Dor­dogne di­ary

In the first of our new ‘di­ary’ se­ries, Karen Tait hears from a cou­ple who are look­ing for a hol­i­day home in Dor­dogne

French Property News - - Contents -

A four-day house­hunt­ing trip in Dor­dogne with a €150,000 bud­get

DAY ONE: FRI­DAY

We land at Li­mo­ges late morn­ing – we’ve vis­ited Dor­dogne many times and have flown into Bordeaux, Berg­erac and Brives, but de­cide Li­mo­ges is best this time as it’s fairly close to Périgueux where we’re stay­ing, and also closer to the north­ern Dor­dogne or Périg­ord Vert, where we are loosely fo­cus­ing our search. We pick up our hire car and head off on our house­hunt­ing ad­ven­ture.

On the way to Périgueux, we stop off to stretch our legs with a brisk walk in the beau­ti­ful Parc Na­turel Ré­gional Périg­ord Li­mousin. We’d love to stay longer as it’s one of our favourite places in the area, per­fect for en­joy­ing na­ture on foot or by bike, but we need to push on to Périgueux. The town is ideal for ex­plor­ing Dor­dogne as it’s quite cen­tral and is re­ally stun­ning, with its wind­ing old streets, hill­top cathe­dral, and at­trac­tive me­dieval and Re­nais­sance build­ings. Al­though it’s the ‘cap­i­tal’ city, or pré­fec­ture, of Dor­dogne, it feels more like a re­laxed town than a hub of ac­tiv­ity. That said, there’s al­ways plenty to do and so many restau­rants and bars to choose from.

As a treat, we have din­ner at La Ferme St-louis, set on a pic­turesque square. The restau­rant sources prod­ucts ex­clu­sively from the Nou­velle-aquitaine re­gion, and has a lovely cosy at­mos­phere with ex­posed stone walls, low ceil­ings and a large fire­place. We wolf down veal in a chicory sauce, and sea bass from Ar­ca­chon bay, fol­lowed by a choco­late fon­dant with rum raisin cen­tre. It isn’t long be­fore we are sleep­ing soundly in our ho­tel beds!

DAY TWO: SATUR­DAY

We wake up full of ex­cite­ment and an­tic­i­pa­tion for the next few days. We’ve vis­ited Dor­dogne so many times and al­ways try to in­clude our favourite places and out­ings. A visit to Sar­lat’s Satur­day mar­ket is a must but it’s over an hour’s drive, so we head out af­ter an early break­fast (crois­sants, of course!).

Mar­kets are one of the things we love most about France, brows­ing all the colour­ful stalls, packed with lo­cal spe­cial­i­ties like truf­fles, duck or goose con­fit, foie gras and the fresh­est of veg­eta­bles. To­day we visit dif­fer­ent stalls to put to­gether a pic­nic for this evening as we’re not sure what time we’ll be back.

We could spend days wan­der­ing the pretty streets of Sar­lat – it has more listed build­ings per square me­tre than any­where else in Europe, es­pe­cially around the Place de la Lib­erté – but we have plans for the af­ter­noon. Al­though we’ve vis­ited the fa­mous pre­his­toric caves of Las­caux be­fore, we’re keen to see Las­caux 4, the new in­ter­ac­tive cen­tre. The orig­i­nal cave draw­ings aren’t open to the pub­lic but the replica re­ally takes our breath away. We also want to try out a restau­rant friends had rec­om­mended, Le 4 in Mon­tignac. We have a de­li­cious lunch in charm­ing sur­round­ings (the restau­rant is in a con­verted barn) – truf­fle and egg omelette with toasted po­lenta (Eileen), and poached quail (John), fol­lowed by a sweet tarte aux pommes.

It’s late when we get back to our ho­tel in Périgueux and we’re glad we bought some bits and pieces at the mar­ket al­though we’re still quite full from lunch. An early night beckons in readi­ness for our prop­erty view­ings to­mor­row.

DAY THREE: SUN­DAY

To­day is all about the prop­er­ties so we set off early. It can be hard to ar­range Sun­day view­ings in France but we struck lucky with all four prop­er­ties to­day. Our first view­ing is about 30km north of Périgueux. Priced at €140,000, so un­der bud­get, and on the edge of a vil­lage with shops and restau­rants, near Vil­lars, the two-bed­room, one-bath­room barn con­ver­sion has been beau­ti­fully con­verted. We sur­prise our­selves by lov­ing the open-plan liv­ing area, which is quite a change from our pre­vi­ous homes. Up­stairs feels re­ally light and airy too, with high ceil­ings and beams. We’re also taken with the 1,437m2 gar­den with its coun­try views and pris­tine lawns – would we be able to keep it that way if we’re not liv­ing there full time though? The out­build­ings, which in­clude a garage and work­shop, are an ex­tra bonus.

Hav­ing taken lots of notes and pho­tos, so we don’t for­get any­thing and can com­pare prop­er­ties later on, we head off to prop­erty num­ber two, less than 20km away, in the St-saud-lac­cous­sière area within the Périg­ord-Li­mousin re­gional park. We’re re­ally at­tracted to the out­side of this pretty ren­o­vated fer­mette, bang on bud­get at €150,000. It comes with a barn, which could be­come fur­ther ac­com­mo­da­tion should we de­cide to move over full-time, and the 800m2 gar­den. There are three bed­rooms, two bath­rooms (an ex­tra bath­room would come in handy for vis­i­tors), a liv­ing room, kitchen and util­ity room. We love the char­ac­ter of this prop­erty, with its fire­place, ex­posed beams and stone walls. 2

The third view­ing is 15km to the west, on the out­skirts of the vil­lage of La Co­quille. It’s a 1950s-build, two-bed­room prop­erty with a large base­ment open­ing onto an en­closed gar­den with ma­ture trees and shrubs. There’s a work­shop and a gated drive­way with park­ing for sev­eral cars, good for vis­i­tors. The house could do with dec­o­rat­ing to our own tastes, but it’s a spa­cious home and the price is be­low bud­get at €130,000. A plus point is that it’s only 45 min­utes from Li­mo­ges air­port.

For the fourth and fi­nal prop­erty we turn back on our­selves and head east for 58km to La Rochebeau­court on the edge of the park. We’ve read ad­vice in FPN not to pack in too many prop­erty view­ings and four in a day is cer­tainly enough for us. It’s easy to un­der­es­ti­mate dis­tances in France and how long it can take to travel along wind­ing coun­try lanes, es­pe­cially as Dor­dogne is one of the largest dé­parte­ments. Our four prop­er­ties have all been within the north of Dor­dogne, I don’t think we could have man­aged four view­ings spread across the dé­parte­ment.

This last prop­erty doesn’t ex­actly fit our re­quire­ments as it only has one bed­room on a mez­za­nine floor but it’s al­ready di­vided into two sleep­ing ar­eas, it’s un­der bud­get at €141,700 and we re­ally loved the look of the pho­tos, so we de­cided it was worth view­ing. In the flesh, so to speak, it cer­tainly didn’t dis­ap­point. It has all the char­ac­ter we love in French houses – creamy stone walls, a kitchen with an awe­some stone fire­place, a cosy liv­ing area and man­age­able out­side space. It is a ‘ coup de coeur’ but we’re just not sure if it’s big enough.

DAY FOUR: MON­DAY

We leave af­ter break­fast for our mid­day flight from Li­mo­ges. Af­ter our whirl­wind trip, we re­ally don’t want to go home, but we’re also ex­cited about all the prop­er­ties we’ve seen and can’t wait to show the pic­cies to our fam­ily, who will help us to de­cide which one is best. We have a favourite but we’re not say­ing any­thing yet!

It’s wise not to pack in too many prop­erty view­ings in one day, and four is cer­tainly enough for us

Sun­set over the Dor­dogne val­ley

1 €140,000: Two-bed­room barn con­ver­sion near Vil­lars (allez-fran­cais.com)

€150,000: This ren­o­vated ‘fer­mette’ in the St-saud area is full of char­ac­ter fea­tures (im­mo­bilier- dor­dogne.com)

Périgueux is on the River Isle

Above (top to bot­tom): Sun­set over the Dor­dogne val­ley from Domme; Jam­bon de san­glier (wild boar) for sale at Sar­lat mar­ket, per­fect for a pic­nic; The cave paint­ing re­pro­duc­tion at Las­caux 4 opened in 2016; Le 4 restau­rant in Mon­tignac, near the...

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3 €130,000: This 1950s house has plenty of space and is within an hour of Li­mo­ges air­port (beauxvil­lages.com)

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