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The Region

A dream come true

Reader, Aug 20

Another Languedoc Life story is from Languedoc Living reader, Rob Budden, who now runs a B&B in Mèze.

One sunny afternoon in April, Rob Budden, a journalist living in London who had been coming to Mèze for almost 40 years, was strolling through the beautiful seaside town to meet a couple of friends for coffee in its main tree-lined square. On the way there, in what had now become one of his local habits, he looked up at his favourite house, just a stone's throw from the main square and a leisurely stroll from the beach.

It looked reassuringly the same: its rows of shuttered windows still overlooked the town's castle and gardens. But this time something was different. Hanging over one of the balconies was a discrete hand-written sign with the words "à vendre" and a telephone number underneath.

His favourite house in the south of France, quite possibly the world, was up for sale. With a beating heart, he quickened his pace to greet his friends. "You'll never guess what," he said.

Within a few minutes he was on the phone to the owner and the next day he had a viewing. He felt a bit of a fraud as he didn't know the price and was convinced he couldn't afford it.

The house was spacious and airy and - although many of them were concealed - he could see that a lot of its original features such as wooden beams and panelled doors had been well preserved. Within three months, for once letting his heart rule his head, he had bought the property. And within six, he had packed up the last of his belongings in London to move down to Mèze.

He had worked on one much smaller renovation in Mèze several years before so called up the same team. Alain, the local builder whose father had worked on his parent's tiny seaside house almost 40 years before, oversaw the project. And with a local plumber, electrician and carpenter who lived round the corner, they set on what was to be seven months of renovations: reinforcing the floors, laying new parquet flooring, installing an old antique fireplace, exposing the beams, repairing the French windows and putting in new electrics and plumbing.

Rob says he couldn't be happier. The local café on the port, where he can often be seen sipping an espresso and filing articles for English newspapers and magazines, is now his office. Otherwise he may be welcoming guests at his property - Mèze Maison - which is now a luxury B&B.

And the toughest thing of this massive change in lifestyle? It's saying goodbye to his guests, says Rob.

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