The Square out the door
How we found the apartment
In January 2012, we made our second visit within a year to the town, L'Isle sur la Sorgue. We loved the location, as well as the people we had met. It is central for day trips in every direction, throughout Provence and beyond. The village has a life of its own beyond tourism, which means commerce, restaurants and a market twice a week year round.
Not seriously looking for property, although we had discussed and dismissed the idea many times, we met with several realtors and looked at some properties. Nothing struck us. We asked if there were any small apartments, with a terrace, a rarity we were advised. We quit having realtors show us property, after being told that finding an apartment with a terrace, in the old part of the village, was unlikely.
As there is no multiple listing service in France, one shops the listings posted in the window of each Immobilier's office and collects catalogues from the stand in front of each sales office.
We were content to look at the advertisements in the window of the city's many Immobiliers. We window shopped and daydreamed about the unlikely prospect of finding a suitable apartment, which we never thought we'd buy even if we did find one. But it was fun to look and speculate about the prospect, thumbing through the brochures over a glass of rosé.
On the way back from the boulangerie one morning with our breakfast, as I crossed the lively square in front of the building where we had been staying that week, I noticed for the first time a sign hanging from the window above our rental announcing 'A Vendre', for sale. We knew without going in the door that the unit had a terrace as it was just above the patio of the apartment we were renting.
So, knowing that one of our requirements was met, we called the realtor and he came with a key that afternoon. The apartment we had been looking for was one flight above us the entire time we were knocking about the city looking at the possibilities, and being discouraged that what we wanted to at least look at was rare.
The young man listing the apartment came by four times in five days to let us in; we took photos and measurements; had a contractor inspect and assure us that the state of things electrical and the plumbing were in order and that we could likely take out a wall without the building coming down in the process. We also met a banker and opened an account. On our last visit to the apartment, we discussed the price and told the realtor we would get back to him after we discussed it - again - and had made a decision.
We drove to Marseilles to head home. While sitting at the airport awaiting our flight, we again questioned the wisdom of buying a home in France. We called the realtor just before boarding and made the offer to purchase the one bedroom apartment, with a terrace, on the 2nd floor of the building in the heart of L'Isle sur la Sorgue, we call le Bijou.
Renovation Begins -May 2012
This is the central room during the process of renovating the property. The kitchen wall was opened to allow more natural light into the sejour, as seen from the photo. Granite counter tops, a dishwasher and all the utensils needed for making meals, simple or gourmet, were added.
A mixture of antiques, some of which we purchased from local brocantes, and comfortable furniture appoint the bright and colorful apartment.
Walls were moved to make for a cozy but comfortable bedroom which has a queen bed. The bath wascompletely renovated and has new fixtures, tile and floor.
The terrace is a great spot to take breakfast, relax at the end of a busy day, or stargaze over the village rooftops.
We have rented apartments throughout France, the US and other parts of the world, and have incorporated the best ideas from our experiences into this property.
Progress - June 2012
The contractors were hard at it here. This is a view of the kitchen and bathroom; and the now salon. The plumbing and electric were completely replaced.
By late summer, the apartment began to take shape.
In the fall of 2013, we added an awning to the terrace and had some accent painting done.