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When you buy your home in France, if its in Brittany or in the mid Pyrenees, chances are you will buy your new house unfurnished. The house will look completely different from any other house you have made your home or holiday house and will probably want to keep it looking ‘French’ rather than ‘English’. If its your holiday home and you want to rent it out as a holiday Gite when you are not in France then you need to think carefully about what tourists will expect from their French holiday home. They won’t want to come to France, no matter if its Normandy or Provence, to find their French Gite fitted out in English MFI, will they.
You have a lot of choice, visit your local Brocantes, you might be able to strike a bargain if you want to purchase a lot of old French (local furniture of your region) or Breton items. There are many brocantes that are English owned so you won’t have to worry about the language if you are new to France. It’s a good idea to try to keep it in keeping with your local style. A lot of French furniture is dark so you might want to mix it a little with some lighter wood. Look out for local adverts that are selling pieces that might be ideal for you. If you are buying second hand furniture in France check carefully for woodworm and other termites.
If you want to fill your home with modern, light, furniture there are plenty of shops to choose from local French owned chains to worldwide now even an IKEA in Brittany. If you are selling your house in the UK to move to your new home in France then you will probably want to bring your furniture to France with you. You can buy beautiful French dressers here, and most people I know have one of these in their maison usually in their kitchen. In Brittany, I think every house has one and are ideal for storing everything! The old Breton style has a lot of carving (curved) in their design often telling a story. You can sometimes get a very good deal in the brocantes for these as the French, and Bretons, don’t want them any more because they don’t like all the polishing around the carvings. It was our local Breton brocante owner that informed me of this. This type of local French furniture was often given as wedding presents so they usually have an interesting story that goes with them.
There is a lot of wood furniture produced all over France and there are many outlets for hand made pieces including kitchens. So if you want that lovely authentic ‘French Country Kitchen’ you will have a lot of choice. A lot of the shops do offer a made to measure service so take your measurements into them and let them do the hard work for you. If your French isn’t great it might be a good idea to take along a French friend with you as you wont have any come back if you translate something wrong.
If you don’t have any French friends so early on in your move you can always hire someone to take with you. There are many services that offer translation and will go with you to sort out situations like this. Its worth paying that little bit more to get it right. There are many English businesses that offer made to measure furniture and kitchens so look on this website to see if there is something suitable for you and give them a ring. You will also be able to find translators to help too.
If you have a holiday home in France, whether it is Brittany, the mid Pyrenees or any other region of France, you will need someone to care for your garden inbetween your visits to France.
If your holiday home, gite, is in Brittany or Normandy your grass will grow at an alarming rate due to the rain fall especially northern Brittany towards the Brest area. Some people fall into the trap of only hiring a gardener once or twice a year but as he will have to tackle a jungle you are better off getting it done on a regular basis. That way he will only spend an hour cutting instead of a whole day if not more.
Disposing of garden rubbish
You are not allowed to burn your garden rubbish if you live in the centre ville, so you must take it to your local decheterie. Of course if you arrange to have a gardener you will arrange with him about that. If you live in the countryside you are allowed bonfires certain dates but you need to chack at the Marie as all communes are different. Its is important to hire a registered business. It is illegal to hire someone on the ‘black’ and if caught you will be in more trouble than him. When hiring a gardener or garden services from a company always ask to see their insurance as well as their siret number. Just because they have a siret number doesn’t always mean they are covered to do that job so its just as important to see their insurance.
When people buy a house, gite, longere, manoir etc they can get carried away with the amount of land they will be the proud owners of. You need to remember its a lot of work and expense, there are lots of by laws so its worth checking them out at your local Marie. For example, purple thistles have to be cut down on your land before a certain date, before they flower. You can end up with a hefty fine if you don’t remember this.
For those of you who live on a permanent basis in France you may still need the services of a gardener from time to time to help with any heavy work that you may not be able to do by yourself. Just look in the local press or online at the many French classified websites that offer services that you need.
It is good to know that in France you can generally buy a home with a good sized garden, but remember if you will only use it for holidays and possibly for renting out then when you don’t use it you will have to get the garden maintained.
Depending on where you have a property in France will also determine what you can grow in your garden, as an example in Brittany and Normandy the weather is very similar to the Uk weather so most things flourish and vegetables can be grown very easily. If you have a property down south then of course you can grow more sub-tropical plants.
If you have bought your home in France to live in as your primary home you will probably have different flooring to what you were used to in the UK.
If you are renovating you will need to think very carefully about what you envisage your new French lifestyle is going to be.
Chances are you will have land or at the very least a large garden.
Do you have dogs, cats and possibly other animals such as chickens etc.
If you are a gardener and have animals you might want to seriously want to consider having the floors tiled and then having large rugs on top.
Tiled floors are the norm over here in France and I don’t think I have ever seen a carpet as soon as you enter any-ones house. To sum up, tiled floors are much easier to keep clean and more hygienic. If you really like carpets why not just have them in the bedrooms.
There are many tillers in France and you can get English tillers that have been in business here for a long time so you can check out some of their work before hiring them. They can advise you on what type of tiles to buy and you will have a massive choice.
You can choose from tiles that are rustic, very French looking, mosaic, modern, classic or funky. The colours are vast as they like colour in France from clothes to modern furniture.
If you are buying tiles for your kitchen walls and for splash backs you will be met by a massive range that will be hard to choose from. They have everything from plain colours to the most amazing story designs that you just wouldn’t believe but alas these can be very expensive.
You can hire someone to tile for you or lay laminate flooring if you choose this material. There is plenty of different laminates to choose from as this is a good alternative if you don’t want tiles which can be cold if you are not used to them. Laminate is warmer and also easy to keep clean if you have dogs and cats or your husband wont take his dirty shoes off outside! Great if you have children too and most are liquid spill proof too.
There are also English carpet fitters in France which you can find on the various classified websites that cater for business advertising for both French and English registered businesses and in other local papers if you want to purchase carpet or buy some nice rugs for your tiled floors.
If you are renovating you newly purchased house in France you will also have to think about heating. So if you are bring wood and logs into your house you don’t want to be picking bits of bark etc out of a carpet but if you are having radiators you won’t have this problem. Speak to people ask them for their stories and advice before rushing into anything. The British here will love to tell you about their experiences, you can learn a lot from these people who have experienced the French way of life for longer and might save you from mistakes.
If you live in any region of France, or have a holiday home, gite, chateau,manior not matter how small or large you will have a pest problem at some time. It could be fungal infection of the oak beams, dry rot or mice and even rats!
If you keep chickens rats love these so keep a look out for signs. That way you can arrange some pest control before it gets too large a problem.
Depending on what type of problem you have you can call the experts in for help and advice as well as going to the local DIY shop and buying treatments yourself.
There are many mice and rat options from sonic devices to a choice of different traps. Flies can be a big problem especially bad if you are near cows, so country dwellers beware. There are very good fly nets available for installation on your windows so at least you can have the windows open in the summer and still keep the flies out.
If you have to treat wood, it’s a good idea to get expert help as the wood treatments are very toxic and there have been cases where home owners have done this themselves gone to bed with the window open and still have died in their sleep due to the build up of fumes!
Don’t forget to hire a registered firm and check their insurance. It is illegal to hire someone on the ‘Black’ and you could be prosecuted if caught.
Getting help from the experts in pest control could save you a lot of wasted time and money in the long run. Don’t forget to check with them how long their work is guaranteed for.