Many people moving to France open up gîtes, B&B’s or open up small businesses that primarily serve other British residents living in France.
Some people however decide to open up a business that fully embraces the community that they have moved into and help promote the area, becoming part of the local activities and integrating fully with their French neighbours.
In the village of Allemans du Dropt in the North Lot and Garonne a new venture has recently been opened by an English lady who has lived in the region since 2010.
Starting off by selling paint and wall paper from a bespoke British brand, she came up with the idea to renovate a disused building in the centre of the village, spent 3 years renovating it and has recently opened as a centre for artisans.
As well as selling paper and paint you can commission furniture art, bespoke soft furnishings and accessories, buy party accessories and also have hot stone massages and pilates classes.
Workshops take place, the latest being Christmas wreath making led by a professional florist, and next year she hopes to install an industrial kitchen in order to give cooking lessons and also give up-cycling classes.
Bringing British savoir-faire to a typically French village is risky business but Allemans is known as a village that celebrates it’s multi-cultural side and is open to all nationalities and the sharing of their cultures.
Other inhabitants of the village have also brought a taste of Britain to the region with their concept the Bombay Busserie. This mobile food bus goes to many of the local towns and villages throughout the area bringing the taste of a true English curry to all the residents of the North Lot and Garonne. Takeaways in winter or eating it outside the local bar in good weather bring residents of all nationalities together, the adding of live music once again prouves that everyone appreciates good food and music wherever you come from.
Other examples in the area include a restaurant where local artists can expose their work and many vineyard owners. The secret to all their individual successes is to get the locals fully on board before they open. Making friends with your local Mayor is a must and then depending on what kind of business you intend to open you need to reassure that you will bring something to the community and that you are not there just to satisfy an Anglo clientele.
If you don’t speak enough French it really is worthwhile getting someone to help pave the way for you as well as helping with the multiple hurdles to jump over when dealing with French administration and taxes and this should be integrated in your business plan.
Opening a business in the community will certainly help you to integrate and you will probably find that the French are more than happy to welcome anyone who wants to invest in rural areas.