<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

What is it like to live in a national park in France?

PUBLISHED: 10:09 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:09 13 September 2017

Dutch couple Henk-Jan and Marjoleine live in Cévennes National Park

Dutch couple Henk-Jan and Marjoleine live in Cévennes National Park


It was the tranquillity and natural beauty of the Cévennes National Park that attracted Dutch couple Henk-Jan and Marjoleine Spruijt to start a new life in Lozère, as Henk-Jan explains...

How did you come across Lozère?

We were looking for a family holiday somewhere surrounded by nature, with no hustle and bustle and far from major roads. Mont Lozère appeared as a green spot on the map and caught our attention. We found it was full of energy and steeped in history, with unrivalled silence, abundant nature, no pollution and dark nights. It was an extraordinary experience.

How did you find the property?

We found the property on the internet in 2005, after five years of intense searching with estate agents. It was a beautiful project: completely abandoned, uninhabited for the past century with an unsuccessful refurbishment attempted 15 years ago. It was situated in the heart of the Cévennes National Park, part-roofed, part-ruin with several inner courtyards, archways, terraces and forested grounds. It was surrounded by a village with authentic character, built in natural stone. I said to Marjoleine, ‘If you say yes, we’ll go for it’. And she did!

Henk-Jan and Marjoleine love the tranquillity of living in the Cévennes National Park Henk-Jan and Marjoleine love the tranquillity of living in the Cévennes National Park

Did you have to do much work to the property?

When we moved in May 2006 we had no mains water or electricity; no landline or mobile phone signal; no toilet, bathroom or kitchen; and no windows or doors. We worked day and night for a year. It was very hard work and the beginning was undeniably difficult. Four months in, we finally got electricity and after nine months, we had a telephone and the internet. We had installed 32 windows and doors and we finished the chimney, meaning that just before Christmas we were able to heat the living space.


Related articles

10 things to consider before buying property in a national park

Discover France’s stunning national parks


What’s the best thing about running a chambres d’hôtes in the area?

Meeting our guests has been a hugely enriching for us. It’s like we travel in our own home. It is a continual cultural and intellectual exploration. People that come here have the same awareness as we do. They too believe in being respectful of your surroundings, fellow human beings and the hard work of previous generations that is all around us. It is a win-win situation.

You also cook for your guests. Tell us more about that.

We do the cooking together every evening, and both of us have developed our own domain of expertise in the kitchen. We have a big selection of cooking books and draw our inspiration from everything, from newspaper articles to television series and most of all of our surroundings. Just like the architecture, the cooking should involve local produce, respect the core values that we have set ourselves and yet have that little spark of modernity.

Spectacular mountain views make for a perfect dinner set-up Spectacular mountain views make for a perfect dinner set-up

How have your children coped with the move to France?

We have always involved them in the process and projects to make sure they were a part of it. They found their way after a few months and learned French at an incredible speed. Their flexibility is astonishing. The social impact was big for them but they sure do see the advantages.

What has living in the Cévennes National Park taught you?

That you need to truly work to live, rather than work for a living. It makes you think differently about everything you do. It is like things here matter more. It makes you feel like really living and gives you a purpose in life. The breathtaking countryside of the Cévennes is something we fell in love with. The diversity, the remoteness, having the feeling you are but a guest. It makes you more down to earth.


Other articles you might like:

What is it really like to live in rural France?

Hidden corners of France you need to explore

The Living France guide to The Great Outdoors


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Article by Living France Living France

More from Living in France

Yesterday, 11:22

Charmaine Raubenheimer left her native South Africa for a new life running a gîtes business in Bouches-du-Rhône in 2011. She explains what she loves about living in Provence

Read more
Provence-Alpes-Cote d Azur
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Not sure where in France to live? We’ve come up with 12 reasons why Brittany is the perfect place to settle down...

Read more
Thursday, November 2, 2017

All you need to know about the different gas suppliers and tariffs in France and how to set up the gas supply in your new French property

Read more
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

If you live in rural France then you have probably had to accept slow internet speeds, but there are government plans to make fast broadband available across France in the next five years

Read more
Yesterday, 11:14

Running a campsite in France can be hard work but offers a decent income and a rewarding lifestyle. Make sure you carefully consider the location, regulations and costs before you invest in a campsite

Read more
Camping in France
Monday, June 5, 2017

You might be booked up for the peak seasons, but how can you make money from your gîte or B&B during the quieter out-of-season periods as well? By knowing your audience and effectively tailoring your marketing, you can turn your French property into a thriving holiday let all year round!

Read more
Running a business
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seperation, divorce, illness or outliving a spouse results in many women struggling financially in retirement. Don’t rely on your partner to support you in retirement, start planning for your own retirement now!

Read more
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Don’t fall into the trap of paying huge charges on your investments – use these tips to help you save money and increase your returns to maximise your pension and savings

Read more
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The French pharmacy is so much more tham a place to pick up your prescriptions. Here are 11 things you might not know about pharmacies in France.

Read more
Healthcare in France
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It seems unlikely that, after Brexit, British expats living in France will enjoy the same healthcare rights as they currently do, so what will change?

Read more
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now