It’s a little over a year since we made the drastic, slightly ridiculous (not to mention risky!) decision to sell everything and up sticks from Northern England to Southern France. Our little business is slowly starting to come to life. We’ve had three sets of paying guests through our first holiday apartment, all with no problems and good reviews. So far, so good.
It’s a bit early to sit back and relax, we’ve got another apartment to finish and a further guest bedroom to renovate, as well as a set of courtyard steps to tile and a three storey central staircase to paint. Having done one apartment, we know a bit more about what to expect from a big French townhouse. Nothing is straight or level and there are no right angles. The walls are too high to paint and the doorways are too narrow to fit furniture through!
However, it’s a great time to reflect a little on some of the adventures we’ve had so far. I’ll start at the beginning. We were on holiday in Provence in May 2018, when the reoccurring “why don’t we live here?” conversation started to really get under our skins. A glorious week in the sunshine, fabulous food and wine, and the temptation of a different way of life, all came together and we started idly looking at properties in the area. Back at home, the idea wasn’t easily quelled and the conversation continued. It didn’t take long. By August we had given in our notices at work, sold our house and booked a one way trip on the Eurotunnel.
There was so much to organise! Winding up at work, clearing out the house and putting our lives into storage, getting pet passports for our three cats, sorting address changes and French bank accounts, buying a French car, saying goodbye to our friends. The list was endless and it left very little time to worry about anything else. I should point out that at this time, we had no experience running holiday accommodation, no real business plan or suitable properties identified and very little French. However, we had a good starting point (and a safety net) in that my parents made the move some 14 years earlier.
So we moved in with them while we figured it all out. Their two person, two dog, four cat household was turned into a four person, two dog, seven cat household and yes it was mildly chaotic but we all survived to tell the tale. Their shed was full of our stuff, their house was full of our pets, their TV was recording Escape to the Chateau (well, we can all dream!) and their lives were totally taken over by helping us house-hunt. The house hunting deserves its own separate blog entry, so more on that another day.
Plenty of good local wine and a few G&Ts have kept us sane. There has been more laughter than there has been tears, although I’m gradually learning how to throw a tantrum in French. Almost daily I pinch myself, remembering that we’re here, that it’s working (so far) and I tell myself that one day my French will improve….