We love the French country life. It suits us down to the ground. But we are also aware that a rural idyll is anything but idyllic for some people.
If you like a little regular retail therapy, if galleries and museums are among your favorite haunts or if you simply want a wide choice of bars, restaurants, and services within easy reach, then a good-sized town or the edge of a city might be where to focus your attention.
Unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool concrete jungle type, allergic to open spaces and greenery, I wouldn’t recommend a city-center apartment. Rather, turn your gaze on some of the towns with a decent population (between 20,000 and 40,000 inhabitants, for instance) where there will be plenty to do all year round, enough people to support a good range of shops, cafés and services, and where you will still find elements of the strong local community (normally a mainstay of the social life in smaller towns and villages).
These towns are surrounded by numerous suburbs and villages, giving easy access to all the delights of town life but with additional benefits.
On the edge of town or just a few short kilometers away you are more likely to find a characterful house with outdoor space and parking for a car or two. And for everyday convenience, you can’t really beat a suburb.
The nature of French towns is that the retail parks and shopping centers pop up around the town limits so, from the center, you would end up traveling out to the edge to find a decent DIY store, large supermarket, or furniture retailer. If you’re already living on the edge, as it were, it’s an easy and, in most cases, traffic-free trip.
Agen, Lot-et-Garonne: Pretty four-bed stone property with lovely character features, an attic perfect for conversion and a garage, on the edge of a lively market town close to Agen
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