Moulin de la Roche - entrance

In SAFER hands?

Only two weeks to go until we jump on that ferry and drive down to La Tourelle for the last time; two weeks before signing those magic papers and handing over the keys to our buyer and picking up the keys for our gorgeous mill. Or so we thought until yesterday.

Although the notaire had warned us that we wouldn’t get a confirmed date for the signing of the final contract, or Acte de vente, until the beginning of October, I’ve been itching to get everything sorted… book annual leave, book the ferry tickets, confirm the van hire, notify the friends who have offered to help, to see if they are still available…the list goes on. If you know me, you’ll know that I am a bit of a control freak. I like all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, or I stress like mad!

‘I think I’ll give the agent a call and see if he can tell us anything’, I told Colin over breakfast. Spookily, no more than 5 minutes later the phone rang. It was the agent for the mill. After the usual pleasantries he got round to the petit problème that had arisen. Gulp! Heart sinks to boots.

Apparently, it had come to light that the land which comes with the mill also includes a half share of the small slip road which runs from the road down to our front gate (offending bit of land shown above), the neighbouring house owning the other half. As this hadn’t been included in the presale contract, le compromise de vente, he was going to have to send us an addendum and revised plan cadastral, land registry map, to sign and return. Phew!

But wait! Because we’re talking about a rural property here, all sales have to be passed under the nose of SAFER, Société d’aménagement foncier et d’établissement rural.  This government agency has the right of first purchase on most rural property that comes onto the market in France. The mill and gardens had already gone through this TWO MONTH(!) process but as the slip road had not been included in the original documentation, the notaire would have to resubmit. We wouldn’t be able to complete until the end of November!

If we had to complete on La Tourelle mid October and then wait until the end of November to complete on the mill, it raised a whole host of problems. Where would we store all our stuff for a month? I didn’t have any more leave to take – how could I get more time off work to go back to France a second time?

Keep calm, Ella. Think!

I decided to call the agent dealing with the sale of La Tourelle. Maybe he could suggest something.

Now, these two agents are good friends and often work together, but what a difference between them! Gérard is a charming, laid-back Frenchman who is completely happy to go with the flow of the lumbering French bureaucratic machine. Chris on the other hand is an expat from Essex, who has lived and worked in France for years and never quite reconciled himself to the French attitude to business and customer service. Don’t get me wrong – I admire the French refusal to let work dominate their life, but sometimes it can be so FRUSTRATING! Especially when I’m on the receiving end!

Chris immediately put my mind at rest. Yes, SAFER had two months to make a decision and, yes, they usually took their full two month quota, but for a payment of 100€ we could access their ‘express’ service. Chris had already agreed with Gérard to split the cost between them and get things moving.

So why hadn’t Gérard told me about this ‘express’ service? (Gallic shrug) Qui sait? Who knows?

Suffice to say that Gérard emailed today to say that he’d seen the notaire and we were all set to sign on the 20th October.

Blood pressure levels gradually returning to normal.

3 thoughts on “In SAFER hands?

  1. MELewis says:

    Oh dear, sounds like you’ve experienced a few ‘pépins’ of your own! Hardly surprising and good to know there’s a workaround. In France, there always seems to be one of those – it’s what makes all those silly rules bearable!


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