Several years ago, Elizabeth and John Cook bought a holiday property in Brittany, on the west coast of France, in an area with great beaches, wonderful old towns and fishing villages and convenient to the ports of Roscoff and St Malo. We caught up with them to see if they are still happy about their choice and whether they have any tips for future buyers.
What led up to the decision to buy this property?
For many years we had rented gîtes in different Departments of France, but although we had some great holidays, the accommodation often led to disappointment. These included not being near enough to the sea, difficult access; spiral staircases, bathrooms not on the same floor as bedrooms, lack of good kitchen equipment, uncomfortable beds and worst of all – adjacent to pig farms…I love to eat pork but not flies! We knew we could resolve most of these problems with a mobile home as we could equip the inside with our home comforts.
What is your favorite thing about it?
It’s ours, we can visit whenever we like – our home from home, with a bit of a difference. We love the location of Domaine de Kerlann, the many amenities and we really enjoy the social life. It’s interesting to learn about another country in a relaxing way.
How did you find this property?
After our last disastrous stay in a gîte I decided enough was enough. I knew a little about mobile homes and phoned after seeing an advert for a company called Siblu. We knew Brittany quite well and wanted somewhere near the sea, and this area reminded us of 1950’s Cornwall. We made arrangements to visit two Siblu villages while on holiday in France, and we spent a day at each of them: Les Pierre Couchees and Domaine de Kerlann . We fell in love with Domaine de Kerlann – it was in an area we knew well and we bought the first mobile home we were shown. Four years later we upgraded to a newer model with double glazing and central heating and on a better pitch. We spend many days in our back garden with a bottle of wine and a BBQ, enjoying the company of other holiday home owners from both the UK and France.
What about the buying process?
We were able to answer many of our questions by calling Siblu (they have a freephone number), and the information they sent prior to our appointment was very useful. At Domaine de Kerlann, the sales director helped us iron out the details. Three weeks later were enjoying our first holiday as owners.
How did you manage with the language?..and the paperwork?
The language was no problem for me as I had been speaking French since age 12, and we already had French friends through our Twinning Association. By speaking French each day in the office and with our new found French friends, my vocabulary and fluency soon improved. My husband has picked up lots of vocabulary, eating out and shopping being good ways to learn, and can communicate quite well even though he had never studied a foreign language. The team at Domaine de Kerlann are bilingual, which is a good safety net.
Any plans to live in France full-time in the future?
We had thought of living in France a number of years ago, but were still working and wanted to retain a property in the UK. As retirees, the mobile home suits as fine – it is a nice compromise to tying up a lot of money in a foreign country, we can spend at least six months in France and still enjoy our UK lifestyle. With the winterization service at Domaine de Kerlann, which ensures our mobile home is made ready for winter, we don’t worry about maintenance of a property when we are back in the UK.
•With thanks to John & Elizabeth Cook