The countryside here is beautiful; with lots of variety. In 10 minutes you can drive from Tuscany (the “Petit Italy” area North of Loubes Bernac to rural Herefordshire (the countryside South of Levignac de Guyenne). For some reason most people from the UK feel at home in the countryside here, rather than being in a beautiful but “alien” environment.
There is a unique microclimate, (centred on Duras and only extending about 10 kilometres in each direction), with an amazing amount of sunshine (average over 2500 hours annually).
If you look at the map, you'll see that Duras is right in the centre of a white "lozenge" running from North West to South West, it is bordered on all sides by the green areas which denote forests, and therefore are inclined to be rainy.
The prevailing winds from the Atlantic also howl down the Dordogne river to the North, and along the Garonne river to the South, which means that we sit in a "bowl" of predominantly sunny weather, but get well watered by short, sharp rain downpours.
Result: Mediterranean-style warmth, but with lovely green countryside and really pleasant humidity levels, plus, of course, perhaps the best growing conditions of anywhere in the World (so fabulous food & wines!).
Winter nights can be cold, but for a short period only around Christmas, and love the crisp, dry winter days where you wake up to a sparkling frost, take the dog for a walk through frost-hung vines and then come back to sit in front of the wood-burner ! Summers are reliably sunny, but not unpleasantly hot like the Mediterranean has become in recent years.
It is an hour from Bordeaux for "serious shopping", theatres, cinema, restaurants etc; “rural” France really is rural! Bordeaux gives an added dimension to “La Vie Francaise” it’s like having the best of Paris on the doorstep but without the traffic and unfriendly Parisians !!
Large towns such as Marmande and Miramamont le Guyenne are less than 20 minutes drive; both have supermarkets and a wide variety of retail therapy, however Marmande probably has a larger and more extensive range of big stores.
The wonderful sandy Atlantic beaches of the Cote d'Argent and the sexy resort of Arcachon are a bit like having one of the chic Cote d’Azur towns within an hour and a half’s drive.
It is 30 minutes’ drive from Bergerac for cheap flights to a wide choice of UK airports, and about an hour and 15 minutes from Bordeaux airport.
It is within a comfortable one-day drive to the UK Channel ports; living any further South then means an overnight stop, adding in effect 2 extra days travelling to and from the UK by car.
The TGV is available at Libourne (35 minutes drive) and Marmande (20 minutes drive);
It is within reach of the Pyrenees for skiing, and the tourist areas of the Dordogne; Spain and Southern France are also easily accessible by road, you can go to San Sebastien or St Jean de Luz (just over 3 hour’s drive away).
There are many picturesque & historic towns & villages in the area such as Duras, which is a beautiful old town with one of France's most famous historic chateaux. It’s large enough to be a town but small enough to be a village, and has all the amenities you need everyday (3 bakeries, pharmacy, dry cleaner, small supermarket, post office, doctors, dentist, bars, restaurants etc etc), and is midway between Marmande and St Foy la Grande where you can find a larger selection of shops within 20 minutes’ drive.
You must visit Eymet (beautiful square and lots of restaurants), which alone has a high non-French population, the surrounding area remains quintessentially French.