How to earn a good living, get fit and live in beautiful France

Discover how three expats set up real estate businesses, embraced life in France and got fitter and healthier in the process…

Two bays on the French Riviera
Looking down at Eze and St Jean-Cap Ferrat on the French Riviera (Photo credit: Tim Clark)

Living in France is a dream for many, many people – of all nationalities. Some make the switch and live comfortably off their pensions and savings, but others need to earn money to support their life in France.

I’ve just interviewed three expat property agents who have not only moved to three gorgeous areas of France, but they’ve also managed to develop successful property businesses there and combine their passion for outdoor sport with their careers. In doing so they’ve become fitter, healthier and far more integrated in their local communities, which has had the added bonus of boosting their businesses.

Read on to discover why Jacqui, Tim and Andrew embody the joie de vivre so many expats in France, and would-be expats, are looking for!

Fulfilling a childhood dream

Jacqui Wood lives and works as a Leggett property agent in Haute Vienne, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region (formerly Limousin). She’s an experienced horse rider who had a long-held childhood dream to own her own horse and ride it regularly. Jacqui has been a Leggett agent for just over two years and her dream has come true! Not only does she now have a gorgeous horse called Tilly (pictured below), but she’s also able to keep Tilly at a local stable and ride her regularly.

Woman sitting on horse in a sand ring
Jacqui enjoying her free time riding Tilly

Jacqui says, “Being a Leggett agent gives me the income to look after Tilly (she’s in livery five minutes down the road from me at a totally French speaking club), to pay for lessons once a week and to buy all the necessary equipment – saddle, bridle, boots, hat, safety vest…and all that is not cheap.”

As well as providing Jacqui with the income to keep Tilly, her work as a Leggett property agent also gives her flexibility to organise her days so that she can ride three times a week. Integration with the local riding community also means that Jacqui’s French is improving, as is her confidence to speak it.

Tilly with her new French friends!

“Since moving Tilly to a local stable, I’m able to pop round to see her much more often. Before, she was 50 minutes away from me, in an English-speaking club. Back then I would never have had the confidence to take horse riding lessons in French or to go out on half day hacks with a totally French speaking group. Now, Celine, the stables owner, is always arranging horse riding events and often cajoles me into taking part. It’s all in French, so it’s good for my language skills, and at some of the events I’ve met a couple of my neighbours with their children, so it all helps with integration.”

Two-wheels are Tim’s passion

Tim Clark – cyclist, motorcyclist, photographer and property agent

Tim Clark lives and works in the Alpes Maritimes/Côte d’Azur area, which is a fantastic backdrop for his two passions: cycling and motorcycling.

Tim says being a Leggett agent means he is his own boss, so can plan his time to fit in work, cycling, motorcycling and family time too. It also means he can live in an amazing location, on the Route Napoleon – a famous road into the Alps up behind Grasse, where the weather is fantastic for most of the year.

The Route Napoleon in southern France
Heading into the hills on the Route Napoleon

“I try to get out cycling two to three times a week and a few times a month on my motorbike. My cycling hobby was taken up again in 2015 (after 25 years off a bike), when I was invited to join a charity ride in Italy – a 165km ride around Lake Como in a day. That led to me getting fitter, losing weight and feeling healthier. In 2016, I joined the Leggett/Currencies Direct charity ride from St Emilion to Nice. I rode in the final leg, which was from near Aix-en-Provence all the way to Nice in a day, again around 165km!”

Tim’s trusty stead taking a break at at Lake Como, Italy

“It’s also my intention to take a tour of the mountains to the north of Nice and explore this amazing region on my motorcycle, hopefully this year or early next.”

Skiing, running, climbing, mountaineering, dog-walking… and counting signs!

Andrew Morgan is based in the Saint Gervais les Bains /Mont Blanc area of France. He is a true mountain sportsman, with a particular love of telemark skiing, either on piste or heading off the beaten track. You can see Andrew skiing passed in the video below (in the black ski suit at the 30-second mark). In the summer, he takes to the mountains walking, mountaineering and climbing.

Andrew Morgan in his Alpine “playground”

I asked Andrew what it is about being a Leggett agent that allows him to spend quality time in the mountains practicing his favourite sports:

“Being self-employed means that I can arrange my schedule to take time out to enjoy the mountains at any time of day; I can go for just a couple of hours to clear my head – it doesn’t need to be the whole day with coffee stop, lunch and après-ski drinks! Some of my best days are when it is chucking down huge flakes of snow and my kids lead me on some new routes through the trees!”

There can’t be many estate agency jobs that require the agent to check the snow and ski conditions for clients, but for Andrew that’s part of the job: “Being a dedicated agent, I don’t feel comfortable describing a property as ‘ski in/ski out’ unless I have proved to myself it is possible. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!”

Family skiing inth Alps
Andrew teaching the next generation to ski

During ski season, Andrew gets out on the slopes two to three times a week for fresh air and good exercise. “I also check conditions to be able to report back to potential property clients when they ask, ‘what’s the snow like?’  I could easily give them the standard answer – ‘cold and white’ – but that doesn’t really tell them what they want to know.”

Out of ski season, Andrew runs and walks through the glorious Alpine scenery, keeping fit for the next ski season, but also because he’s an active member of the local mountain rescue team.

“I’m called out now and again – usually at night to search for a lost soul who hasn’t made it home. We also carry out regular training and provide marshalling and first aid/rescue posts for many of the local sporting events such as the UTMB – the gruelling 165km race around Mont Blanc.”

Climbing instructor teaching a child to climb up rock face
Andrew teaching rock climbing in the summer

Andrew’s also on the management committee of the local ski club and is a qualified completion judge for downhill ski events, all providing opportunities to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and active lifestyle. And because his Leggett business is from a home-based office, the family could get another dog – after a couple of years without – which gets Andrew out walking every day too!

Mountain rescue has its challenging times, but it also has some perks, like being taken up closed pistes on the back of a piste machine or skidoo to beat your way down through the woods. Or getting a birds-eye view on free helicopter trips of the Chamonix Valley whilst on the way to start searches.

Andrew’s work with Leggett, just like Jacqui’s and Tim’s, is never far away. Since becoming an agent in 2013, Andrew confesses that one of his favourite new “hobbies” is counting the number or ‘A Vendre / For Sale’ boards that he has up around the town, or better still ‘Vendu / Sold’ boards!

You too can get fit and healthy in France

Jacqui, Tim and Andrew’s enthusiasm for the lifestyle their work provides them is inspiring… Being a Leggett agent means all three are their own boss which gives each of them the flexibility to plan and enjoy their sporting hobbies and pastimes.

If you’re inspired to live and work in France, get fitter and follow a sporting passion, visit the next Leggett Recruitment Fair to find out how you could build a life in France like Jacqui, Tim or Andrew’s.

This article is sponsored by Leggett.