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French house viewing – the first day

house needing major renovation in france
Major renovation would be needed on this house before it could be enjoyed!

 After attending a French property show in London Richard Woolam and his family waded through reams of paper to try to define exactly where they wanted to move to in France. They had decided vaguely what area but weren’t completely clear on details…

Two days after we came back from the property show, a letter arrived from a salesman we’d spoken to. The properties were close to our price range (and, of course above it) and they were correctly positioned in and around the area we wanted. We, arranged an appointment, sent the kids to my parents and jumped on a ferry to the land of our futures.

Almost exactly five hundred miles south of the concrete jungle that is Le Havre where we alighted in France, is the Tarn et Garonne. A beautifully proportioned and picturesque province in south west France and it was there on a fateful Monday in “a small district in a very small part of a region in a very small department” of France we drove eagerly to the appointment. But it was Monday, and France closes on a Monday. Also our agent had two diaries, and our agent was somewhere else and our agent didn’t have his mobile with him and, and, and……Oh well lets go and have a coffee at the brasserie over there and see what transpires.

Two very cold and very welcome beers later our man arrived and the adventure continued. It was raining drops the size of quails eggs and it didn’t look like stopping, so we wrapped up like supermarket chickens in our wet weather clothing and headed off to see our first property.

Now imagine the scene, the heavens downloading their entire liquid content, the wind whipping the leaves and branches from the trees, the roads and fields turning into boggy marshes and our first appointment, to look at a falling down ancient farmhouse…really a barn plus a couple of equally rotten woodworm hostels or outbuildings in estate agent speak. You should have seen my wife Elaine’s face – with the sheets of water blasting at her and this dilapidated dump, just about still standing in front of her. It was a face that could have sunk a thousand ships.

The place bore very little, if any, resemblance to the description we had been given, it was miles away from anywhere or anything, with the exception of some very wet, very smelly and very noisy cows and it was weathering before our very eyes, as chunks of roof dropped at our feet. The disappointment was palpable… you could have cut the atmosphere with a soup spoon. My immediate thoughts were:

1)            I need a drink
2)            I need another drink
3)            Lets go home

We had planned, organised, travelled and dreamed, and felt like a couple of idiots, we thought we might have made a huge mistake.

We just hoped the next day’s viewing would be better…

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

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