Rural Charente is where well-travelled writer Eddy L Harris's heart lies

Eddy L Harris is settled and comfortable in the rural Charente home that he has rented for the past 10 years - but he is still ready to leave at a moment's notice

A lifetime of exploring the planet has led writer Eddy L Harris to France. Jessica Knipe finds out why it was rural Charente that finally made this free spirit stand still

Out of Angoulême’s train station steps a tall, black man with a large backpack, his tidy grey sideburns poking out from under his flatcap. Eddy L. Harris, traveller, writer and expert on the topics of identity and displacement, has just arrived from a trip to Washington DC. How long was he travelling? “Oh….,” he marks a long, weary silence, “for about 50 years!” And then comes the laugh – a deep, gravelly, disarmingly sincere sound.

As we drive to Harris’ house in sleepy Pranzac ('the centre of the universe!'), Harris tells me how he ended up deep in the rural parts of the Charente, of all places. “I was living in Paris, and I decided I needed to go to the country for a year,” he said.

“I wanted to live somewhere with nice weather, with proximity to a town or city. I had already lived in Provence, but that was too crowded and too expensive, so I just followed my nose and started looking for adverts near here.”

He found Pranzac, a village a few kilometres from La Rochefoucauld, and a little further from Angoulême, where he can easily connect to Paris or Bordeaux.

“I had never been here before, but I called one ad and said that I would rent the house, sight unseen, because I was too busy to come and visit.”

The landlords initially refused, wondering what type of strange bird would rent a house without seeing it, but Harris finally convinced them, and the deal was done. 

Ten years later, Harris still rents the same house, ready to take off at any moment. However far his travels take him, though, he always lands back here.

“The landlords have adopted me, it’s incredible,” said Harris, visibly moved.

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