Dirac is a charming, prosperous village just to the south of Angoulême. Very prettily situated in the lovely rolling countryside of southern Charente, it is becoming the place to live with beautiful properties, a progressive Mairie and ever increasing facilities – all just 10 minutes’ drive from the heart of the city with its facilities and TGV links.
It is here Gary Ward and his family established their fantastic cafe – Fransons – which has swiftly became renowned for its traditional Fish and Chips. And, says Gary, swift too was the adaption of French taste buds to appreciate this most beloved of English classics!
His passion for food lead him to this sunny corner of South West France. “We’d started by moving to the Vienne in 2004 where I worked as a builder running a small construction team, but as the children came to teenage years we moved to Angoulême – a town we all love – to complete their secondary education.”
With the move came a change in career direction. Gary explains: “I’d always had a passion for cooking, but considered myself keen amateur rather than professional. However, after a course with the National Federation of Fish Fryers back in the UK, I started our fish and chip business with a van service – it proved very popular from Day One!”
He says the mayor of Dirac is very proactive in encouraging new business opportunities within the commune and, knowing he was keen to further develop business, suggested Gary open a café on the rue St Catherine – the main street in the village – to expand his operations.
Drawing on his experience and skills as both builder and engineer, Gary created a beautiful custom-made cafe and restaurant .. and what a transformation he made from an old house into great asset! Fransons is, quite simply, both immaculate and impeccable. “I made the kitchen specific to our needs, inside are 24 covers, while outside I created seating for up to around 60 people in our decked courtyard!” He also included disabled access “it’s a must!”
While most businesses take a while to establish, Fransons was a hit from Day One. “We opened in 2014 and made a profit in our first year – back then our French clientèle were around half the business, today, four years later they almost predominate and people come from miles around to enjoy a taste of English cuisine!”
Fransons’ menu offers a variety of traditional fish and chips with accompaniments as well as ‘old-fashioned’ desserts – Gary says they have lots of fun explaining exactly what ‘spotted dick’ pudding is to their customers!
Love for food has passed from one generation to the next – son Harrison is now off to Catering College here in France to study while daughter, Francesca, is at university in Poitiers! The family have created a great lifestyle here – but Gary wants to bring his passion for life to bear on a new enterprise and this well-established and profitable business with enviable lifestyle to match is now for sale!