The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 23

Welcome to the summer! In this issue discover Dijon in Burgundy, sensational Strasbourg (and a secret speakeasy), and lovely Cognac. We'll tell you where the locals go on holiday, the secret places. Visit Versailles and the Paris Opera, Le Touquet - the "Monaco" of northern France and wild Provence. Guides, recipes and more - your trip to France without leaving home...

“She told me it was

“She told me it was special and that I ought to come and see it” Katharine reminisces. The land was well over her budget but Judy encouraged her to speak to the seller to see if there was any wiggle room. He had three cheaper plots for sale and Katherine decided to go and look. After viewing the affordable land, Katharine was persuaded by the seller to take a look at the more expensive plot. “It was” she laughs “a wow moment as soon as I saw it, I felt a connection. I instantly thought, what if I open my business here instead of in London?” Her head buzzed with ideas and London with its expensive rental options didn’t feature. Within hours, a deal was struck in France. And, Katherine had made up her mind. She returned to London and made places to move to France. Urban dreams in rural France Faced with a large, empty field which had panoramic views over the countryside, Katharine decided the only way to tackle the need for a home and business was to employ an architect and building team. The resulting three-bedroomed cube is not like any other building in the village, ultramodern with sleek lines and no hint of rural cottage. “I was surprised that planning permission wasn’t an issue” she confesses “but because it can’t be seen from the road, the application went through smoothly and I got the go ahead within two months of applying”. “A tree in the garden was my first inspiration” says Katharine “It was old, there long before me, I didn’t want to cut it down, so we designed the house around it”. The first six months of the build went well but the honeymoon period didn’t last. The roofers went bankrupt and the build came to a stop.

Katharine had already sold her house in London to raise funds and had no choice but to move into her not remotely ready French house. “It wasn’t ideal, but it actually helped me to refine the plans, and feel how the house could be used." The kitchen is located in the centre of the house and serves both the café and residential side. Filled with light, there’s a mezzanine floor and double height sitting room with huge windows that frame the views, and of course, the old tree. The house is one of a kind here for other reasons too, an ecologically built passive house, it utilises a geothermal heating and dual flow ventilation system. It’s so insulated just one wood stove heats the whole house. “Everything was much more expensive than I thought possible” admits Katharine. “I had to negotiate hard with the construction company to get a price I could afford”. The house took two and a half years to build. “On the whole” says Katharine “It wasn’t too bad. I have never regretted it. The issues with the roofers weren’t good but were overcome. Some of the systems were new to the builders but they were willing to learn. The architect was Greek and lived in London and admittedly there was a bit of a culture clash with the builders, but they worked it out and I’m really happy with the result”. L’Encas and L’Echoppe Katharine had known from the stat that she wanted to open a café and shop with a hint of London style in this rustic part of France. L’encas and l’echoppe are medieval French words for “in case” and “shop” and, tucked away from the road, it “seemed like the perfect name for my venture” she says.

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