Moving to the south of France sounds like the perfect way to spend your later years. However, the retirement dream of one British couple in Languedoc-Roussillon has become a nightmare – and all because of their neighbour.
Septuagenarian couple Faith and John Dyson, originally from Sussex, came home last week to find they had been shut out of their house in the village of Brugairolles. While they were out shopping, their next-door neighbour had boarded up their front door and bricked up their windows.
He objects to their house overlooking his and claims that they have no right to use his driveway to get to their front door.
However, he moved into his home, in the Aude département, a year after the couple. That means he would have seen the lie of the land before buying his house.
If you are imagining that this is a case of the entente cordiale gone badly wrong, don’t. The Dysons’ neighbour is British too.
It turns out that French law – and public opinion – is on the Dysons’ side.
Legally, permanent right of way is assured if an entrance has been used for 30 years or more. The couple have proof that this is the case. The locals, too, have rallied behind the Dysons. On Monday, around 80 of the village’s population of 258 helped to tear down the barricades around the Dysons’ home.
Now it remains to be seen whether peace will prevail, however.