After feasting on a breakfast of cold pizza ( due to lack of any camping gear), undeterred by the previous night’s storm and slightly hungover from a little too much vin rouge, we set off to meet the estate agent ( but not before a small struggle to pack up the pop up tent: picture small middle aged woman wrapped in smelly dog blanket attacking mad octopus with half eaten pizza crust)
Heather from estate agents Leggett greeted us like old friends and spent several hours patiently showing us renovation projects within our price range. These mainly consisted of semi or quarter houses miles up a mountain with few ( if any) amenities. All of them in stunning locations with views to die for, but none of them quite right. Although we didn’t have a clear idea of what we were looking for, we had a strange and powerful belief that we would know it when we saw it. Heather was very patient. She was also very enthusiastic and explained that she had come to the mountains for the winters, but had stayed for the summers. This immediately struck a chord with us. We too wanted to be here for the skiing, but were bowled over each day by the stunning scenery in the summer. If you’ve never visited the Alps in the summer months you are truly missing out on one of mother nature’s finest creations. Spurred on by her enthusiasm, later that evening we phoned Heather to say that we would increase our budget but wanted to look at properties closer to ski resorts.
She actually gave up her Sunday to spend the day with us exploring other areas and looking at other properties that may suit. Although we didn’t find the right place for us through Heather, looking back I’m sure that her comment about staying for the summer planted the seed that grew into our plan to live in the Alps all year round. For that I will be forever grateful.
Buoyed up by Heather’s enthusiasm, we visited the beautiful village of Abondance to view two properties with a French agent.
The first “property’ we viewed had the most glorious views I’ve ever seen, breathtaking doesn’t even cover it. However, it was not accessible by car, we had to hike for 45 minutes up a mountain and over someone else’s land and when we arrived, glorious views aside, it was literally a pile of stones and no roof in sight( with a €75k price tag). It was worth the hike for the views, but it was a project for mountain goats! The second property however, was more promising and ticked most of our wish list criteria:
Within 30 mins drive to a ski station:Tick ( but only just)
Large enough for 4 beds: Tick
Character property: Tick
Renovation project: Tick
Detached: no Tick
The project was half a cow shed, (the other half already converted) and located on a farm about a mile outside of Abondance. The price tag was a little over our budget, but after a night of discussions we put an offer in at the very top of our budget. (€ 90,000, when the list price was €109000) Being cash buyers the agent was certain we would have our offer accepted, but couldn’t get hold of the vendor, so we set off back to the UK excited and afraid of the outcome.
Over the next few days back in the UK, we could do nothing but talk about “our cow shed”. I started ripping pages out of magazines and clipping them together with jaunty little notes such as ” these curtains for guest bedroom 3″, ” these window boxes for balcony” and ” these Hunter wellies to wear when shovelling cows sh* out of the ground floor”.
By the end of the week I had received an email from the agent explaining that the vendor would accept €100,000. We replied that we would be coming out again in a few weeks ( for an all ready planned trip to Les Gets) and would like to revisit the property.
We hastily re did our sums and decided we would each sell a kidney and go for it. Three weeks later we set off for the Alps again, certain that our lives were about to change dramatically, and desperate for a break ( all that magazine-page-ripping-out tires you out!). We were so excited to be going back, this was definitely “The One”!
After an eight hour Calais to Abondance drive, we arrived again at “our cowshed” for a final viewing before heading to the agents.
What we discovered on our arrival was not what we were expecting!
In my next post I’ll tell you about more ups and downs on our journey to finding our new life in the Alps.
Thank you for reading xx