Living in France, what’s it’s really like?

Living in france

Living in France…thoughts 6 weeks on

Before deciding to move to France, my mind was full of stereotypes about what it might be like to live here. I’m sure it’s the same for most people. The French love the French. The French love baguettes. The French love garlic. The French have great wine and adore long lunches. So far so good.

Once we found our dream glampsite and area, I began researching on forums, Facebook pages and journals about what the French are really like. So my opinion changed to: The French not only love the French but actively dislike non-French residents. The French only love French cuisine and wine. The French will only speak French with you (even if they know English). The French can be unhelpful and rude to non-French people. The French love red tape and bureaucracy. The French lifestyle is slow, relaxed and nothing gets done over lunchtimes (12-2.30), Sundays, August or December.

So after 6 weeks living in the beautiful Dordogne area of France, what has been true, false or a complete surprise?

The biggest and most welcome surprise, has been how wonderfully friendly and helpful everyone is. From the schools, doctors, shop keepers, strangers, everyone has been brilliant. Not once have I felt uncomfortable or made to feel foolish. One shop keeper (who owns the most fabulous clothes store in Brantôme) went out of her way to help us find furniture. The advice and time given but expecting nothing but  friendship in return was a pleasure.

This brings me onto another false expectation. Every French person has at least tried to meet me halfway with the language. My attempt at French is met with a wry smile. So between hand gestures and basic language on both parts, dealing with life in France has gone well.

Some things have been true. The French LOVE baguettes. They LOVE a long lunch – nothing opens or gets done between 12-2:30 including all shops, supermarkets, doctors, etc… We have found this a difficult adjustment, often finding ourselves in a ghost town between those hours. Same goes for Sundays, you have no choice but to spend it with your family (whether you want to or not!).

Another true stereotype is the French love French food. As a family, we love an Indian takeaway, British fish and chips,  Mexican fajitas and many other different cuisines. Well that went out the shuttered window very quickly! Either you pay triple the price for anything British (cheddar is €5 for a small cube) and don’t even talk about teabags! Same for Mexican. The only item remotely Indian is Uncle Bens curry, I’ve had to get a food parcel flown in for Bombay potato mix and Mango chutney. And as for traditional fish and chips, well fair enough some things should remain on sacred land.

To summarise, you don’t need to know a lot of French to live here. However, to make friends and make life more fulfilling I am very keen to learn as much as possible. Be friendly and people will be friendly in return. Don’t go out at lunchtimes or Sundays, expect to be bloated on rich food and baguettes and take your time, there’s no rush!

Au revoir for now

The Pantry’s 🇫🇷



One Month Already! Why? When? How?

One month, belairlecamping,

Wow where did that month go? What brought us to this point? Were we mad? Let me explain.

France…living abroad…starting afresh…the idea started as a tiny spark in the background of many, many ideas and began to grow and grow, until one fateful night that spark came to light a fire. Sure, we have spoken about living abroad, hasn’t everyone over a glass of wine at some point? I believe in God and also believe in the Law of Attraction, both of which have similar themes. Seek and you shall Find, Ask and you will Receive.

Well for the last few years we have both prayed for an answer for a problem we couldn’t express and spoken at length for an opportunity to live our lives to its fullest potential. We have youth (one of us;) wisdom (sometimes) and a yearning to live a life less ordinary. Life is for living, not slaving away to make someone else rich, or to spend all our wages on keeping up appearances. That spark is now truely a flame, igniting a fire that had been there the whole time, just needing fuel, direction and breathing space.

Ask and receive, Seek and Find. Things I love: Family. Friends. Food. Wine. Being outdoors. Trying new things. Organising. Holidays. So God and the Universe via a series of events came up with a plan. I put this to my husband one evening. “So how about living in France; glamping is a great way to use all our skills, our girls will love the way of life and we get cheap wine?”

Four months later I’m now writing this blog. Wow how life can deliver when you least expect it! It’s not been all plain sailing. Blooming Brexit happened at the WORST possible time with the exchange rate now the worst for years!!! This limbo period before we get going with the renovations is painful at times! The girls miss their friends at nursery, days out at the zoo and family time. We have no time alone to discuss what the future holds or to have a normal adult conversation and living here coming into winter, this period feels an eternity.

And yet. The end (or rather the beginning) is in sight. We get the keys to the campsite and our new house next month, in time for Christmas. We return to see friends and family for a few short days for my birthday. Our eldest starts school in January, a welcome event for us all! Followed by months of hard work, mega spending and finding our way in a language we are yet to master! This is what we came here for (sings Rihanna in the background) and yes, I can’t wait!

Au revoir

The Pantry’s


A tale of two halves 

About us a tale of two halves

It’s been a week of two halves for the Pantry’s.

On one half we’ve been enjoying adventure filled days out in the Autumn sunshine. Though France is probably best known for scorching summers and snowy skiing winters, Autumn is simply a gorgeous season to explore the villages, towns, rivers and chateaus that make this region so popular.

Check out our photos for examples of how beautiful the Dordogne is. We can only imagine (being our first year in France) how beautiful the scenery is when covered in winters frost and fog and then watching nature literally spring back to life in Spring.

That’s why we’ve decided to keep Belair le Camping open all year round, for those explorers/adventurers/glampers who appreciate nature is all its glory.

All types of our accommodation are fitted with wood burners, thanks to our super supplier  Soulpad who have provided our Bell Tents and stoves to keep us cool all summer and cosy all winter!

The other half has been busy increasing our awareness of Belair le Camping on social media. We haven’t opened yet but getting a lot of support via our Facebook and Instagram accounts and our audience has gone global!

We’ve also been busy trying to add plug ins onto our website to enable holiday makers to check availability, book online and pay securely via Paypal. This is vital to keep us up to date with competitors and make it easy to book directly with us. Will update once this becomes available.

Hope everyone has been enjoying Halloween and making the most of the sunshine whilst it lasts,

Au revoir

The Pantrys

Belairlecamping plan d'eau

Designing the glampsite 

Glampsite belairlecamping

Now that the contracts are signed and deposit paid, we have begun the design process and budgeting for our dream glamping site. In a dream world, money would be no object which is not the case! However, we have discovered some hidden gems during our return visit to the glampsite, and with imagination, hard work and creativity a lot of what we want to achieve can be done.

The social area:

Where the existing caravan sits, is a large wooden area near the pool, perfect for a social area. Whip away the caravan (which will be prettied up and used as a honesty shop elsewhere) lay the flooring, bar, chiminea, tables and chairs, pretty lighting set, get the music on and wine out, job done!

The pool area:

Currently, an overground pool sits beneath a beautiful pine tree, in the middle of the campsite. In 2018, we hope to instal a underpool to compliment this pool. As you can see from the pictures, with a lot of decking and then landscaping around the existing pool, it can become quite fabulous!

Outdoor cinema:

The glampsite is set in 4 acres of beautiful grassland and woodland, with a gentle slop on the right hand side. This slope makes a perfect setting for our outdoor cinema, imagine warm summer evenings enjoying a classic film, or cuddling under a blanket during the cooler starry nights…

Lots more projects also underway such as the shower block renovation, possible games room in the barn, erecting the belle tents, furnishing and decorating the accommodation, the list is endless!

Au revoir for now!

The Pantrys

Dordogne…the Pantry’s have arrived! 

Pantry's Dordogne

I’m sitting here writing my blog snuggled up in our rental gîte, with a glass of vin rouge with a big grin but tired bones.

Been a very busy 48 hours, moving house then staying in Dover with two girls who hate sleeping. Up at 2:30am😪 but the trip to our gîte couldn’t have gone better, thankful for the safe journey.

We meet with the notaire (solicitor) on Monday to sign the Compris de Vente and start formal proceedings, which takes around 2 months. We are committed at this stage so no going back! 😱 On Tuesday we see the campsite and house and gite again, hoping to take lots of photos and put a plan in the place for the glampsite.

But in the meantime, we are making the most of the beautiful sunshine and we have visited a bustling local market in Thiviers, Ben asked for 24 potatoes in French, which the lady found hilarious 😂 After a classic lunch of baguette, Brie and grapes we had a hike around the fairytale chateaux at Jumilhac de Grand, only 6 miles away.

Hence the big grin and tired bones but most of all, a happy soul.

Bon soir  🇫🇷

The Pantry’s

Google 👀 search


Blimey, I think I’ve finally cracked getting onto Google, so if you search Belair le camping it should appear!

The more people that search for us using Google, the higher our site will appear on Google pages so if you haven’t yet taken a look, please do! Until we are in France, the site is constantly evolving so any feedback would be great. Please press the like button on any pages on the site as this all helps to get us further up the ranks!🔝

There is another campsite called Belair camping but this is not us! We are Belair Le Camping.

BTW, our name derives from our village Champagnac de Belair. This takes me back to memories (and rap) of Fresh Prince of Belair so never a bad thing!

We are set to move into our rented house (see image) in Sarrazac 10th October so the race is on to get the house packed, addresses updated and learn French pretty quick 🇫🇷

Au revoir!

The Pantrys



New website!

New website

After some advice, I’ve decided to switch to WordPress for our Glampsite, that was a painful move! Though not a professional, I’d like to think I can put a website together, but WordPress makes life very difficult!

Nevertheless I’m pleased with the end result, and look forward to tweaking the content as our plans come together.

We’ve now got an email address for enquiries, an Instagram page and now beginning to advertise on glamping websites which is amazing!

We are also on track to move to France in October 2016, hence lots of boxes, bubble wrap and tip runs going on in the Pantry household!

Bon soir for now, time to relax with a glass of vin rouge 🍷