Both Richard and I have always been seduced by the charms of France and after years of fantasizing about a life in France we finally took the plunge in the summer of 2003. We quit our jobs, sold our house in London, put all our belongings in storage, loaded up the car and set off for a new life in France, with little more than a dream of a more tranquil and relaxed lifestyle for us and our little girl, Lily, then aged 5.
After a false start in the south west of France, we quickly gravitated back to the Languedoc, where we had holidayed the summer before and where we knew we would be guaranteed the sunshine we were after. We soon found an unmodernised ‘Maison de Maitre’ in a pretty little village called Autignac, about 25km from Beziers and set about converting it into a chambres d’hôtes/ Bed & Breafast. Rather sooner than planned, I found myself pregnant with our second child, Jude, who was born in July the following year. What with renovating a property, navigating the education system and getting to grips with having a baby in France, we were quickly plunged into ‘real life’ here!
Very soon after we bought the house, Richard was offered an opportunity to work as a part-time agent under the umbrella of a local French real estate agency. In the main, his clients were foreign buyers, so we started to assist many of them with property renovations, and this meant were spending less and less time on the bed & breakfast business. Furthermore, having two young children made us reassess our priorities and we came to the conclusion that running a chambers d’hôtes at that point in our lives wasn’t for us, so we started to tentatively look around for a private family home.
Quite by chance around that time, Richard did a viewing of a house in the Aude, 45 minutes away from where we were based. He came home from the viewing smitten by this house, that seemed to ‘tick every box’ – and more – for us. His clients did not end up buying it, but we did! So, in 2008, we uprooted the kids and ourselves and settled into a new home and a new life in the village of St. Marcel sur Aude. It was serendipity. Our perfect house happened to be in a village near the Canal du Midi, where we had first started our search and our first choice of area to settle in when we arrived in 2003! After 5 years we were ‘back where we started ‘, so to speak.
We soon noticed a gap in the local property market in this area. There was not one English speaking agency dedicated exclusively to property in the area around the Canal du Midi and the vibrant city of Narbonne. We therefore started to concentrate on building a portfolio of character properties in this beautiful area, which with its great transport links and proximity to the coast is extremely attractive to foreign buyers. After 6 years in the business, we also had a good idea as to what the average foreign client was looking for, so we were able to target our search for the right type of properties.
At that point, we did not yet have the elusive ‘Carte Professionnelle’ – the brokerage licence required under French law to run an estate agency in France – so we continued to work in collaboration with the agency in the Herault. Not many English agents working in France actually hold this licence and we knew that it is notoriously difficult and complicated to obtain. However, in 2013, we felt that it was time for us to obtain this licence if we wanted to expand, and so began the long and convoluted process to obtain our Carte. At last, in March 2014, we were granted the licence and Pullen Real Estate was born.
Since then, it has been a rollercoaster ride setting up the agency and building up a business here in France, both exciting and daunting in equal measures but one where we are relishing every moment. We have gone from strength to strength as an agency and now boast a multilingual team and a burgeoning seasonal rentals arm.
Both passionate about real estate in general, we have bought, renovated, and sold our own properties in France . We therefore have a deep empathy and understanding of our clients’ needs, along with their hopes and fears when buying a property or looking to build a new life in France. We are excited to share our experience and hope that our enthusiasm for this beautiful part of France and the lifestyle it offers will rub off on you too!
See our testimonials: https://pullenfrance.com/testimonial