Tag Archives: super

First Renters @ Supergites

Le début des locataires .. finally .. Judgement day was there. The first renters have finished the first holiday in the very first Supergites. Now we’re left with so many questions. What did they do? How do they think about the mill? Where did they go shopping? Did they sleep well?

I’ve send the registered renter a small questionnaire to gather some information. He replied the same day with some minor comments we agree upon immediately. They LOVED the mill and made some great work. OMG .. we cannot explain how relieved we are. To thank us they’ve send us some small sketches of the mill and Tourteron 🙂

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‘Zimmer Frei’

“Zimmer Frei?”…not anymore! We’ve just reached our first milestone with the Water Mill of Tourteron: Both summer months, July and August, are almost fully booked! There’s only one week left available in July. We’re super happy to see the first reservations coming in so quickly. All people who’ll fill the mill with joy and happiness. We so much looking forward to hear their stories and that they’ll really feel at home.

If you’re still doubting .. make a choice @supergites: it’s now or 2011 🙂

Time to Relax at a Supergite

Time to Relax at a Supergite

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Sustainable Sleeping in CAPS

NEW YORK - JULY 08:  Drivers wait in traffic d...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

We drive a car –gross modo– 2 hours a day and sleep between 6 to 8 hours a day. Yet we are willing to spend five times as much on a car than on a bed. Do you get it? Maybe your car gives space to the whole family and brings you to far off places. Maybe a new car gives you status or is a subject of reliability (disregarding Toyota). Maybe a new car is less polluting when we’re all in traffic going to work. Or maybe you don’t care about a good sleep …

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Looking for summer?

Mr. Winter is about to leave. The sun is getting warmer. The first flowers are popping up from the cold soil. In Tourteron we’re looking forward to Spring and Summer 2010. It’ll be the first time you can enjoy the peace of the valley, the shades of the fruit trees, the smell of the flower garden, and the quality of the house.

To be sure those weeks off are yours, you should go to supergites.nl and make your booking.

Merci!

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The New Collection

We’ve started working on the court and the orchard. They are around the mill and there is grass there that needed to be maintained anyhow. It’s logical to start here and –mind you– a good garden needs at least three years of work. The first year is for shaping and planting the new collection. The second year is for (re)planting, growing and maintenance. And during the third year you’ll be (re)planting, growing, maintenance and enjoying.

So this is the year of The New Collection. We bought some plants in France, but they are way too expensive! We’d rather buy the plants in the Netherlands for example at Abbing (Zeist) … I just love to search around that huge nursery.

So far we have planted the following:A part of the New Collection

Achillea millefolium ‘Cloth of Gold’

Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant’

Anaphalis triplinervis

Anemopsis californica

Aquilegia chrysantha ‘Yellow Queen’

Armeria maritima

Aster ‘Monte Cassino’

Astilbe tangutica

Astilboides tabularisThe untamed garden

Astrantia major

Brunnera ‘Langtree’

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

Calamogrostis brachytricha

Campanula addenda ‘Blue Star’

Carex muskingumensis

Centaurea montana ‘Grandiflora’

Chaerophyllum roseum

Clematis montana ‘Rosebud’

Darmera peltata

Festuca glauca ‘Intense Blue’

Filipendulina rubra

Iris ensata ‘Diamant’

Iris japonica ‘Variegata’

Luzula nivea

Molinia transparentThe shape of the new borders

Pachysandra terminalis

Papaver orientale ‘Perry’s White’

Parthenocissus tricuspidata ‘Robusta’

Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’

Polygonatum vanitatum

Primula  ‘Gold Lace’

Primula vialii

Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Alba’

Rodgersia podophyllaPlanting

Rosa ‘Penny Lane’

Thalia dealbata

Thalictrum rochebrunianum

Trachelospermum jasminum

Trachystemon orientalis

Verbascum ‘Raspberry Ripple’

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At some point …

… you start to doubt. OK, we decided, let’s fly in a specialist. Someone who knows what to look for and how to assess the value of the property in all its aspects.

The wooden construction of the mill is ...

The wooden construction of the mill is ...

So we contacted a retired building inspector and asked him what he thought of the project.  He’s undeniably a decent man and a skilled negotiator. he said: “Marco, you’ve bought a beautiful barn, but I doubt whether you will be able to live in it.” And he smiled.

“OK, so the roof is not so good?” “No.”

“OK, the tiles are not so good?” “No, not really.”

“OK, then, and the wooden construction?” “Son, it needs some work.”

“Great! So it needs some work. Fine! How much?” “Over 200k euro’s worth,” he said quietly.

Silence. That we could calculate.

In the photo here you can see the outside tiles. In January 2010 you’ll not be able to see any of this. It’ll all be covered and hidden behind fresh, new white plastered walls.

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Just the beginning

When you think you have seen it all, it’s usually just the beginning. In the period while we were still working on the finance we got a call from Madame Picard. During the heavy rain of that night the stream didn’t hold the extra water and…you guessed it: flooded the Mill.

The clay residue of the flood

The clay residue of the flood

Now that was a big surprise. The mill apparently floods at least once every 5 years. At least! We were in shock! And so were all our friends 🙂

We claimed an extra cut on the price, but this time the French owners really said: “Pas possible!” So what to do next? We were this close to buying a mill with a high risk of flooding. We thought about it for a week or so – you know late night wine drinking, talking about risk, chances and dreams. And we decided to do it. “We’re Dutch,” we thought. “We”ll find a way to stop the water!”

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The next steps are always less easy.

So…you say YES, and then what? It’s almost like the first steps in learning to walk: we didn’t have a clue! What to do next, where to start, who to call. We did know that 1) it was the first house we’d ever bought, 2) it was in France, 3) it needed a lot of renovation, and 4) we didn’t speak a word of French besides bonjour and merci.

We were stitched to the floor when we heard that we’d bought the house. We said YES to the original amount and they said OK. C’est simple.

WOW.

Now it’s for real. We need financing, signatures, papers, insurance, mortgage, the whole thing. In our earlier search for property we met Mr. Creme. He was our agent at Commercy. The man is extremely pleasant to work with. He’s honest, open, and direct, plus he speaks fluent English. Even thought it was not his region (it’s about 4 hours’ drive away) he was willing to help us with the contract, checking the bank stuff, talking to the mayor et cetera, et cetera, et cetera and so on.

And we did need him because there were some ‘small’ issues; knowing this was a water mill we knew the chances were good there was a water issue. And there was, BIG TIME! the mill was flooded once in the past 30 years…at least that was the story told by the seller.

But days after our wedding, we found an approximately 4000-square-meter section of our land to be a lake. The sweet little stream in the middle of the valley happened to have a winter offspring running through our property, creating a sweet little lake right at the place where we planned to put the pool. This was not a good sign.

Winter Pool

Winter Pool

We knew that we had nettles, wild blackberries and other unwanted herbs in this part of the garden, but we had no idea it turned into wetlands during winter. And worse: nobody told us.

We really needed our French contact to help us get some money off the price we had agreed upon. This made everybody involved quite nervous. Even the mayor told us not to have friends asking around about the land and its wet history. We can tell you this much: In France one does not start a discussion about a price once there’s an agreement. 🙂

All of a sudden they found papers on dyke construction works, and promises by the government to raise our land as protection. Even the attorney said it would all be ok. Yeah right: bien! Sure, they held back serious information, and we wanted our money back! This is not going to be fine AT ALL unless we had some additional money to raise this part of the field so we could create that pool. Anyway…

Wouldn’t you fight for it?

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The first step to a Super Gite

On September 30, 2008, we received a call from our Dutch / French agent. He’d seen an old water mill that was about to go on the market, and he guessed correctly that we’d be eager to see it. He knew the real estate agent and said we could have the first look as bidders. Four hours later we drove up the small path and saw the mill for the first time.

The silence was deafening. The location at the bottom of a ridge was superb. The village was only 10 meters uphill. The view was absolutely spectacular!

We knew instantly that this was a Super Gîte to be!

The price was set at an affordable level, but it went up the same day. Luckily we had already expressed our sincere interest. After doing some calculations and drawings that evening, we called the next day to give it a GO.

Then the real story began…

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The Start of a Dream

Entrance

How  do dreams start, you wonder? Well, this one started at the ancient monastery of Belval Bois des Dames in the heart of the Lorraine. As we walked through the half-demolished house, all kind of visions passed through our minds. We were completely fascinated by the atmosphere of the ancient building and the peaceful green valley. Hidden in a dark forest surrounded by fields of cows owned by the only farmer of the valley–who also happened to be the mayor of Belval (population: 80).

Priory and Chapel The monastery used to be much bigger than the current barn (left), priory (center) and chapel (right). The priory is 16th century, the chapel dating a few centuries older. The whole complex was protected by large wall of which you can still see the foundations in the field around the buildings.

From the outside the house looks more or less undamaged. It still has its proud, religious stature. The symmetric facade of the priory carved in the yellow sand stone is magnificent. The chapel to the right had been in use until the late ’50s. The mayor even went there for ceremonies.

First floorThe inside is a different story. Everything was torn down, with rubbish and debris everywhere. Yet this is where the dream started! We were drawing a picture of these rooms in minimal design with just a few local wooden artifacts that matched the exterior. You don’t need much if the building has this feel: a simple Hästens bed, good light design, a rain-style shower, stone walls with limestone floors, a wooden cross or a statue of some saint. Perfect. The old abbey would live again for people who are looking for tranquility with quality.

And so it happened. The Super Gite concept was born.

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