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Dompierre owner, Ron writes: French Property Adventure begins


My first encounter with France was a 4-week campervan trip in the late 1960s. The currency was the franc, and at that time, everything was expensive compared with other European countries. But the food, wine, scenery and culture was exceptional, and the gendarmerie were so relaxed, we parked and lived in our pop-top van in the Place de la Concorde in Paris for a week!

Three years ago, after performing in a Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Festival in Buxton, England, my wife and I made a one-week visit to France. It was August and a heat wave. The first few steaming hot days in Paris in a tiny, non airconditioned apartment, followed by an absolutely blissful three days at a boutique hotel in Amboise in the Loire Valley. Castle tours, long walks in the balmy evenings and great food and wine alfresco in the shadow of Château d’Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci lived and worked as a guest of King Francis I.

With fond memories of this short visit, on returning to Australia I thought, why not buy a property in France? The A$-euro exchange rate was very favourable, property values in France were depressed, and investing in property overseas seemed to be a far better option than buying property in Australia. The idea of owning a little place in France and spending some time there every year or two, was very exciting. My wife thought I was crazy.

An Internet property search was the way to start – where was the French equivalent of realestate.com.au! Very quickly in my search, I came across French Desire, a website established by Queensland couple Sharon and David to help Australians buy property in France. Their website contained lots of useful advice and links to do with French property, and they even listed a few properties for sale. One property caught my eye and was within my very modest budget – a fully-equipped two-storey attached stone house in Dompierre les Eglises, a 12th century village in the central western Limousin region, with an unattached plot of land. Asking price of €46,000, reduced from €50,000, equivalent to only A$57,500 at the current exchange rate.

I followed up with Sharon, and was introduced by email to the agent in France, Marie. Marie was very helpful, answering my never-ending questions about the buying process, legal issues, holiday rentals, renovations, etc, and introduced me to the owners, a Scottish family in Edinburgh. I then inundated the owners with more questions, until I was satisfied that the property would be a good purchase. Negotiating and finalising the purchase took six months from the offer to completion. Documents emailed and couriered back and forth between Australia and France, but all went smoothly.

Modern Kitchen with Front Loader Washing MachineKitchen with Gas Hob and Electric OvenMain Bedroom

In consultation with the manager of the local property agency, Laura, we decided that the house should be renovated before it would be suitable as a holiday rental. Fortuitously, Laura was a qualified interior decorator and her partner was a registered builder, so I asked Laura to manage the renovation on my behalf. We’ve all heard stories and seen TV shows about the perils of DIY renovations in France, so having Laura on the spot would be perfect.

Cutting a long story short, after almost 12 months, the house is ready. Re-wired, painted inside and out in traditional colours, the old fosse septique removed and the sewer connected, new kitchen, gas and electric heaters, new dining and lounge furniture and a full set of new French linen. The friendly local tabac owner, Catherine, will hold the keys for guests staying at the house, and her waitress, Karine, will look after the cleaning and laundry. On a quick visit last November to check on progress, I met the local Maire (mayor - in photo above with his secretary), Mme Poulidor, who warmly welcomed me as the first Australian in the village. Let’s hope many more Australians visit this charming village in the heart of the beautiful Limousin.

Regards

Ron (for more detail about Ron's house and/or to book to stay).


PS: I met lots of friendly locals when I visited the region in November, French and British. Zany proprietor of Thé Bonbons Cadeaux in nearby village Magnac Laval, Terrí Jones, was running a poetry competition, which I decided to enter. I later learned that I was a runner up with my silly Franglais limerick:

Une fille à Magnac Laval

Elle aimez un joli cheval

She couldn’t, of course,

Intercourse with a horse

So they sat, tirent mains

C’est pas mal!

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