We awoke to a dark and frosty morning on the second day of our trip. We had arranged to see a converted longère in a hamlet near Berrien which lies within the Amorique National Park.
A Longère, which translates as ‘longhouse’, is a long single storey rectangular property commonly found in the north of France. They are usually made out of granite with a slate roof. This was a private sale and the vendor, who was based in the UK, had arranged for some friends of his to show us around.
To reach the property, which was tucked away behind another property so it took us a while to find, we had to use a shared driveway. It looked lovely from the outside but we had to step over some sandbags to gain entrance and there had obviously been some flooding – not a good start!
If the price had been right the best thing to do would have been to rip it all out and start again, but it was priced as a finished product. We told the couple then and there our thoughts to this effect and they agreed.
We thanked them for their time and headed off to do a bit of exploring starting with a picnic lunch by Lac St Michel. The reservoir is overlooked by Montagne-St-Michel in the Monts d'Arrée, a slight misnomer as the highest point is only 384 metres, but that is just splitting hairs now isn't it? In the afternoon we stopped in Sizun where discovered our first parish close or enclos paroissial. These impressive edifices are a feature of this area of Brittany.
In the event, we were unable to see one of the properties as the owner (who was in residence) had been unwell and thus unable to tidy up the property in preparation for our visit – could we delay it? Yes of course we could. Unfortunately she never was in a position to show us the property for the duration of our visit. Naturally our conclusion was that she didn’t really want to sell.
When we arrived onsite, it was apparent that there was work being done in the smaller of the two houses, additional insulation was being installed - this seemed like good news!. We found both properties spacious and well situated and the worrisome beams were not as low as they had appeared in the photo’s. We particularly liked the mezzanine floor overlooking the lounge in the larger building and the exposed stonework and beams - and all the space, both inside and outside!
The conversion appeared to have been well done and the garden was, if a bit of a wilderness at the back, a blank canvas. We spent a good hour going over both properties, taking loads of pictures!
We should have realised something was afoot by the number of cars parked by our picnic site. The horns and the baying of dogs in the distance soon gave the game away – there was a hunt taking place in the forest! Soon a group of high visibility jacket clad hunters emerged from the forest, bemused by the sight of us happily picnicking as I’ve previously mentioned on my blog back in May. Be warned, ‘la chasse’ is a very common sight in the French countryside in winter!
After our encounter with the hunt, we headed off to Berrien to rendezvous with an independent agent by the churchyard. He was to take us to view a property in a secret location! You will find that many agents will not tell you the exact location of their properties in advance which makes things a bit difficult when you are trying to do research in advance. I think this is because they are worried that you might find it privately and cut them out of the equation which I guess is fair enough, if not a little frustrating.
First thing we noticed is that there was no proper off road parking, just a small piece of land at the front of the house (which was actually the side as it was adjacent to the road). There was a gated ‘driveway’ but this was too narrow to actually get a car through. The property was a stone farmhouse with an attached longere which had been converted into additional accommodation.
It was hemmed in on both sides by other houses and one looked directly into another house – this is not what we were looking for a in country property! Along with the property came a large field which, with no access other than via the driveway that wasn’t a driveway!
This being the last viewing of the day, we decided to head north and explore the coast around Morlaix. We accidentally discovered the Cairn de Barnenez, Europe’s oldest and largest megalithic mausoleum. Unfortunately it was closed (being a Monday in winter) but we put it on our list for a return visit in the future. As the evening started to draw in we enjoyed a winter sunset over the sea before returning to enjoy the wood burner in our cosy apartment.