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Moving to France – How NOT to do it.

Moving to France – How NOT to do it.

| On 05, Jan 2008


We were staggered when she then told us she and Ned were in the middle of legal proceedings because she had legal tenancy rights over the hotel and according to her lawyer her case was extremely strong. This was because she was Ned’s relative and had his grandchildren and secondly because she had a legal tenancy agreement. She had even offered to purchase the hotel from him, but he had refused to sell it to her. Her lawyer had also told her it would be at least a year before they could force her from the property even if she didn’t win the case.

This was naturally devastating news to us, but then something happened to make us think perhaps we had had a lucky escape. She asked us if we would like to have a real look around the hotel and see all of the problems that had been hidden from us when we viewed it during the summer.

We were shown damp walls, which could not be seen during the summer because they dried out then.

Up in the roof space she indicated that the ends of the supporting roof beams were quite rotten and would need replacing. Martin thought it would require a whole new roof costing thousands. The “˜problems’ continued and my brother with his professional eye told us that she was telling the truth and that it was going to cost us a fortune to put everything right.

We asked her what would happen now and she said that Ned was not legally able to sell us the hotel while he was at court with her, so she didn’t understand what he was trying to do. She thought perhaps he was under the impression that if he put enough pressure on her that she would just give up and go. This was something she had no intention of doing, as she explained she had invested too much time and money on the place to simply walk away with nothing. Plus, it was her children’s home, her new partner lived there and they were happy.

We realised there was no way we were going to get the hotel and that even if we did, it needed a fortune spending on it. So after having a coffee in a local café, we went back to the chalet to talk things through with my mum and Harry.

They were naturally bitterly disappointed and I told them that I would fully understand if they wanted to return to the UK.

But surprisingly they said that they would rather see things through and find a new home with us all together in France. So began another search for yet another property for us all to live in, but for now we were homeless, at the top of a mountain in snow, ice and fog. I also realised I had paid a lot of money for a website that was useless to me and things during the next few weeks looked very grim.


Then for another kick in the teeth. One sunny Sunday afternoon Craig and I drove from the chalet to one of the local lakes to walk the dogs. When we returned to the car I could see that the driver’s window had been smashed and my heart was in my mouth, as I suddenly realised what had happened. I had foolishly hidden my handbag under the driver’s seat. It was something I would never have done in the UK, but up here in the middle of nowhere I thought it would be safe. However an opportunist thief must have spotted it, smashed the window and stolen it. The worst part however was that there was £1,500 in cash inside the bag – waiting for us to open a French bank account. Ironically, I hadn’t wanted to leave it in the Chalet as there was no way of locking the doors and I was worried that anyone could just walk in. We hadn’t been able to open a bank account so far, as we had no permanent address, so the money had just remained in my bag!

The bag itself did eventually show up, when out of the blue seven months later we got a call on Craig’s mobile phone from a family out picking mushrooms in the forest. They had found the bag complete with the information from our new French mobile phones, with our numbers on. There was also about £20 in English small change.

{mosbanner right}Every day we travelled down the tiny windy mountain road from the chalet, to look for a new property to buy. We really liked the area at the bottom of the mountain the High valley of the river Orb, in the foothills of the Languedoc National Park, where it was much warmer and the weather far more settled than at the top of the high mountains. The valley had mountains on either side of it. It was spectacularly beautiful and so we looked at the small towns and villages along its length.

After a further two weeks of travelling on average 100miles + a day, we managed to find a rental property, a big villa with a garage and a huge garden, ideal for the dogs and with easy access for Harry, but the day before we were going to move in, the estate agent telephoned us to say that the owner had decided she didn’t want to rent the property after all. It was another massive blow, but she quickly found us a brand new property in the market town of Bedarieux; a single story villa, with three bedrooms a garage and a garden that resembled a bomb site (builders here don’t seem to worry about leaving all their rubbish lying around).

The villa was unfurnished as we had requested, however we were expecting it to at least have a kitchen. Where the kitchen should have been there was just a kitchen sink, which meant we had to buy a cooker and a fridge etc. This seems quite normal in unfurnished rental properties in France, so be aware that you may have to provide everything – including the kitchen sink when renting! The rental cost was 850€ (around £586) a month excluding, heat, light, power and rates and was on a six month let in a larger town or city it could easily double that amount.

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