Monday, February 10, 2014

A fascinating almost in Arles




So, are you ready to go for a ride? A wild one? Ok, then come along but I will ask you to put on your most Open-Minded Glasses to clear your vision. They are critical for enjoying the show.


As our house-hunting deadline accelerates rapidly, I am spending more time everyday on the internet, looking at ads with all of the intensity of a witch trying to conjure a magic potion. All of the truly interesting properties - either to rent or to buy - disappear like lightning. And yet, there was one that lingered that I just couldn't ignore, I wanted to go see it. An appointment was made.


We arrived in a neighborhood that we knew nothing of - very unusual as Arles is not that big and I cover a lot of ground on my walks with the dogs - to find what by all appearances is a traditional Provençal farmhouse in the middle of town with a very large courtyard in front and an attached garage.


Now, to say that the...decor...in the courtyard is...unusual...is an understatement. Wait, did you already take your glasses off? Please put them back on and step inside.


To the left of the entry, is a very large living room with French doors leading to the courtyard. It was filled with light but as the owner was there, I had trouble photographing it so this photo is borrowed from the charming real estate agent. Underneath the crêpi on the walls is gorgeous stone waiting to be revealed.


A fire was roaring in the poêle à bois that had been newly installed and a good thing too as it is the only source of heat for the house!


Ah, just a tad rustic. Such as the pipe descending by the front door...


But there is a charming staircase and again, all of that pretty stone so close and yet so far...


...not to mention very interesting 1930's ceramic tiles and a sleeping pupper on the entry floor.


Remi was fascinated by the stone surrounds on the doorways, dating from the 18th century, most likely.

Ok, are you ready? Hold your breath and dive in...


...to the kitchen! Ta-dah! Oh, I so wish that I could see the look on your face right now. 


But here is the kicker. The kitchen has enormous potential.


It is far bigger than I could capture and would be just gorgeous once the stone is uncovered and say, oh something wacky like cabinets were installed. 


Back in the hallway, a door that looks as though it is from the beginning of time opens on to...


...a long thin storage space that runs the entire length of la maison, one that has been divided and redivided many times - more of that in a bit.


The roof of the space could be easily replaced with glass to make a lovely veranda.


Up the twisting stairs and you arrive to see...


...Not one but two toilets! hehehe Oh, I am enjoying this. For the house originally was shared between two families that agreed to share the staircase! I told you there was history in Arles...


To the right, is the first bedroom...


...filled with light and larger than it looks.


We don't need to mention the bathroom.


And to the right is a positively huge room...


...that had been cut in two with a partition (the position of the bed is different in the second photo)...


...in order to create a bathroom and dressing area.


Underneath the linoleum lies lovely tomettes tiles, just waiting to breathe again.


And downstairs off the kitchen is a big garage that looks onto the courtyard. That iron door could be replaced by a glass and steel frame to make this Remi's office.


See? Here is the angle of the house showing the garage. But what is that you ask?


The possible veranda as seen from above. I'm sorry I can't hear you. You are asking...what is that just beyond?


Oh, that would be...the train tracks. 

Dun, dun, dun, duuun. Yep, they are right there. Several trains passed while we were visiting the house and oddly, it wasn't that loud at all. But of course, it would mean the house is unsellable and explains why it has been on the market for nine months.

Now. Here is the question - and I ask you to be polite in your answers please - can you see the potential that Remi and I saw? Because we really did. Or maybe you would have to have lived in Provence as long as we have in order to know. Because it is there. The agent is determined to keep trying until she finds just the right people to bring it back to life. 

That won't be us but we would have been sorely tempted if it weren't for the proximity to Choochoo Land. It was a fascinating little trip back in time. I hope that you enjoyed it. 

We are ramping up the visits. We saw an absolutely stunning rental last week that is sadly, too small (we have non-negotiable things to consider with Remi's equipment and the printer for the gallery). And we have two visits today, one for a rental, another for sale. Yes, I will keep you posted. 

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

51 comments:

  1. Loved the tour Heather! It was almost like a world of interiors spread. Pity about the train tracks...But does the price reflect this? Mind you there are a few things despite price that are non negotiables though right? I hope you find something that ticks all your requirements and more, fingers crossed! x

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    1. Oh, I love World of Interiors, especially when they feature the slightly run down or eccentric homes. And yep, the price definitely takes into account the location. But we just can't do it. We are people who like to move around a lot and can't put so much work into a house only to not be able to resell it later.

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  2. I see possibilities. The staircase and the living room fireplace look very promising. The train noise you would soon not hear. However, I think that there is something very special just waiting for you....and besides it's fun to come along and I don't want it to be over. ox, Gina

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    1. hehehe Gina! That isn't what you are supposed to wish! ;) And the longer we look, the more we are rethinking where we want to live. But time is not on our side and we might need to take a rental and buy next year or so...we'll see...

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  3. Oh my.... I'm still laughing. What a wonderful start to my week! And, yes, there was what I'm sure was a priceless look of horror on my face when I saw the kitchen. BUT I also do see the potential and I know you and Remi have the imagination to make anyplace a beautiful home. But I am also glad that you let this one go. One step closer to finding just the right place, I am sure.

    And ooooh. Guess who just forwarded us the details of his ticket home? Hint: the flight starts in Casablanca and the date is in late May, just in time to celebrate his "baba's" 65th birthday. Hoorah!

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    1. Yay!!! I am so happy for you Judith!! Oh, I know how hard it has been for you to have one of your sweeties so far away. That is just lovely.

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  4. Oh dear, I think it's a tad, what's the word..."rustic!" Hmm. I'm just not seeing it somehow. If you do take it on, I suggest you keep the his and hers toilets as they are.

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  5. Despite its rundown look, it could have potential but I understand that the house's proximity to the train tracks would not work. Reselling it would be major issue.

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    1. Exactly Loree! That is why it is a no-go...

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  6. It is a fascinating house, Heather. I'm waaay too noise sensitive to live in Choo Choo land, but I otherwise I do see the potential here (although I can only imagine the headaches involved in bringing this place back to life - you would have to heavily invest in advil and pepto). A very dear friend of mine with amazing taste bough a house a year or so back that, well, let's just say it had "potential" - but none of the rest of us could see that potential. Flash forward and it's now gorgeous in her care. Still needs some work but she has done an amazing job bringing it back to life. Some homes are like Charlie Brown's little tree - they just need a little love.

    But the trains. Quel dommage.

    Good luck with the house hunt! XOXO

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    1. Thank you, we need it! And Remi and I are ONLY attracted to the houses that need love like the Charlie Brown tree!! That must say much about us, non? Not sure if it is good! hehehe ;)

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  7. Okay, back when Joel and I purchased our 'fixer-upper' just north of Puerto Vallarta, I remember a friend visiting. As I 'presented' it to her, I saw what it was going to be under our ownership; she saw what we had purchased and looked at me like I was crazy and then pretty much told me I was crazy. After a few years our Cinderella house blossomed. Bottom line: if you can dream it, you can do it!

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    1. Yay, Jackie! And I agree with you!! We could have made something really sweet out of that house, I know it.

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  8. The trains would bother me a lot, if they carry hazardous materials through that route. That is a deal breaker.
    I see the potential. What I don't see is the two of you living there. I don't recall a building you've posted pictures of (except for that creepy fountain place last year), that has been as blah as this one. Now price wise, if its a bargain, that would make a decision difficult because I'd feel that if I bought the place, I'd be money settling instead of going with my heart. You could make it gorgeous though, sell and move on.

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    1. Ah but we would have a devil of a time reselling it, that is the tricky part...

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  9. Boy, it could really be a special place, looks like it has good bones and a lot of charm. We hear the train from our house in Paso Robles, but it is quite a distance away and usually only once a day so I understand living right next to it could be a potential problem, especially if you wanted to resell. Bonne chance in your search, with two talented people like yourselves, the right one will come your way.

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    1. That is a lovely thing to say Cheri, merci! And yes, the bones were really good, plus just the inherent charm of the layout with rooms off of a central staircase. Alas not to be...

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  10. One has to keep the curiosity of a child and imagination of a dreamer.
    To look for a house with a view is certainly fascinating.

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    1. Let's just say that if we had a bigger budget, we would have found a house by now!!

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  11. God I love that place ... I'm still thinking about which brright color to paint the water pipe at the front door ... this coming from a Realtor on Kauai and frequent visitor to my beloved France ... God I love that place!

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    1. Bill! That made me laugh about the pipe! I love that you would show it off. We were thinking more of the need to build a cover for it...but hey, why not?

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  12. Ooh gosh, well ok it does have potential, especially the doorways and staircase. And of course the double toilets!(;
    ( But hey, as much as I like rough buildings and sites, the state in which it is in now is at times pretty 'burlesque' isn't it?)
    And to my mind you are right to make the closeness of the railways a "nogo"! Allé, bon courage!

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    1. Silke, I wish that I had taken more photos of the courtyard, you would have been fascinated! Burlesque is right...
      Et merci pour le courage, on a besoin!

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  13. I do not have ability to visualize what can be in a space, but I have no doubt that you and Remi do, and I love to read about what you see in and would do with an abode. While I was drawn to the size, light, tile and stone, and the courtyard, of this house, I'm glad you declined because of the rail tracks; you've had enough noise right outside your windows, haven't you? Looking forward to the next find, Leslie (who is still looking, too)

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    1. Exactly, Leslie. Truly we are in desperate need of peace and quiet. This current apartment has just knocked us off our bases with all of the noise!
      PS. Good luck to you too... :)

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  14. Loved the tour. I kept trying to guess where the house is. But the train tracks would not be good. Bon courage!! Keep us posted as we drool. I love Arles.

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    1. It is not far at all from where you took your cooking courses, on the other side of Boulevard Emile Combs (the big street that runs from the Monoprix to the Boulevard des Lices). Lots of small houses and they say it is like a village!

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  15. Thanks for taking us along on your visit to the house. I guess it is good that you are not train lovers because I would have been drawn to the location even knowing that it would really affect my ability to resell the house in the future. I would hope that Shirley would have talked me out of it. I have always been fascinated by trains. Have a great day. Look forward to the next update.

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    1. Wow! See? To each his own! You would have loved it! :)

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  16. Hi Heather

    Wishing you success in your search. I think you are wise not to rush buying until the right property comes along.
    Have a great week and pats to the puppers

    Helenx

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  17. I loved it!

    I think heating upstairs might be more of a concern for me than the train. But then I live in Florida now. Maybe electric matrass heaters and great duvets would do it, with a safe space heater, infared?, in shower room. I think the French have the most effective double paned glass windows in the world. So what if all windows on train size were double paned?

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    1. Actually, most of them already are! That is why I barely heard the trains. But still...resell would be impossible and we can't risk that. And the heating would not be hard in that house. People use the units that are a combo of air-con and heat a lot here (don't know if I am saying that right in English!).

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  18. Heather you are very wise to have turned this one down. I know a better abode is out there waiting for you and Remi.
    Judy

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    1. Thanks Judy! I think we are also realizing that we need to rethink where we want to live more than the "in what" factor...

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  19. Hmmm. Good you said no to this. Great potential, yes, but the tracks....I have lived right beside train tracks twice in my life, and it's not for most people, Idon't think, especially people with dogs. Ido see the potential, but then I always do with French houses :-). I didn't weigh in at the time, but I thought the first one you showed us had the best bones. It reminded me of our POR ( pile of rubble), but then stone interiors are my weakness. Can't wait to see more....and how did I miss this "World of Interiors"? I'm going to find it now!

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    1. If you have a big enough of a "presse" near you, they might have it! It is a good read to boot, not just eye candy. And hello? The dogs! Ok, not Ben, but I swear that Kipling can get out of anywhere if he wants to...can you imagine? :o
      It is funny that you should mention that first house. We actually went back to the village (I'll post on it soon) on a really sunny day but we could still see that there was no light! Have to have light...and quiet...but otherwise, we really could have gone for that house. Most of the comments here were of the "definitely not" kind so I am glad to hear that I wasn't alone in liking it!

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    2. Thanks for the suggestion for the mag. Will keep an eye out for it. Found it online but I like a good magazine in my hands.

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  20. Wow - that was fascinating! I have to admit that my glasses fell off many times (oops). But, yes, I do see the potential! (but as I sit here in 7 degree weather, I do agree with the person who wondered about heat upstairs!!). This was a really fun post - a very "H" post ("dun dun dun duuun"!!) and I loved it! Keep searching, brave soldier!

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    1. Yay!! Thank you Sister! I had fun writing it. :)
      I love you!

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  21. Heather - I'd like to send you a private message but I can't see a contact email for you?

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    1. Hello Anna. Yep, it is rather inconvenienly hidden on my Google + file! Feel free to write me at robinsonheather (at) yahoo.com.

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  22. You know as well as I do the people who haven't LIVED in your neck of the woods DONOT GET IT!I get it cause I lived in ITALY……….YES> I see the potential.Most AMERICANS would be horrified.I haven't read the comments yet!As they only see the hotels or rented apartments but this is real life living in FRANCE and ITALY.In ITALY you do not get kitchen cabinets nothing just a room cause its all on wheels and you take it to your next house!Except they seldom move so its ancient old not ancient ANTIQUE cabinets!The washing machine is always in the kitchen!!!What ever you and Remi find………I will adore!I CAN VISUALIZE ANYTHING!
    PS> We had one of those ovens in this house now 20 years ago……..and they do work!We used it to heat our little RANCH house for at least three years………..then I had him take it away!!!!STill looking for a stone fireplace mantle that sailed the ATLANTIC from your neck of the woods!Hard to find here in my price range too!!!!!!!!XXXX

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    1. You see those ovens a lot here. And yes, they seem to work wonders! Used properly with conducting vents one can heat a whole house. We are hopefully looking at a house soon that has antique ones in the fireplaces. Yes, I will take a photo for you at the least!
      And I know you can visualize anything--it is one of your great talents. :)
      Do you know of the blog Renovating Italy?? I think that you would get a kick out of it. A family from Australia that moved to Italy and are renovating their home from top to bottom. It is quite something and the author, Lisa, has a beautiful spirit too.
      Gosh, can't Penny find you a mantel?

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  23. I could see what you are talking about with all the stone but man that will be one heck of a gut job for whoever takes it. It is a type of house you would only purchase if you had an enormous chunk of change to spend on it. Le sigh - I hope you search proves more fruitful soon! But at least in the meantime you are having fun seeing all these cool places!

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    1. I have to say that I really do love it. And ps. That woman from HHI never wrote back?! :o

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  24. I think that house has loads of potential. It's even rather good as is. Just needs some TLC. However, I can see that the train tracks make it a no go. Sending lots of helpful energy and happy thoughts as your search continues.

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    1. Thank you G!!! That is much appreciated. And TLC is the perfect term. It really is not that much work--much of it we could have done ourselves...but we need quiet...I am sure that you understand that.
      Bisous,
      H

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  25. I could see possibilities until the rail tracks. The kitchen wasn't daunting because you would just rip everything out. But those tracks. I actually like the last house you posted - I loved the fireplaces and the outdoor space. Keep us posted.

    ps thanks for the hugs

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  26. I've lived in Provence long enough to see the potential. All houses in Provence come with that rustic 'potential' unless you're RICH! My home has loads of potential ;)

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