We Could Have Had It Worse
In Part 1 I had said how cold it was and it was bitterly cold but in the UK they were getting heavy snow as well, I was glad I was in France. We had access to English TV and the pictures were bad of the weather, maybe we had made a good decision after all to come to France that week.
After a visit to the Intermarche at Bonnet ( chance to get used to French supermarkets again ) to stock on supplies for our meals , we began our touring of Department 23, The Creuse. We were armed with our map and just as importantly, the Sat Nav in the car which soon became an important tool.
Down To The Lake I Fear
OK, I confess, we saw so many places & after a while, they all merged into one and so my apologies if I do not quote all the place names ! The Limousin is famous for its number of lakes and so we decided to have a look at one of the lakes nearby. When we got to the lakeside, it was desolate. To be honest the village at the top of the lake was empty as well ( everyone in France seems to disappear between 12 & 2 ) but the lake seemed even emptier.
When you are in the centre of France, lakes become really important as places to relax since you are so far away from the sea and they often have beaches. This lake had a
beach but also ice in the water and on the beach. I think the windchill was around -12c , we sensibly wrapped up well.
After a 10 minute walk on the lakeside and coming to the conclusion the cafe concession was not open, we got in the warmth of the car again.
From there we drove through the wonderful countryside and said Hello to lots of Limousin cows as we drove on the empty roads and arrived at a village (Bussiere Dunois) on Hazel’s list of places to see and discovered the local bar. We were hungry but could not decide if they did food and with very poor French, we had a couple of coffees to warm up. We were nithered after our trip to the lake.
We set off again with the aim of going to Boussac and passed through numerous villages, all of which were beautiful in various ways and we did not see anything to put us off. When we got to Boussac, we parked in the town square which seemed quite deserted. When we got out of the car it suddenly felt warmer, yes , not summer heat but we felt The Beast had got bored of us and had decided to to spend even more time in the UK.
We had a little wander around the square and discovered an Immobiler ( Estate Agents ) and after what seemed like 10 minutes looking in the window, we were brave enough to go in.
How Can We Help You Sir ?
OK, we had only gone in to get some details of a house we wanted to get some more details on ( we had accepted on our house back in Beverley a week earlier ) and so we felt justified in putting our toes in the water.
The estate agent spoke good English and we chatted and she gave us details of the house. French estate agents are terrified of losing a sale to someone knocking on the door of the house and so normally you normally get information that tells you what village it is near, very difficult to find independently. We had no problem with signing a form saying they had introduced us, we did not want to have a full viewing but we just wanted to see the location of the house and to get a better idea of what we could potentially get for our money.
Don’t Like The Look of That Garden
Estate agents in the UK can get a bad press but when a property is described in France, always assume it might not be what it seems. After a bit of driving around, we discovered the house and it did not look as good as the brochure. It was on a triangular piece of land and was in a lot of shade from pine trees and the large expanse of garden it came with, the bulk of this was on a wooded bank. As keen gardeners, we could not have done anything with that and it was not a nice wood to walk in. But at least we had begun our first tentative steps into the house buying process.
My Head Is Getting Dizzy
Over the next few days we toured around Creuse, Haute Vienne & Vienne to get the feel of the region. We saw so many different villages & towns and we were very impressed with all of them. One of the reasons we went to France when we did was to see the locations in winter time when it was not bright sunshine & everywhere looked wonderful. We took the view if somewhere looked great in February, it would be great in the summer.
As regards locations we looked at La Souterraine , Bellac , Montmorillon & Eymoutiers and a lot of villages surrounding these towns. We saw spectacular lakes at Lac Vassiviere and so much wonderful scenery, we knew we were making the right decision to move to France. The only problem was I had seen so many different locations, my head was spinning !
Another Toe In The Water
We loved Eymoutiers so much, we actually popped into an Estate Agents and arranged viewings of 3 houses the next day.
The first house we saw was at the top of a hill and internally it was fine but it had a couple of staircases that were narrow & windy and all the garden was on a slope. But it did have a baby goat in the garden which also had the run of the house !
The second house was a Sous-Sol and came with over 2000 sq metres of land and had loads of fruit trees, including a sweet chestnut tree ( but no walnut ! ) which was on my wish list. We were after somewhere with Gite potential and this unfortunately did not have this.
The third house was in a large village and was a lovely house by itself but it directly faced an old fire brigade training building with a very rusty tower and there was no sign of it being taken down.
All of these houses gave us an insight of what it was like inside a French house and for prices ranging from €100,000 to €140,000, we knew we could get a great value property for our money.