Choosing a British run French Gite

Hello Dear Reader,

We’ve rented holiday accommodation in Brittany previously and had a mobile home on a site, a beach side holiday apartment and a rural gite so we’ve rented from the French and the English. When we rented from the English family. The French neighbour who was the key holder, did their cleaning and looked after us….didn’t speak a word of English but she was an utter delight. When we rented the French apartment, every transaction from beginning to end was in French and the camp site owners spoke very good English. We had a great time no matter which language was spoken. The English owned gite however was the owners holiday home and it was rented when they were back in the UK working. Consequently, it was very homely and it was very well equipped. You might have your own reasons for renting a British owned gite: you can ring them and book direct, you can ask them everything about the local area, they can help you with directions over the phone if you get lost getting there.

We will rent out our French home to family and friends when it’s completely renovated, up to ‘code’ and meeting all of the French regulations of which there are many. In the meantime, if you’re looking for somewhere to rent, maybe next year for a holiday or off season if they are open then, here’s a lovely selection. Click on the links below the photograph to go to their websites.

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http://www.lederan.com/  Southern Brittany.

la maison de maitre

http://www.loire-gite.com/ In the sunny Loire and it’ll sleep up to two families so you could split the cost with friends.

maison halcyon

In the Charente Maritime http://www.maisonhalcyon.com/

dordogne

The heat and Lazy sunshine of the Dordogne http://www.lesgitestrepart.com/

dorgodne #2

Heat, beauty, peace and history then the Dordogne is perfect  http://www.lapetiteaubergegites.com/

eco gite normandy

If you live in the South East and wanted a quick hop over from Dover then Normandy has some stunning locations to visit and in which to stay.

http://www.eco-gites.eu/

Here’s just a selection and all of them beautiful in their own rights. All of which are British owned and you can contact the owners direct. I’m part of a British gite owners group (even mine is still in the renovation stage) and I’ve just shared some of their gites free of charge. I’m already getting enquiries and so far, and we hope to have it ready to rent by autumn 2018.

We’re off to France on Saturday until the end of August and of course, I’ll be sharing our renovation project, the days out and about locally, the markets and supermarkets and our experience of French life.

I hope you click on the links and take a look at their lovely gites and you never know, you just might book one for later in the season or for next year. Who knows, you might rent mine in a couple of years but until then, enjoy these.

See you in Huelgoat,

Love Froogs xxxx

Flat packed furniture in France 

Hello Dear Reader,

Emmaüs in Morlaix is half an hour from our home and we try to visit there every trip. We’ve just bought small items of furniture on our two previous trips but this time we bought an armoire which fortunately came apart with a series of bolts and catches.

One of the chaps in the shop dismantled it for us, gathered up all the screws and then all we had to do was fit it into and on top of our car. DB secured it really really firmly as we didn’t want anything falling out of the back of the car.

We then carried, piece by piece up the garden path, round the back of the house and up the exterior stairs to the top floor and stacked it up.

It took about twenty minutes to take apart and two hours to assemble. 

Here’s our reassembled thrifted armoire that cost us 60€, some time and a bit of effort. It’s effectively flat packed furniture even though it’s all wood. Now we know how to take it apart and get it home, we’ll aim to have one in every room.

We aim to get our new bedroom completely finished so we can sleep in there for a couple of nights. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Painting vintage furniture 

Hello Dear Reader,

Im a great lover of all things second hand and I love French charity shops! On our last trip to Emmaüs, we bought three pieces to dot around the house and today, I’ve been sanding and painting and it’s been great fun. The furniture cost under 20€ a piece with some bits being as little as 5€. We bought water based eggshell paint in a vintage colour to mimic, Farrow and Ball’s ‘old white’. It was half the price and almost the same in colour.

I used a small palm sized electric sander to remove the top coat of varnish and then sugar soap to remove any last traces of grease. The sugar soap comes in a spray which I used to coat the furniture liberally and then, using hot water, a cloth and making sure I used rubber gloves, gave it a good wash and then allow it to dry.

It’s really important to use thin coats of paint and allow it to dry for two to four hours, depending on atmospherics, between coats. Remove any handles before you sand and then paint. 


Here’s the results of one small table that we’ll use as a bedside table. Now it’s your turn. Any upcycling furniture painters out there? Do you prefer chalk based paint? Or, like me, eggshell? If so, water or oil based? Have any of you had any luck with charity shop furniture?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

My packing is weirder than your packing!

loaded cart

Hello Dear Reader,

If and when you go somewhere, you pack clean clothes, food, books, amusement, a coat, umbrella and maybe even sunblock. It’s way different for us. When you’re renovating a house on a tiny budget then the roof of my car feels as if it’s loaded like Buckaroo! On the roof of the car this time will be a room size rug we bought for £42 and an oil filled electric radiator we got cheap from freeads for £10 as we work towards every room having a rug and a radiator.

Inside the car will be paint as French paint is five times the price and it’s like painting with skimmed milk so we take at least two pots every time we go. There will also be sand paper, sugar soap, paint brushes and rollers as we move into the next stage of renovation of one of the rooms. Our aim is to get our bedroom finished in a few days, move the furniture and move in to it. I have furniture to paint whilst DB has the walls and door to finish as well as changing the British plugs to French plugs on some lamps we bought ages ago, again really cheaply, from TK Max with a gift voucher. We are still a way off hanging curtains and I don’t think we’ll get to the finished stage until next year. When you work to a budget and stick to it, you  have to be patient and work slowly.

Every time I go, I take something else I’ve found cheap, in a charity shop or totally free and donated or given away. I’m never going to buy new if I can get it ‘recycled as I can’t stand waste, hate the thought of good stuff going to landfill and want to make every pound do the work of a fiver! Yes, I’m tightfisted and proud of it! If I can do my bit to stop waste then I certainly will even if it means my packing is weirder than your packing.

In my defence, I’m not the only one. I really should take photographs of the weird things in the backs of cars, in trailers and on the roof embarking the ferry. I’ve seen trailers full of fruit trees in pots, sewerage systems, hot water tanks, wood stoves, garden fence and double glazed windows. I can also spot the renovators as we’re in our ‘holiday’ clothes of paint spattered jeans and with grout under our fingernails as we’ve worked right up to departure time and worked on the basis of ‘there’s a shower in my cabin and we’ve turned the water off in the house’. Obviously, there are people who might get someone else to do all the work, but they are in disguise are regular tourists.

I’ll keep you up to date with the renovations, the dog walks, the mini week long adventure and my little French village as it warms up in the bank holiday sunshine. We’re aiming to scout round for some second hand furniture to fill up some of the empty rooms and I’ll share some of our forays into charity shops and ‘le bon coin’ as we start making the house more homely.

Who knows, in time, it might be you renting it for one of your holidays.

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Until Saturday,

Love Froogs xxxx

Taking three fluffies to France

                   
Hello Dear Reader,

Our last trip was our first time we took all three of our fluffies to France. When ever we went away before we were very lucky to have a home dog sitter who cared for the dogs in her home. Nonetheless, it was always a wrench to leave them. I thought I’d share the costs of taking pets on holiday. 

The initial outlay of the pet passports were expensive along with rabies immunization was about £70 per dog. Ours had microchips any way. When you travel, at the port as you hand over your ticket and passports, you also handover the pet passports. The unique number inside the passport corresponds with the number that shows on the scanner from the microchip which sits somewhere under the dog’s collar. 

The ferry charged us £16 per dog for each return journey. They stay in the back of the car in traveling crates. Our dogs are not good travelers and took prescribed sedatives for £38 with the vet, including the check up by the vet. So, £86 for the three for each return trip. It’s a lot of money but our dog sitter charged £60 a day for her very good professional service. 

The best part of our home from home is that our pets are with us. They sleep at the foot of our bed, they keep us company whilst we work on the house, they walk everywhere with us. 

The bad parts are the dogs are shut in the car. The ferry service make ‘dog cars’ arrive first, then they load us last and unload us last. The theory being your dogs spend longer with their owners. We walk them around until the moment that we’re given the signal to load. 

Whilst the car is in the ship, we leave the windows open as it can get warm in there. Dogs can cope with being cool but heat can kill them. The car decks are locked so no one can get to the cars. Dog owners can go visit their dogs at prescribed times. As ours were sedated, we left them to it. 

I’m glad we made the change to take the dogs with us, we miss them when we’re away. What’s more, bichons are a French breed and I think they fitted in just fine. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

There’s a little village in France….

Hello Dear Reader,

We’re back in beautiful blighty, had a Sunday roast, plated up meals for tomorrow, picked the chicken clean and made a pie. Ironed clothes for work tomorrow. 

Huelgoat can wait for a couple of months. When we return, we’ll have a fully functioning wood stove and we can finish work on the downstairs. Our next economic target is to save up for a set of stairs with a right hand turn and some walling material including insulation. It’ll then join up the three floors to make it into one four bedroom house. It’s a big challenge but we always aim to complete the big structural stuff first and leave the pretty things for another day. 

For now, here’s some Huelgoat photographs. When you visit somewhere, you get to see the main stuff, the money shots you’d find on postcards but it’s only when you live somewhere that you get to see the workings in the backstreets. 

Let me walk you around my village. Chapel on the hill….at the end of my rue.

Eyes left, the one way system we drive round.

Parking for the locals.


Sign for the chapel.

Road of heaven.

Chapel of our lady in heaven.


Turn right by the chapel and head out of town.

La Poste. They love my dogs! When we walk them in the mornings, the posties are arriving for work and they’ve all snuggled the dogs.


Don’t park here unless you’re a postie! Post office just down our street.

Ferry on the way home was lovely, a snooze in a cheap day cabin.

Followed by a snooze in the sunshine up on deck.

Back to money saving normality, small budgets and big savings. It might seem like a big sacrifice to plan for retirement now but it’s worth all the work to us.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

A little bit more France

  

Hello Dear Reader,

A bit more France in the sunshine.

The chaos and the Moulin.

  

The weekly Jeudi market.

  

Primroses in my garden.
  

Someone said, listen to your body. I did, it wanted chocolate so I had a bar of it. Plenty to chose from.

  
The school menu for the school restaurant. No choice, that’s what there is.
 
Dolly on her daily lake walk. 

We’ll be back in seven weeks for half term.

Until then, tightfisted thriftiness will continue.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx 

Time to go home

   

Hello Dear Reader,

Has it really been two weeks? This holiday has flown by. I lost the entire of yesterday to a migraine and today on long distance rescue of my son who’s really ill. Mum and dad went to his rescue, got him to a local doctor and are helping him out. Consequently, we’re taking an earlier ferry and are going home tomorrow.

The highlight of today has been the chimney sweep, who also installs wood burners. The chimney is in good condition, didn’t really need sweeping but it’s done and we have the safety certificate for insurance purposes. We explained that we wanted to stick to a budget and wanted a stove from the Brico, even here they try to fit British stoves as the quality is superior and a stove will last a lifetime. A cheap French one will have to do. It’s a huge expense and is in every house we’ve ever had but once it’s in, it’s cheap to run and the heat  is amazing. 

We’ve also been to the vet….that was cheap too, both dogs fully checked and meds for travelling, €31. At home, our vet charges £36 just to open the door and that’s per dog. 

So, pet passports are done, the shutters are rehung and gleaming white and we’ve bought some oil filled radiators that’ll go on timers when the electricity is on cheap rate.

We couldn’t quite finish the kitchen as we brought a few parts that were wrong and we’ll bring the right ones next time. We’ll also replace the sink in due course so the entire kitchen matches and the sink is the right height for me. Bending over a low sink is no good for my back.  

 
  

All that’s left is to give the house a thorough clean. It’ll be strange as we leave everything here. Next time we come at the end of May, everything, but clean bedding will be here waiting for us. We’ll still be in the flat upstairs for a while as we save some more money each pay day. It’ll be a slow progress but in the end it’ll be home. We were asked, won’t it be hard to go home, I don’t think so and I’m going to enjoy the contrast. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

 

A day off 

  

Hello Dear Reader,

I just gave in to tiredness and aches yesterday and took the day off. Well, sort of!

We went to the dechetterie and recycled everything we could. The staff stand and point, or wag a finger if you get it wrong or shout ‘allez’ and point that you need to move on as there’s someone else waiting. We’ve learned what we have to do and did it. 

We then took ourselves on a walk of discovery to the deep man made waterways of Huelgoat. So pretty as they meander through the town.
  

We also admire houses as we go around. Huelgoat has faded and it a little tourist village but it had grandeur in its day.
  

I love this door, so ornate.
 

I love the way that this wisteria has eaten the fence. 
  

After a slow lunch at home, we went to Brico depot and I feel like a local now. Even managed a conversation in French. I stood around, like a brico widow, whilst DB furtled about and had knowing exchanges with equally bored French women about waiting for our husbands. 

We found it to be so cheap in there that we’ll brave more work ourselves than we first intended, like buying a cheaper stove, new bigger water tank and so on. It’ll all have to be saved for and those things will come in time. 

I’m also going to contact Orange and get a phone line/internet/tv package. They let you switch it on and off so to speak so you only pay when you’re there. I often have no phone or Internet signal and I’m going to change that.

Today? More painting, kitchen fitting, taking the dogs to the vet for travel roc endures, tidying and off to visit a friend. 

See you tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Before and after

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Hello Dear Reader,

The remote controlled house renovations are carrying on without me. The trees are down and the garden has been tidied. Above is me walking through the over grown garden on our very first visit. It hadn’t been touched in years. Even then we could see the potential for a lovely home.

Eight trailer loads went to the dechetterie. The shrubs seem a little random now and we’ll dig them up and move them to the borders of the garden in the autumn. We’ll get that ugly hedge removed from the end of the garden; it’s contentious and complained about by the neighbours. It’s a very manicured street and I don’t want to be the scruffy garden on the block.


And here it is! You can clearly see the flat on the top floor where we’ll live whilst we’re renovating the house below. It’s already looking a lot better and you get a clear view of the forest behind the house. It will burst into green soon. 

We’ll be there in a week or so and the inside work will be down to DB with me assisting him. The fluffies are going to love running around the garden. Who knows, I might even get good enough weather to sit outside with a cup of tea and a book.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx