When we decided to stay in France for a bit, we looked around for a house to buy. We wanted something to call home for a few years. In the short time we had been in France we found we liked the old Gascon farmhouses better than anything else out here. They follow a set of basic principles:
- South-facing to capture the sun
- Two stories tall
- Few windows on North side, often none
- A barn on the West side to form an L and protect the front of the house from the weather
- A central hallway on both floors, staircase in the hallway
- Rooms off the central hallway
- Most are one or two rooms deep
- Massive walls that can be a meter thick
- Wall quality varies from beautiful river rock to mud
- Any bathrooms and kitchens have been installed after initial construction
- Floors are often clay tile lying on dirt, although some examples have just the dirt floor
- Usually built in the 1800s although we did see a couple of pre-Revolutionary houses
This example is a 2-bed. It has one room each side of the hallway on both floors. The walls and roof are good, but the interior has not been worked on in decades and the windows are trashed. The shutters are missing.
We wanted something like the house above, but a little bigger with some good land around it: maybe we’d raise some chickens and pigs. We were happy to do renovation work so long as the bones of the house were good. We had plenty of time on our hands with the kids in school and not a lot to do, so why not do some work? In the months we looked you think we’d find lots that were candidates. It turned out that we found only three.
One of the first houses we saw was excellent. We found it by word of mouth before it went on the market. It was small with only three bedrooms, but we’d live with that because the house was in good condition and the the surrounding land was great. In the photo above you can see the maintenance that has gone in to this old place (1833-1855). The piggery alone would have kept the kids entertained for half the summer. We called it the House at Pig Corner.
We exchanged prices and were a hundred thousand Euros apart. I looked the seller in the eye and knew we were never going to agree on price. Too bad, it was the only good house we found for sale in our village.
So we started searching further away from home. As it stands, the House at Pig Corner hasn’t sold. I cycle past it all the time. The lovely lady who lives there has changed her mind about moving. Good for you, Lucienne!