We are two of many Brits, who love the sleepy French rural ways, its like the best bits of going back to the 1950s. You can leave your door open and are viewed with interest not suspicion. No culture of endless card giving, ridiculous insurance requirements or accident litigation. In short a feeling of trust.
But we ex-pats, for whatever we like to think, that's what we are, don't hanker for the past, more revel in the freedom and openness of the present. As a microcosm of the UK we are hardly representative, with all our other lives and unfinished stories. A few hanker for things long gone in England and some are taken with the romance of living in France, but all are bound by one link...renovation.
Someone once said to me that the Brits who cross the channel, to seek property, change on the boat journey. They step on as mere mortals & step off as builders, carpenters and plumbers. One way or another none of us seem to be able to evade the lure of improving a property. Perhaps its because we can afford so much more building & land in France that we feel the need to lay claim to it.
There are those who come very highly skilled in trades like building, roofing, electrics or landscaping, but for most, its the extension of all those UK DIY skills and some big dreams.
For our project we have decided that certain four letter words should be banned when discussing renovation. These words are, 'only, just' and 'then'. Because its seldom, 'only a small job', you can''t easily, 'just put a door through there' and, 'then we'll be finished', never happens.Perhaps the old saying is also true this side of the channel :
'The English mans home (in France), is indeed, his chateau'.