France isn’t known for be­ing the eas­i­est place to live a veg­e­tar­ian life­style, but things are slowly chang­ing. Cather­ine Cooper speaks to three Bri­tish women run­ning veg­e­tar­ian busi­nesses across the Chan­nel

Living France - - CONTENTS - un­der­the­lime­tree.com

Cover story Three Bri­tish women re­veal how they have made a suc­cess of their veg­e­tar­ian busi­nesses in France

Be­fore I moved to France in 2000 I was very much part of the rat race work­ing as an in­ter­na­tional ac­count man­ager and trav­el­ling all over the world. In what lit­tle spare time I had I trained to be a holis­tic masseuse and shi­atsu prac­ti­tioner, know­ing that I didn’t want to live this life for­ever.

I moved to France with my then­hus­band in Septem­ber, but by the end of the year, our mar­riage was over. So the first few years were pretty hard – set­ting up on my own and speak­ing no French.

Ini­tially I worked as a masseuse, set­ting up the B&B in Septem­ber 2001. I’ve been veg­e­tar­ian for 30 years but found that in ru­ral France, most peo­ple sim­ply don’t get what it means – some will do things like pick the lar­dons off a salad as you watch.

I’ve never cooked meat in the house and ini­tially when peo­ple were stay­ing and wanted food, I’d apol­o­gise for it be­ing meat­free. But usu­ally they loved it and so the idea to spe­cialise in veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan food took hold. We have an 80m2 potager, and so many of our veg­eta­bles are grown on site.

I now also of­fer be­spoke veg­gie and ve­gan cook­ing classes which can work in a cou­ple of ways – lo­cal peo­ple will come up to cook lunch, chat about nu­tri­tion, food com­bi­na­tions, flavours and colours while we en­joy a glass of wine to­gether, and cook again so they’ll have some­thing to take away with them at the end of the day. Or, our B&B guests will join me in pre­par­ing, cook­ing and pre­sent­ing the evening meal – a sort of ‘DIY’ din­ner that’s in­for­ma­tive, friendly and great fun!

More and more veg­gie es­tab­lish­ments are pop­ping up which is great to see, and the French them­selves are be­gin­ning to de­mand more veg­gie op­tions. My clients are usu­ally from Hol­land, Bel­gium or Eng­land, but re­cently mod­ern French cou­ples and fam­i­lies have come to stay who are in­ter­ested in the veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan way of life.

We ap­peared on Es­cape to the Con­ti­nent a few years ago to of­fer ad­vice to a veg­e­tar­ian cou­ple re­tir­ing to this area who wanted to know if it’s pos­si­ble to be veg­gie and still be in France. Well, thank­fully, it’s get­ting eas­ier all the time. Veg­gie prod­ucts are avail­able in su­per­mar­kets and cater­ers are grad­u­ally tak­ing it se­ri­ously and putting veg­gie op­tions on their menu.

The B&B is not just about the food – we have a hot tub and of­fer spa treat­ments and var­i­ous work­shops – but I like to think cre­ative veg­gie cook­ing and eat­ing well is a big draw.”

“I like to think that cre­ative veg­gie cook­ing and eat­ing well is a big draw” Nikki Em­mer­ton, 54, lives with her part­ner Sean Dy­lan Wil­liams, 46, in Celle­frouin, Char­ente. She runs veg­e­tar­ian cook­ing mas­ter classes from their veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan spa and B&B.

These pages: Nikki Em­mer­ton and her part­ner Sean Dy­lan Wil­liams run be­spoke veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan cook­ing classes at their B&B and spa, Un­der the Lime Tree, in Char­ente

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