Aux Quatre Vents
34340 Marseillan, Occitanie, France - Relax, Unwind, Enjoy!
And so it really begins – January 2014
Steve forwarded the first of many links regarding France to Phill –
French Entrée –
which to our delight was a vast repository of information regarding moving to France –
no need to re-invent the wheel! Phill located a link for the
French Buying Guide,
who also provide assistance to people who wish to move to France. They were very helpful
and after a couple of conversations we realised that a move later this year was feasible.
They put us in touch with a foreign exchange company called
Smart Currency Exchange.
They have a system by which you can place an order for foreign exchange at a particular exchange
rate and as soon as the rate hits the required value an exchange is performed.
It was at this point we made the decision to open a French bank account. We contacted another
organisation called Britline, which
is an English speaking branch of Crédit Agricole Normandie. They were very helpful and the
Euro account was opened in a matter of days and we started transferring funds into the account.
Via French Entrée we received an invitation to visit the French Show at Earl’s Court taking
place over the weekend of 17-19 January. Whilst there we met Fleur from French Entrée who was
looking after the stand providing information as to where properties could be purchased in France,
based on specific requirements submitted by potential purchasers. She was very helpful and
took down the details of our initial requirements to forward on to Neale Roberts, a registered
French Entrée Property Finder who not only lives in France, but is very familiar with the
Languedoc-Roussillon (Carcassonne, Beziers & Narbonne) area.
From 23 January-3 April, Phill took one-to-one French lessons with Berlitz. His French was rusty,
but his teacher, Arlette, kept pushing him and now he is now an intermediate-level French speaker.
He took further lessons in June. Arlette focused on the vocabulary he would need for our project.
Momentum Gathers - February 2014
Neale Roberts from French Entrée contacted us and stated that it is very much a buyers’ market
in the Languedoc Region of France. Some of the people who had bought in the region in the past
had got themselves into difficulty with repaying loans and other people, who had inherited family
property, but lived in a city, wanted to sell rather then move to the region. Apparently estate
agents have only recently realised this fact and prices are dropping, just so people can get
the cash out of the property; which was good news for us! Once we had supplied Neale with our
property specifications (that which we initially thought we needed, along with a “wish list”),
he started the process of looking for suitable properties. The good thing for us was that, not
only did have Neale looking, but also his wife and also his father, who lives in the village
next to theirs – a three for one package deal.
French Entrée put us touch with International Private Finance
who specialise in obtaining overseas mortgages. Phill contacted them and spoke to Alex, who was
extremely helpful in this regard. A mortgage can be pre-approved based on Phill’s last three years
turnover only – therefore ensuring we can be effectively be cash buyers and make an offer on a
property once one is found.
Full steam ahead – March/April 2014
After stumping up the property finder registration fee, Neale informed us that we would be receiving
an email with details of suitable properties approximately two weeks before our trip to the South
of France on 19 May. The best bit is that Neale if going to use us as guinea pigs by providing
videos of each property as well – pictures are one thing, but videos are another.
Within two weeks of submitting our mortgage application to BNP Paribas, we received notification
from Alex that the mortgage had been approved – which will make the purchase process that much
simpler. So much information was requested by the bank for the mortgage application, that we
went out and bought a combo-printer, photocopier, scanner and fax. The only thing not asked
for was how regular our stool movements were!
On 31 March Steve completed 12.5 years of full-time employment with the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Not working full-time will allow him to be able to concentrate on getting things ready for the move
to France and research all that is necessary for the grand opening of the Guest House in 2015.
From 16-30 April we were on holiday in Cape Town at the Cactus House, we enjoyed the delights of fine
weather, food and wine, catching up with friends and just relaxing.
No stopping now – April/May 2014
We stayed at the Graton in Johannesburg 30 April-5 May. We had a fun 2 day safari and a tour of
Johannesburg and Pretoria. Contrary to popular opinion, it is safe to walk around in parts of Johannesburg.
The hectic pace goes into the French property hunting stage when we return.
A Chambre d’Hôte must be registered with the local Mairie. There are a number of requirements:
- A maximum of 5 bedrooms and a maximum of 15 guests.
- Prices and other information must be exhibited on the exterior of the premises, on the interior near
the entrance and behind the door of each room, and a receipt must be supplied to the guest.
- The room rate must include breakfast.
- The property must be cleaned and maintained and conform to health and safety regulations.
- Each bedroom must have direct or indirect access to a bathroom and WC.
- Towels and bed linen must be provided.
A Chambre d’Hôte with a Table d’Hôte allows evening meals to be provided at extra cost to the guests.
The rules are strict. The guests must eat the same meal at the same time and at the same table as the hosts.