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Rural migration - Why do the British move to French idylls?

August 2013

Around 200,000 Britons live in France. A considerable number of these live in rural areas and it is estimated that Britons own 3% of the French countryside (including vineyards, farms and forests)

Since the 19th century, British citizens have moved to rural France in search of an ‘unspoilt’ and ‘rustic’ way of life. This is driven by an idyllic vision of life in rural France, complete with a picturesque landscape and a simple way of life.

Because the UK and France are both part of the European Union (EU), it is relatively straightforward for the British to migrate to and work in France. Visas and work permits are not required and residents of EU countries have the same working rights as French nationals.

The relocation of the British middle classes to the Lot can be classed as ‘lifestyle migration’. But how do people’s ideas of rural France compare to the realities of living there? This research investigates how France is imagined by the British middle classes and how it is actually experienced through everyday residential life there.


AQA – AS Level, unit 1 (Population change) A case study to illustrate the way migration affects the character of a rural area.

Edexcel – AS Level, unit 2 (Managing rural rebranding) An example of rural tourism and diversification in the post-productive countryside.

OCR – AS Level, unit F762 (Managing rural change) Examines the social and economic issues associated with rural change, including depopulation/repopulation and decline/growth.

WJEC – AS Level, unit G2 (Investigating population change) Investigates the role of migration in population change, including the characteristics of international lifestyle migration.

In the Members' Area:

  • Research methodology
  • About the lot
  • National out-migration
  • International in-migration
  • Who migrates?
  • Why do they migrate?
  • A view from the researcher
  • Living in the Lot
  • Making a living

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