Real Life


Robin and Judy Chatfield run a B&B in the Haute Vienne. Here is their story;

Robin and I ran a successful picture framing business in Kent for 20 years but, like so many others, decided to escape to France for a more peaceful life.  We fell in love with our big, beautiful maison bourgeoise and it seemed such a bargain with so much potential.  But again, like so many others, we didn't really do our homework and before long we realised that financially we were not going to survive simply running a bed and breakfast. 

cloche aux champs   So we started running a small restaurant which has proved to be very successful - our regulars have been eating here every weekday for three and a half years!  And last year, we did a very English thing to a very French house - we divided it and sold off one third.  That sale allowed us to pay off our mortgage and life is now much happier. We don't miss anything - we still have four bedrooms and sleep in the study during the busy season. 

We certainly don't miss the extra upkeep, housework, heating bills etc.  We have to work very hard and want to avoid hiring any staff but we enjoy the work, enjoy working together and enjoy all the lovely people we meet.  Our clientele is 90% French, and although Robin struggles with the language, I am now fairly bilingual (having been born and brought up in Montreal).  I never pictured us cooking for the French for a living but we are doing it and happily.We see so many disillusioned English people these days who thought La Vie en France would be a bed of roses - they can't speak the language or get work, everything is more expensive than expected, and their money is worth so much less.  My advice to people wanting to move over here is to  think through what you are going to do here and how you are going to pay the bills.  Also remember that an isolated farmhouse isn't as appealing in the winter so consider your location carefully as well.  But , having said that, get over here - it's lovely.

Judy Chatfield






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