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Sue & Alan Baldwin. We are 50 + & have 4 grown-up children living in England.
We have moved from north Northumbria (north of Newcastle) on the north-east coast of England, close to the Scottish border.
For a better quality of life. To enable us to be self-employed in a less stressful environment.
We have a small restaurant/tea room with chambres d’hotes in Auzon. Our style of food is a mix of traditional English, French & Mediterranean, using seasonal local produce wherever possible. We serve homemade Engllish cakes, puddings & conserves. Our motto is "une experience anglaise avec les saveurs francaises".
We bought our property (a house with an old butcher's shop below) in March 2006, opened our salen de the/restaurant at the end of July 06 & started our chambres d'hotes in June ’07.
The restaurant is now well established with regular clientele, which is a mix of French, English & Dutch. We have made some very good friends & have been supported & made very welcome by our neighbours.
Through researching in books & on the internet.
We looked at various other areas of France but realised that we could buy more with our budget in the Auvergne. When we came to look at this region we fell in love with the stunning scenery of mountains, forests, extinct volcanoes & lakes. The Auvergne still offers a rural lifestyle whilst being within easy reach of all facilities. It offers a wide range of outdoor activities including walking, cycling, canoeing, fishing, hang-gliding, skiing & much more.
We first had to seek permission from our Maire to be able to operate the business. We had to register at the Chambre de Commerce & were advised by the various health & safety officials. We have used local artisans wherever possible for our necessary refurbishment. We have had no financial assistance.
Due to our poor knowledge of French, initially we employed an interpreter to ensure that we fully understood all meetings & paperwork.
Learning to be patient as everything moves much more slowly in France than in England, which is after all, the reason we moved here! Our poor understanding of the language when we arrived. Air travel from this region to (the north of) England is not as easy or as cheap as we had anticipated.
We came to France with the intention of running chambres d’hotes but when we saw this property decided that it would be ideal as a salon de the/café but shortly after opening, decided to run it as a restaurant, offering lunches & dinner as well. We felt it would be easier to attract immediate business with a restaurant rather than bedrooms so the chambres d’hotes followed once the restaurant was established.
The slower pace of life. The kindness & generosity of our French neighbours. The appreciation of traditional family values & respect.
Learn the language before you come. Spend time touring the area before deciding where you want to settle.
We are working longer hours than we imagined but love what we do and where we live & are thrilled at how appreciative the French are of our food.