In my experience French properties come in two basic types: those with no land, and those with too much land.
Ours is the second. We had, on roughly three quarters of an acre:
Obviously this creates a problem for people who are only intermittent residents. As I said in a previous blog, one tends to arrive late at night off the ferry to find the path to the lavvy overgrown with ankle-biting brambles and perennial sweet peas (pretty colour, no scent). Any thoughts of planting vegetables or fruit trees were killed when we realised we were very unlikely to be in the country when the harvest was ready.
Our next door neighbour, the French one, did however have a horse, and a goat, so when he asked for permission to pasture the animals on the field, we accepted without hesitation. So the field is generally not too bad, and we get to see peaceful grazing animals from time to time. The neighbour is also unnecessarily grateful, and keeps embarrassing us with his effusions. (We are, after all, British.)
Remains the last bit of ground with garage. We did flirt with keeping the car there. Unorthodox perhaps. But the road is very narrow, and it takes someone with exceptional parking skills to get a car into the garage with less than fifteen minutes' backing and forwarding. You are then left with the walk back to the house. With the shopping. We prefer to park outside the front door.
Then on our recent reappearance in France, we were told by M le Maire that complaints had been made about the overgrown brambly state of the end plot. We must do something about it!
The following day our English neighbour arrived at the door towing a youngish French person. This is Gregory, who lives in the house opposite our garage. He would like to buy your end bit of garden to make a football pitch for his sons to play on, being as his house, though large and comfortable, lacks sufficient garden space.
I accepted with alacrity. My husband was less eager, until he went up the road and actually looked at the state of the land and realized he would be the one who would have to clear it. We agreed to make the sale and exchanged email addresses.
Back at home, I searched through the documents I had filed away all those years previously. I found, miraculously, the statement of local taxes for the property. I found the purchase contract for the house and land, but no deeds. I wrote to the notaire who had dealt with the sale. No reply, even with the prospect of charging us for drawing up documents. We cancelled our trip back for consultation with Gregory's notaire. (In France it is legal, and cheaper, for both parties to use the same notaire, as he is held to be impartial in the affair.) I read through the documents again, and on page seven I eventually spotted a paragraph which, translated, amounted to "We haven't got any deeds. If you want deeds, you will have to have them drawn up yourself," said no doubt with a Gallic shrug.
So we gave a Gallic shrug ourselves, arranged to meet with the notaire, and set the sale in motion.
Not having deeds didn't seem to make a lot of difference. We proved we were who we said we were. Several times over. Hands were shaken all around. The brambles are now somebody else's problem, which is a bit of a bargain, even though I suspect we let the land go at a knockdown price. The neighbours are happy. The husband is happy. Next door is happy because we haven't sold the field. I dare say the horse and goat are happy too.
Doreen lives in the empty bit in the middle of Wales, where since her retirement she has taken up writing. She says it's better than working any day.
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