A lo­cal’s view

Gîte owner John Waller ex­plains what brought him to In­dre in 2001 and what he en­joys about liv­ing there

Living France - - Contents - sagrolle.com

Af­ter 17 years in In­dre, gîte owner John Waller still hasn’t seen all there is to see

How did you come to live in France?

My wife and I first vis­ited France in 1976 and fell in love with the coun­try and its way of life. In the late 90s, af­ter I had a health scare, we de­cided to look into mov­ing there. We came to France on a five-day trip and on day three we were in the south of the In­dre de­part­ment. As we turned the cor­ner to view our house, my wife said ‘This is it!’ We hadn’t even got out of the car! We bought it the next day and haven’t looked back since.

We moved in the mid­dle of Jan­uary, ar­riv­ing in the mid­dle of the night to a house that had been empty for many years, and had no elec­tric­ity. Our neigh­bour couldn’t have been kin­der – he used a long ex­ten­sion ca­ble so we could have ac­cess to his elec­tric­ity.

It was a big ren­o­va­tion project which took sev­eral years of hard work to com­plete. We did the small house first, so we could let it out as a gîte ( see below). We then con­verted the barn into our main house. This was a huge job and we did all the work our­selves with a lit­tle help from fam­ily when they vis­ited. By 2004 both our daugh­ters had also moved over here, one of whom came with her two-year-old daugh­ter and even­tu­ally moved into the small house.

Have you found it easy to run the gîte busi­ness?

Yes, the reg­is­tra­tion was a sim­ple process. As soon as the small house was fin­ished, we moved in to the barn so we could start the let­tings. We got book­ings for the gîte for a cou­ple of years un­til my daugh­ter moved in. Orig­i­nally, our idea for the main house was to run a cham­bres d’hôtes, which we did for a few years once the ren­o­va­tions were fin­ished. How­ever, my wife’s health was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, so we changed to let­ting out our house as a gîte, just in the sum­mer months, mov­ing out tem­po­rar­ily to live with my daugh­ter next door. To im­prove our chances of book­ings we in­stalled an above-ground swim­ming pool, which has been a suc­cess. We ad­ver­tised with a cou­ple of on­line sites and got book­ings straight away. It’s turned out to be much less work than the B&B and far more prof­itable.

What do you most en­joy about liv­ing in In­dre/your French life?

It is very no­tice­able how the pace of life here is so much slower, calmer and gen­er­ally hap­pier. When we first bought the prop­erty in 2001, we did won­der if there was go­ing to be enough for our vis­i­tors to do as we’d barely ex­plored the area be­fore pur­chas­ing – 17 years on and we still haven’t vis­ited all the at­trac­tions on of­fer. We have thor­oughly en­joyed days out at lo­cal fêtes – cel­e­brat­ing every­thing from snails to toma­toes! We’ve es­pe­cially en­joyed driv­ing around the lo­cal area and find­ing beau­ti­ful pic­nic spots.

How easy have you found it to in­te­grate into the lo­cal com­mu­nity?

We live in a ru­ral lo­ca­tion, and our neigh­bour helped us a lot. We were in­vited round on sev­eral oc­ca­sions for apéros to meet his friends, mostly lo­cal farm­ers. They were very wel­com­ing and friendly, al­though they did like to make a bit of fun of us!

When Debi, our youngest daugh­ter moved here in 2004, she in­te­grated eas­ily as it wasn’t long be­fore Caitlin, our grand­daugh­ter, started at the lo­cal nurs­ery school. We found that, so long as you make an ef­fort to speak the lan­guage, no mat­ter how badly, peo­ple have al­ways been will­ing to help. Both my daugh­ters have es­tab­lished them­selves – Debi as an artist and Carolyn as a pot­ter – and are be­com­ing quite well known in the area.

Where is your favourite mar­ket in the lo­cal area?

We are lucky to have sev­eral mar­kets to choose from. Our most lo­cal, at Ste-Sévère-sur-In­dre is small, but has every­thing you need, and is in such a pretty mar­ket square with an an­cient halle. We also have an ex­cel­lent and busy mar­ket at La Châtre, our lo­cal shop­ping town. It’s a great place to hang out at the café in the cor­ner of the square on a Satur­day morn­ing and watch the world go by.

In­dre love with ru­ral John fell in

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.