Cheshire couple in Provence, France

Moving abroad can be full of pitfalls, but for Poynton couple Julie and Selwyn Aldred it has proved to be a life-changing experience. Julie tells their story<br/><br/>PICTURES BY SELWYN ALDRED

When we sold our ski-ing and sailing shop in Poynton seven years ago, my husband Selwyn and I were looking for a change of lifestyle. But we weren’t ready to give up our working life and wanted to invest in something, so a holiday home in the sun seemed like a good plan. We bought a house in the South of France in 2003 and it has been a kaleidoscope of experiences ever since.

Selwyn continued his financial work in Manchester and we took every opportunity to visit France. Within the year, eager to pass on my enthusiasm and happy to employ my language and business skills, I found myself marketing French property to the British. My visits were now becoming more prolonged and a long-term health issue forced us to take the radical decision to move permanently to France.

Our house is nestled amongst the vineyards and is situated in the Gard, officially in the Languedoc-Roussillon. This is often referred to as Provence, when its historic monuments are borrowed by Proven�al tourist guides. The Romans left their mark here with the magnificent Pont du Gard and the Ar�nes in Nimes and I refer to the area, being equidistant between Italy and Spain, as the ‘Real South of France’.

Selwyn and I now wake up in the mornings staring out at sharp blue skies and sunshine and our busy days are filled with helping English speakers find their dream home in France. One day we could be in Carcassonne wandering around La Cit�, the next we could be strolling along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, all of course in the name of work!

Between that, renovating a house and renting out a property in the lovely medieval village of V�z�nobres, life is never dull.

Our leisure time now is one adventure after another and we are constantly discovering amazing places. On hot sunny summer days we can be lazing on sun loungers at a Michelin-starred beach restaurant or sailing on the Med. Autumn in the Cevennes Mountains is a glow of rich colour  and in winter a short drive to a local ski field or a mooch around the vibrant towns of Uz�s, Montpellier or Avignon is exciting and inspiring. Spring brings the promise of blooming vineyards, lavender and sunflower fields, what more could we ask for?

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A casualty of leaving your home country and familiar surroundings though is the people you leave behind. Far from losing contact however, it has encouraged friends and family to visit and surprisingly, we get to spend more quality time with them.

As we sip our grand cr�me coffee at Le Petit Jardin Caf� in Anduze between leisurely banter with new-found friends and a glance at the Sunday papers, we reflect on how different our routine is now, but vive la difference!For more information or to contact Julie and Selwyn Aldred visit www.realsouthfrance.com or email info@realsouthfrance.com

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