We went to France ….. and then we came back.


We live in Yorkshire.  Until March 2014, we had lived in the Ariège, southern France, and we spent six and a half years there.  I shared many of the experiences we had there in this blog, which was then called ‘Life in Laroque‘.  I wrote about the walks we shared with the groups we belonged to, singing with our local choir, our efforts to refurbish our home, which was an old ex-butcher’s shop, our discoveries about the history of the area…. and just life in general.  Our day-to-day experiences were as important as trips within the area and beyond, and I look back at my blog as being an invaluable diary for me, reminding me of this very special chapter in our lives.


We came back, but not because we were unhappy. Far from it.  We hope that within the French community where we lived, Laroque d’Olmes, we’ve made friends for life.  We really tried to roll our sleeves up and integrate into the day-to-day life of our community, and that effort seemed to pay off, as we got included in local events and became as much a part of the fabric of daily life in our community as others who’d lived there for much of their lives.
But the lure of family and friends proved too much and we came home.  Not to our original town, Harrogate.  After more than six years of small-town life, it seemed far too big and busy.  We chose Ripon, the smaller town up the road which is twinned with Foix in the Ariège.  And actually, we’re not living there either.  We’re in a village a little further north, North Stainley.

This blog, then, is in two parts. Early entries look at our life in Laroque d’Olmes, and later on our life in North Yorkshire takes centre stage.

And now I’ve started another blog too, detailing our family’s history.  It’s called ‘Notes on a family‘, and you can find it here.


Yorkshire Dales, near Grewelthorpe.



67 thoughts on “We went to France ….. and then we came back.

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Margaret. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and will keep up with it as I can through the move and settling back in to America. You are missed on Peckett’s Way. If you find yourself in my neck of the woods, please be sure and look me up.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh thanks, Leann. I had no idea you read the blog. You ought to write one too you know. I’d love to keep up with your experiences as you re-settle in a country that may have changed in ways that surprise you – or perhaps not – after such a long absence. Good luck, and I do hope we’ll meet again, whether in the US or here in France.


  2. Hi Margaret. We are just in the process of buying a house in Laroque, on Avenue Jean Jaures. We (myself, wife Elizabeth and daughter Lydia (16)) live in Nottingham whilst elder daughter lives with boyfriend (French) in Toulouse – hence the reason for choosing this region. We intend to spend as much time as we can (work permitting) in Laroque, joined by friends and family when possible. We are also considering renting it out when not in residence to allow others the benefit of the beautiful area. We do intend to integrate as much as we can and whilst not wanting to live in an ‘expat’ community it would be useful for us to have a few tips. We should be finalising the purchase in early April, perhaps we may be able to meet?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In our case, we did have family reasons to come back, and while I still feel the pull of France and friends there, both countries have such a lot to offer. We feel lucky to be comfortable in both places.


  3. What an interesting life you have had! Similar to us – we live for over half the year on our yacht in Greece. It was going to be full time, but the lure of my precious little grandchildren was too much, so now we come back to uk over the winter. I’ve never been to Yorkshire, can you believe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No I can’t! You must put this right. And here was me thinking what an interesting life you’ve had too. But in the end, grandchildren win, don’t they? Quite right too.


  4. Hi Margaret, I have been enjoying your blog recently. You write so well. I have an art exhibition in September and came up with the title “From the Pyrenees to the Pennines”. So I googled it to see if it had been used before and your blog came up. I didn’t pinch your title, honest! The parallels are quite uncanny: we lived in the Aude for nearly ten years and came back to Saddleworth, also in 2014. If you don’t mind giving me your email address I will send you an invitation to the opening on 9 September. It would be lovely to meet you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting how you moved to France, lived there for 6 years and loved it, and then moved back. That’s how I felt when I moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for 4 years in 1980! Sometimes family will pull us back, won’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think it was you who commented on my blog piece (https://eklastic.wordpress.com/2020/01/20/questions-fragen/ ) wasn’t it? I hadn’t even finished reading it when my cat walked over the keyboard and your comment was trashed. I couldn’t retrieve it because my “un-trash” button had disappeared. I’m sorry about that because your comment started very kind. [I just realised that “my cat walked over my keyboard” must be the electronic age equivalent to “my dog ate my homework”. But it did happen!! ]

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I did comment on your post! I think your students are lucky to have you. You go the extra mile, as the trouble you have gone to to make contact with me shows. Brilliant excuse though … ‘The cat deleted my homework’. I’ll remember that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Margaret, We spent overnight in York after our 2016 European holiday. A couple I met in 1976 live in York. I/We have remained in Christmas contact ever since. In 1998 they visited us when we were still living on the farm.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Margaret, we loved our many trips to North Yorkshire over the years we housesat. Rippon was a favourite. The village in both France and the UK are both worth living in. I wished picking up laguages was easy for me. Anway, good on you for taking a punt and getting out there and changing your lifestyle for those years. We will never regret housesitting and living in Europe.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Everyone has a story, and yours is interesting. Moving to another country and trying to integrate is quite the undertaking. Cheers to your effort … but the allure of friends and family was too strong to overcome … and that’s OK.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fascinating story – of living in such beautiful areas.
    I’m sure many of us dream of the architecture, villages and countryside in France, but it sounds as though you have been braver than most in your moves, and as a result, have good friends in France and the UK – I’m not surprised!
    E 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Comments closed everywhere, Margaret! I wanted to write i miss you – but hope you are having a lovely time with your daughter and family! I loved your take on white and the little blossom in the palette. My favourite is the high key.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks Ann-Christine. I have no idea why comments are closed, as the comments widget clearly shows that I invite comments. Good old WP! It’s been quite refreshing to be completely blog-free this month, even though I miss you all, and will be back. But really … it’s just too hot, and my little granddaughter is just too engaging.

    Liked by 1 person

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