After a disappointing property viewing on their first day of house hunting in France Richard and wife Elaine were hoping that things would get better…
The rain didn’t stop the next morning, but the shattering disappointment did. The next property we saw was amazing, as was the one after that. Lunch time arrived punctually with the sunshine and the earlier nightmare was almost forgotten. We had a couple of good eating hours before our next appointment and made the most of it at what has since become one of our favourite gastronomic haunts.
A €10 lunch consisting of a choice of at least three starters, followed by either a little pizza or charcuterie, and then a choice of four or five main courses, cheese and dessert and the price included a carafe of wine. I have on many occasions since living in France sat in this restaurant trying to work out how the jovial chef, working in front of his wood oven, can make any money from a meal like that.
Fate must have had a hand in us discovering our home in France that afternoon. The house of our dreams. It was perfect. The right size, shape and well positioned just on the outskirts of our beautiful old town, a little work was needed but not that much. The high ceilings, huge log fires and beautiful kitchen left me in awe.
In the bar the next evening , following another day of rather unenthusiastic house hunting, over a glass or two of Pastis, an expat in residence made a couple of very salient points that I have never forgotten.
1 – As people from northern Europe we needed the seasons and this area was perfect in that, summer was long, winter was short, and spring and autumn were beautiful times of year. At first I thought this was a bit of an odd thing to say, but since being here I can assure you he is right.
2 – Don’t buy a house in the middle of nowhere unless you are on the run from the law, escaping an irate partner, wanted to live a hermit’s existence, become a naturalist, distil illegal booze or make porn films.
We took his advice on all counts and told the agent the next day that we would like to buy the house of our dreams.
It was the best decision we had ever made.
At the end of our trip we went back to see our new home armed with a video camera and wandered recording the house of our future . The owner let slip that she might, possibly, perhaps be interested in selling us some of the fixtures and fittings. I looked around at the burnished mahogany dining room table, the Louis IX dresser, and the 17th century ornate desk, and with a rather husky nervous voice asked what she might, possibly, perhaps consider flogging.
She pointed at several pairs of obscene see-through curtains dangling precariously about a foot off the floor from some dodgy looking poles, an electric sun umbrella, a complete set of rusting hole-ridden copper sauce pans encrusted with years of culinary delights and to cap it all an horrendous knitted picture of a stag being gored to death by a pack of crazed hunting dogs. We declined.
We drove back up through France with a million thoughts going through our befuddled brains there was so much to sort out but we were on our way…
Richard Woollam lives and works in France, he is a holiday rental and property management specialist in the Tarn et Garonne region , SW France: www.saintantoninnobleval.com