Costly lessons of living in France

The 13th-century bastide of Monpazier, seen from a distance, was home for the author

Michael Delahaye and his wife Anni have moved to France not once but twice – first from the UK, then from Australia. Now they are back in Australia. He explains why they’ve left again…

It was last summer, a Sunday in late August.

As I looked through the open windows, beyond the rose-fringed terrace to the valley marking the front line of the Hundred Years War, the truth hit me: “We are going to have to leave.”

Just seven words, but they were the culmination of an association with France that went back more than three decades.

In 1988, we bought our first holiday home in a tiny hill-top village in Lot-et-Garonne.

La vie française was everything we had hoped for but within a decade we had – there was no other way to put it – fallen out of love with France and the French.

We sold up and, after a few years back in the UK, emigrated to Australia, my wife’s homeland.

But France, the old seductress, has a way of drawing one back.

During a European trip in 2013 revisiting old haunts, we bought a small pied-à-terre in the Dordogne.

Within three years we had left Australia and form-ally taken up French residency, signing up to the health ...

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