Our hopes of opening a cheese and wine business in the pretty Dordogne village of Issigeac fell through this week. Someone else signed a compromis de vente on the property we liked before we could.
Obviously, we’re disappointed.
We first stumbled across the place when we were in the area back in April. We weren’t actively looking for premises, but we happened to see that the old Café de France was up for sale.
Situated on the Grand’ Rue, it looked ideal. Plus, we know the medieval village well – and we’ve actually eaten in the Café de France before.
We called the estate agent and arranged a viewing.
Inside – once we chose to overlook the hideous mural – we could see that the huge bar area would be perfect to serve wines and have a cheese counter. To its left, a separate room would work well to host meetings, exhibitions and foodie weekend breaks.
Upstairs, there were three double bedrooms. Each came with an en-suite shower room – though, sadly, someone had recently refurbished them in the worst possible taste.
We’d have needed to retile the rooms, rip out the plastic shower cubicles and install new washbasins at the very least. Annoying but manageable.
On the other side of the building was a separate set of stairs up to the owner’s apartment. With a bit of tidying up, it would have served us well.
At the back was a large, sunny – if somewhat unloved – courtyard garden.
We returned a few weeks later with a builder we know in the area. He gave us a ballpark quote for the work needed.
So that left us with two areas of concern – both of which we figured the mairie could help us with.
The mayor himself met us and tackled the first: a lack of seating area in front of the building. He duly measured up and let us know how big a terrace we could have.
The second was an alcohol licence. You can only have one bar licence – known as a licence 4 – per 400 people. Issigeac has 800 inhabitants, hence it can have two licences.
The Café de France had previously had a bar licence, but its former tenants had taken the licence with them… to the bar they bought in the village’s central square. That bar already had a licence 4.
That means they hold both bar licences that the village is allowed. Clever of them, huh?
We could buy a licence from another village of 400 people with no bar, at a cost of 22,500€. We didn’t think we had much choice, so we simply factored it into our set-up costs.
“We’ve been consoling ourselves this week on a trip back to the south west to view alternative properties”
But the emotional rollercoaster we’ve been on for the past seven months is now over. Our UK house sale is taking longer than we hoped and someone else has nipped in before us and signed on the dotted line.
However, we’ve been consoling ourselves this week on a trip back to the south west to view alternative properties. More about that soon – but let’s just say, the dream is still alive.