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'Here, you can spend all day out in the sun'

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Tourists canoe in the he Marais Poitevin marshland, in the Poitou-Charentes region of south-western France. Photo: Gilbert Bochenek. Hege Morris, with her husband and son. Photo: Hege Morris
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This week, Norwegian-born DIY design blogger Hege Morris guides us around the south-western region of Poitou-Charentes, where she lives with her husband and their son. She tells The Local all about her nine years in the small town of Mazerolles.

How did you end up here?

In 2004 my husband and I booked a camping holiday around France for a few weeks and we liked it so much we decided to stay. We were both bored with our jobs in Edinburgh and wanted to try something different. I was working in human resources at the time and was sick of sitting at a desk all day, which didn’t help my back problems.

We found a house that we loved close to the sea in Mazerolles and decorated and renovated it all ourselves. I started my own scrapbooking business and two years ago began my own DIY design blog.

I especially love the old buildings, the food and the open countryside here. You can spend all day outside and enjoy the sun.

What’s the region known for?

There are a lot of slipper-making factories here – strange, I know! Historically, the region is famous for paper-making. Food-wise, it’s known for its Cognac liqueur and fresh seafood – especially oysters.

What would you recommend to someone planning a weekend in Poitou-Charentes?

We always take visitors to see a few of the many castles in the region. My favourite is Rochefoucauld Castle, where you can even get dressed up in old clothes (see picture). It’s also a great place to have a coffee. 

I’d also recommend going to Lake Lavaud in Upper Charentes for the day. There’s a nice beach next to the lake and it’s great for kids. You can swim, have a meal or even rent a boat. It’s also worth knowing that, between April and October, there are some great antique markets where I buy a lot of my furniture.

The biggest town in Poitou-Charentes is Angoulême, where there’s a great Cartoon Museum. Each January, there’s a big Cartoon Festival (this year was the Festival’s 40th anniversary) which attracts visitors from all over the world.

We also love going to the beach, which is a two-hour drive from our house. We went last weekend and we were the only people there – French people only go to the beach in July and August!

Where can you get the best food?

Poitou-Charentes is next to the Limousin region, which means you can buy really good beef.

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You can get the best beef at Chez Steph, my favourite restaurant here. I’d also recommend the restaurant at a campsite in Eymouthiers called Les Gorges du Chambron – the chicken skewers and the duck dishes are fab!

Any downsides to living in Poitou-Charentes?

It’s very quiet in the winter because people tend to stay in their houses and keep themselves to themselves. There’s only really stuff to do between March and October here.

Unfortunately, there are far fewer jobs here than when we arrived, and shops always seem to be closing. That’s why we are now thinking of moving back to Scotland. We’ll especially miss the food and the weather, though, which are wonderful here.

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