, so I decided to live in la Vielle maison and run La Forge as a Brittany holiday Cottage. I kept the rental prices the same as the previous owners but now offer the propety with a private swimming pool rather than shared giving holiday makers greater value of money.

In March of 2006 I started my new life in France and now love and enjoy a whole new way of living..

One of the funny stories of life at my Brittany holiday cottage with pool involved getting car insurance. I brought my Honda over from the UK and found that it was impossible to obtain insurance from a UK Insurer. I then approached Axa who provided my home insurance and was able to obtain car insurance, with the proviso that my car is re-registered in France.

I asked the chap who sold me the car insurance what time frame i had to get the car re-registered and he joked within the next 12 months, thinking that it was a typical French approach that although it was needed it was not....until one month later i received a letter from Axa asking to provide my french registration documents...I called the sales person from Axa and was told I needed to provide the document within the next 30 days. The sales person from Axa gave me information of how to go about registering my car, the first step was to check if i needed to pay any tax on my car, to make sure it was not a grey import. I was given directions and a map of where to find the office in Lorient a 60 mile round trip.

I then travelled to Lorient and found that the tax office had moved address, spent 2 hours walking around Lorient town center to eventually find the tax office opposite the Axa Lorient office....marvelous.

I then had to get a control technique which is the French equivalent of the English MOT, on the way home I saw a control Technique testing center and booked a test for the following morning.

9 am the following morning I arrive back in Lorient and it was at that point the test center guy asks to see my English MOT document, bearing in mind the reason I had to get the control technique was because in France they do not recognize the English MOT I was flabbergasted that I was asked for the document and was informed that he could not test my car without it...why on earth was I not told I had to bring the test certificate when I booked the test the previous evening.

The next day I found a test center in a local town and had the car tested, I was informed by an ex pat that I would not have to replace my headlights as my car was fitted with the standard adjusters....alas that was something that was also not true, the car failed on the headlights...60 euros for the test.

So back to Lorient where I located a Honda dealer only to find that they could not fit them while I was there so another appointment was made for the following day.

Following day back to Lorient and the headlights are fitted, total cost 800 euro's...ouch

I then book another appointment at the Control Technique center and the car passes. Now armed with the test certificate, the tax certificate plus the UK registration documents I drive back to Lorient to hand over all the documents at the Prefecture based in Lorient which I was told to do from the tax inspector that I first saw. Bearing in mind everything shuts between 12 and 2pm I arrived in Lorient at 4pm only to find that the office shut at 4pm..ahhhhhh

Following day I arrive at the office back in Lorient, hand over the documents only to be told because I lived in Baud I should not be in at the Lorient office but instead should take the documents to the Pontivey frustrating.

The next day I turn up at the Pontivey Office hand over my documents and you guessed it, I was then asked for ID plus prove of my wonder ex pats get frustrated about all the red tape. Thankfully I had my driving licence with me and in the car I had a letter to post which happened to be a utility 340 euro's lighter I'm handed my new French registration document...about time....the final part was to fit a new number plate to the car and id like to announce that was done without any trouble.

I must admit although this process was a nightmare, thankfully every thing else within my new life based in France has gone smoothly and hey there's plenty of red tape back in the UK.


Lorient Celtic Festival held every year


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    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Love the swimming pool! I want to rent it!

    • leon01 profile image

      leon01 7 years ago

      Its amazing how far you can get with just a little French, I will post some funny examples of French red tape but on the whole its been a dream come true.

    • Karen Bell profile image

      Karen Bell 7 years ago from Gilbert, Arizona

      So did you already speak French? How was it adjusting to French culture? Did you run into any snags with local authorities?