Holiday Fun – not!

The original aim of this trip to Provence was to find a house we could rent for a year.  Then when the owners of La Belle Cour, the house we rented last winter, returned, they offered us their house – a perfect arrangement, as far as we were concerned, as we knew the house and its quirks well at that stage.  We were already looking forward to a July visit to Provence, though, so we decided to turn it into a two week holiday, spend time looking for a livery yard with an arena where Aero and Flurry could live outdoors, but mostly just relax and enjoy Lavender Time in Provence.

Life happens, and unfortunately plans changed – a business opportunity arose which our potential landlords could not let pass.  Initially we all thought it would still work out, although with a later time frame – we would start our year in January and not September – but on arrival in Céreste last week, we learned that even this was now impossible for them.  They were, of course, very apologetic and offered to assist us in our search for an alternative.  So our holiday reverted to being a house-hunting trip, along with being a livery hunting trip for the horses.

Initial searches on the internet proved mostly fruitless, although we did find one nice looking house in nearby Montfuron. An email was winged off, but days later we had still received no reply.  It seems that at this time of the year, with Provence bursting at the seams with tourists, everyone is thinking in terms of Summer lets – a very lucrative business indeed, with people paying thousands of euros for their holiday rentals.

Frustrated at not being able to come up with a concrete plan, we started thinking in terms of buying.  The market here is quite depressed – British buyers are scarce, as the exchange rate is somewhat unfavourable at the moment, and many foreigners in general are being deterred by President Holland’s threat of a holiday home tax for overseas owners.  It’s a good time to buy here as a result – we reckon that a small village house could be picked up for less than €200K.  Could we beg/borrow/scrape together enough cash to buy a small place, live in it for the year and then make the decision as to whether we would move here permanently?  The small place could then be either resold or kept as a house we would let out.  We looked at a couple of very nice little houses, did the sums as best we could, but we really needed to find out what our home in Ireland was worth before we could proceed.

A phone call to an Estate Agent later, and we had received the devastating news – with the Irish property crash, our home has dropped in value by 60%.  We still have some equity in it, but now IS NOT the time to think about selling, and it looks like things won’t pick up for several years.

Crestfallen, fearing that our vision of even a year in Provence was disappearing, we decided to take the afternoon off and forget about houses for a while.  We set off towards the Lac d’Esparron, planning a walk, a picnic and a paddle.

DRIIIING DRIIIING!  LSH’s phone – it was R, the owner of La Belle Cour.

“Have you guys found a house yet?  We’ve got the perfect place for you – J is thinking about renting her place for a year!”

Well, we know J’s house – it’s beautiful!  It’s a good 8km outside of Céreste, though – there would be no more strolling down to the Café de France for LSH’s mid morning coffee.  A small price to pay, we agreed, so there we have it – we’re coming back at the start of October to live in a tiny hamlet called Les Granons for a year.  We have two and a half months to tidy up our house in Cork and find a tenant.


Les Granons (Photo credit Mark Guerrini)

And the horses?

Watch this space!

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