A letter from France; Tales of a Geordie turned Essex Girl – now . . .
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Fontenay le Comte
Fast forward a few decades or more during which more holidays were enjoyed across many amazing parts of France and I finally find myself living here. Not on my own. I persuaded my Glaswegian other half that it was time for a new adventure before we got too old. Fortunately, he agreed and so we started to mull-over the ‘where, how and what’ in preparation for our new life!
Well, have actually visited over the years quite a few places across France and my dream place is the Cotes Azure, but to be quite frank outside planning to rob a bank our budget would only purchase a rabbit hutch, well small one bed flat actually so maybe not at this stage. Lurking at the back of my mind was the mantra that for warmer weather you need to be at least two thirds of the way down France so at least that was a start.
Some properties we viewed in our search
At this point it just so happened that The France Show was on in London and so off we went. I don’t know if you have ever been to one, but they are rather massive and consequently mind boggling, with so much to take it. Was also very surprised how many other people also had the same aspirations of waking up to croissants and egg cup sized coffee for breakfast or er petit déjeuner! Arms heavy with brochures and brain cells flipping, we then meet Calum, a fellow Glaswegian on the Currencies Direct stand. At least language with him and William was no barrier! So, to cut a long conversation short he knew a woman who was selling a bed and breakfast between Bordeaux and Bergerac in the Dordogne. Well we are now focussed; it was an old farmhouse with an established business which the owner was selling due to ill health. So, having made contact, we decided to go and see it, and booked the ferry. Neither of us had been to the Dordogne before and therefore were none the wiser its huge with some 2 ½ hours top to bottom and is considered by some we soon learned as Little England due to high proportion of Brits living there!
From Calais we decided to break the nine-hour journey down to the far south of the Dordogne by staying overnight in the centre of Orleans which was a very pleasant stop. Not a place to miss the story of the Maid of Orleans of course, old Joan of Arc was featured everywhere! Next day we made our way down to the stunning medieval village of Sarlat, to be our home for the next ten days. The weather was glorious and somehow, we didn’t get much house-hunting done as there was too much to do and see. We did manage half a day only to discover that prices were quite high, and we needed a much bigger budget if we were looking to include a holiday let too. One of the places we saw was an old watermill, with basically just a few walls left, thought this was maybe taking renovation a bit too far. There were quite a lot of Brits here and many had accommodation to rent too, so competition was very high. But on the plus side the market in Sarlat was to die for, especially on the Saturday, with the narrow streets brimming with stalls full of foie gras, walnut oil, duck and local bread and cakes. I took time out on my own to browse as food isn’t Williams thing, and watched the world go by savouring my first (of many!) café gourmand, a small plate of desserts and cakes served with the proverbial egg-cup coffee.
Our Eymet accommodation
We looked at possibly buying separate buildings one for a gite and in another village a house for ourselves, but then thought we might be spreading ourselves a bit thin and more liking being onsite with our guests. We even looked at a Chateau which had last been an old people’s home. It was really good value for money at about £250k but so much work, as we walked around there was so many beautiful features including a tower that would make a wonderful keepfit studio, hmm tempting. Then I found myself on my own and felt drawn into a sideroom, where my heart went ten to the dozen, so stepped outside and felt normal, back inside I saw a light on the wall, but there was no window or electricity and I felt really odd and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Am not into ghosts and that sort of stuff, but something was spooking me and I wasn’t going to hang about to find out why! So the chateau was out.