6 May 2009


The story so far............

Nick and Jean have spent more than a decade meandering all over France, this way and that, mostly "a moto", sometimes "en voiture". They are about to start looking for a holiday home of their own, somewhere near Chinon.

Outside the bar at Huismes, near Chinon

They think they ought to learn the language properly first.


In 2007 we joined a French language class, thinking that if we were going to be able to communicate sensibly with agents, solicitors, possibly even builders, then we ought to have a better command of the language. Our tourist French was quite good and our pronunciation was not too bad either. This occasionally got us into trouble as we sounded fairly convincing but had a very limited vocabulary, just enought to get a meal, room, shopping etc. If we got into any sort of conversation, we were way out of our depth.

More than half the students in the evening class we joined were there because they already had, or were looking for, a house in France. This was brilliant for us. We had two terms of hearing all the stories they had to tell and it kept up the momentum. By which I mean it ensured that we (and Nick in particular) did not start to get cold feet. Other people had all sorts of trouble with vendors, solicitors, builders, not to mention plumbing, electrics and even tractors. All of them overcame each problem one way or another and they were all so upbeat about it we could not wait to get started.

A sweet shop in Chinon.

We thought that house-hunting would be easier in the car than on the bikes so we decided that the sensible thing to do was to hire a gite and stay in one area for our property search. We also decided on the last two weeks of August. We had forgotten that the first of these weeks is a very popular holiday time in France so when we came to look for a gite, many of the ones we would have liked were already booked.

We are a bit choosy about gites and of the ones available, there were two we fancied. We chose the one at Le Grand Pressigny, somewhere we had never been before, because it seemed to be within walking distance of the village and there were shops, bars and a funny looking chateau to visit. Also, it was not too far away from Chinon, the area where we intended to concentrate our search.

Le Grand Pressigny chateau.

We started looking at properties on the internet. What a hoot that was. It seems that if you want to sell a house in France, there's no need to tidy the place up a bit - just invite the agent in to take the photos - no matter that your knickers are on the airer in front of the fire and there's junk all over the place.

"Fitted kitchen" - if you can see it for the junk.

We came across a number of caves for sale and one of them had - presumably as decoration -rats nailed up around the archway entrance.

We decided to give that one a miss.

"Cave festive" for sale, yours for only 11k euros.

There seemed to be tons of property for sale and by the time we set off, we had already arranged with agents to see two houses. We were just so excited.


  1. Jean,
    You weren't meandering on your house hunt in the lovely Sunbeam Talbot were you?

  2. Tim - sadly, no. There was a vintage car rally in Huismes the day that photo was taken. There were lots of fabulous old cars in the village and all the owners were in the salle des fetes having a good lunch, by the sound of things.
    I love the way the French love their old cars. (And bikes.)