Monday, August 3, 2009

Apartment Hunting on the Picardie Coast (part I)

Last July 11th, a windy Saturday, Jacky and I left our apartment on the avenue Simon Bolivar at at dawn to head out to Mers-les-Bains to visit apartments and houses. The first appointment was for 10:00 am so Jacky (who has a pathological dread of being late) insisted that we leave no later than 6:00 am, even though the drive normally takes no more than two and a half-hours. By 6:20 we were on the road and thanks to the autoroute arrived at Le Tréport about 9:00 am even though we got off the autoroute too soon and had to drive through Abbeville. We had practically an hour to kill before our first appointment. Jacky proposed that we walk along the beach but it was chilly, windy and not very pleasant. We managed to find an open café overlooking the port and the fishmarket and sat down to wait over a warm cup of coffee.

The first appointment was at a real estate agency just around the corner in Le Tréport. At 10:00 am we headed to the agency. The real estate agent's name is "Gallet" a name which Jacky always found rather appropriate considering Le Tréport's pebble ("galet") beaches. We waited a few minutes in the storefront agency, long enough to check out the "For Sale" offerings and decided that while we were there, if there was anything interesting for sale we would also take a look at it.

The first apartment we visited was less than a block from the agency, located in a complex built in the 1960's. As we walked in, I saw Jacky wince. It was sunny, bright, boxy and had no soul but very ugly wallpaper and carpeting. Scratch that one.

The second apartment we visited was towards the center of town, a 5th floor walkup, under the eaves and practically all of the walls sloped down, significantly reducing the livable space. Plus, the owner, a crotchety old woman, took one look at our dogs and expressed her distaste. That's ok, we don't want your stupid apartment anyway.

We then decided to visit a house for sale, or should I say, a ruin for sale (the price was right). A 19th century fisherman's house on three levels which had been owned for twenty years by a couple who tried to convert it into three vacation rental dumps. The location was good, the construction was sound but we would have had to spend practically as much as it cost to put in new wiring, plumbing, bathroom, kitchen, perhaps change the windows and take down all of the really, really ugly wallpaper, different in each of the eight rooms. We did consider it in a wild moment but then came to our senses over a lunch of mussels, petite friture, sole and entre-deux-mers at Mon P'tit Bar before heading out to Mers-les-Bains and the afternoon appointments.

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