Posted by: kathandroger | January 29, 2017

French Auctions and the Thaw.

The property opposite ours has been empty since the owner died over three years ago. It is not an attractive house, falling down in fact, and used to be part of the farm. It was full of old cars and general rubbish until most of it was removed over a year ago. Disposal of property is complicated in France. Usually the inheritance passes to the eldest son, if one exists, but if there are lots of debts involved then the inheritance can be refused and the property is then passed to the state. No sane statesman would want to live in such a dump, the son did not want to inherit, and so it was put on the market at auction. Why at auction I do not know, but that is the system. Accordingly, after inspection and assessment by various specialists and advertisements in the local press, a viewing day was held a couple of weeks ago. The starting price for the property, which includes the large barn facing us, and some land, was very low, and a few people turned up to view. We have a strong interest in that we would like to buy the barn for use by our clients for parking, and we do not want the property used to store old bits of car again. Luckily we met another potential buyer, who wanted to rebuild the property to live in. He is young and able, and is willing to take on a falling down ramshackle group of buildings which we really don’t have the time or inclination to tackle. So we agreed to attend the auction with him, but not bid in order to keep the price down on the understanding that we could purchase the barn from him if all went to plan and the price stayed low. French auctions in this region are bizarre! A cheque for a proportion of the starting price must be deposited at the Auction house in Poitiers before one is allowed to bid, and then each bidder is given a numbered sign to raise when the auction starts. To begin proceedings a big candle is lit. Then a smaller candle, which goes out after about a minute. Bidding starts and continues until the smaller candle is finished, and then another is lit, and bidding continues until no more bidding is made, and then one final small candle is lit, and if silence continues, the last bidder has the property. Although there were three of us in the auction, our new friend was the only bidder, and he obtained the property for a thousand euros more than the starting price-the lowest possible sum. The only complication is that there rests ten days, during which anybody can bid, and if they offer more than ten per cent of the final price the whole process has to start again! We are keeping our fingers crossed.

After several weeks of freezing weather the thaw has started. The rats, after we had bought new traps and baited lots of pipes with poison, have seemed to have gone elsewhere, and the chickens are looking less scared. Their water was frozen solid, and I removed the ice and made a hat for my statue in the courtyard.

It has now all melted and we hope that Spring is on its way!



  1. There is a touch of Easter Island about that statue….

    • Tim, have you seen the replica Easter Island statue in Lesigny? It used to belong to Ethni Cite here, but we had nowhere to put it. I did think about buying it and putting on our hill at the back but then I thought it would attract too many visitors!

      • I haven’t seen one at Lésigny, but there is one made into a climbing wall in the park at Chambray-les-Tours.

      • No, I haven’t …. didn’t even know of its existance!!

  2. Good luck. Hope it all goes through in the way you’d like it to.

  3. Fingers crossed until the 6th Feb!

  4. Fascinating overview of the auction process. I’ve been to car auctions at Retromobile, but never a property auction. I know they work somewhat differently to in the UK or Australia, but never having been a bidder, have not really taken the information in properly.

  5. Historically there were many allegations of graft concerning the disposal of assets by the state. In order to eliminate (or diminish the possibility of) corruption all property and assets disposed of by the state had to be auctoned and to deem the auction as fair (as opposed to in the hands of he who wields the hammer) the “candle ethod” was introduced. Any way this complex procedure really appealed to “les fonctionnaires”.

    • Thanks, Paul, nothing like local knowledge!

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