We found it!

Okay, we started the house hunt, thinking it would take us a year or two to decide on an area, then a house.

We’ve rented this lovely house here in the southwest Dordogne and we love it. We’ve been day-tripping out to other areas to experience the vibe of the different towns and geography and when we get back here, it already feels like ‘home.’

We know we want to be in southwest France for its slower pace of life, absence of traffic and population density, great weather, low housing prices, good food, and local wine. We have decided we want to be close to a town, but be on a big enough lot to feel like we’re in the country. With privacy and quiet, but with amenities very close by.

And so we took our ‘short list’  to the local English speaking realtor here in town. One thing about house hunting in Europe—there is no such thing as a multiple listing service. Each realty firm has their own listings. Hell, sellers even list their house with several realtors, but there is not one clearinghouse where you can see everything that’s on the market. And so you must peruse dozens of websites and visit every office you see to really get a feel for availability and pricing.

The first house we viewed in the immediate area was practically right across the valley from our rental house. We understand that the last owner went to the hospital and was given a medication that he didn’t know he was allergic to, and it killed him. Tragic, to say the least. And that was over four years ago. Due to the drastic inheritance laws in France, the children’s interest was minuscule, so they didn’t care about maintaining the house. To complicate matters, there were ex-wives and girlfriends who didn’t have the resources or the interest in keeping up the property either. And so it sat: the grass grew, errant sapling trees took root, the ivy climbed, the mint spread, the bamboo forest swallowed huge trees, the spiders spun their webs, and the property lost it’s identity. And it called to us to bring it back to it’s former glory.

Of course, we’ve looked at tons of other amazing houses that desperately needed our design vision and money to be thrown at them, but none that spoke to us like this one. It was love. It is exactly what we were hoping to find:

• Three separate buildings (one main house, one garage/studio, one guest house).

• Breathtaking garden of 2.5 acres, with amazing huge trees (including fruit and nut trees).

• Character out the wazoo! Perigordine stone construction with an ancient Pigeonnier.

• 5 minutes from Lalinde, with all amenities. Walkable/bikeable.

• Main house is single level for aging in place.

• Large pool and patio.

• Office off large open-plan living/dining room.

• Tons of large, wonderful windows and French doors.

• Tall ceilings with beautiful wood finishes.

• Separate studio for Cindy.

• Amazing garage and workspace/man cave barn for Theo.

• Independent guest house (purported to be over 300 years old).

• 30 minutes to Bergerac Airport.

• A shed already perfect for chickens.

• Private well. (The house is coined Le Coudeau (the original well keeper for the area).

• And the nicest neighbors anyone could hope for (more on that later).

At first, we questioned how we could make a decision this quickly without having viewed dozens of other candidates. But when you know it’s right, it’s right. And Theo and I agreed many years ago that if we weren’t 51%/51% agreed, then it was a ‘no-go.’ And we were united in the decision that this was the property, and the town, and the area, for us to live happily ever after.

And so it begins. Here is a tour of our little love shack! Bear in mind that these photos are the realtor’s and were taken 4 years ago. I will try to get to the property again and take comparison shots as it is now. We hope you join us on our journey of transforming this property into our own…

Main house on one level with old pigeonnier.

Main house on one level with old pigeonnier.

Small pond in front garden.

Small pond in front garden.

Main house living room. Huge ancient fireplace and wood ceilings.

Main house living room. Huge ancient fireplace and wood ceilings.

Current main house kitchen. Livable, but of course Cindy wants to change it all...

Current main house kitchen. Livable, but of course Cindy wants to change it all…

Main house has two master suite wings. This is the second one that we will probably use as a media room.

Main house has two master suite wings. This is the second one that we will probably use as a media room.

The garden as seen from the house overlooking the pool.

The garden as seen from the house overlooking the pool.

The view back towards the house.

The view back towards the house.

The guest house.

The guest house.

Side of the guest house with secret garden walls.

Side of the guest house with secret garden walls.

First floor bedroom in guest house.

First floor bedroom in guest house.

And now the waiting begins. There is a lengthy process in France to close on a home. Once the initial offer is accepted, the diagnostic home inspections are ordered, and nobody rushes to either get to the house or write up the report. After the diagnostics have been presented, you set the initial meeting with the Notaire to start the recording procedures, which involves a down-payment. Title searches are done, tax records are checked, the city government needs to release their right to purchase the property. Then there is a two-month period in which the local famer’s union has the right of first refusal. This entire procedure takes from 3-1/2 to 4 months, so we’ve requested the date of January 4 to close.

This entry was posted in American Expats in France, House Hunting in France, Moving to Europe. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to We found it!

  1. Lucy Harendza says:

    Congrats Cindy and Theo! The house is amazing. I am sure you both are salivating to get started on the fixing-up process. 🙂 So much fun ahead of you!

    Have to ask (and the question is so American) – how much?

  2. Pat Calderhead says:

    It looks beautiful! Congratulations – it looks like you have quite a project ahead, and I know it will be spectacular when you’re done. Am enjoying yur postings very much.

  3. Donna Dawson-Schwartz says:

    Wow! It looks like it will be perfect!! Just think of all that you will be able to do with this place. Your houses on Hanchett and Townsend were just practice! How exciting for you both.

  4. Anne-Marie says:

    Look at you guys go! You just could not go too much longer without a project! Will you be flying Mario out soon? ;). It all looks just delightful in these 4 year old pictures so… I can only imagine what the property will look like after you both get your claws into it. And so many places for the doggies to explore too! The best news is that I have a first cousin, Bernadette, who was just here in August, who only lives 1.5 hours away in the Gironde area. Parfait! I plan to see the finished project in person in the near future!

  5. Anne Sherwood says:

    Wow! Cindy and Theo, it looks fabulous, and I think you’ve thought about what you want in great detail, so it will be a happy place for you and your many friends…

    Can’t wait to see you start your transformation, and how lovely it will undoubtedly be!

    Warm regards to you, Alfie and Annie,
    P.S. The rain woke me last evening, but alas, it was only .01 inch….a little more in the Santa Cruz mountains…

  6. Hillary Savage says:

    Ok, so this is a bit silly maybe but I cried when I saw this house! Could it be more perfect? More French? More you and Theo? I’m so happy for you guys even if I miss you terribly. Annie and Alfie look happy and the gardens are beautiful for you already! I’m thrilled to have tracked down your “adventures in France” blog again.

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