Introducing Provence Property hunter, Lissie Templeton
Lissie spent her childhood holidays on the beaches of Brittany and Normandy and her love of France most certainly stems from those memories. Having trained as a violinist at a Conservatoire in London she later found herself back in France, specialising in fine wine from Burgundy and the Champagne region, creating bespoke wine collections for a select group of clients.
Moving permanently down to Provence in 1999, Lissie enjoyed expanding her wine knowledge to encompass the Rhone Valley and the Languedoc. Enjoying her long held dream of living permanently in France, Lissie threw herself into Provençal life and immediately became an active member of the community in and around Arles and the Alpilles.
So, as a natural progression from selecting fine wines for discerning clients, Lissie now scours the area to find properties that not only suit her clients’ needs, but that often surpass their expectations.
Provence has given Lissie the unique opportunity to create a lifestyle that combines her belief and experience in delivering a discreet, bespoke buying service to clients to those searching for a home in the region with her passion for, and interests in, architecture, interiors, fine food, wine and the stimulating, cultural activities of the Alpilles.
We had a chat with Lissie to understand her love of this stunning area of France….
What is your first memory of living in France?
It must be the first evening we became owners of our 17th Century home, in late November almost 20 years ago. On the day of completion, France was pretty much at a standstill due to inclement snowy weather. The latter part of our journey down from the UK was hazardous and by the time we had signed the Acte Authentique, the vendor was snowbound and could not return to Brussels. We shared our first evening with her, hosting as the new owners: no electricity but the champagne chilled outside as we huddled around a most welcoming fire and the entire house was lit with candles. It was truly magical. Truly romantic, yet somewhat surreal… reminiscent of scenes from Le Grand Meaulnes.
What events take place in your area that you enjoy the most?
Arles is enjoying something of a renaissance with the exciting LUMA foundation project – the cultural events are varied, stimulating and warmly supported. And, of course, the gentle pace of everyday life and the daily markets…la vie quotidienne (daily life).
What is your favourite French tipple? (drink)
It has to be wine from Burgundy…the older, the better.
How do you spend time relaxing after a busy day out and about with clients?
The absolute best must be when my clients want to linger a while in the main village square, enjoying a glass of wine or pastis with me as we discuss their impressions of the day. Then, going home and quietly reflecting on the nuances of the day, listening to music as I prepare supper and enjoy the cool of the evening.
What has been the most expensive property you have ever sold?
Discretion is the better part of valour.
What has been the cheapest?
Discretion is still the better part of valour.
What part of the house buying process do you think overseas buyers find the most frustrating?
I think it is difficult when my overseas clients do not speak the language: the dynamics can be challenging when clients who, in their native tongue and in their daily lives, exercise control over important transactions find that they must relinquish some of that due to a lack of proficiency in French. The process from an offer being accepted to then proceeding to the purchase of a property is different in each country, so it is fundamental that my clients feel that they can rely on me totally and absolutely, but that they also feel that the locus of control remains, for the foremost, with them throughout the process, even if there is a language barrier.
In the UK it can take up to 6 months to buy a house and finally move in, what is the average time it can take in France to buy a property?
Each case is different – it can be more, it can be less. The average is around 4 months, but issues such as mortgages and tax implications can extend the time taken between acceptance of an offer and the final piece of furniture being put in place, the glasses unwrapped…and the champagne opened!
Why have you chosen to live in this region of France?
I think it was destiny. But I do really appreciate the landscape, the sense of history, the varied cultural activities on offer, as well as the Provençal pace of life and, of course, the sunshine. On a more practical level the excellent access to major airports and TGV stations, as well as the autoroutes – Barcelona is 4 hours drive to the West, Italy is around 3.5 hours to the East, and Geneva can be reached in 4 hours or so by car. Sounds like the perfect location to me!
Do you see yourself ever moving from this area in France, if yes where/why?
Absolutely not. Assuming paradise exists in the afterlife, I can save on moving costs!
Tell us your favourite French dish?
In winter – a robustly flavoured daube du boeuf served with celeriac puree, accompanied by an excellent Chateauneuf du Pape.
In summer – figs, still warm from the sun, grabbed from the tree in the garden with crumbled fresh, locally produced goats’ cheese on top… and perhaps a drizzle of locally produced fragrant honey. Why not?! My mouth is watering!
The British have a very romantic view of living a life in France, mainly around the amazing food, wine, beautiful countryside slower pace of life with very little traffic…do you share this view?
Of course, because it is absolutely that…and more. But owning a home here has the same commitment that owning a home anywhere else demands.
Or is there anything else British buyers should be excited about?
I think integrating fully with the local community, respecting their traditions and sharing in their “joie de vivre” is the most rewarding experience one can have when owning a home here. Just belonging, really.
Also, enjoying the different rhythm and local produce of all four seasons.
Do you find most overseas buyers are looking for permanent home or for holiday home?
It depends on so many other issues. At the moment it would be half and half.
If the latter what are the key things they are seeking in their holiday home?
Again, each case is different and is dependent on so many factors. But the concept of a “lock it and leave” property certainly appeals to clients who will do just that. The old stone properties seem to inspire a more emotional engagement, perhaps more of a sense of guardianship that has endured over the centuries.
What do you find is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
The human aspect – engaging with my clients, the vendors, our partnership agents. There is always something new to discover and I adore the challenge of finding the perfect home for each of my clients. Then, seeing them out and about once they have settled in, knowing that they are enjoying integrating into the Provençal way of life and discovering the immense charm of the region.
Describe for me what you can see from your window?
I have planted some jasmine, so I look at it every morning as it begins to stretch along the wall and I am impatient for the heady scent to reach the kitchen window next spring. Wonderful!
We are all bored of the word Brexit, however do you see buyers just getting on with living their lives and buying property regardless of what is finally negotiated with the UK?
I think generally we all just want to get on with our lives and once the decision has been made to purchase a home in France the whole notion of “wait and see” becomes very much secondary. There have been compromises made by some, of course, due to the devaluation of sterling, but the positives to be found in the adventure of buying a home abroad, settling down and integrating in one’s chosen area so very much outweigh the current uncertainty.
Share with us any property buying tips which you think overseas buyers will benefit from.
Make sure you get to know the area well so that the inherent local qualities correspond to how you envisage you wish to enjoy your home.
Why do you think your area is popular place for property buyers?
The market is stable in the Alpilles – of course, some years are more prolific than others for sales and enquiries – but the easy access to international airports, train stations, autoroutes etc means that it is easy to get to by air, rail and road. Provence has maintained its traditional values and way of life, whilst gradually evolving to cater for international needs and demands. There are numerous cultural centres and activities on offer, as well as a variety of outdoor pursuits and there is a vibrancy within the community that endures all year round. Plus village life is joyful.
Have prices moved in the past year? Is yes, please explain
Arles is buoyant and attracting a lot of interest from clients who are looking for both principal and secondary residences as it is (as I have previously said) enjoying something of a renaissance, due to the soon to be completed Frank Gehry tower and the exciting reach of the LUMA project.
The Alpilles villages continue to enjoy a stable and established market with a healthy ratio between supply and demand.
Is there anything you would recommend clients do before purchasing a property?
Take advice from an international tax specialist so that you structure the purchase in the most advantageous way to your financial needs and long-term goals. Secondly, get to know the area, so you can take full advantage of the diversity that Provence offers.
Thank you for your time Lissie. This has been a joy!
So many useful tips and you have really painted a picture of how beautiful this area is in France.
I think that is one to add to the list to view!