If I said it was really warm in Belvès during our first week in the village, you’d probably think I was referring to the weather. But I’m not. I’m talking about the people.
The warmth of the welcome we received from the villagers really touched us.
Things got off to a good start when we arrived at the property. The lovely woman we had bought it from had done our marketing for us – with signs in the window about the building’s past… and its future.
Then we spotted Bill and Jill, who offer chambres d’hôtes in the village and had put us up for a night earlier this year when we were property hunting.
They invited us into their home for a drink and we filled them in on our plans. They knew two Brits had bought the place, they said – Stéphane, the owner of the restaurant opposite us, had told them.
We decided Stéphane should be the next person we would introduce ourselves to.
As we walked through the door of his restaurant, he came straight over, his hand outstretched. “Bienvenue à Belvès,” he said. “You are very welcome here.”
He went on to explain that his view is that the more a village has to offer, the more people will visit – which is good for all us commerçants. Plus, for him, our wine bar was a great complement to his restaurant.
Positivity like that was just what we wanted to hear.
“Your cheese-and-wine bar is just what the village needs. I wish you every success”
The gift shop next door was our next stop. Again, the owner couldn’t have been nicer – she gave us her contact details straight away, in case we needed anything.
With three introductions done, we headed back to our building to make a start on stripping wallpaper. Later, Stéphane lent us some tools to make the work easier.
On Wednesdays during the summer, the village hosts a gourmet night market. We were keen to see what it was like, so we took a makeshift shower, changed into fresh clothes and went and joined in the fun.
We took a table in the shade outside a restaurant on the central square. The owner came over.
“You’re the two men who have bought the haberdashery, aren’t you? Welcome. Your cheese-and-wine bar is just what the village needs. I wish you every success.”
Wow! Word had clearly got around about us.
When we mentioned this to the women who owns the property two doors down from us, she just smiled.
“Well, of course,” she said. “You’re the talk of the town.”
I guess we are. Oh well, as a new business, it’s better to be talked about than ignored!