A few years ago when we first started seriously talking about moving to France, we discussed our options, our ideals and dreams. Neither of us could bring a trade or profession to earn a living. The knowledge we have gained from previous jobs could be used, but with our limited vocabulary we’d likely fall at any first hurdle if trying for a ‘regular’ job. Our best, and most preferred option has always been to buy two properties and run one as a gite rental, welcoming guests from across the globe with our smiling faces and pigeon French. Buying two houses sounds luxuriant, but France and the Limousin area in particular has actual affordable houses, the sort of prices that unlike the UK do not require a decade of saving for a first time buyer. Cheap sounds a bit brusque, but compared to UK prices that’s what they are.
Once we realised the gite rental option was our best and only, it was then to decide what sort of property and where. We visited the northernmost half of Nouvelle-Aquitaine (south-west France) several times, and spent our time getting a feel for the region. After these visits the northern reaches of the Perigord-Limousin Natural Park felt perfect. The hamlets, towns and villages, the terrain and countryside, constantly undulating but not overly hilly, and where the Dordogne and Charente meet the Haute-Vienne, was our first choice. Whenever we were there it just felt right. After drawing up a lengthy list of prioritised criteria we decided our ideal would be to find two houses in the same town or village just a short walk from each other. Close but not next door, a gite with at least two bedrooms and definitely houses that were traditionally French. Most visitors we think would come for authentic regional habitat. We know we always have.
We found our current beautiful house in Rochechouart in the summer of 2020, not knowing if it would be our permanent home or gite. After living here now for ten weeks our original thought towards the latter option has changed. We cannot leave this location, house and once in a lifetime view. So, in a perfect world we’ll find another house in Rochechouart, a walk away from ours. Up to now we’ve viewed maybe six or seven properties. Most have had positives but none have been serious options, and none have been in Rochechouart. Until today. Today we viewed a property just a three-minute walk from our house and with a wee attic conversion could be exactly what we’re looking for. I say a wee conversion because compared to some properties we’ve viewed an attic conversion is minor work. Almost all older properties come with quirks, issues and their own personalities. Some require major conversion or building work, including the last cottage we looked at came with a 150sq.m barn with enough quirks and issues (holes and leaks) to make its personality a little too unlikeable.
But, today we may have found our gite rental. We are trying not to get too excited. But we are. If we get it we get it, if we don’t we don’t. It’s all part of our French journey. We think we’re the first to have viewed the property, so unlike many houses we’ve viewed it’s not been on the market for months or as is sometimes the case, years. If, if, if our offer is accepted we know it’s just the first stage of a long process. A process of many possible hurdles or brick walls. Life, particularly at present has the potential to frustrate, delay or let you down. No house purchase is plain sailing but we have a very good feeling about this one. We’ve always thought we’d know when we find the right one. Well this is it. It has our name on it.