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Framptons Frozen Foods iceland food in france

The Frampton Family

Article as appearing in Etcetera Magazine August 2010

frampton familyWe moved to France back in 2002 with our sons then aged 11, 7 and daughter of 18 months who wasn’t even walking; my mother & step father came too.

In the UK we lived in a lovely house in St Neots in Cambrideshire. The kids went to a very sought after school, Keith worked as a maintenance manager looking after three factories and I, although trained in accounts, was a full time nanny which enabled to take my own children along.

So how did we come to now be in France? We had spent several holidays touring France with our caravan when one day whilst sitting having a few drinks on a French campsite, simply chewing the fat, our dream of moving to France began.

We decided that we could do this, we could run a campsite and have a slower pace of life, as life in the UK, especially for Keith, was extremely stressful. We returned home and tried to set to it but at that time our 4 bed detached house didn't fetch enough money to pay off our mortgage and move to France so we had to put our dream on hold. Life continued and we forgot about our dream for a while. That was until we had three letters arrive in one week informing us there was to be a shortfall in our endowment and we would have to find more money per month to cover it! At this point, for me, enough was enough. I later that day put our house, my mothers and my step-father’s houses on the market. My parents were out shopping at the time and knew nothing of this until on their return they found an estate agent on the door with a couple to view their bungalow who 30 minutes later bought it! They were somewhat surprised as they didn't even know it was on the market!!!

My husband and stepfather started making journeys to France to view potential campsites. They came across our one and I later came out to view it, fell in love with it and signed up to buy it. Our three children settled into French life well. We had a few tears with our eldest son who missed his friends, school and social life but he soon adapted. He was approached by his old collège and asked if he would be willing to work as the bilingual tour guide at the roman baths in his holidays. This served as a great stepping stone and boosted his confidence and made him totally able to deal with members of the public. He continued to do this for two years and left when he started his apprenticeship. He started with plumbing but after 9 months or so he wasn’t keen so decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and do an electrical one. At times he found this difficult, especially the theory side, but he stuck with it and last August sat his exams and passed with flying colours. He decided he would then go it alone and formed GKF ELECTRICS. He is now 8 months into running his own business and at just 20 is doing really well. He gets the majority of his work from recommendation and has a good work flow so any teenagers out there... knuckle down, try hard and France could prove to be good for you too.

la blanchieAs for us, we had bought a 50 emplacement, very run down campsite and gite business set in 10 acres. As keen caravaners this was more than a job, this was a dream. I, fortunately, made friends with a lady who helped me with all the red tape and paperwork to setting up and running a business. We also developed an excellent relationship with our Maire, who was by our side when we encountered problems with planning permission. Now we do not take anything for granted and always seek his permission!

la blanchieThe campsite was previously owned by a French lady who had been up and running as a site for 10 years. It was extremely run down and needed lots of work and tender loving care.  After paying for the site, there was little money left for the renovation work that desperately needed doing to bring it up to scratch, so between us as a family we set to it. We had to re-dig the roadways to the site (you were unable to distinguish grass from roads), we laid 180 tonne of gravel by hand, we cut back trees and bushes, transformed the toilet block, added a chemical emptying facility, renewed the electrics, built a bar and restaurant, converted a large barn into our home and so on. We now have a thriving campsite and gite business with a good customer base also offering caravan storage.

However, after several winters here, I began to find them long and sometimes depressing. I missed seeing people and having nothing to do other than the usual everyday jobs. We had also started getting a bit fed up with the same old food in the French supermarkets as well as the ever increasing food bill. Hence, the idea for our new project began.

We needed a shop to serve the site plus it would be something to keep me occupied during the winter. We started by contacting the English supermarkets with a view to buying a franchise. We had several doors closed in our face including Iceland at first but I didn’t give up and after 8 or so months I managed to form a working partnership with them. They agreed to let us sell their brand here in France... for the very first time!!  And so we started building our shop.  We bought 17 freezers (only 9 of which are currently in our shop), set up a website for online shopping and opened our shop on the 14th June. This new business is going very well already - we were confident that it would, as we are able to offer something that wasn’t already here - a large variety of frozen foods. We have met a lot of new people over the last month and now have many regular customers. We would like to thank family, friends and our customers for their ongoing support and etcetera magazine.

So now, we are living our dream. The children are all fluent in French and although I am not fluent, I can certainly get by. Keith sometimes struggles with the language but we all pull together. We seem to have fitted in well and are accepted by our French neighbours.

So what do we miss? in the time we have been here we've only managed to grab 3 weeks of holiday time in nearly 9 years, so after years of hard work ensuring that holiday makers have a great stay, we are hoping that we may get a holiday ourselves soon, as this is what we all miss as a family.  Fingers crossed....

LA BLANCHIE HOLIDAYS, 16270, SURIS, CHARENTE, FRANCE | TEL: 0033 (0)635 432 139
E-mail tracie.frampton@hotmail.co.uk