Our first property purchase was done remotely. At least the signing part as last November France was very much locked down, so indoor tête-à-têtes were completely off the table. With some restrictions recently lifted, for our gite purchase we were able to enjoy the whole signing experience first hand, comforted by the fact that both the property agent and notaire spoke fluent English. A formality, we presumed. Mais non. For about thirty minutes we just sat listening to the seller and notaire with occasional property agent participation, observing what was rapidly escalating into more than a heated discussion. It was in French, and très vite too with lots of donc, alors and heavy gesticulation. We understood little of the discussion, other than very occasional updates about what was clearly a financial matter. A tax matter. An unresolved issue left literally to the last minute. At one point there was a strong possibility of a three week delay, but after an abundance of heavy sighing a few altered documents were drafted, and the signing did indeed occur, preceded by much relief and initialling.
We were congratulated and presented with keys. A hefty bunch about which my first thought was: I bet that’ll be worth good money on Etsy, as one in particular was clearly at least a couple of hundred years old. The day was a particularly hot one so the post-key presentation discussions were brief before we headed back home for a celebratory bottle of fizz. We were last inside our new gite just the day before, the first time in about three months, checking everything was okey dokey and taking meter readings. That evening we still felt the need, now the house was legally ours, to take the three-minute stroll down the chemin and open the doors as actual owners. Pepper hadn’t seen the house yet either, and we didn’t want her to feel she wasn’t part of the family so she came along. Her sniffs were highly excited ones, so those served as her seal of approval.
Up ‘til now we’ve been thinking that we’d like to try to make the gite available from early July, knowing that with travel restrictions slowly lifting there should be plenty of people looking to stay in a beautiful historic gite in an equally beautiful French town. But, that first visit to the gite made is apparent that the upgrade to the bathroom would include a new toilet and shower with both being relocated. Our lovely neighbours recommended a plumber, and whilst he wasn’t available his own recommendation was. Work was discussed, as was a date. Mid-July, so there went the early July availability. In the grand scheme of things this slight delay matters little, especially with a second booking for the end of July recently confirmed.
So that’s now two gite bookings confirmed, and with Etsy sales at a fairly regular two or three a week our incomings have started to steadily trickle. We have always been aware that it will be at least a couple of years before our gite and Etsy businesses start to become established, before incomings will hopefully pay for our outgoings. In the meantime bills need to be paid, stock needs to be bought, repairs and improvements need to be done and whilst we’ve always prepared for this, spending money without earning it never feels comfortable. We’re confident that the gite we’ve purchased will rent consistently. It is full of beauty, charm and heritage with signs of its 400-year history very much in evidence. We think its location is perfect; a few minutes walk into the beautiful town of Rochechouart and even closer to lakes, walks and a stunning abundance of nature.
With the date of our first guests now set for the end of July that now gives us seven weeks to get it ready. Considering we thought we looking at a four, these extra few weeks are gratefully received. We’re not the best at making quick decisions, or even average-paced ones, so the week we’ll now spend faffing around changing our minds on paint colours will thankfully matter slightly less. Anyway, it’s getting too hot now to move around too quickly, or make quick decisions so everything is good. We were delighted to find the citrus tree in the terrace very much alive and well, so by the end of July La Terrasse du Citron will very much be living up to its name. Now it’s just a case of choosing those colours. Touch of lemon, morning light or bumblebee yellow? Buttercream or golden sunbeam? Or maybe a shade of mid-blue would make a nice contrast…