13 June 2009


The story so far:

Nick and Jean have spent many years exploring France and finally decided they want to buy a holiday home there. They have looked at several houses and have found one they like in a village called Le Grand Pressigny in the Loire area.

It is Sunday and the Immobilier is closed until Tuesday.


Staying in the beautiful gite just outside the village was useful for us in many ways. It had obviously been an old farm with "dépendances" and it had been restored to an exceptionally high standard. This gave us a good idea of what could be acheived with an old property and something to aim for. We also appreciated that the gite owners must have spent a lot of time and money making the place so fabulous.

However, as the days went by we started to find it rather spooky. During the day it was fine, and it was usually filled with sunshine. The decoration was bright and colourful and there were roses and strawberries growing in the little garden at the back.

At night it changed character and we both felt uncomfortable moving about the house. Maybe the darkness around the house, which was in a hamlet with no street lights, contributed to our unease, or perhaps the intense silence. There were other houses very close by but it was very quiet after dark, apart from the noise of (presumably) small animals scurrying here and there, plus the occasional bark from the neighbour's dog and the hoot of an owl. After a few uneasy nights we got into the habit of closing off half of the house, which was in fairness way too big for just the two of us, by shutting the door to the downstairs corridor and the bigger bedroom upstairs. We ate and listened to music in the kitchen and stayed out of the salon, which was actually down some steps into what would have been an adjoining cottage.

The house would also occasionally have an unpleasant smell. Definitely a smelly-drain sort of pong but we could never work out why it would be there some times and not at others. There seemed to be no pattern.

By contrast, from the moment we first entered the little cottage "au pied du chateau" it felt like a sunny and happy place. It didn't need a huge amount of "doing up" either. Many of the houses we had looked at needed such a lot of work that it was not easy to envisage how they could look when "done up" and some of them also felt distinctly spooky. The gite experience convince us that having somewhere in the village and not even vaguely isolated was the right thing for us.

We could move no further until Tuesday when the immobier reopened. It was Sunday and there was a change in the weather. We decided to amuse ouselves by doing a bit more exploring. We headed south and came across a very pretty little place called Angles sur Anglin, the Anglin being the river flowing through the village.

Being a Sunday in August it was predictably extremely busy, crammed full of tourists of many nationalities. There were lots of antique and secondhand shops selling incredibly overpriced stuff that no-one in their right mind would buy. Also a couple of artists studios and craft shops. In spite of its very touristy feel, it is a lovely spot and we have since been back on a weekday and enjoyed a stroll around the village and a coffee in the square watching the world go by.

By Monday the weather had changed and it was cool and raining. Our 10-day forecast obtained before we set off on holiday the week before had by now expired and we were not prepared us for this so we spent the day shopping for a jumper, a rainjacket and an umbrella. We went to Chatellerault and were pleased to find that although it is a sizeable town, there is plenty of free parking available for a visit to the shops. In Monoprix we found just what we wanted and then we had a good lunch in one of the street cafes.

The next day, we had our appointment with Antony of Lochois Immobilier and I decided that I would say to him, "Today we will buy a house from you". If he showed us nothing better, we would buy the little cottage au pied du chateau.

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