...but not quite. Still, hmmm. My eyes had nearly popped out of my head when I saw the ad for a house near the Arena (those of you that have been paying attention might remember that is the choicest neighborhood in Arles) with a garage, a cellar and a whopping 126 square meters of surface for only 138,000€. Pardon? I was on it. We came close to hounding Monsieur Meyson, the realtor, to be the first to see such an opportunity--one that was so below the price list of Arles that already Remi and I knew we would have to pounce or it might be too good to be true.
When Mr. Meyson gave me the address before our visit, I headed out the door immediately to check it out. Holy cow, the house is indeed huge!
And it seemed as though there were two garages on the ground floor, say what? Private parking is something of an extreme luxury here in the center of Arles, a town where unfortunately many a fine car left in public parking has been scraped with a key by jealous passer-by. When we did meet, it was with trepidation and a little thrill that we waited as the large door on the right was opened...
Interesting. Not a second garage but an arched space--could it become an artist's atelier? An area to paint? If we replaced the garage style door with polished glass and steel?--with an open drop leading to the cave or cellar below, which had a nice voute but was not really large enough to convert into say, a home theatre as some folks do here in other homes.
To the right was the garage with the possibility to break the simple partition separating the two rooms.
Talk about patina! But yet these beams were quite solid.
Ah, the first glimpse of the winding stone staircase. The small stones on the opposite wall are called pierre froide and have traditionally been used in walls that are less important than receiving areas.
The first floor is one large room, meant to be kitchen, dining and living. As pitiful as the kitchen area might appear, I can assure you that it is far grander than the space where we cook up our little miracles in our current apartment.
Yes, there is a crazy sort of 1950s gold and light blue cement tiling on the floor but that could be easily covered with parquet...
...which would complement nicely the absolutely gorgeous wooden beams...to be painted a bone white perhaps?
A closed off arch is a reminder of a time when this house was part of a far grander residence.
Can one buy a house simply for a staircase? We were smitten. By the staircase. What is called an escalier à vis, something akin to a corkscrew staircase. Although the rest of the house seems to date to the 18th century, such stairs were in place long before...
Charming details of the past leading into a positively huge bedroom...
...with are you ready for it? Because I honestly don't think that you would believe me if there weren't photos to prove it--a bathroom entirely covered in a thick wine-colored velvet. Which I loved.
Are you sure we can't buy a house for a staircase?
Up to the grenier or attic--a wide open space just begging to be carved into a terrace and living area...
Yep, that is a toilet and a sink for no reason in the middle of the grenier but that means that there is already water coming up and water going back down! So easy to make renovations with that already in place.
Ooh but the roof. Well, if the plans are to take away half of it anyway...
...and this is the electricity. Oops.
And yet it remained a great deal. Remi and I knew that we could do all of the cosmetic work ourselves just not the electricity and the roofing. Underneath the horrible yellow wallpaper gorgeous blocks of cream stone were waiting to be revealed as we had seen in the grenier. The house was sain or healthy but something was missing. It didn't call to us. And to invest so much of our time, energy and money into it just didn't make sense in that case. But it will find it's new owner in a New York minute of that I can assure you. Let's just hope that they appreciated its potential as much as we did!