“We have 11 acres, six alpacas, two donkeys and some new sheep”
Julian and Gaynor from Lincolnshire had been breeding alpacas in the UK but wanted to buy more land to expand their business and provide educational opportunities – so this meant moving to France. They went out filming in November 2021 and fell for a property on 11 acres in Charente, southwest France – property three.
Property three was emotional from the start, and luckily the couple managed to negotiate and acquire the property for £260,000. They moved out in March 2022 and, surrounded by six alpacas, two rescue donkeys and six Valais black-nose sheep, they report they are very happily building their new business.
“Everything went very smoothly. The English vendor of this property made communication easy, we managed to sell our UK home for above the asking price and it took three months to complete,” says Gaynor, 63, who used to run a medical devices company, before setting up a catering company.
After Brexit, taking their alpacas to France would have been ‘prohibitively expensive’ so with great sadness they had to leave them in the UK – after an ‘emotional’ handover at an M6 service station. “But we love our new animals and are very settled here.” Gaynor’s job has been to focus on their small flock of special breed sheep and she is acquiring new ram lamb.
Julian, 53, has been kept very busy sorting out his visa and also putting up fence posts around their perimeter, and then building paddocks for the different animals. “I feel I have been building fences for a whole year,” he jokes. Gaynor has renewed her long-stay visa, but Julian has finally managed to get his auto-entrepreneur visa, with the help of a French neighbour. The couple plan to use the animals in a therapy activity setting to promote better mental health and wellbeing, working with schools and businesses, especially autistic children.
They’ve also been meeting some other French and British neighbours and building up a ‘nice circle of friends’. “We’ve definitely integrated,” says Julian. ‘We know two mayors who live close by and have discovered a great bistro and boulangerie [in Mouzon] and are not far from Massignac, a lovely town.”
They have renovated the gym of their property into a gite, put it on Aibnb and are excited to have already got a booking. “We are just getting ready to launch everything – it’s been a year of preparation,” says Julian. Holidays, day trips, tours and visits are available to book through their company, Dream Work Alpacas.