Avid A Place in the Sun viewers with a long memory might recall a couple from Manchester looking to buy a home in Brittany around a year ago. Aniko Toth and Steve Kilpatrick flew out for filming in August 2020 and completed their purchase in March 2021.
“We wanted to move somewhere with a slower pace of life, somewhere we could sit and eat outside for several months of the year and also a place with affordable house prices,” says Steve, now 50, who is a music producer and composer.
After having met whilst living in Hungary they were keen to live abroad and had considered other countries. “But the UK would be handy for getting back to see elderly parents and Brittany is easy to drive to,” adds Steve, who co-owns Penny the dog with Aniko. They are 90 minutes away from the ferry port of Roscoff.
The couple had a budget of €110,000 and were seeking a two/three-bedroom house in a rural location with outdoor space, character and an outbuilding to convert to a recording studio. They found it, with the help of A Place in the Sun researchers and Jonnie Irwin and are very happily living in their beautiful stone longere in Carnoët in the popular Cotes d’Armor region of Brittany.
Included in their ‘must not have’ list were church bells and farm smells but they have ended up with both, laughs Steve. ‘We have bells at seven, noon and seven and our neighbour is an organic farmer so the smells are not bad!” he says. “Actually we have agreed to have his cows on our land as they are useful grass cutters – and we have nearly two acres.”
The couple have been busy renovating their recording studio so they can run script-writing retreats too - the tranquil environment is ideal.
Find out more
But in the meantime, Steve, who got his French residency just before the end of the Brexit transition period, has taken some full-time work for a sound company doing festivals this summer which is proving a great way to learn French – fast. “Joining a local non-profit [organisation] has also been good to meet local musicians. Brittany has a great many musical festivals,” he says. Hellfest, a heavy metal festival, is held in the nearby Loire-Atlantique every June too.
Aniko, a Hungarian American classical and jazz singer, loves the location of their new home, between their busy schedule of festivals. “All I can hear is the noise of the trees in the breeze and the birds [and those church bells now and again],” she says. “It’s a south-facing valley with panoramic views of endless green under big skies. At night there’s no light pollution at all.”
She admits that this verdant scenery is a result of the prolific rain. “We’ve met other Britons here who do moan about the rain and the fact they have to cut the grass a lot!” There are quite a few other British expats in Callac – the most searched for Breton location on aplaceinthesun.com last month as it happens.
They also love going to the coast, to Ploumanac'h, a resort on the stunning Pink Granite Coast, to eat oysters and walk along the rose-coloured sands backed by striking rock formations. “Our quality of life is much better than in the UK,” says Steve.