This week we signed the papers for our new business property and got the official approval for a bar licence. Our dream of opening a cheese-and-wine bar in south-west France is becoming a reality.
The property we’re buying is in the heart of Belvès, which is officially recognised as one of France’s most beautiful villages.
This part of Dordogne – the Périgord Noir – is stunning, with its rolling hills and yellow-stone châteaux. It also contains more than its share of the département’s attractions.
Among them is Belvès, a medieval village that sits atop a hill, beneath which runs a network of troglodyte caves. For us, it was a real coup de cœur.
Our property – it seems funny to say that – is on the pedestrianised high street. Currently, it operates as a haberdashery for a couple of hours a day.
We made an offer in February, but with a couple of caveats. The first is about converting the shop window into bifold doors.
The second – and more fundamental – was that we needed an alcohol licence. After all, who’s ever heard of a cheese-and-water bar? It’ll never catch on (and rightly so).
You can only have one bar licence, known as a licence IV, per 400 people. Belvès has 1,400 inhabitants, hence it can have four licences.
Well, four-and-a-half, I suppose.
All of them were taken, or so we thought. Then we got a message from the mairie that a licence had become available – a hotel in the village had closed.
The hotel is now reopening under new ownership but they don’t want the licence. So it was ours for the taking.
“Now, finally, I believe our dream is actually going to come true”
We’ve had to jump through some hoops to get it, including being invited to appear before a juge commissaire at the tribunal de commerce in Bergerac. However, yesterday afternoon we found out the licence is ours.
Now, finally, I believe our dream – all that we have been working for these past few years – is actually going to come true. There are still many challenges ahead before we open this time next year, but I now know it’s going to happen.
Appropriately enough for two future bar owners, we toasted the news last night. Please raise a glass with us.