A Toe in the Gard

So that’s it – after 25 years of dreaming & many hours (weeks or probably months) of trawling estate agencies we’ve finally bitten the bullet & had an offer accepted on a house in France.

It’s certainly been an adventure so far & I know that having an offer accepted is really just the start, but all of a sudden our dreams are being cemented into actual bricks and mortar.

The house isn’t in the Vaucluse (to be honest we finally accepted that our funds wouldn’t stretch to a place there) , but just the other side of the Rhone on the outskirts of St Quentin La Poterie, within easy cycling distance of Uzes.

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One of the fantastic pieces of pottery street-art in St Quentin La Poterie

 

So after many years of being a ‘Vaucluse Dreamer’ I will (hopefully soon) be able to say I have ‘a Foot in the Gard’.

Just getting to this point has been fascinating & viewing properties in Provence has been an interesting experience and often a bit of a magical mystery tour!

Like thousands of others we have spent uncounted hours trawling property sites like http://www.green-acres.com http://www.lesclesdumidi.com together with developing a detailed knowledge of all the estate agents in the areas that interest us. We have also looked at all the private sales sites too such as http://www.pap.fr and http://www.leboncoin.fr ……… we’ve kept lists of properties that interest us & crossed them off as they have sold – in fact looking back at it our searching has been quite structured & has become a regular feature of a quiet couple of hours on a Sunday morning.

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The stunning town of Uzes

There are though still things that amaze me, like the fact that Agents don’t provide the address of the property they have for sale. I can understand that they may not want the sale poached by another agent, but as a prospective buyer it can be a bit annoying trying to guess where the house may be within quite a wide area that’s described in the details.

That said, my hubby has developed quite incredible skills that have enabled him to find many of the houses we have been interested in on Google Earth. I’m still not sure how he has done it and as far as I can tell it is a bit of a dark art, but by looking at rooflines & the occasional distant detail he has managed to find houses simply described as being in a hamlet 1.5km from the nearest village. The Agents always seem rather surprised when we have offered to meet them at the house.

This has proved crucial though in helping us to decide whether to make an appointment to view a property or not. It’s amazing what doesn’t get mentioned in some details e.g. right next to a quarry, dual carriageway at the end of the garden etc. By doing some serious digging we have managed to avoid viewing some houses that would have been totally unsuitable, certainly a lot of time has been saved by doing this homework.

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Great local markets is one of the criteria we have used to help us in our search for a house and the one in Uzes is amongst the very best!

Unfortunately looking at a property on ‘Google Earth’ only gives you part of the story – so having found houses in what appear to be the perfect location we then have found quite considerable differences between the house described in the details and what we see when we have visited. One in particular sticks in our mind – a potentially perfect older house with a small garden in a small village at the foot of the Luberon, which was in need of ‘rafraichissement’. I called the agents & asked if any major work was needed & the answer came back as ‘Not really, the plumbing & electrics will need looking at, but otherwise redecoration’ – so a viewing was booked. When we arrived we were surprised therefore to see a channel almost as deep as ‘The Gorges de Verdon’ running from the ceiling to the floor of the internal back wall…. clearly a bit of water was getting in!! One look through the loft hatch allowed us to see sky in a number of places through the old & collapsing roof – evidently a little bit more than ‘rafraichissement’ needed here!! It’s not that we wouldn’t have been willing to do the work, but the cost (with everything else that needed doing) just would have pushed us too much, so we smiled, thanked the Agents & put that one down to experience.

Our recent viewings have not been without incident – one ‘maison’ turned out to be more of an ‘appartement’ as the whole of the top floor was owned by a bed and breakfast next door – not quite what we’d imagined or had been described!

Eventually, after many viewings we ended with a short-list of 2 very different properties – one a rambling village house with 2 courtyards & in need of a new roof and the second a 30 year old villa in need of ‘rafraichissement’.

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Good local cycling is also something that is very high on our list of must-haves & here one of the Mountain-Bike routes goes straight through the village

Our hearts were certainly in favour of the village house and we started to make plans about what we would need to do to make sure the house was watertight before we started on the interiors…… that was until we walked around the village and saw markings on the side of the Mairie showing the depth of the flooding in different years. Despite reassurances from the Agent that there was no risk of flooding really & the property had never been affecte, this certainly set alarm bells ringing. We then did our homework and read recent documents about the flooding in 2014 which really hit the area and  after looking at the Risk Prevention plan for the Languedoc, which described the totality of the village & 90% of the residents at risk from flooding we had to have some very hard conversations with ourselves. The source of the flooding (a small river) was about 50 metres from the house we were looking at and ultimately felt it was too close for comfort with the extremes of weather we are seeing now. So after an agonising weekend of talking it through we decided not to go with our hearts, but to make an offer on the villa, which longer term is a much better bet.

So that’s it – the offer has been accepted and after 20 plus years of dreaming – we are putting our money where our mouth is and doing something we have always wanted to do.

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Already have some home furnishing shopping booked for this shop in the village, which serves superb hot chocolate too!!

It is a waiting game now, with the stress of watching the Pound plummet in value against the Euro over the last few days & holding our breath until we have signed the Compromis de Vente.

But watch this space and we’ll keep you updated as things progress as I’m sure there will be some trials and tribulations yet along the way, but all being well by late Spring we’ll feel we have at least one foot in the Gard, rather than just the toe that is dipped in the water at the moment.

6 thoughts on “A Toe in the Gard

  1. Congratulations! I’ll look forward to following your progress. My friend, Debby Bine, who writes The Barefoot Blogger, blog lives in Uzes and loves St Quentin…..

    • I must admit we’re so excited & actually Debby has really helped us realise what a gem Uzes is so perhaps we’ll get the chance to catch up at some point – just so desperate for it all to be secured now!!

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