A House in Moissac
One of our aims for the coming years was to bring the steelband over for a tour of Southern France, where we could play a series of gigs in Moissac and other towns along the Garonne Canal. To this end, we started looking for a house in the region which we could initially use as accommodation for the band, and also for members of Rita's family, and for friends who might want to visit the region. At the end of our stay in 2012, I looked at a house overlooking the Port de Plaissance, but in the end it turned out to be too small for our needs, with only one bathroom and one toilet (on different floors).
However, the agent who showed me that house (Maury Immobilear) also had another property on the market, just a bit further down the Canal to the west. From the internet ads, we thought we recognised it as a house we had seen for sale when we cruised back into Moissac at the end of our barging in 2012. We remembered it particularly because of the roses in the garden, and hence it became known as the Rose House. We checked StreetView in GoogleMaps and found the house on the canal where we remembered it to be, but the picture must have been taken when the roses were not in bloom, so we were never quite sure that it was the same house. However, it sounded the same from the descriptions we read, and it also sounded like it might be suitable, being a bit bigger than the house I had already inspected. So, we asked our good friends Kaz and Iain Noble, from the Port Capitainerie at Moissac, if they could go have a look at the house, take some pictures, and give us their opinion of the property (as long-term residents of Moissac).
They reported back that the house was fabulous and an absolute bargain, given it's size and what they were asking for it. A selection of their pictures shows that the house was much bigger than we anticipated (3 stories, 6-8 bedrooms, 250m2) and also in pretty good condition inside on the lower two floors, but needing a bit of work on the upper floor.
Given the size of the house, our thoughts turned from just having a house for friends to stay at; we could seriously consider turning it into a B&B, at which we could run various types of workshops. Now that our consulting activities were slowing down in Australia, we could start considering other options. The most obvious was to run some steel pan workshops at the B&B. But then we started talking with friends, and realised that the band contained a number of chefs, and so the idea formed of also running cooking workshops. The name "Pots'n'Pans" started to form in our minds. A bit of Googling found an organisation (Getaway Guru) that coordinates B&B bookings from Australians wishing to stay at B&B's, Houses and Apartments owned by Australians in France and Italy. Given that over half a million Australians visit France each year, that seemed like a reasonable market on which to draw. It was also attractive that Getaway Guru did lots of the marketing, and also handled all the business details in Australia.
So, like I did with the barge purchase in October 2010, I decided to make a special trip to Moissac in November 2012 to check out the house in person and, if satisfied, sign an initial contract and pay a deposit. This time, however, I took Nico Murat with me, since he had agreed to do lots of the renovation work on the house if we were to go ahead with the purchase. So, we came, we saw, and we purchased.
The deal was sealed in February 2013, and we took possession when we returned to Moissac in May 2013. Since buying the house, we have made friends with an artist who has an interest in barging (she painted the picture of Kanumbra here), and so we may also add painting workshops and barge cruises to the pots and pans workshop to make "La Maison de la Rose" a unique B&B experience in Moissac.