Our story: moving to Aveyron from the UK
Oliver Ellis and Lucy Ellis-Howell tell us how their yoga retreat has its natural home in Aveyron
When did you move to France?
Purchased house June 2015, moved March 2016
Why did you make the move?
We’ve always loved holidaying in France and exploring the countryside (in our converted ambulance campervan!) enjoying festivals, nature and food all over the country.
We started getting into yoga around 2010 and somehow our love of France, desire for a simple life and new found connection with yoga came together as an idea to build a yoga retreat in the French countryside.
Where do you work?
We work from home, and held our first small scale yoga retreat in summer 2017. We’ve been busy renovating and landscaping up to this point but now we’re ready to really put all of our focus into developing a business here.
What did you do before moving to France?
We both trained as dancers and taught dance for about 12 years in the UK before transitioning into other jobs. In the three years preceding our move, Oliver was working as a stonemason/builder on a castle renovation near Bath and Lucy had been working as a Creative Producer in children’s theatre since 2010.
Where did you do your research prior to the move?
Oliver spent hours combing property websites. In terms of the practicalities of moving, we didn’t actually do that much research and in some ways we leapt before we looked!
Were you a regular visitor to France before your move?
Yes, Oliver came to France a lot with his family growing up and we did a ski season in The Aravis in 2005. We’ve taken a number of holidays in France in the last 10 years or so visiting the Drôme, Hérault, Lot and Charente to name a few.
How did you find a place to live?
We eventually found the brilliant Tony & Hanneke Herbert at Eric Mey Immo in Mur de Barrez. We first saw a barn with them that fell through, but they totally got us and our dream and suggested we see La Tomasserie, which we may not have viewed as we thought we wanted a big barn to convert. It’s turned out brilliantly as we’ve been able to move here to a fully functioning house and use the surrounding woodland as the setting for the yoga.
What attracted you to the region?
Aveyron as its pretty remote and the transport links are not as good as other areas in France, but it SO BEAUTIFUL! And we could afford something here that would be twice the price further south or west.
How have you settled in?
It’s taken a while but we’ve been here 18 months and now it feels like home.
Have you made friends easily?
Yes, the agents Tony and Hanneke who sold the house to us have become good friends and have in turn introduced us to other people who’ve moved to the region and friends from their community.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of your new life in France?
I think it’s the pace of life – we can choose how we spend our days. And we’re so close to nature here, living in a woodland, growing our own food and practicing yoga in the open air. Oh, and the weather helps!
And the toughest?
We miss our friends and family. Getting to know a new social system has been tricky at times and getting our heads around the French tax system etc has been a challenge.
How have you managed with the language?
Not too badly! We’re both still learning and building our vocabulary and confidence.
What three tips would you give to anyone planning on moving to France?
1. When searching for a property, explore lots of different areas and be open to changing your plans. We might never have ended up here if we’d stuck to our original idea!
2. Don’t expect anything to happen quickly, especially in rural areas…
3. Embrace the local culture and use local services so that they survive.
And talk to your neighbours!
This article is an extract of our 2018 Guide: Moving to and Living in France