Anyone live in the Charente, France?

(8 Posts)
TwinToddles Tue 30-Apr-13 18:15:24

Hi, I would be very grateful for some information please.

We have 20 month old twins and have been living in Spain for the last 4 years. Thinking of a change, and we have friends that live in the Charente so we would know someone there already.

There are so many questions, and we want to make sure this is the right thing for us to do as we would be planning to stay for at least 10 years.

Are there many toddler/mums groups there?

We are very outdoors people but also like science museums and zoos, are there any there, and how much do they cost? Same with leisure centres.

We've been used to the cafe culture here and I think I would miss that.

Have you found it friendly, are they accepting of foreigners?

I'm not worried about schools or healthcare as from what I've read both are good.

We would ideally like to buy a house with a large garden and we have seen some online that would fit with what we want. However we don't want to be right out in the middle of nowhere and need somewhere where schools, doctors, shops are easily accessible and there are things to do on weekends.

Does anyone have any areas they would recommend?

OP’s posts: |
meerkate Tue 30-Apr-13 19:11:46

Hi TT My parents live in Charente Maritime, so nearby. We visit often. They live just on the outskirts of Saintes, which is a lovely town full of all the amenities you'd be looking for. There is a small Anglo community and an English shop in town. My parents live in a rural hamlet, which I frankly would have reservations about recommending - my mum in particular feels very isolated, and the winters are long and rather grey (they skedaddle back to town living in the UK over the winter as a result). There are some fabulous houses and prices are much better than, for instance, down South. We take the kids over every summer and laze by the river, where we swim and splash about, sun ourselves and generally enjoy the slow pace of life. I think living in France demands a very good level of French to integrate and I would think the decision through carefully. Good luck smile

Pasanna Wed 29-May-13 21:32:28

Me I live in the Charente! We're in between Angouleme and Cognac and its beautiful here. We have a Zoo ( Royan) free for under 3s. A fantastic monkey park near Poitier free for under 5's, Aquarium at La Rochelle. The rive is great for swimming, canoeing and picnicking, the beaches are an hour and a quarter away, Spain 4 hours, skiing in the Pyrenees,3 1/2 hours. Bordeaux is an hour away for good city shopping and activities. The markets are good and the gardens great for growing flowers and tomatoes etc.
However, I was very lucky moving here and making friends, marrying a Frenchman helped, the Charentais can be reserved at first, there's a joke that before they build a house they build the garden walls! Although I've found them very friendly they are reputed among the French as a difficult society to break into.
Bars and restaurants are child friendly and there's a great music scene. Angouleme hosts the circuit des ramparts in September, a classic car race. Music Metisse in May hosts bands from all over the world and the Cognac Blues festival has some of the best bands in the world.
For small children I found there wasn't a lot going on in the small villages. However you can start nursery school from 2 1/2 which is a lot cheaper than a crèche and gives Ds a chance to play and socialise. For older children there are music classes and activities available on weds and holidays. Sporting activities don't seem the be sponsored by the schools but down to the parents.
I love it here, but if you want cosmopolitan it's probably not the best place and if you don't speak French start learning, you will have a much, much better time. Hth

Pasanna Wed 29-May-13 21:35:28

And the cognac's good to, but go easy on the pineau!

AndreaDawn Tue 04-Jun-13 23:07:22

We lived in France and both my children were born there. Lovely summers, but the winters are very dull and boring and the locals did not accept us. The schools are quite brutal in the treatment of the kids, very, very strict and we had a lot of problems. My happy little boy cried every morning and begged me not to take him to school, his confidence was almost completely destroyed and we struggled on with it until he was 11. The up side is, he is fluent in French but it came at quite a cost. Sorry, but for us not a great experience school wise!

Jarvis75 Wed 05-Jun-13 16:49:29

We used to live near there, between Poitiers and Angouleme. Managed to last three years. Like AndreaDawn says, schools are brutal, as are Drs, hospital staff etc. Mums & toddler groups are hard to find, everyone is in a mad rush to gets kids potty trained so that they can start school at 2 1/2, so there are not many toddlers around!

The places that Pasanna mentioned are good places to visit, however if you take your toddlers there during the week you will most likely be on your own as all the other children will be at school. I speak from experience of trying to find things to do with my toddler!! (Monkey park, aquarium)!!

You will find ex pat toddler groups, but they tend to put their children into school early too. You could look at the angloinfo website for more information.

Summers are lovely, winters are very long and depressing!

Disclaimer-half of my family is French and I lived in France until the age of 18, I would not move back there if you paid me, even though I still have family who live there that I am happy to visit!!!!

helenthemadex Wed 12-Jun-13 17:04:40

I live in the Charente, between Poitiers and Angouleme. I have been here nearly 7 years, it was very hard initially but now I am settled and can not imagine moving back to the UK.

Where I am in a small french town there is a French toddler group and also an English one. There are two schools one is a private one and is absolutely lovely, having had kids go through the UK school system I would say this is far better. I did look at the Public school and didnt get a good feeling from them, they were rude and abrupt to us, it made me worry how they would treat my not quite 3 dd.

Summer is lovely, winters initially I found harsh and long, but I really think now there is far more to do, there are loads of sports for kids to choose from all very reasonably priced, there are loads of soft play places etc now and there is quite a large ex pat community here which is great for getting out and about and meeting people, the French as others have said can be hard to know so dont dismiss the ex pat community even if you do want to get in with the French. I do think its very much about picking your area and throwing yourself into things.

these facebook pages have loads of events and support on them for women and parents in France or considering moving to France;

good luck with what ever you decide to do.


helenthemadex Wed 12-Jun-13 17:05:46

just to add Private in France is usually for religious schools and fees are about 30euros a month!

Feel free to PM me if you want to chat about life here

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