View from the Foothills of France

Some personal views on living, working,
bringing up family and making the dream happen in the most beautiful region of France. View from the Foothills of France also includes some personal and professional thoughts and tips on finding and buying the perfect property in the Ariège and Haute Garonne regions.

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Flying high – Toulouse International Airport

Cockpit of Airbus380. Photo by Captain Dave Wallsworth (@DaveWallsworth)

In the last decade, Toulouse airport has become a major international transport hub, bolstered by the growing industry in the region including the presence of the Airbus headquarters, the largest cancer research centre in Europe and the increasing number of high tech industries in and around the city.

Last year, Toulouse airport had a record 14.6 percent increase in traffic to 9.2 million passengers, making it the fifth-largest in France. This was driven mainly by the growth of low-cost European airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair, with international flights now making up half of its traffic. There are at least 11 flights a day just to Paris and British Airways operates three flights a day to Heathrow. There are also direct long haul flights to most of France’s overseas territories.

The airport is partly owned (49.99%) by Casil Europe, a holding company created by China’s state-owned Shandong Hi-Speed Group and the Hong Kong-based Friedmann Pacific Asset Management. Local governments and the Toulouse Chamber of Commerce together own a minority 40 percent stake and the French government owns the additional 10.01 percent.

Casil Europe has said it wants to boost traffic to 18 million passengers by 2046, in large part by developing connections to Chinese destinations.

Investment in regional airports undoubtedly has a hugely beneficial knock-on effect for local areas and economies and the influences are already being seen in this part of the South West. There is a growing number of job and business opportunities and the area is increasingly dynamic with people from all over the world choosing to make this region their home. If you would like help in moving to and finding property in this region, please get in touch:

A better climate at any time of year

While the rest of France and most of Europe is shivering under a blanket of snow and an onslaught of icy winds from Siberia, we are enjoying sunshine and spring weather here in our little corner of the foothills. This is often the case in this region because, cliché though it is, we have a microclimate in the valleys of the Pyrenees thanks to the protected location with the mountains to the south, the Atlantic to the west and the Mediterranean to the East plus rolling hills in all directions.

That’s not to say that it is balmy all year round but, being a long way south with both gentle Atlantic and Mediterranean influences we do not seem to suffer the extremes of weather of other areas such as floods, or heavy snow or heatwaves; we have a very benign climate with all the benefits that brings.

There is sometimes a belief (especially amongst Brits) that if you can see mountains and snow on the horizon, the climate must be a mountain one but that is not at all the case in the Pyrenees (perhaps more so in the Alps). Whilst we can be skiing within an hour here in the winter, the climate is very different between the valleys and the higher mountains. Yesterday for example, I set off from home in double digit temperatures and sunshine and yet, within 40 minutes of heading into the mountains, having reached 900 metres of altitude, I was in snow and minus temperatures.

If you are looking for a climate that is sunny in winter, cold but not freezing and with views of mountains and snow but not in the snow; warm but not over hot in summer with plenty of rain in the shoulder seasons to keep the hills green, then this could be the perfect climate for you.

South West France open for business

Chateau Saint Michel

In the past, most foreigners buying a property in France were looking for either a holiday house or a property for their retirement. This has changed in the last ten years and I am seeing a younger generation of buyers including singles, couples and young families moving to this part of France with the aim to either work locally or to run their own business. In addition, there are more and more international buyers who commute backwards and forwards or work remotely.

There is no doubt that the wide spread availability of fast internet all over France has made this more possible but there is also still a strong vein running underneath that the quality of life in France is better and that people are looking for a more balanced lifestyle along with an income stream.

That’s not to say that taking the plunge and moving to live and work in France is easy, even in this region where we have good communications and easy access to most of the rest of Europe. It is always very hard to set up and run a business and even more of a challenge in a foreign country and in another language. That said, I am always astonished at the number of successful foreign entrepreneurs I come across out here who are doing just that. One of the more recent is a brave lady who has bought and renovated one of our local Chateaux (Chateau St Michel) and has succeeded in setting up a successful wedding, events and luxury holiday venue complete with Pilates studio and fitness retreats (also run by another incoming entrepreneuress).

Of course, we are blessed in this location with everything on our doorstep – Toulouse on one side and the Pyrenees and then Spain on the other with all the charm of rural France in the middle which provides opportunities for all sorts of lifestyles and projects. Nevertheless, it takes some doing to set up a business of the quality of Chateau St Michel which is succeeding in attracting foreign clients and a variety of businesses and events while supporting the local artisans, producers and the economy here in the Ariège. Take a look for yourself by clicking on the links below. I take my hat off to anyone who is prepared to invest so much time, effort and earnings to set up something truly special in a little-known area and make a huge success of it.

It is always good to see that, in our small corner of France, incomers are welcomed and businesses, new projects and lives are thriving. If you are thinking of moving here to set up a new life or new business and looking for the right property, get in touch:


Top 10 things to do when looking for the perfect house in France


  1. Call me
  2. I’ll deal with the other nine…


Wishing you a wonderful 2018; may all your property dreams come true

if you want to discuss your property search, get in touch at: