or, ‘What will the paysans think of your chateau rescue shenanigans’

In the English speaking world calling someone a peasant is a term of abuse. You could say that ‘peasants’ in the UK are an unprotected and disappeared species. In France the word for peasant, ‘paysanne’, is a badge of honour. If you are a ‘vrai’ Paysanne’, you are a keeper of secrets and skills of the countryside, holding the fort against a rising tide of rubbish. Rubbish food, adulterated dairy, radiated lettuces. A modern life of keyboards and fashionable ideas in a pre-fabricated world.

Paysannes still pick great bundles…

A Guide to living in rural France

After renovating a French Medieval and Renaissance castle for 20 Years we were invited to appear on the channel 4 programme Escape to the Chateau DIY.

This book is inspired by the other chateau owners on the programme and the regions of France where they chose to settle.

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Part 1

Bienvenue — Welcome

Who this guide is for

I wrote this guide for people planning or dreaming of a move to rural France. The possibilities are vast and inviting. Whether you’re overwhelmed by the choice or looking for…


Welcoming volunteers #escapetothechateauDIY

Many châteaunauts enjoy welcoming volunteers.

Volunteers were a benefit James a​​nd I were not anticipating when we embarked on our castle rescue dream. We moved from Elephant and Castle in London to a tiny village south of Carcassonne, in the Aude, one of the least populated departments of France.

A read that will take you behind the scenes, to meet the castle renovators from Channel 4’s Escape to the Château DIY (a spin-off from Dick and Angel Strawbridge’s Escape to the Château).

Sophie Duncan reports from Château de Lalande

Part 1- Introduction

Are we a random and eclectic collection of Brits. Reckless investors? Lovers of old buildings? Plain bonkers? Follow me on a deeper journey into the trials and tribulations of renovating in France.

Channel 4 made television out of the phenomena of Brits moving to France. We escape an overpriced, overcrowded UK for a France that offers the possibility of an affordable home, a second home or business premises with character and space that has become the domain of the financial elite in the UK.

The paradox is that although we…

You have heard of Spinal Tap (1984), A mockumentary that followed a hapless yet endearing rock band on their comeback tour.

“Not even an album cover”

Here is the lesser-known female equivalent, who never quite get it right either. Low budget stalks womankind even to the land of satyric mockumentary — and this girl band, the Hag Bags don’t even have an album cover.

Presenting their first album You’ll Do.

Album 1: You’ll Do

Side 1

You’ll do

Have a little bit of initiative

Let’s talk about Tex Mex Baby

You didn’t say you loved me today

We’re still fond of each other

Where are you going?

Side 2

Your Best Friend

I can teach you to Dance

I’m offside waiting for your pass


Summertown has been without its own book shop since 2018 when the Book House, on South Parade, closed its doors after nearly 40 years of service. Sadly the impact of Kindle and Amazon proved a fatal blow for this much loved establishment. How will Daunt, which opened to the public on August 1 this year survive, where the Book House failed?

When the first Daunt bookshop opened in Marylebone in 1990 it was a specialist travel book shop. There are now several branches and most recently Daunt, Oxford. The travel and place-specific theme still informs the layout of every Daunt…

Alternative or Complémentaire

Approaches to health in France

​Alternative or Complementaire

French luxury sets a world standard. French Viticulture, perfume and fashion are icons of today’s infatuation with luxury.

Over twenty years, a fastidiousness about quality in the ordinary realm too had drawn my attention. The principle of égalité strikes deep.

​Although France is a super medicalised society, the French have not thrown out traditional remedies with the bathwater. In matters of health, worthy traditions, that have all but disappeared in the Anglo Saxon world, still thrive.

Here I will tell you a few of my favourites and how I get…

Alter Ego News letter

France in Spring 2021

Although it will be some time until travel to and from France is not wearisome, don’t be disheartened. True, you are missing the almond blossom, the orchids and the first food frenzies that sweep France in the lead up to Easter. But it really does look now as if travelling will be less arduous by cherry season. The Covid-19 thaw has begun.

Almond blossom in February at St Ferriol

Getting to and from France now

Were you to set off for France now, once you have put aside the couple of thousand pounds you might need to quarantine…

Real tips to help you find your match

Having dated for a while I have been fooled into thinking that I could love men that don’t French kiss, or only like having conversations with people who think as they do, or judge using emojis as a sign of mental fragility.

To cut the chasms of misunderstanding possible with the traditional information of these websites, here is an alternative list of questions to help you filter out the ones that look as if they might be for you, but aren’t.

Would love to hear your own suggestions, to help us all find love.

This one is a bit British…

“Whether you dream of a castle, a plot or a shepherd’s hut this informative and entertaining guide will help you find your France”

Want to move to France, but don’t know where to begin? Or perhaps you have already arrived, and are overwhelmed by the choice or bewildered by the language.

I threw myself into the day-to-day and business life of rural France over 20 years ago when my husband and I — almost on a whim — decided to move there, renovate a Château, run a business, and make it our home.

My stories will entertain you, and I’ll help you turn dreams into plans. …

Sophie Duncan

I moved to France from London in 1996. I write about my experiences, to inspire and help others make the leap https://motivated-writer-8145.ck.page/94c0ea4bc7

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