A Culture-Rich Retirement in Brittany, France

In 2016, Carol Jean Lonsdale and her husband, Scott, swapped a fast-paced life in the U.S. for a much slower one in Brittany, France.

"We wanted more culture and more access to the rest of Europe, to be able to get in the car and be somewhere completely different in a few hours," says Carol. "Plus, housing is more affordable here, and healthcare too."

They found that the French lifestyle matched their priorities better than life in the U.S. had. "The U.S. is just frenetic and so busy. People work long hours, they don't take holidays, and it's all about making money. We were just sick of it. We wanted to go somewhere saner and more stable, a place which appreciates more things to life than how much money you can bring in or what school you can send your kids to," she says.

"In France there's such a great amount of care taken with how well things are managed, maintained, and appreciated… And did we mention the wine?

"There's a very art friendly, sophisticated ambience about France. In other countries we've visited there wasn't such a depth of culture that we could connect with." Carol is a painter and Scott has a degree in art history, and their shared interest in culture initially drew them to the South of France, where they spent the first few months of their journey visiting Roman remains and trekking."

Staying in Airbnb houses and apartments, they were able to get discounts of 50% or more when booking by the month. They paid less per month than they had paid on their mortgage plus utilities at home.

"There is something very comforting about the countryside in the South of France: the Mediterranean atmosphere, the Cathar Castles, the vines. There is a similarity between Los Angeles and certain places like Perpignan. We thought, 'This is what Los Angeles might have been like before all the clouds and smog,'" says Carol.

Although the south looked lovely, it was a bit too quiet for their taste, so they didn't stop searching for their perfect spot. They spent the next couple of years traveling around France, looking for a destination that met all their preferences. This is how they came to settle in Brittany.

"Brittany is great for history and archaeology. There are megalithic sites dating from the Neolithic and the Bronze age. In terms of culture, we have a perfect little mix. We are about two miles from La Gacilly, which is an artsy town with lots of ateliers (artistic workshops). We are only 40 minutes from Vannes, which is stunningly beautiful. It has a little port, and walled town, a wonderful market on Saturdays, and lots of cute shops and restaurants in the town center.

"There's a lot happening here. Last Sunday we went down to a town called La Roche Bernard, and we were hanging out in a restaurant where there was live Celtic music.

"The weather is surprisingly good too, because we are in the southeastern part of Morbihan, which is one of the sunniest and warmest places during winter in France. We get almost as much sun as the French Riviera."

Financially, Carol finds life very affordable in France. Because of their nest egg, they don't need any extra income, but they do like to keep busy, so Scott has recently got certified as an English teacher, and Carol continues to create paintings she can sell.

"Right now, with our very simple lifestyle, we don't feel any financial struggle, but we know the opportunity is there if we need it," says Carol.

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