French 'village' alternative for retirees who do not want nursing home

The furnished homes in Dordogne are purpose-built and the site comes with a range of facilities. There are plans to open other such sites soon

A view of an older woman drinking a cup of tea and laughing
The residents are mainly older women who can still live largely independently
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A new ‘village’ of 80 homes especially designed for older people who do not want or need to move into an elderly care home has been created in south-west France - and is almost half full.

Marc Joly, the founder of ABC Résidences, came up with the ‘ABC project’ 12 years ago. It aims to give seniors a more independent lifestyle, while also preventing the loneliness that can often affect older people.

The new, purpose-built, furnished homes are in the 2.5-hectare ‘ABC village’ park near Montignac-Lascaux, in Dordogne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) and are sized between 30-48 m2.

They are available to people aged 50 or over, although most residents are aged between 80 and 90, and most are women. The eldest is a 98-year-old widow. All residents have some kind of link to Dordogne - whether they were born in the area, have family there or used to work or live there.

The first residents moved in in September 2022, and there is now a 45% occupancy rate. Mr Joly is aiming to increase this in the coming months.

"At the moment, thanks to the media coverage, we're getting 20 calls a day from people who are interested," he told Ouest France.

Wide range of facilities

The village has a range of studios and apartments (above, left), and offers activities and entertainment including tai chi (above, top right) and concerts (above, bottom right)

The gated village has an entertainment room, a henhouse with chickens, and an orchard. The residents also get help with their cleaning, care and clothing, and visiting families can even rent accommodation on-site. There are also CCTV cameras to ensure security.

There is a shuttle service to the local supermarket or market, as well as hairdressers and home help workers who come to the village.

For €260 a month, residents can also eat at the on-site restaurant every lunchtime. "We have a chef who prepares everything on site. The meals are well-balanced. 98% of people choose this service,” said creator Marc Joly.

In the evening, seniors can have their meals prepared in the kitchenette of their air-conditioned flat. "The men are more keen on services such as dinner delivery and cleaning,” Mr Joly said.

The village also holds events to bring the residents together.

"We offer entertainment every day,” said Mr Joly. “The residents can make suggestions. They enjoy watching films here or going to the cinema. We also have a lot of ‘belote’ players! We get requests for choirs and gentle exercise classes.”

The village is also ecologically-minded; there are solar panels installed on the roofs, water collectors that collect rainwater for watering the trees and gardens, and the buildings are made of environmentally-friendly wood and bio-sourced materials.

Medical care

And while the village is only available to elderly people who retain their independence and do not require round-the-clock care, medical services are still a priority, he said.

“Two GPs work in Montignac-Lascaux and are still taking on new patients. That's a blessing. There are also three nursing practices," he said. Nurses are also hired to come to the village everyday if needed.

Mr Joly is also hoping to build a dental practice with four dentists on-site this year, who will prioritise the needs of the residents, but will also accept locals from a 50km radius.

Resident costs

Of course, such a property does not come at a bargain-basement price.

A furnished 30m2 studio flat for one person, with a private outside area, costs €1,065 a month, while the two-bedroom apartments (around 40 m2), which sleep two people, rent for around €1,740 a month.

This includes rent, bedding, a kitchenette, Internet, fixed line and telephone charges, as well as water, electricity and gas, remote surveillance and remote assistance.

Shopping shuttles, laundry facilities and entertainment are also included in the price.

More villages to come?

Interest in the village is continuing to grow, said Mr Joly.

A second village of more than 80 homes is due to start construction in the Neuvic area (also in Dordogne) this year, reports France 3 Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and Mr Joly said that he has “been contacted by 15 or 20 mayors who have land available for these projects”.

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