Busi­ness of the month

A river­side res­tau­rant in Yonne has it all as So­phie Gardner-roberts finds out

French Property News - - Contents - beau­ti­ful­bur­gundy.com

A river­side res­tau­rant in Bur­gundy

Charles Green and Jill Col­lard ’s path to France was a whirl­wind of travel, re­lo­ca­tion and busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties so you can’t blame them for want­ing a qui­eter life on the banks of a tran­quil river in ru­ral Bur­gundy. How­ever, their lat­est ven­ture run­ning a café-bar and res­tau­rant was such a suc­cess that they ended up work­ing full-time there too.

“The auberge was in­tended to be our ‘re­tire­ment’ but we are vic­tims of our suc­cess and are now too busy,” says Charles. “Our health has de­clined to the point where we can no longer cope.”

Let’s rewind to 1995 when the cou­ple started a small tour-op­er­at­ing busi­ness plan­ning Euro­pean tours for Amer­i­can clients. Three years later, with Amer­i­cans shy­ing away from Eu­rope, they moved to Florida and pur­chased a travel agency which they de­vel­oped but then sold in 2000. This led to a move back to Eu­rope and a long search for their dream house.

“We searched for a prop­erty in Italy and on the whole coast of France from Nor­mandy to Monaco! Noth­ing ticked the boxes,” Charles re­mem­bers. They knew of the charms of Bur­gundy through work and vis­ited the area on a whim. While there, they spot­ted an ad for a lit­tle auberge in Ar­gen­te­nay but could not fol­low through. So, as you do, they set­tled in Venice in­stead.

Sec­ond chance

While on his way back to the UK for work, Charles drove by Ton­nerre and de­cided to visit the prop­erty that had caught their eye. “It was rain­ing, re­ally mis­er­able; there were cob­webs ev­ery­where… but the grey, wet, mis­er­able day did not dis­tract from the won­der­ful lo­ca­tion!” says Charles, who promptly rang Jill to tell her they had to go for it and make the most of the huge po­ten­tial of the prop­erty.

Af­ter mov­ing in, with their two cats, in Au­gust 2005 they started work. “We pulled down the false ceil­ings to re­veal the lovely beams, re­placed the walls, cre­ated a first floor and three en­suite bed­rooms,” Charles ex­plains. By 2009, they were ready to open, much to the delight of the lo­cals, in­clud­ing the mairesse who thanked them for bring­ing life back to the lit­tle vil­lage. “We have been ac­tive in host­ing spe­cial evenings, themed din­ners, jazz and clas­si­cal con­certs,” says Charles.

Like many lo­cal vil­lage bars and restau­rants in France, the Auberge au Bord de l’eau is the heart of the small com­mu­nity’s so­cial life and Charles in­sists it is noth­ing like the cafés in the UK. The cou­ple have cre­ated a friendly at­mos­phere and wel­come many reg­u­lars while the prox­im­ity to the Canal de Bour­gogne means the busi­ness draws cus­tomers from pass­ing boats and barges.

The prop­erty is on the mar­ket for €180,000 and is be­ing sold as a turnkey busi­ness. It in­cludes a fully equipped com­mer­cial kitchen, a new boiler and cat­e­gory 4 li­cence to sell all al­co­hol. This also in­cludes own­ers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion, a house ad­ja­cent to the res­tau­rant with three spa­cious en­suite bed­rooms, some with views of the river. While Ar­gen­te­nay has all the ameni­ties you’d need, Ton­nerre, with a hos­pi­tal, banks and greater shop­ping ser­vices, is just 9km away. “Re­ally there are no ma­jor jobs to be done – maybe some fresh­en­ing up and a lick of paint to fit per­sonal taste,” says Charles.

As the Ar­mançon river flows gen­tly by, lap­ping the roots of the plane trees that pro­vide shade for the res­tau­rant’s out­door ter­race, Charles and Jill sit plan­ning for a peace­ful and well-earned re­tire­ment; but they hope that the Auberge au Bord de l’eau will con­tinue to thrive long af­ter they leave.

The grey, wet, mis­er­able day did not dis­tract from the won­der­ful lo­ca­tion

000 180, €

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