He had organised three out of four viewings of the houses he wanted to show us that day, as he was unable to get hold of a key for the fourth.
First stop was at La Guerche. This is a charming little village not far from Le Grand Pressigny, with a medieval château but little in the way of commerces. As you go over the bridge into the village from Le G P, the house is on the left. You can't miss it. The bridge was built after the house and the road comes half way up the windows.
House number one at La Guerche
The house itself had nothing to commend it as a holiday home. All the interesting stuff was across the road. There were umpteen outbuildings, a cottage, a stable or two and a vast amount of land. If you had gazillions of euros to spare it could be made into a fabulous gite complex with room for several swimming pools.
Not for us, that one then. Nearly two years later I believe it is still for sale.
The next house was at Abilly (pronounce "Abee-yee"). This is another attractive little village with the river running alongside the road and a few commerces. We already liked Abilly.
The house was right at the top of our budget and was lovely. It was in excellent condition with a very nice staircase that the vendor had made himself as he was a "charpentier" until he retired. As we had found with so many of the houses we had seen, there was lots of finishing off to do but it was comfortable, bright and airy inside. There was a reasonable sized garden with a potager, rabbit hutches at the end of the garden (dinner!) and a spectacular view of some distant château. In the cellar, apart from the eau-de-vie still, there were neat rows of bottled fruit, preserves and wine on the shelves.
The store cupboard in the cellar at house number two
Outside, it was business as usual. There were not one, or even two, but three cottages that came in with the house. All for "doing up". Antony hinted that there had been some discussion recently that the vendor might separate the sale of the main house from the dépendances but that might take some negotiation. For negotiation read aggravation, time and frustration, I thought.
The three spare cottages that came with house number two.
Not for us that one, either.
I can't remember where the third house was. I just remember that it was unattractive, with a huge garden and orchard, a hangar with a small forge in it, lots of cats, lampshades made of newspaper and hardly any furniture. The owner was obviously not very well off and showed us round hopefully. We got the impression he had been steadily doing it up in order to try to sell it. I thought he was going to burst into tears when we said the garden was too big and the house required too much doing up for us. I felt sorry for him and quite guilty that we didn't like it.
House number three. There were cats asleep on every windowsill.
We then said to Antony that we would like to go back to Le Grand Pressigny for a second look at the little cottage there. I was trembling with excitement as we drove back to the village. We had seen nothing else that was anywhere near as good and I couldn't wait to see it again.
As soon as Antony unlocked the door and we stepped inside I felt absolutely sure this was the one. The rain clouds had drifted off and sunshine filled the one room downstairs. Standing on the little terrace, with the château just peeping over the top of the house and the view from the garden over the village rooftops I felt completely at home.The view from the back of the house.
We announced to Antony that we would like to make an offer on the house, could he try to find out what the vendor might accept, as we could not afford the advertised price. Tomorrow was Wednesday and he promised to contact the vendor, who lived in Paris and get back to us as soon as possible. We had until the following Monday to sort this out as then we would be going home.
As we walked away from the cottage the neighbour was pottering about in the courtyard. Antony exchanged a few pleasantries with her and I grinned at her and said, "we are going to buy this house". I thought she looked very pleased.