Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The perfect holiday home

On Thursday 25th September 2003 our holiday home search took us to the historic town of Josselin in central Brittany, our 6th French estate agent, and what was to turn out at long last to be our perfect French holiday home.

When we arrived in Josselin the night before we had trouble finding a reasonably priced hotel and so ended up in Hotel Le Pelican. The hotel was really a bar with rooms above and could only be described as "basic". The room was OK, if a bit old and worn out, and they couldn't do breakfast the next day.

Next morning after eating at the fantastic Hotel Restaurant du Chateau opposite Josselin's chateau, we were amazingly lucky to find the estage agency Bretagne Proprietes Services first time in the winding one-way system round Josselin, then met our agent Franck Guillaume to go through what we were looking for and what he had on his books.

Once again we laid out what we were looking for:
  • Reasonably quiet and not on a main road
  • Not too much land (nothing more than an acre)
  • House had to be in good enough state that we could reasonably easily move into (we didn't want to manage a rennovation project from afar)
  • Part of the house which could be our "future rennovation project" (e.g. barn or an unconverted part)
  • Maximum budget (including agent's and notaire's fees) of £100,000
Frank only had two properties that we agreed were worth looking at, one in a little hamlet half-way between Josselin and Ploermel, and one in the historic town of La Trinite-Porhoet.

Just before we left to look at these two, Franck remembered a third property that had just come onto his books near to the village of La Cheze. In fact the property was so new that the details had not yet been written up and all he could give us was a printed copy of the property photo.

The first property wasn't what we wanted. On paper it looked OK but the garden was too small and contained a hutch full of rabbits (to eat !) and it was very close to the noisy N24 dual carriageway.

The second property was much more interesting though, a large L shaped traditional longere with a hay barn and stables (complete with the original feed troughs) at one end and a separate detached barn. From the outside the property looked lovely with red-brick edging around the windows, a slate roof, ivy and roses climbing up the walls and a gravel courtyard in front.

Inside the main house was in pretty good condition, there was a lovely wooden fireplace (which strangely the owners didn't use as they had a sofa across it), great big oak beams and two reasonable sized bedrooms upstairs (although one was in a very girly shade of pink!)

The second half of the L was basically a water-tight shell which the previous owner had started work on and had got as far as putting in three bedrooms, but hadn't done anything downstairs. Next door was the hayloft (with outside staircase - the photo is of me and Franck taking in the view) and stables beneath.

Outside there was a reasonable amount of garden, mainly grass with very few flowers and shrubs in it, the barn, a few fruit trees, and the whole house was situated in a very quiet location with open fields opposite and hardly any cars passing by.

All in all everything we'd been looking for.

We took lots of photos and video of the house, asked lots of questions of Franck as to the process for making an offer, and moved onto the 3rd and final house - nowhere near as nice as the previous one.

That night when I phoned Liz to tell her that we'd found one we liked, she was strangely unexcited about the idea ...

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