It was Charles de Gaulle who said ‘the better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs!’ For many of us, our canine companions are essential family members – finding somewhere where they can stay happily while we go away is critically important.
“Running residential kennels provides the ideal work/life balance,” says Robin Fallaize. He and his wife, Lee, have now been running their business in France very successfully for the past 12 years – but how it came about was almost purely by chance!
“We’d taken a year’s sabbatical from my job in IT and travelled extensively. It didn’t take long after we got back to realise we didn’t want to spend the rest of our working lives sitting behind a computer. Our original plan was to buy gîtes in South West France for income. We were planning our next ‘viewing’ trip when we spotted what is now our home online – we came promptly to investigate and immediately bought it!”
Robin and Lee live 8 minutes’ walk from Lauzun, south of Bergerac (just 25 minutes’ drive from the airport) not far from Eymet, Castillones and other lovely bastide towns in this stunning part of the Lot et Garonne bordering the Dordogne. “It’s an active village with lovely church, beautiful château and all the mod cons you need including a couple of garages – there’s so much to do, see and visit! It’s great cycling and walking country in an incredibly beautiful part of France with great climate – it really is paradise!”
Their house is a lovely long stone building which they’ve completely remodelled. On the ground floor there’s a large sitting room with woodburner and French doors to the garden, separate dining room and new kitchen with windows overlooking the courtyard. Upstairs are three bedrooms, two bathrooms and everything has been done from double glazing to central heating!
Outside there’s a one bedroom gîte ideal, Robin says, for putting up visitors or renting out as well as a large swimming pool set in their beautiful park-like gardens.
But it’s the business which comes with the property which provides the real boon. “We’d always had dogs (Lee had worked for the Manx SPCA) so running kennels proved a natural fit; it’s year round providing steady income with plenty of repeat business.”
And what kennels they are – each of the eight pens is individually heated, fully insulated with double glazing – to keep their four legged guests warm in winter and cool over the long summer months, in addition each has its own garden. The kennels are set beside the big exercise field so Robin spends the first couple of hours each morning, after giving the dogs their breakfast, letting them out to play and run. Shortly after 10 am, chores finished, Robin says the rest of the day is theirs until the evening when they spend another couple of hours feeding and exercising the dogs.
But now retirement beckons – Robyn and Lee want to travel and explore the rest of Europe, while keeping a smaller home nearby in Lauzun, and enjoy many more adventures to come so their fabulous home and business is for sale.