Welcome to our French adventure blog.
Kev flies all over the world and I work in the world of retail design and am currently giving lots of independent stores across the country visual merchandising advice to make them look fabulous and hopefully help them make more money.
We have lived in London for 15 years and have loved living here and have enjoyed all the city has to offer good and bad.
But its time to follow our dream and set off on a big adventure, one that will see us sell up and move across the channel to start a new life and run a gite business [hopefully a successful one].
Here is our story so far….
Sowing the seed….
Our French adventure actually started many years ago whilst having dinner with my cousin in a French bistro. Her partner happened to mention that they had just bought a small flat in Nice for a ridiculously small amount of money. Talk of blue skies, markets, wine and walks along the Promenade des Anglais seduced us into deciding to jump a plane the next weekend en route to the Côte d’Azur. Now at this point I should mention that Kev works for an airline, so it was easy for us to pop along to Heathrow and get a flight.
So we found ourselves in Nice in a shabby little hotel at the beginning of October under blue skies and warm sunshine. Over the weekend of meandering through the old town streets, eating amazing food, drinking wonderful wine and soaking up the balmy atmosphere, the idea which started over dinner with my cousin began to germinate into a plan. One of us – and I’m not sure who – blurted out “what if we were to use our savings to invest in a property down here?” There the question was out into the world and we looked at each other and started to grin.
Our little place in the sun.
The Côte d’Azur had captured our hearts, so now all we had to do was find a place. Hmmm – easier said than done especially when you have a minuscule budget. We looked in every agent’s window and went to see so many places but none of them met the criteria we were looking for. We headed home a bit forlorn but determined not to give up on our dream of a place in the sun.
Finally, one dreary day Kev got a call about a property that ticked a lot of the boxes: it was in a great location; within budget; and in a very old building. The only thing was it had tenants in it, and it need a complete makeoever. The estate agent said it would get snapped up very quickly and suggested we come down to view it as soon as possible. I couldn’t get away from work, so Kev jumped off an over night flight from Johannesburg, and onto a flight to Nice, and went on his own armed with his camera and phone.
Kev sent photos of a very dingy, grubby looking apartment, which looked liked it hadn’t been cleaned in 50 years. There were a young couple with a new baby living in it (well I say living – it looked more like slumming it) and apparently the baby was always ill. Kev said it’s no wonder with all the mould and dirt in the place. There was another viewer waiting to go in and have a look straight after Kev, so a decision had to be made quite quickly. I took a deep breath and with only seeing it via photo I let Kev make the decision on his own. Was I mad?
Renovations from afar
And buy it we did, well Kev made the decision for us both, and a few weeks later we flew back to sign for our little flat by the sea. A warm February day i seem to remember and a spectacular train journey along the Côte d’Azur coast line from Nice to Menton where the signing was to take place, the citrus festival was on so the whole town was bedecked with oranges, lemons and limes, huge statues towered above us made out of these perfumed fruits and i couldn’t help but think i wonder what happens to all the fruits at the end of the festival? A bit of a waste , oh unless everyone one has a gin and tonic and that would solve the problem.
The signing for the flat happened very quickly, which allowed for lunch in the spring sunshine with a glass of rose to celebrate. And then i hopped back on the train and took the 6pm flight back to the Uk [work was calling] leaving behind to take a later flight, not quite sure why now, but why wouldn’t he want to stay it was such a beautiful day.
Have i mentioned that we had sitting tenants, oh yes, well they were supposed to stay in the flat for six months which was fine by me as we needed time to organise our selves and to think about renovations. But in the end they decided to leave early so in fact we had no time to organise and had to just crack on with it on the hoof.
My cousin, who had set the seed for this purchase, recommended someone who could do all the renovation work for us and project manage as we were going to be in the uk and would need someone who spoke both languages and could basically just get on with things.
So we were introduced to John a big burly Scotsman who had renovated their tiny flat and was now going to do the same for us.
To be continued….