Brittany, France, Sees New Wave Of Brits Post-Brexit : Parallels The village of Gourec, in Brittany, has long been home to British expats. With the prospect of Brexit, even more Britons are flocking there to secure French citizenship and retain EU privileges.

France's Brittany Sees New Wave Of Brits Post-Brexit

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And we have a little story now about a corner of Europe that is being transformed by the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union. The Brexit vote has British citizens flocking to the French region of Brittany in search of, not just a French lifestyle, but French passports. NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Maggie Ordever left her home in southeastern England a few months after Britain voted to leave the European Union last year.

MAGGIE ORDEVER: We'd made the plan before Brexit came along. We didn't want to choose Spain or Italy because we wanted an easy route back for family. And we fell in love with Brittany.

KAKISSIS: Brittany reminds Maggie's wife, Bea, of home.

BEA: When we were driving (laughter) north, south, east and west looking at properties for sale, it felt comfortably similar.

KAKISSIS: The couple bought a 19th-century house in the village of Seglien and renovated it into a bed and breakfast.

BEA: A le Grande Maison Seglien.

KAKISSIS: They also discovered that there were thousands of other British people in Brittany.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "SPOTLIGHT ON BRITTANY")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: "Spotlight On Brittany" (speaking French).

KAKISSIS: So many Britons that there's an Integration Association in the village of Gouarec, and it has its own bilingual podcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "SPOTLIGHT ON BRITTANY")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Bringing you closer to the people and places of this beautiful region.

KAKISSIS: It is beautiful and with very British weather. We drive in pouring rain to reach rustic Gouarec...

(SOUNDBITE OF BELLS CHIMING)

KAKISSIS: ...Where we meet the Integration Association's Maggie Fee, who's lived in France for 15 years.

MAGGIE FEE: Recently, I've noticed more British people coming to live here on a permanent basis. It's people who were intending to come anyway and who are not going to let Brexit put them off.

KAKISSIS: Fee is often their first point of contact.

FEE: We talk about the two most important things which really need to get sorted when you come to live here, which are the health system and the tax system.

KAKISSIS: There are also intensive French language classes and conversation clubs...

ANNE GUILLEMOT: (Speaking French).

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

KAKISSIS: ...Like this one led by Anne Guillemot at her home in the nearby village of Perret.

GUILLEMOT: (Speaking French).

KAKISSIS: "We make plum jam together," she says, "and try to get the English to speak some French." Local Councilwoman Kate Husband says the influx of the English is helping the economy.

KATE HUSBAND: You go into any of the shops, any of the DIY stores, people doing up houses, it's absolutely chock full of English people.

KAKISSIS: She and her husband are English themselves. They moved here 27 years ago to run a cycling tour company.

HUSBAND: I have dual nationality. My husband will have it. Since the whole political situation in Britain, we felt we should get French nationality just to make sure we didn't have any problem staying here.

KAKISSIS: She considers herself a European. So does Maggie Ordever, the bed and breakfast owner who moved to Brittany just last October.

ORDEVER: We were horrified by the result of Brexit. It may well spur us to take French citizenship in order to remain here long term.

KAKISSIS: After all, she says, Brittany feels almost as British as Britain. Joanna Kakissis, NPR News, Gouarec, France.

(SOUNDBITE OF HINT'S "AIR TO SKY")

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