Accidental off-gridders enjoying life in France

Fred and Marijke Andriessen at home and, below, olives they collect to turn into oil

Losing their jobs in France turned out to have a happy ending for Dutch couple Fred and Marijke Andriessen, who have since lived off-grid for nearly two decades.

Mr Andriessen said: “We moved to France in 1986 to manage a holiday park and worked there for 10 years. But the park closed in 1996, at which point the house we had been living in became due for demolition.

“We didn’t want to move back to Holland so we started house-hunting and found this beautiful house on a hill with wonderful views of the Pic St-Loup, near Montpellier.

 “It was perfect for us as we didn’t have much money and we could only afford it because it was unfinished.”

Undaunted by the work the property needed, they moved in and rolled up their sleeves. “Back then, we just had candles and petrol lamps. Then we got a propane gas fridge.”

From the moment they bought the house, in Vacquières, they knew they could never afford to connect it to the ...

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