I found some land on the internet. It looked like a great deal, and not that far from the chalet, so I went and had a nose. I recognised the village from a visit four years ago, though I hadn’t put two and two together and had no idea that I was in the same area until I really thought about it. Anyway, all looked promising, the village had an old thermal baths, abandoned in the seventies when some restoration work on the source caused it to stop flowing completely, rendering the whole complex unusable. It’s rather a sad affair, but the village is lovely and well positioned for the mountains and further afield.
The agent was already there. In france you can’t just go and have a look at property, in case you contact the owner direct and come to some arrangement, you have to be met and sign a form that states the you have officially visited and they were involved. Once signed, she didn’t stay long, I asked all my questions and was left to inspect on my own.
It was a great plot, sloping away from a quiet country road, on the outskirts of the village, view across the valley to fairly distant hills, a stream at the bottom, needed a bit of clearing but nothing disasterous so I started to get excited. I positioned the house, greenhouses, pond and gardens all in my head. There were woods on the other side of the road and a walking track. The local village had a railway station and the motorway passed not that far away. All good. Then there was a break in the clouds and I really got my bearings, I calculated south, then east and west to see the passage of the sun and realised quite fast why the land was such a good deal. The enormous hill behind, just across the road was to the south east, where the morning sun rises, by looking at the sun at five in the evening it was obvious that there would be no sun in the winter till mid afternoon and probably very little morning sun except in the height of summer.
It was a NO. There’s no way, with the lifestyle plans I have in mind, that I could pass the winter without sunshine, or try and raise a garden on land that stays shaded most of the day. I imagined being cold and in the shade, looking out on a sunny view of the valley and waiting till the earth rotated enough for the sun to arrive. It wouldn’t do. Later I spoke to a couple of locals who confirmed the situation, they also added that the valley suffered terribly from cold winds in the spring till the mountain snow had melted and from frequent cloud cover, though not so much rain, as the warm atlantic air circulates and is forced to rise by the mountains. I’ll take their advice and adjust my region still further for my continued hunting.
|a bit of clearing to do|
|the only neighbours|
|pretty good view|
|what remains accessible of the old thermal baths|