“It took months”: an expatriate shares the “major challenge” she faced during the renovation of a French gîte


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The properties of rural France are known for their iconic shutters, large vineyards and rustic stone walls. Many of them are used as second homes and vacation rentals for Brits seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of English towns for the lush French countryside. However, many old French gites take years to renovate and tinker with before they become the havens of peace they are today.

British expatriate Enasha de Zoysa, who will appear in the new series Allo! Hi ! Brits in France, revealed the challenges she faced while renovating a barn into two French gites that she owns today.

The 51-year-old single mother of 11-year-old Xavier has successfully renovated a barn and started her own business in beautiful Dordogne in southwest France.

Gîte Les Fontanelles in Sarlat-la-Canéda is the perfect place for city dwellers who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle and drink the fresh air, log fires, incredible views and stay in a stone barn. beautifully appointed.

The property has been renovated with “local materials” and techniques which have maintained the masonry that was already in place.

The whole renovation took Enasha more than 10 years, including five years herself after separating from her ex-partner in 2016.

The photo taken before the barn renovation was taken when Enasha first bought the property.

She told Express.co.uk: “It looked a bit like a prison!

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“We had to water the walls and I remember I was there with my ex-partner and he was standing on ladders watering those walls.

“We had concrete on the ground and we had to sweep up all the muddy water in the garden.

“After that you had to do something called ‘pointing’ which is where you need to fill in all around the stone.

“You can see the size of the building – it took months.”

Enasha explained that the technique involves mixing cement and then putting it between the interstices.

The cement can “slip” so they mixed it with dish soap to make it easier to apply.

It must then be allowed to dry before proceeding to the next step.

She continued, “Then we were there with a dustpan and a wire brush.

“There is an optimal time before the cement dries completely and you have to brush and scrub it.

“At one point we had about four volunteers to help us and we would spend weeks doing just that.

“But it makes the stone really pretty because the cement is made with sand mined in the area.”

Enasha said they also used French oak from local trees and area stones when needed.

She added: “Putting all the stone in place is also quite a difficult job. Everything is almost done by hand.

“In fact, it is more difficult to renovate an old house than to build a new one. “

The new Channel 5 series Allo! Hi ! Brits in France follows the lives of British expatriates who have decided to make France their new home.

One episode of the program will follow Enasha on her dating journey as a single mother in France – from the countryside to the streets of Paris.

Enasha said she hasn’t had a date for about 13 years, after spending her time renovating and looking after her son.

With the help of her friends, she creates a dating profile looking for a partner.

If you want to stay at Gîte Les Fontanelles, check out its website here.


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