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  • Writer's picturePaula Dalton-Kirby

Renovating a french farm house and starting a gite retreat - Blog

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Bonjour, Welcome and hello from Finders Keepers FRANCE.

Well, where do I start. I have never had a blog before so please bear with me and be gentle.

My Partner Darren and I purchased our beautiful home in Marcadis, Moncrabeau, South of France July 2016 with the intention of making it into a fabulous retreat where people can come and join us to experience what we love. We have always had very big dreams with many many hobbies entwined in them. Trying to experience our dreams and also being able to participate in all of our hobbies always proved impossible when working full time in the UK. We were both in the Royal Navy so as you can imagine down time was always difficult plus trying to continue our hobbies when we were moved around so much was always an impossibility.

Darren left the Royal Navy approx 9 years ago and we then decided to purchased a beautiful regency flat in Cheltenham, UK which we opened up as a holiday Let. I have remained in the Royal Navy whilst Darren ran the holiday let whilst he also worked as the Activities Co-Coordinator at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. We were not expecting to be so busy with bookings which in turn resulted in Darren leaving his job to be able to meet and greet all of our guests plus manage the property. This is what gave us the push to do more with our dreams and actually follow them............

This is what brought us to France. After years of travelling around France and also falling in love with the country, people, food and wine of course, we decided to take the step and relocate here bringing our business with us. So in 2016 we found our current home and after 3 visits put in the offer which was agreed and became ours July 2016.

I am going to remain in the Royal Navy for the next 7 years whilst Darren builds up our business. My blog is to share our ideas and also our failings. We have arrived in France sooner than we thought with no French Language skills - one of our major failings.

We have named our retreat Finders Keepers FRANCE. It is open to Adults who want to experience Nature and enjoy our hobbies. Over the next 7 years we will be building/developing:

A Gite (Marcadis Gite)

A ECO-nature camping site with 3 TiPees, 2 Yurts, Compost toilets, Solar showers, Hides, and spotters areas

A Forge Gite which will be very rustic and contain Forge equipment

Converting our hanger barn into a Bar, Reading Room, dining area and social room

Develop our 3 acre fishing lake into a wildlife retreat encouraging wildlife to come visit. Re stock the lake.

Develop our 13 acre grounds into a Zen garden for meditation, woodland walks, camping, meadow gardens, vegetable garden, chickens.

Painters craft shack - built in the meadow garden

Swimming pool

Renovation of our farm house

Build Tennis courts, outdoor gymnasium, Petanque, table tennis

Renovate our log cabin into a spotters cave where people can go to watch the wildlife when they come to visit the lake to drink.

Become Fluent in French

As you can see we have lots planned in no particular order. We have managed to cover a few on our list so I will be updating my blog on how we achieved these and also photos as we go along. I will also add other issues we have experienced whilst here and how we have overcome them - such as registering our Lithuanian US Jeep (this is another story and is still ongoing with no end in sight :(), also getting married (27th May 2017) in France.

We have opened our doors to Marcadis Gite in June so this is a great achievement. Fingers crossed our guests love it as much as we do.

Thank you for taking time out to read my blog. I am hoping it will be an enjoyable read as I get into it, plus help people who may be making the same step we are, and also inspire people to make a move they may have been putting off.

Yes this past year has been stressful and emotional however when I look at what we have and where we are going I wouldn't change it for the world. In less than a year we have both found out things about ourselves that we never knew plus we are finding new skills and even more dreams and hobbies along the way. Follow your dreams otherwise they will always remain a dream and will never come true.

Carpe Diem


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