At French Entrée, French Connections HCB tells the story of two new homeowners who decided after COVID-19 to leave the city, buy a château, and renovate it. They write:
Lee and André became proud owners of the château on 30th April 2022, a mere seven months after first setting eyes on it. While André is still running his business in London, the restoration project in France has become Lee’s full-time job. He realised quite quickly that his language skills might not be up to the rigours of French administration. “I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, and as André left France at 16, he wasn’t up to speed with all the processes either. It was at that stage that our best friend, Barbara, a current client of French Connections HCB, suggested that we should ask the team for help.”
Lee contacted our founder, Richard, and explained what they wanted to do and the things they needed help with. The French Connections HCB team leapt into action!
“Charlotte organised my visa, then we flew out to meet the bank manager of the Crédit Agricole. We opened an account with him, then another at the Crédit Mutuel, all facilitated by Richard. Perhaps we would have got there under our own steam eventually, but we needed to get stuff done quickly – especially when it came to my visa – and the service was seamless.”
Lee and André have also asked for Richard’s help in buying a Ford Ranger, which is André’s dream car. Lee laughs because he only passed his driving test a week before he left the UK, but driving became essential because Maillere, like many small French villages, has limited public transport and no shops. With André making frequent return trips to the UK, Lee needs to be independent.
As well as the big items like the visa, bank accounts, and car purchase, Lee and André have called on French Connections HCB for help with all manner of everyday smaller things.
“Charlotte has been looking after me, sorting out my EDF direct debits, which had accidentally been cancelled, and then she found a vet for our dog. Juliette found a dentist for me, and a doctor. Originally, I paid as and when for these smaller admin jobs, but now I’m here in France, I just pay 89 euros a month and the FCHCB team look after absolutely everything for me.”
Lee and André have big plans for their new home.
“Within two years, we will be renting out the château as a luxury holiday rental, and we’ll also create a yoga retreat at either end of the holiday season when the weather is cooler.”
There’s a lot of renovation work to do, but Lee is confident of meeting the deadline.
“I have now met Richard many times. I have asked his building company to do the restoration work at our property, which will start in January. Richard’s builder is going to move in with me to save costs, and the job is programmed to take 6-7 months. He will start with the house, then we can move in there while he starts on the château. Currently, the château has 11 rooms, but over the years, some of them have been chopped in two with stud walls, so the plan is to bring it back to its original state.”
Read more here.
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