As long-standing Francophiles who visited the country half a dozen times most years, our friends had long since stopped asking where we were going to spend our holidays, instead asking when we would next be going to France! Our travels around this amazing and hugely varied country have seen us tasting champagne in Epernay, exploring the tranquil marshes of the Marais Poitevin by boat and wondering at the grandeur of the chateaux of the Loire. In alternate years, we varied our diet by following the sun south to sample the richness of Catalan culture and soothed our work weary minds amongst the unspoilt countryside of the Creuse. Through all of these experiences, our love of the French way of life and of its people grew steadily and the idea of owning our own property gradually began to occupy more and more of our waking hours. Finally, nearly eight years ago, we began our search.
As busy professionals – Val an English teacher and member of the Senior Management Team of a large inner city secondary school and Andy in Local Government management- we had a limited amount of free time, most of which became consumed in searching the internet for our ideal property. At this point, being totally addicted to television programmes in which smiling couples drifted hand in hand around charming French properties dreaming of sipping wine on their very own terrasse, we were totally unprepared for the reality of our quest.
Having narrowed down our search over several months, and making yet more visits, we finally settled on an area. Just a short drive inland from the Atlantic coast brought us to gently rolling countryside where the people are friendly and the pace of life leisurely. Being near water has always been important to me and driving round a region half way between the Charente and Loire rivers of Western France, we were captivated by the gently flowing waterways that meander their way through towns, cities and villages. We gradually realised that the wealth of properties in this area, crossing the boundaries of the Vendée and Deux- Sèvres departments, represented much better value for money than those on the coast, but were still only an easy drive away.
Another key reason for settling our property search in this area was the fact that it’s the second sunniest part of France with summers that are longer and warmer than in the UK. Since owning a pool and enjoying a healthy outdoor lifestyle were near the top of our list of requirements, it fitted the bill perfectly. With hindsight, choosing to look in the Vendée and Deux -Sèvres area was the easiest part of our French property buying experience, but we didn’t realise it at the time!
We then began several exhausting visits to the area in which we attempted to rush around as many properties as possible during each five day visit. Believe me, the frustration really began to mount as we viewed everything from ancient town houses whose crumbling masonry was pushed further towards collapse by the rumblings of the lorries that regularly travelled the road outside, to remote properties which were optimistically described as “in need of refreshing” but in fact needed re-wiring, roofing and plumbing! We saw seventies inspired bathroom suites in every colour from luminous orange to chocolate brown and I won’t even try to describe the range of violently patterned wallpapers, many of which, incidentally, extended up the walls and across the ceiling!
Happily, in the end we did find “the one” and took ownership of our very own French Property eight years ago. What, at that point was intended as a holiday home quickly became so hard to leave that we decided to seize the moment and make the move permanent. Ensconced à la campagne, we can honestly say that it is the best decision we’ve ever made. Through a process of trial and error, we’ve gradually built up an excellent network of contacts in the area, many of whom have now also become friends. We have also developed an in- depth knowledge of the challenges that face those who, like us, make the decision to buy a place in France. Consequently the prospect of providing a professional service dedicated to helping other people to realise their own dream of owning a home here in the peaceful Vendée and Deux- Sèvres areas, is something we at Poitou Property Services are fully committed to.