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A French Renaissance?: An Irish Family Moves to France Paperback – 23 Jun 2014

9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Orpen Press (23 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909895385
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909895386
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 328,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eamon O'Hara was born in 1968 and grew up in a rural, farming community near Bagenalstown in County Carlow, Ireland. At 17 he moved to Dublin where he went to university and got his first taste of city life. He graduated in 1989, a period of great economic uncertainty in Ireland, but found a job at Carlow Institute of Technology and then got busy being creative (playing in local rock band, Treehouse) and entrepreneurial, co-founding Carlow Brewing Company (O'Hara's Brewery) with his brother Seamus in 1996. In 2001, he moved to Brussels to work in European affairs and in 2013, a longstanding interest in the environment and ecology led him to co-found ECOLISE, the European network for local action on climate change and sustainability. He now lives with his wife and two children in southwest France, where they run a successful tourism business, try to live life in the slow lane, to be sustainble, and to avoid getting too attached to the fantastic local Cahors wines. This is Eamon's first book!

Product Description

About the Author

Eamon O Hara is a freelance writer. A co-founder of Carlow Brewing Company, he lived in Brussels for nine years, working for the European Commission. He now runs a holiday home in the Lot Valley, in south-western France, with his wife Tanya.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Swizzlestick on 26 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
Moving to France has been the dream of tens of thousands of Francophiles for decades. Pots of geraniums, fields of lavender and sunflowers, crusty baguettes, cheeses galore, accordion music, inexpensive wines, the climate, peaceful rivers, golden beaches, France has it all. How easy it is to fall in love with the dream of starting a new life here. With property prices currently at a 5-year low, it's a buyer's market.

There are people who are happy to take the plunge into the unknown, prepared to live with the consequences, but the dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if they haven't done their homework.

For Eamon and his wife, it was not a decision made on the spur of the moment. They had two children to consider and were prepared to bide their time to ensure that if and when they made the move, they were doing the right thing. That led to a long and often frustrating experience with unreliable estate agents, awkward vendors and negotiations that seemed to go on forever before they finally moved into their property. Even once they had made the move, problems kept raising their heads, and the family needed all its resilience and patience to create the life they wanted and eventually found.

Anybody considering moving to France should read this book. By all means also read the tales of quaint foreigners, busy markets and integrating with the locals, but temper them with a serious reality check!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By WJones on 8 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed reading "A French Renaissance" and would recommend it to anyone thinking of setting up home- Gite-business in a rural part of France - or indeed, anyone simply wanting to share the dream of Eamon and his family. While there have been many books written in English, of the 'escape-to-foreign-clime' genre - this book stands out for its honesty, simplicity and gentle humour. I enjoyed in particular, the early section introducing the reasons for the family's departure from Brussels and the amusing descriptions of adapting to life in rural, southwestern France. I laughed out loud at some of the passages e.g. the author accidently drives hs car into a hole enroute for the Notaire's office, the tale of the ludicrously over-priced 'devis' (estimates) for work on their new house-cum-chateau - and the account of the supremely useless, gas oven-fitter. Moreover, I found such descriptions believable - unlike the numerous, annoyingly over-romantacised books that have followed on since Peter Mayle's 'discovery' of Provence.
Importantly, and, a first for me, is to have found an account of moving abroad, which provides a realistic breakdown of costs. This means readers can judge for themselves whether this kind of business is a realistic venture (without a fortune stashed away for contingencies) for a family with young children. So many books start off with a ruin, turn it into an estate agent's dream - and no mention of how much this all costs! I look forward to a follow-up and to finding out more about how the family adapt to living the dream.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Outdoor Girl on 18 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I, too, read this book in one sitting. During a long weekend escape to the countryside, surrounded by family, and with time to reflect on its content. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It is an easy read as Eamon tells his story to you as if you are sitting together with him, chatting over a drink. He is extremely honest as he explains in detail to set the scene as to why the family made a fundamental life decision to move to rural France. I could identify with his soul-searching as to whether this was the right thing to do and especially as to whether he would still be able to provide for his family if they stepped out of the demanding and ever-more intensive circle of city life and exhaustingly bureaucratic jobs. But also with his vision and gut-feeling that there is a better way to live - all it takes is courage (and good planning!) to succeed.

The first part of his story explains just how agonising it was at times trying to find the right rural location and property - you can really feel the tension of the family during the crucial hours before they finally secured the house of their dreams. The rest of the story tells of many incidents during the first two years in Laborie (their house) which help to illustrate that it is not only the courage to make a life-changing move that is needed, but the stamina to find solutions to every challenge in order to fulfil your dream. Again, Eamon's honesty about how much despair he felt at times and how he questioned himself about having made the right choices were very touching and struck a deep chord.

All the descriptions and open sharing of thoughts and emotions are followed up at the end of the book by a very practical list of things to think about if you too are considering such a life-changing move.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By FrenchVillageDiaries on 30 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed this gentle and amusing memoir about an Irish couple, Eamon and Tanya, who move to Brussels for work, become a family with the arrival of Ned and Astrid and decide to make a new rural home in The Lot, France.

With their hearts set on the full fairytale French life, they find their modest chateau, with two towers and plenty of acreage, but even in the early stages their journey was not without a bit of heartache. I could almost hear Eamon’s lilting Irish accent as he took me with him to follow their dream, holding my hand to guide me through some of the more difficult situations they found themselves in. Their first few months of settling two young children into a new life, while coordinating building works to get the B&B up and running, and welcoming their first guests in the gîte, were more the stuff nightmares are made of, but an essential phase in the relocation process. As someone who has house-hunted in France with a pre-schooler, has experienced ear-splitting storms that come with rain so fierce it forces its way indoors and has had fun and games with local trades people, I could commiserate and/or laugh along. For those still in the dreaming period, hoping one day an idyllic life in rural France could be theirs; read this book, take notes and remember what you’ve read – you have been warned.

I might envy him having a tower to write in, but knowing how much time and effort goes into mowing and maintaining our modest acre of orchard, he can keep his forty acres and his tractor, although I can honestly say I have never read such an emotional chapter about tractors. Ever!

This is one of those memoirs where I have to ask – where did you find the time or energy to write it?
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