One of the great pleasures of exploring the real estate market in Arles is that you never know what you are going to come across. As the historic center is protected under the auspices of being a UNESCO World Heritage site, no new constructions are permitted and modifications on existing buildings are heavily regulated. Nearly every building, even the most heavily renovated, has at least some tell-tale traces of its past. The apartment that we are currently renting has Roman ruins in the cellar and while this is extraordinary, it is not unheard of in a town also known as "The Little Rome of the Gauls." There are even whispers of treasures discovered but kept hidden for fear of being taken by the government.
I had the pleasure of visiting a treasure hidden in plain sight this morning. I have always liked the building from the outside, its 18th century paned windows still intact, the venetian shutters less so, the hint of a rooftop terrace barely discernible from the street below. When I saw the "for sale" sign, I quickly told Remi, my companion, about it and an appointment was set. On paper, it was perfect with a large business on the ground floor that would make a wonderful gallery and a total of 300 square meters of space (3229 square feet) above. At 280, 000 Euros we knew that we couldn't afford it on our own, but if we sold a floor? Maybe.
Well, my curiosity had been well-founded. Truly, it is one of the most interesting properties that I have ever seen here (and having been to nearly 150, I consider myself something of an expert for the Arles market) from the arched cellar dating from the Middle Ages to the charming studio overlooking the rooftops of Arles. Nothing but that gorgeous stone from Fontvielle, simple lines and a hint of Bourgeois design, a rarity in this Provençal town. Despite having been closed up for ten years, the air circulates easily through the high-ceilinged rooms that turn around an inner courtyard. But my, oh my does it need work. Alas, too much for us, even with another buyer, but it is an incredible opportunity for someone patient, willing to invest, willing to do the work. An elegant lady sleeping, however it wasn't meant to be for me to her Prince Charming. We will keep looking for another house to bring back to life and I will watch and wait, hoping that this little jewel gleams once more.