2 May 2009


The village of Cassagne.

We spent three days with Pete & Cyn at their house in Cassagnes near Perpignan in June 2006 and had a great time. They found the house on a three-week house hunting trip in 2004. This was the last house they looked at out of nineteen houses.

You can see Pete & Cyn's house in the distance with the balcony on the top floor.

The house is on three floors and they agreed it buy it on condition that they would get planning permission to put a large balcony on the top floor so that they could make the most of the magnificent view.

While we were in the area they took us to a couple of vide-greniers. This is presumably the French equivalent of the car boot sale but with a few important differences. The whole village seems to become the market place and there is a great carnival atmosphere to the whole thing. We enjoyed them although I have never seen so much rubbish in one place before. Still, there was also lots of good stuff for sale and we all got a few bargains. Pete bought a telescope, Cyn a red leather handbag and some plant-holders to hang from her kitchen window. Nick got a Ricard water jug and I got 3 pretty cream jugs. So we all went home happy. There's nothing like a bargain to make you feel content.

The very pretty harbour at Collioure.

We also went to Collioure, a beautiful and very popular place. We had a good lunch and a walk around the town and came across an artist called Michel Val who had his Harley parked outside his gallery. Naturally, we bought some prints to frame at home. His paintings are very bright and colourful, just like the town itself. I like his work a lot - it's cheerful and we have the prints in our Derbyshire kitchen.

Michel Val and his beloved Harley

There isn't a single ugly street in Collioure.

Pete & Cyn had already done a lot of work on the house and were busy creating a single open-plan living area out of the large empty space that was the top floor. From there the view over the village and the hills beyond is absolutely stunning. It was a bit unnerving at first, leaning on a railing perched two floors above their garden but once I was accustomed to the idea, I could not tear myself away from the balcony and the view.

Admiring the view on a perfect evening.

Nick was most impressed with the whole project. It was good to see that real people do buy homes in France and do them up - it's not just a glossy magazine phenonemon. I was interested to see how it was perfectly possible to manage in reasonable comfort whilst work was in progress. And, although they had had a few trials and tribulations, they seemed to be having so much FUN.

We talked with them at length about how they went about finding it, financing it and doing the work or getting it done. We also talked about their hopes and aspirations for the place - if for example they thought they might move there when they had finally retired.

Then it came:

Food for thought no. 4 : "Who knows. We might end up living here or if we get tired of it we'll sell it. Nothing's definite. It's doing it now that matters."

The look on Nick's face told me that not only had the penny finally just dropped, but a whole pocketful of pennies was jingling around in his head.


  1. Thanks, Jean. You've brought back a lot of lovely memories ... I'd forgotten the detail but remember that you and Nick were not considering buying until a few years down the line. Peter and I were very surprised to hear that, only a matter of weeks later, you'd decided to GO FOR IT! You only get one crack at life and now is the time ... before we get too old to do anything or enjoy it in the same way. Update on Cassagnes: We're going out on 12 May to start on the second level - creating a new bathroom, master bedroom with en-suite and 3 new bedrooms - can't wait! Cyn X

  2. Hope the work goes well, Cyn. Have fun and send us some pics for the blog. !!