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"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."

Sue & Alan: an English couple in Haute Loire


Your name, age, professional and personal overview (children, ...)

Sue & Alan Baldwin. We are 50 + & have 4 grown-up children living in England.

Where do you come from? (Country and city)

We have moved from north Northumbria (north of Newcastle) on the north-east coast of England, close to the Scottish border.

Why did you decide to go abroad? Did you want to start a new life?

For a better quality of life. To enable us to be self-employed in a less stressful environment.

Your present life

What is your activity in the Auvergne? (Describe your business)

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".

For how long have you been working here?

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.

What has changed for you since you came here?

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.

How did you settle?

How did you learn about the Auvergne?

Through researching in books & on the internet.

Why did you choose the Auvergne?

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.

What help did you get locally? (financial and technical)

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.

What kind of help did you need?

Due to our poor knowledge of French, initially we employed an interpreter to ensure that we fully understood all meetings & paperwork.

What have been your main difficulties?

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.

Your initial project

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.

Your message

What do you appreciate most in living here?

The slower pace of life. The kindness & generosity of our French neighbours. The appreciation of traditional family values & respect.

Which advice would you give to someone wanting to settle in the Auvergne?

Learn the language before you come. Spend time touring the area before deciding where you want to settle.

What is the difference between the ideas you had before coming and today’s reality?

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.

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