Monday, July 23, 2012

My Corner of France

I've talked a lot about different aspects of living in France, education, having babies, bringing up children, family life etc, but I've never actually blogged about what it's physically like here.  What are our surroundings, the countryside, the towns etc.  So, I thought it was about time I remedied that.

So, where do we live in France exactly?

We live in the Midi-Pyrenees which is in the South West corner of France.  An aptly named Region because it's situated in the middle section of the Pyrenee mountains which separate France from Spain.  We are within a one hour drive to the Pyrenees, which means that you are never far from a fantastic view of the mountains, making it a very beautiful place to live.  
A local view of the Pyrenees

We are situated midway between the Atlantic and Mediterannean coast, both being about a 2 1/2 hour drive, so we can always spend a day on the beach either sundbathing on the Med or surfing on the Atlantic.

The moutains look great at any time of year, but especially in the winter when skiing or toboganing make a great day out and there are many reasonably pistes to choose from.  

My youngest Luc, enjoying some winter fun in the mountains
The region the Midi-Pyrenees is split into several Departments (like Counties), we live in Haute-Garonne which has the Department Captial Toulouse as it's main city.  Toulouse is known as the Pink City due to its attractive pink brick built architecture.  It's a great city, not too big, only an hours drive from our house and our two youngest children were born there.  Nice if you need a city fix, but the real appeal of living here is the peaceful countryside.  
Place Wilson in Toulouse

We live in a tiny village and like many other villages it has no shops, only a mairie (Mayors Office), church and village hall.  Despite it's size, it has a really great community spirit and lots of functions throughout the year (The French Rural Village "En Fete").  It's strange how some of the smallest communities have very big and elaborate Mairies.
The Mairie of a local village with 128 inhabitants!

It is very rural - lots of fields of corn, wheat and what is particularly notable here is the fields and fields of sunflowers in July.
Sunflowers with the mountains in the background, taken from the field next to our house

It's a very green area, despite the hot summers as we have many rivers and lakes with water coming directly from the mountains.
The River Save

We live in a watermill, so we are surrounded by water with a canal running directly through our house, a river running along the edge of our property and a lake, not forgetting the several hidden waterfalls - it really is a magical place to live!  

Our Lake

Although we are very rural, I don't consider our position to be remote.  We're 2 minutes from a main road (with lines down the middle!) and only 10 minutes drive to the nearest town with doctors, supermarkets, chemists, schools etc.
Our "main" road, lined with trees.

The houses are really attractive around here.  There are many old farm houses and tumble down barns and outbuildings which add to the rural charm.  There aren't many new buildings and most new build houses either tend to be made to look old or have a villa like design.
A veiw from one of our upstairs windows

We have many leisure lakes nearby, often with beaches.  They are fantastic places to visit with kids because they also have grassy shady areas, toilets and other facilities (inflatables, waterslides, lifeguards etc).
Leisure Lake at Saraman
Just 10 minutes away is the beautiful Gorges de la Save, which is a little known beauty spot where the kids enjoy playing in the river.
Gorges de la Save

There are some great markets nearby - the biggest being Samatan which is famous for its fois gras and is always bussling and full of wonderful stalls.
Spice stall at Samatan Market
The roads are really quiet as it's quite sparcely populated.  We're 30 minutes from the nearest motorway (A64).  It's very hilly with lots of little winding country lanes.  I love just taking a different route sometimes when I'm not in a rush and discovering tiny hamlets and beautiful views I never knew existed.
A lane, not far from our house
I hope you've enjoyed this glimpse of where I live.  It's good to sometimes take a step back from minutities of day to day living and appreciate what's around us.  I love where we live, it's a beautiful corner of France and I feel very lucky to have found it.

But shhhh, don't tell anyone will you!

I'd love to hear about where you live, if you have any related blog posts please add them to the linky below.


  1. Beautiful, what a fabulous place to live.

  2. What a lovely post about your new home. My cousins used to live in the Midi-Pyrenees, in a village much like yours. They even had a vineyard behind their "chateau" - a big ramshackle stone house.

    1. A vineyard would be lovely to have. Unfortunately we don't have the right position here, but you can't have everything.

  3. Wow, where you live looks lovely, and so green! Get that linky up and post mine from a year or so ago. x

    1. Thanks for linking up, I have left a comment on your blog :)

  4. Lovely post and area of France, its an area I have never been too but it looks beautiful. And living in a watermill, how lovely, was it something you restored?
    Have linked up a post about my home area from an Expat blog hop this year

    1. Thanks for linking up, very interesting post and sorry I missed out on your Expat Blog hop. Yes we are restoring the watermill, it will probably take us the rest of our lives to finish as it's rather a big building.

  5. It looks amazing where you are and as for living in a watermill... All that fresh water swimming must be lovely in the heat of summer. I have linked up with an old post of mine about the reasons for living in Spain. It remains true.

    1. Thanks for linking up - it does look fantastic where you live. Have left a comment on your post. :)

  6. Looks lovely, I can see why you like it so much!