When the news leaked out about our imminent move across La Manche to France, the first question everyone asked was ’whereabouts in France?’ ’Deux-Sèvres’, we’d reply and then watch a look of puzzlement form on the enquirer’s face. ’It’s part way down on the right, after crossing the Loire’, we’d say.
So how did we come to pick this little-known department, one of four making up the region of Poitou- Charentes? It was more an area one drove through whilst heading for the south of France, towards Dordogneshire.
We’d often stayed with friends who lived in the Vendee, a couple of hours’ drive south of Nantes. It would have been nice to live near them, but we weren’t keen on the landscape and, in particular, we needed lush green meadows for our horses to graze. Besides, we needed to make our own circle of friends, not rely on theirs. That was, as it turned out, the right decision, although to begin with I really did miss the company of another girlfriend to have a giggle with.
Secondly, we intended to open a Chambre d’hote, or B&B, and we didn’t want to be too far from the Channel ports, for people needing an overnight stay or, even better, a few days’ holiday in an unspoilt area with lovely hot summers.
And that was the third reason. The Vendee and Deux-Sèvres have their own micro climate, over 2,600 hours of sunshine every year, not far behind the Mediterranean resorts. Well, discounting the ‘summers’ of 2007 and 2008 when someone forgot to tell the weatherman that we were expecting summer! Normally we don’t see a drop of rain from June to September, or even October, and very often the first time I’ve worn long trousers since the previous winter has been when I’ve travelled back to the UK in October to see the family!
It’s also a good spot for travel connections. Motorways virtually all the way from the Channel ports; an hour so drive to the coast at La Rochelle or the beaches of La Tranche and L’Aguillon; airports within easy reach - Poitiers and La Rochelle.
We worked out we could be from our front door to mother-in-law’s front door in Suffolk in 9 hours by plane - assuming there is no fog over Stansted!
So, here we are, in the Pays de Gatine, the largest of the 4 Pays in Deux-Sevres (more of that another day),The rural way of life suits us, the landscape is not dissimilar to Suffolk, the locals are very friendly, historically the region was once ruled for 100 years from Britain - but that‘s another story.
So, all things considered, we’re satisfied we made the right choice for us to begin our adventure and the next stage of our journey through life.
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