The Daily Telegraph - Property - - OVERSEAS -

The house that I have tem­po­rar­ily bor­rowed in Cour Chev­erny, in the Loire Val­ley, while I con­tinue to hunt for my new home in ru­ral France, is re­ally a very pleas­ant place to live. On the edge of the vil­lage, a few min­utes from the Place de l’Eglise, shops, the bank, la poste and the of­ten­men­tioned Ho­tel Les Trois Marchands, it has any num­ber of charm­ing fea­tures. It has also, un­for­tu­nately, been sold.

The com­pro­mis de vente was signed a while ago and con­tracts ex­changed but the pur­chasers, some pleas­ant Parisians – for they do ex­ist – af­forded the ven­dor, and con­se­quently me, a pe­riod of grace of six months to find some­thing else.

The ven­dor moved back to Eng­land and I house-hunted like mad. Three weeks ago I re­alised that I had two weeks to find an­other tem­po­rary res­i­dence or I would be SDF – sans domi­cile fixe: home­less.

I cast about among my var­i­ous agent con­tacts and new friends in the vil­lage but was met by shrugs and head­shak­ing. In des­per­a­tion, I reached for the Pages Jaunes un­til I got to D for démé­nageurs – fur­ni­ture re­moval firms. Af­ter vis­its from men and women with clip­boards and mea­sur­ing tapes, I re­ceived a num­ber of quotes.

The con­tents of an av­er­a­ge­size house was go­ing to cost about €2,000 (£1,600) to be moved a few miles up the road to a fur­ni­ture stor­age ware­house, which was it­self go­ing to cost €400 a month to rent. If I did find some­where else at a later date, I would also have to fac­tor in an­other cou­ple of grand to get it moved again.

At th­ese sort of rates, I was not go­ing to be able to af­ford much more than an em­place­ment on the mu­nic­i­pal camp­site, I thought, as I trudged over it in the di­rec­tion of some liq­uid re­fresh­ment at Les Trois Marchands with only nine days to go.

Of course, it was at the l’heure de l’apéri­tif that I fi­nally struck upon a bit of luck. My cheer­ful neigh­bour of­fered to buy me a drink – un petit rosé. I ac­cepted and man­aged a grin. He lived op­po­site my soon to be ex-domi­cile in a pretty old farm­house shaded by great tilleuls, those dis­tinc­tive French lime trees, with his wife and youngest son. His two older boys had left home to move in with their pe­tites amies.

So now, he ex­plained, he was mov­ing out, get­ting a new place. Bonne chance, I said with a cer­tain cyn­i­cism.

Oh no, he said, he had al­ready found some­where. Just as I was for­mu­lat­ing the French for “you lucky sod” in my mind, I hap­pened to no­tice that he was looking a bit crest­fallen.

The prob­lem was that he needed to give three months’ no­tice on his present place. Oth­er­wise he would have to pay rent on two houses or run the risk of los­ing the new one – avail­able im­me­di­ately. Un­less, he pon­dered, he could find some­one ASAP to take on his present home.

How would in about nine days sound, I asked as I or­dered two more glasses of wine.

So it came to pass, last week­end, that I moved my be­long­ings on foot across the road into the house of my for­mer neigh­bours. The ex­pe­ri­ence was sur­pris­ingly pain­less, thanks mainly to the ar­rival of fam­ily and friends, who brought with them brawn and great good hu­mour. I am deeply grate­ful to them.

Fi­nally, af­ter two days’ slog, we plonked our­selves down among a mod­ern art in­stal­la­tion of lamps, rugs, kitchen uten­sils and a shower cu­bi­cle (which I must throw away) on the lawn.

So, I said to a charm­ing oc­to­ge­nar­ian friend from down the lane as I opened a bot­tle of Mont­louis-sur-Loire and the last sun of the day glinted off the church steeple, you must think we English are quite mad. He took the prof­fered glass but did not de­mur.


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