Sunday, June 26, 2016

Candes, a tiny hamlet in the Lot Region

For photos - in the meantime they are on my pinterest board at

Nicholas bought his farmhouse in the Lot three years ago. There were two people living in Candes then but one has since gone into a retirement home, so now it again has a population of two and when Nicholas is in Montpellier over winter that leaves only his neighbour Susu, who is in her 80s. The house was sold as "habitable" - if living without electricity and a bathroom is your thing. He got it rewired and put in a hot water system, a shower and washing machine, and a gas stove to supplement a large woodburner. He is still waiting for a septic tank, and in the meantime uses a composting toilet (as necessary. Bonuses - I can now spot even a tiny stinging nettle and I know what phase of the moon we are in).  The house, built in 1780, came with land - a small lot over the road, a bit of forest not far away and a paddock on the other side of the other side the hamlet, As well as the house there is a beautiful old pig sty and a stone barn with no roof. What a conversion project! Perfect for a holiday gite or two.

At one end of the house there is a huge bread oven that is like an extension of the ground floor, with it's own domed roof. Inside the kitchen, there is a smaller cake oven that would make perfect pizzas except it would probably take at least 3 days to bring it up to the right temperature. Upstairs there are 3 bedrooms off a big living room, and downstairs is the kitchen/living room and the bathroom. There's a huge attic. In the garden Nicholas has planted roses and peonies, and lots of fruit trees and vines, even feijoa trees. He has big walnut trees and a spreading vegetable garden. We walked in the woods and found a local delicacy, the bright orange mushrooms called girolles. An excellent omelet for lunch with just-picked salad greens.

Did I say road? A couple of cars go past each day, maybe a tractor too. A boulanger in a van stops once a week, there is a municipal rubbish collection. The wifi is excellent. For a few months in summer a Dutch couple, Otto and Nico are in residence, who like to entertain. A hundred years ago Candes had a population of 100. Turns out that when Nicholas arrived, the average age in the commune dropped considerably (he's just a bit younger than me). So sad to see these lovely old buildings, houses and barns in the local vernacular architecture, falling into ruin with absent owners who are unwilling to invest in just a bit of restoration that would preserve this beautiful place for another 100 years. I'd love to be able to help out by buying Simone's old place but the old stone tiles are leaking and the floor has rotted - major building work for it just to be livable, as charming as it is. Comiac is the nearest 'town' - although there's not much there either. A cluster of traditional houses around a square and a few closed up commercial buildings.

For shopping there is Bretenoux or St Cere - both less than 20 km away but down windy roads through beautiful deciduous forest and dramatic gorges.

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