It’s all in a week’s work for France-based Neil Vesma
Designing fabulous new homes and improving old
Best foot forward today as I’m lunching with a client who is briefing me on the new house he wants to build. He’s a film producer from Los Angeles and it’s the first time we’ve met so I’ve braced myself for a Weinsteinesque figure and prepared myself to get steamrollered.
When I actually meet Ted, however, he couldn’t be further from my mental image of him. Young, relaxed, funny and open, he’s looking to take a step back from the rat race (already at his age!) and build a modest country home in rural France for himself and his family. And a couple of hundred close friends? I ask, and he laughingly says no, only a hundred and ninety. He’s not that much of a movie mogul.
We meet at Bergerac, at the Bistro d’en Face (the ‘bistro opposite’), which I’ve never tried before. It’s on the ‘wrong’ side of the river so it overlooks the quays and the old town on the ‘right’ side, a view better than any other restaurant in town. And the food is excellent, well presented, well served, and not too pricey. It’s a delight finding a new resto like this. I shouldn’t have named it though; now you’ll all want to go.
After lunch we drive to the site that Ted has just signed for. Just outside the village of Soumensac, it’s on high ground overlooking farmland and woods, a view that stretches for miles. There’s just one farmhouse nearby but away from the view. I’m knocked out by it but Ted looks worried. “It’s gone. They’ve cut it down.” And then I see it. A raw, two metrewide stump. And then I see the cut-up remains of an antique oak, bulldozed into the hedge. “How could they?” he stammers. And for once I’m lost for words.
The view of Bergerac from this restaurant terrace is hard to beat