Owners interview: Family life in the Languedoc…

The Buisson family

The Buisson family

The Languedoc-Roussillon is a region in Southern France and has five departments. Owners Louise and Franck set up home in the ‘department’ Pyrenees-Orientales and transformed an old derelict house into four child-friendly holiday apartments. Here is their story…

Myself, Louise, English came to France for university and never went back to the UK. Married Franck, French from the Ardèche region, and we have 2 boys aged 8 & 6.

Why did you decide to start your own holiday accommodation business?building pool2

We wanted to live in a nice environment for us and our family. found a very large property and it was a good way of being able to afford to have a bit more space around us than the norm !!

What was the toughest part about setting it up?

The tremendous amount of work we had to do to the very un-looked after property. then the week after we bought the house there was a huge snow storm, which like never happens here, and there was so much snow we could’nt access the house, Fallen trees everywhere etc. !! We couldn’t really afford all of the work so were using our customers holiday deposits to pay for the builders – the work had to be finished on time as we couldn’t even reimburse the paid holidays, and was a very stressful experience !!

Rural child-friendly holidays

Rural child-friendly holidays

And what was the most memorable/enjoyable?

Our children have the best play ground ever, and when we organise birthday parties the kids just have so much fun its brilliant !

The woodland play area

The woodland play area

The gardens are fabulous for play

The gardens are fabulous for play

What couldn’t you live without and why?

The tranquillity and the beautiful setting, I could now never go back and live in a city, you get used to the countryside very quickly.

Resident donkeys

Resident donkeys

What does your average working day involve?

Organising the children, making breakfasts for the b&b clients, cleaning rooms & gîtes, taking réservations.

What advice would you give to families wanting to holiday with you and why is your place so special?

Bring a couple of good books, plenty of suntan lotion and be prepared to unwind. Its the perfect setting for a family Holiday, the children will love it and when its easy to entertain the children, your own Holiday becomes so much more relaxing!

The ponies are always popular!

The ponies are always popular!

If you could pick just two attractions/places to visit in your area what would they be?

Collioure for its beautiful architecture and little quaint Streets full of artists studios. The lake at ST Jean Pla des Corts where there is so much to do for everyone, in a beautiful setting  – tree climbing, bouncy castles in the water, swimming in the lake, feeding the ducks, a great little restaurant ….

Collioure

Collioure

Is there anything you would like to highlight that might be interesting to families with babies/toddlers/young children who are thinking of staying with you?

We obviously have all the baby equipment you will need so less luggage needed. The pool is heated at 30° from mid-march until mid-novembre so even for tinies its perfect, and lots of children have learnt to swim in our pool.

Pool view and distant sea view from the three bedroom holiday apartments

Pool view and distant sea view from one of the apartments

In one sentence can you explain what life is like where you live?

Perfect !

Louise and Franck also have two holiday homes in the centre of Argeles sur Mer they own so if you are looking for a rural child-friendly holiday or want to be in the centre of it all they have both!

You can see all of their holiday homes here and they are all suitable for families looking for a holiday with babies, toddlers and young children. All Holiday Tots families get free linen, cots, high chairs and end of stay clean!

A family story – relocating to the Languedoc

Situated in the Languedoc region in Southern France just a few miles from the coast you will find this luxurious mini small-holding of just three luxury villas.

flam front rm

This family run micro resort offers amazing family friendly holiday packages with children’s club, lovely accommodation, great leisure facilities & activities, breakfast, two evening meals and childcare plus Pilates and other fitness instruction and gym! 

Balcony view

We asked owners Emma and Phil why they decided to move their family here and a little about their daily lives.

So who are the family?

We are a family of four Phil, Emma and two children.  A three year old bubbly girl called Anya, and a creative 6 year old boy called Austin. We lived in Brighton in the UK and then gave up everything to move over to France and start a business.

What inspired you to start your own holiday business?

My husband had less work and was in the house more which meant that me (Emma) using our sitting room as my work space for group pilates classes and massage was not practical.  As our income lessened we started to create ideas how we might change our lifestyle and offer our children the opportunity to learn a language at an early age.  We studied and did due diligence on Gite businesses in France.  I was motivated to offer mothers help.  I had a tough recovery after my pregnancies and I realised that any proper break away that somehow kept the baby close to mum while she might also get some respite or time for herself was indeed a business worth it’s gold.

What was the toughest part about setting it up?

For myself (Emma) it was getting to grips with the french language; joining all the social french systems and dealing with all of the financial and investment aspects to creating and setting up the business.  I attended a lot of the French lifestyle seminars and collected information of property hunters; financial experts, lawyers and looked for information on different regions in France.  Fortunately, my husband’s strengths are my weaknesses and we managed to work together to form our business ideas.

And what was the most memorable/enjoyable?

Memorably,  arriving in Canet and visiting our prospective property in the pouring torrential rain and thinking that this was definitely the right choice.  It was strange as rain is not a frequent occasion here but it was even picturesque and bright in bad weather.  Enjoyably, the second visit lying on the soft sand beach.

What couldnt you live without and why?

I couldn’t live without the amazing sun rises and sun sets, mountains, beach or the interesting and humbling, birds and animals I see on a daily basis.  I am very lucky.

What does your average working day involve

At the moment we are working a renovation so we are doing crazy jobs on top of a normal family life.  We get up and drop the kids and then  nip to Spain to get our pillar toppers, and plants, or visit 2 or 3 local DIY stores to buy paint, curtains, lights, or cleaning equipment.  We paint and sand walls; and do cleaning, cooking and washing for the family.  Other essential jobs are organising the right workman for the job and working through quotes.  Keeping up with the massive amount of paperwork that needs to be scanned and sent to the accountant. We field enquiries from guests.  We regularly visit the bank and need to work with the laborious banking system to keep up payments to the workmen…

What advice would you give to families wanting to holiday with you and why is your place so special?

If you need a break in a beautifully landscaped and picturesque place with all the holiday essentials close to you then grab this opportunity.  Locally at our property we have created cosy spots and facilities for you,and, regionally, we can guarantee you soft sand beaches; portes; mountains; villages; sports; history and a list of excellent restaurants.  Globally, you can even travel to Spain within half an hour or walk to a natural lake (Etang) which has groups of Flamingos; coypu; beavers; herons; cormorants; ducks; kingfishers, seagulls and so much more. 

Flamingos

If you could pick just two attractions/places to visit in your area what would they be?

Personally,  I think a calming walk along Canet promenade over to the Etang to find a secret collection of magnificent birds is a treat.  Or visiting Collioure with it’s hidden bay; boutiques; history layered castles and view point restaurants.

Is there anything you would like to highlight that might be interesting to families with babies/toddlers/young children who are thinking of staying with you?

Cosy accommodation; plenty of baby facilities; our children who always love to play with others; facilities on site for exercise, relaxation and sun bathing.  Good food, fun and plenty of well organised children’s activities that may help mum and dad spend time together.  Interestingly, previous guests have also highlighted our safe perimeter fencing; relaxing pool area with pool towels, Wifi and the useful programmed SAT Nav we can issue to guests.  Most people are surprised by our excellent service for massage, pilates or post natal recovery. 

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In one sentence can you explain what life is like where you live?

Warm, hearty, friendly people in a scenic panaromic landscape, full of historical sites, and community walking paths.

Visit our website for more details on their child friendly holiday villas.

Do you have a story to tell? Have you relocated? Why not share it with us?