Thursday, February 23, 2012

Charente Monopoly - which are the dream home locations?

Regular readers will know that my youngest daughter is a keen Monopoly player.  A career following in her father's illustrious footsteps beckons perhaps!

Recently we borrowed the "Charente" version and it was fascinating to see which towns & villages were deemed as the Whitechapel & Old Kent Road clones and which were deemed to be Mayfair & Park Lane.  I have no idea who took the final decisions but I'm guessing that a few local mayors got involved in the politics.

I have no problem with the two prime areas - Cognac as the highest value (€400) and Angouleme second (€350).  I love Cognac - the town not the digestif - and think that it's the perfect size with a real "buzz" all year round.  It has beautiful & ancient pedestrian streets, a lovely stretch of river, world class restaurants and a championship golf course.

Jarnac is unlucky not to share the slot next to Cognac but does take the place of Bond Street so you don't want to land there if it has houses or a hotel on it. In real life Jarnac is probably my favourite town in Charente with a simply gorgeous park and pretty riverside walks.

Where I would take issue is the ranking given to the villages of St Simon & Bassac which are in the light blue section just before the dreaded jail cell.  In reality these two small jewels sit beside the prettiest stretch of the Charente.

They are both no more than hamlets yet St Simon boasts its own popular bar/restaurant and Bassac hosts two of the best restaurants around - the Auberge de Condé and L'Essille.  I have had plenty of splendid meals with clients & friends in both.

That's a great word and so I'm going to use it again as the river between Chateaneuf and Cognac is simply splendid too.

With this in mind, why no place at all for Chateauneuf sur Charente?

Of course it's all good fun and fairly subjective - and the truth is that I get slaughtered by Downie Junior whether we play the traditional version or any of the newer derivatives.

Perhaps I should consider offering her a salaried partner position when she turns 12 next year.....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Narrowing your house search in France

The Notaires de France website is a mine of information and if you are seriously interested in buying property in France then it's a "must see" part of your research.

A few weeks ago they posted a map showing average prices across various regions, you can download the pdf here.

It doesn't really tell you what your money will buy but it does give a decent comparison of relative values between say St Malo & Poitiers.

Once you have decided which region suits your requirements and budget then you can narrow your search by looking here.  The Immoprix site gives a more detailed breakdown by department and areas within a department.

Found your ideal area - then why not take a look at some listings on FrenchEntrée or Se Loger so that you get a rough idea of what your money will actually buy.

Once you have done this and have your financing in place then it's the ideal time to appoint a buying agent to help source the specific property and buy it at the lowest possible price for you.

Here are fifteen I'd recommend....there's bound to be one near you!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Winter olympics in the Charente

I'm sure that you are probably aware of the freak weather conditions we're currently "enjoying".  Temperatures of minus ten and the deepest covering of snow that we have seen since we arrived in 2003.

It's playing havoc with the three client searches that are live at the moment - the main roads have been cleared but the outlying towns and villages just aren't equipped to cope with this kind of weather.

The good news is that the girls and I have taken the opportunity to pretend that we live in the Alps or the Pyrenees and have been sledging every day.  Right on our doorstep is the St Meme les Carrieres "cresta run".

It's a 200m piste that leads down between two rows of vines.  The picture doesn't do justice to the gradient but the little dot in the distance is my youngest at the end of her run.  Of course it wouldn't pass any health and safety tests as we go swooping down between rows of Ugni-blanc grapevines....leave the piste and it's a long way to Cognac General Hospital (I'd also have an angry viticulteur banging on my door if we took out a row of his best producers).

Great fun though, with echoes of my youth.....