La Terrasse du Citron – now complete with happy guests

25 July 2021

With our first guests arriving last Thursday we had to put in a few late shifts to ensure our beautiful gite was ready. For six weeks we’ve been repairing, rebuilding, refreshing, painting and plastering, searching for new or vintage interior furnishings, doing everything we can to make sure La Terrasse du Citron lived up to its name, and a holiday gite that we can be proud to host. We’re delighted to say we’ve achieved this, with more than a little help from friends and lovely neighbours. There was certainly more work involved than we first envisaged, with close inspection revealing endless minor or fairly major issues. But our beautiful gite is now clean and safe, with an interior full of charm and character and a bright and vibrant terrace perfect for eating, drinking and relaxing.

Our airbnb listing has been updated with new information and photos. We’d like to think that the two new bookings we’ve received over the last couple of days are as a result of these new photos, but at the moment we’re just delighted that our first guests have just departed with nothing but positive comments. Our first changeover has also just been completed meaning a very thorough clean (even though our kindly guests left it pretty much as they found it) meaning everything has been washed, wiped down or changed. Our washing machine will be working overtime for the rest of the summer and new drying lines are the next purchase.

So we are delighted to present the new, improved, very charming gite La Terrasse du Citron, to quote from our airbnb listing

“built in 1646 from meteorite stone, La Terrasse du Citron is a stylish and perfectly located gite at the foot of the Rochechouart chateau, nestled on the edge of the countryside in the beautiful Perigord-Limousin Natural Park and just 15 minutes from the lovely Charente leisure lakes. A charming 55 sq.m house with free parking and wifi, a private terrace, sleeping up to 4 and just a few mins walk from the wide range of shops, bars and restaurants of the historic town of Rochechouart.”

Our private and vibrant terrace…

Our stylish and sunny south-facing lounge…

Our charming and characterful kitchen/diner…

Our comfy bedroom and brand new shower room…

Some outside views with the chateau looking down…

We are currently fully booked until the third week in August, and are delighted to be welcoming mostly French guests, with a dash of Spanish and Irish. More than anything we hope we can soon welcome visitors from around the world as at last Rochechouart is feeling alive and delivering what is has always promised; a small, friendly vibrant and historic city full of typical French life, and quoting from the Rochechouart website

A welcoming, lively, vibrant, much more than a medieval city, much more than a flag for green tourism, much more than a center of life… discover Rochechouart and all its attractions.

A sub-prefecture of Haute-Vienne, located in the heart of the Périgord-Limousin Regional Natural Park, Rochechouart is a real treasure chest, which is here for you whether you are Rochechouartais for a long time, new residents or visitors!

The town offers you, to begin with, its rare natural heritage: a meteorite site unique in France and recognised worldwide, an ancient forest rich in protected plant and animal species. All served by a rich network of hiking trails, accessible to all, in order to discover and understand all of these riches.

We would very much love to see you soon!

The right side of rustic

16 July 2021

First things first, let’s get the latest on the weather out of the way. Yesterday, Bastille Day, saw the last of the rain. It has continued to pour, hard. But today has been dry and for the week ahead the forecast is nothing but sun. The rain has been unbelievable, but then we see what’s been happening with floods in Edinburgh, London and the horrific recent events in Germany and it highlights the comparative minor inconvenience of our internal drips and external dodging of muddy puddles. But yeah, the sun it seems has at last got his hat on. The last six weeks, as well as our morning walks in the rain, have been afternoons largely spent painting, decorating and relying on the skills of local workmen and the help of our lovely neighbours.

Our new gite became ours at the beginning of June. We set ourselves a six week time frame to make it clean, safe, and as beautiful as possible, not knowing that under close scrutiny (the sort of scrutiny it seems, not applied when viewing a property with an intent to purchase), there was a deal more work required than we first thought. Our gite is over 350 years old. We love its location, its history, its character and its charm. It’s rustic. We love rustic too, but there is most definitely a difference, or a not so fine line between rustic and broken, dangerous or simply shoddy. Can a rustic finish not have a straight line of paint, or a hole not filled, or just a modicum of care and attention to detail?

Until six weeks ago the level of rusticity in our gite was well below that not so fine line. Now, with less than a week until our first guests arrive we have kept and enhanced the charm, painted some fresh straight lines, and with the help of Shaun the electrician, Alan the plumber and Carole and Frank our amazing neighbours we can very soon reveal our new, very much improved gite. La Terrasse du Citron will live up to its name. Yesterday we made a list of the things we still need to do and buy. It’s a long one, but we think we’ve got it covered. We’ll be working on making it as perfect as possible until the night before our first guests arrive, and then probably the following morning too.

You may think Shaun, Alan, Carole and Frank aren’t particularly French sounding names. You’d be right. We’ve seen the work of a local French craftsman in our gite and heard about the differences in workmanship. If we’re honest, we are relying on our neighbours to guide us, and on English speaking builders as our French is still work in progress. Monsieur Frank has been building houses (mostly the wooden parts) for as long as I’ve been alive, and has been a huge help. Carole too, and considering they’re about six weeks away from moving into their own self-renovated house, they’ve been amazingly generous with their time. Last week Frank showed me how to apply render. I tried not to embarrass myself when giving it my best shot. It’s still on the wall. Painted too, so yeah… tick.

So, the shower room has been totally transformed, the terrace is looking vibrant and the whole gite is fresh, soon to be fully equipped and about five days from being ready. Instead of afternoons spent painting and decorating we’ll be excited, very much hoping our guests will be enjoying the fruits of our labour. Then the changeovers will begin, and a covid clean will mean the very highest standards of hygiene and sanitation. We take our responsibilities very seriously and expect our washing machine to be very busy and bleach and disinfectant to be our constant workmates. The last six weeks have been busy, but that’s how we like it. Now, with summer here and Rochechouart advertising a summer full of events, we’re ready, prepared and just a little elated to be fully-fledged gite owners.    

Alors, La Terrasse du Citron is ours!

2 June 2021

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 doncalors 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 yellowButtercream or golden sunbeam? Or maybe a shade of mid-blue would make a nice contrast…

Who fancies a holiday?

9 April 2021

France is currently back in lockdown so no-one is going anywhere at the moment, certainly not on holiday. But, and yes the but is a big one with lots of added ifs, if this damned virus recedes enough to allow travel into other towns, regions and even countries, we will be here, ready and very much able to welcome you to our new gite, La Terrasse du Citron. It’s ours from early June and for the rest of the month we’ll be making it shine; making it a comfortable, characterful and perfect gite, just a few minutes walk from the chateau and centre of our beautiful home town, Rochechouart.

The gite will be available to rent from 3rd July this summer, so we’re keeping everything crossed that science, nature, human behaviour and just a little luck will be having the required positive effect on the virus to allow visitors to our lovely home town. Rochechouart is already looking beautiful, but it needs people and visitors to bring it to life. We aim to put the gite on two hosting sites, the first of which is Airbnb, the fastest-growing holiday rental website with huge public awareness worldwide. The second is work in progress but we can at last start to advertise Le Terrasse du Citron. We are very much available to take bookings. If anyone has any questions, booking enquiries or would like more information or photographs please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Whilst France is still being gripped by covid we expect little in the way of bookings or enquiries, but we’re hoping after the April lockdown and the promised escalation of vaccines that the country will once again be able to open up. Our fingers are very much crossed that by July we will be able to welcome visitors from not just France, but from any country who want to savour the natural and cultural beauty of Rochechouart and the Haute-Vienne. We are also less than 3km from the Charente region and just 25km from the Dordogne, in a region rich with, and I quote from the Périgord-LImousin Natural Park website

“Picturesque villages, diversity of its landscapes, varieties of its productions, numerous activities and for all ages… everything here exudes the generosity of an environment in harmonious balance between man and nature. The Park therefore invites you to meet, discover, smell and feel its territory… around a drink, an Assiette de Pays®, a castle or even in the heart of a landscaped natural site, so many possibilities to discover the many riches of the Park!”

We very much hope to welcome you soon!

La Terrasse du Citron

21 March 2021

We have signed the compromis de vente, waited for the cooling off period to expire, paid our deposit and finally we can now start to advertise our new property; a gite rental in our historic, meteoric and extremely charming home town of Rochechouart. Well, we can at least show you some pictures and a little more detail such as location, as perfect as it is on the edge of countryside yet just a five minute stroll up the ancient ramparts to the 13th century chateau and pot pourri of shops, bars and restaurants. Over the next few weeks we will begin to set up pages on gite rental sites, but for now here’s a little more information.

We take ownership at the beginning of June and for a few weeks following we will be making the property perfectly safe, secure and immaculate. We are purchasing much of the current furnishings as they are in keeping with the feel of the gite, the rest will be hand-picked to compliment and add to its charm. The house is ancient, built in 1646 partly from meteorite stone, despite its age it will be equipped with all the mod cons such as electricity and water. And TV, WiFi, fresh cotton sheets (sleeping up to 4) and a barbecue.

The gite is nestled near the bottom of the ramparts, the chemin leading down from the chateau in the ancient quarter of the town. One side of the property is on the pretty path leading up to town, the other side looks out to the lake and countryside with a small, very conveniently placed car park less than a minute’s walk away. A few steps away from the property and a magnificent view up to the chateau reveals itself. We’ve decided to call the gite La Terrasse du Citron for two reasons. One, it sounds lovely and two because the gite’s private terrace will be home to a fragrant lemon tree and complimentary décor.

The gite is currently occupied so our ability to go in and take enticing photos is non-existent, so the exterior photos above are ours and the interior images below are borrowed from our kindly agent. The terrace for example will become more lemony, and the large hamburger art in the lounge is not an item we’ve purchased. We are looking to make the gite available for rental from the beginning of July and hopefully in a few weeks we will be able to point you in the direction of some rental sites, until then if anyone would like any more information we’re here and very much happy to help.

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