A Quiet Retirement in France? 

Written by on September 10, 2018 in Guest Blogs

misty morning over the rolling hills of Perche Normandy

One evening a few years ago my wife and I overheard several tales of woe that almost made us re-think our plans to buy a house in France.

We were on a golf break in Le Perche, Normandy, staying at a lovely hotel with a fantastic restaurant. One evening, after our eighteen holes we went for dinner at the restaurant. For the first half hour we were the only guests. Then a party of Dutch people arrived. We could hear everything they were saying, they were four retired couples, living in the area. They all agreed that buying a house in France had been a fan-tas-tic decision, the best they had ever made. Such a beautiful country, so quiet, all that space.

After the potage, a few more remarks reached our ears, a little more critical. Of course they missed their typical Dutch treats; the ‘drop’, the ‘rookworst’ the ‘stroopwafels’; just like Brits would miss ‘a proper cup of tea’, Marmite and a ‘decent bit of cheddar’. Apart from that, everything was great and they loved their new life.

For a while the cutlery was tinkling and wine flowed. Lots of wine! Then the coffee arrived, of course with the brandy. Followed by more brandy. Only then did we get to hear that not quite everything was rosy in their gardens. In fact each couples’ offspring was the cause of great misfortune to their parents.

Father One had had to transfer several hundred thousand Euros to his son on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, the son was not the entrepreneur they thought he was. He may have been willing, but was alas, very unable. After his fourth bankruptcy further parental assistance would not be forthcoming. One had to draw the line somewhere…didn’t one?

The shares in the family business of Father Two had been transferred to the children, with the understanding he would be paid out of the future profits. The future was still there, but four years had already passed without any profits being made, let alone any payments. He was increasingly worried, this deal being his only retirement fund.

The offspring of the third couple also were a source of misery. I cannot remember the tragic details any longer but it wasn’t good news.

Couple Four seemed to have the worst situation. They had given control of the family business to their sons. Recently the father had been warned by old and trusted clients that he should come back and regain control; things were not as they should be. He took the advice and made an unannounced visit to the company back in The Netherlands. He had just returned to France; it had not been a good trip.

It seems that on his arrival back at the company, he had found the office empty, though there was a lot of noise coming from the factory floor. Unfortunately, it was not the noise of machinery and industrious employees. The anxious dad had entered the production hall only to be confronted by a highly motivated and busy, yet unproductive, workforce. They were diligently drinking beer, gathered around the newly built bar, the beer tap being manned by his sons!

Our retired compatriots shook their grey heads and finished their coffee. Was their retirement in France at an end? Was it time to go back and take the reins again?

Peter Schoenmaker retired from advertising to run a small luxury hotel in France. His e-book Breakfast in Gascony can be downloaded for Kindle from Amazon. Find out more at: www.peterschoenmaker.com

Related Articles

Honfleur | The Belle of Normandy

Honfleur | The Belle of Normandy

Written by on August 8, 2019 in Guest Blogs

Honfleur is a French fishing village in the department of Calvados, Normandy. It sits on the southern bank of the Seine estuary where the great river flows into the Atlantic Ocean. If you love authentic old French towns, then you will find Honfleur one of the most beautiful there is. What to see in Honfleur […]

Continue Reading

The Lot-et-Garonne | Authentic France in Fongrave

The Lot-et-Garonne department is in the southwestern of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region (previously Midi-Pyrénées). It’s has been described as “the France that you always hoped existed but could never quite find”. It’s idyllic; a paradise… Discovering Fongrave I looked over at my friend as she was talking feverishly about the still, quiet beauty of the […]

Continue Reading

Vintage Cars and Campers, Bicycles and Bader in Saint Omer, northern France

If you’re looking for a fun way to visit northern France, Les Belles Echappees in Saint Omer fits the bill. Located within the peaceful Ferme de L’Abbaye at Clairmarais, this family run organisation hires out restored classic vintage vehicles. Choose from sparkling VW camper vans to prestigious Citroen 2CV cars and VW convertible Beetles. There’s […]

Continue Reading

What did the Pont d’Avignon originally look like?

Sur le Pont d’Avignon L’on y danse, l’on y danse Sur le Pont d’Avignon L’on y danse tous en rond Many of us learned that song as kids, about the famous Pont d’Avignon in Provence (real name: Pont Saint-Bénézet). For those of us lucky enough to visit Avignon and see the bridge in all its […]

Continue Reading

How the French do politics

I live part of the year in Provence and one day I was reading Le Monde and a headline about a “sexy politician” caught my eye. “Well, those are two words you don’t see together very often,” I thought. So I read the article and found out that there had been a poll asking French […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top