Coup de cœur

A ‘coup de coeur’ is the French expression for falling in love with something. I suppose you could say that your heart is struck by it. Oddly, the expression is rarely used to talk about romance between people but rather for the feeling you get when strongly attracted to things: clothing, pets, music, property.

‘Un coup de coeur’ certainly describes how we felt when we first came to this area. As soon as I realized we could have a house with even a partial view of the lake and within walking distance to its shores, I was in love. There is something special about the light over Lac Léman, often called Lake Geneva.

We also fell in love with the type of light-filled wood-frame house we ended up building. We were inspired by a cottage we’d stayed in a few years earlier when vacationing in Ontario cottage country near Haliburton. And it turns out that a builder in our area here in France, near Annecy, specializes in such ‘maisons à ossature bois’. They are well-built and designed to be adapted to individual needs as you can easily configure the rooms.

When we began looking for a place to buy in this area ten years ago, we quickly discovered that anything already built was overpriced and rarely met our criteria. But if you found a lot, you could build a house to your own specs and it would actually cost you less.

Our builder directed us to this lot and as soon as we saw it, we knew it was for us.

Of course, the cost of building didn’t include all of the myriad extras you need to make it a home: kitchen, window treatments, closets, fireplace. Even paint is extra in France. I suppose they do it this way so that entreprising folk with a bent for DIY can save some money. Unfortunately we are not those people. Still, since we moved in back in 2012, we’ve managed to add all those things. Even landscaped the garden, with a built of help. Back then I started my very first blog to document our journey building a house. Here’s the link, if you’re interested:

Anyone who puts a house up for sale in France hopes that they will luck into a buyer who experiences a real ‘coup de coeur’ for the property. Because if they fall in love with the place, they’ll overlook certain things that less emotional buyers will try to use as negotiating points. Like: All those windows must cost a fortune to keep clean. Or: For that kind of budget, I’d expect to have fewer immediate neighbours. Or even:  It’s a slow market, can you shave 25% off the price?

We have made the decision to sell our house on our own, without going through a real estate agency. Here in France, there is no obligation to do so. For any sale of property, a notary (notaire) handles all of the legal and financial part of the transaction, so it’s not as if we’re sticking our necks out. The agents are experts on marketing, selling, pricing and negotiating. But generally there is only one agent, who handles the transaction on behalf of both buyer and seller, so how can they possibly negotiate in both parties’ interests? Also, the last time we sold our house, the agent didn’t bring a lot to the party; the buyers ended up approaching us directly and making an offer minus the 5% of the agent’s fees.

So far we’ve had a few people visit and seem quite excited about the house. But no offers yet. We’re hoping the spring will help. The garden is coming to life and soon we’ll be opening the pool.

And in the meantime, we’re starting to look at places on the Swiss side. Hoping for another coup de coeur.

Have you ever fallen in love with a place?


  1. francetaste · March 12, 2020

    We chose our home because of the trees that encircle the property. All the other places we saw were in lotissements, usually former vineyards, with no shade anywhere. We have a pleasant oasis in summer and the one spot without trees has the pool.
    We also are selling on our own. It’s listed with agents, but the only visits have been from direct contacts. We have an offer and my fingers are crossed they will sign soon.

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      An offer! Congrats! Hope it goes through, the whole process is certainly exhausting. Your place sounds lovely so should be no problem…

      • francetaste · March 12, 2020

        The problem would be if they decide the market is falling because of the coronavirus and they want to renegotiate the price.

  2. acflory · March 12, 2020

    Aaaah. Coup de coeur. I’ve never heard that phrase but it fits the land on which my house is built to perfection. I was actually in the real estate office, about to put in a bid for another block of land when I saw a brochure just lying on the counter. It was of a cottage with a bullnose verandah…very cute. I pointed to the photo and asked ‘where’s that?’. The agent said it was in Warrandyte, part of a double auction coming up soon. I asked to see the house…right now!

    Apologies for the shaggy dog story, but basically I didn’t fall in love with the cottage, but I did fall in love with the horse paddock next door that was also up for auction. Long story short, I bought, I built and I still love both the block and the area, leastways in autumn, winter and spring. 🙂

    Hope you find your heart’s desire across the lake. 🙂

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      No need to apologize, I loved hearing about how you found your dream place. I am a firm believer that there is always a ‘stumble upon’ moment in any new home search. It happened for us twice before so here’s hoping three times lucky!

      • acflory · March 12, 2020

        -grin- I’m sure there will be a third. In the meantime, stay safe.

  3. margaret21 · March 12, 2020

    Our house in France was certainly a coup de coeur. It was a village house, a former butcher’s shop, and had an ancient kitchen featuring such delights as an ancient boiler used for boiling up unmentionable parts of a pig to fashion into the terrines and jarrets de porc etc. that they canned themselves. But it had wonderful woodwork upstairs, a roof terrace overlooking the Pyrenees, and we probably paid more than we needed to. But when we came to sell, a prospective buyer from Paris came along. It was the first house he looked at, he suffered a coup de coeur and offered the asking price, unaware that the market was so depressed that he could have offered whatever derisory price he wanted. Lose some, win some. Good luck.

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      I certainly hope we will find a dream buyer like that. Basically with property there is the theoretical value, estimated on a whole bunch of criteria, and the real value — which is what somebody is willing to pay for it. Luck is absolutely part of it! Fingers crossed…

  4. pedmar10 · March 12, 2020

    Well my wife chose the house hehehe it is too big now 1000 sq meters of land and 255 sq meters of house. In the bourg about 400 meters from the center of town. But a small town of 7K folks the smallest I ever lived since birth! As I am in consulting now do not know how long further will be here but in the meantime enjoying it .Best of luck in your search and yes wooden houses are done here too but not my fancy. Cheers

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      That is huge! But it must be hard to think of a leaving the place that your wife chose and presumably loved. Glad you are able to enjoy it for however long. Wooden houses are not everyone’s cup of tea.

      • pedmar10 · March 12, 2020

        Exactly that is the big issue memories! Thanks

      • pedmar10 · March 12, 2020

        oh yes but great for our border collier labrador=borador !!! big spaces to run lol!

  5. Ally Bean · March 12, 2020

    Yes I’ve fallen in love with a property and we bought it. It was a small condo in an old apartment building a few blocks away from a beach on the Gulf of Mexico. ‘Twas a lovely place and we enjoyed it, but the time came to sell it so we did. Glad to have had the experience, glad to have moved on. I wish you well with your current situation. May you be blessed with buyer who loves your property and has cash with which to buy it.

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      Sometimes you just get a feeling about a place, eh? Location has a lot to do with it. Thanks for your wishes — fingers crossed!

  6. Becky Ross Michael · March 12, 2020

    So lovely, and I’m sure it’s difficult to leave behind. I fell in love with a cozy home in Michigan Upper Peninsula that had a view of the freighters going past on the St. Mary’s River that runs between the U.S. and Canada. I remember looking at that view for the last time, knowing I wouldn’t be back.

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      There is just something about a view involving water and the passage of boats that gets me, too. I hope you have found new horizons with inspiring views since leaving that one behind!

  7. phildange · March 12, 2020

    Well I wish you success, especially not so long to be achieved .
    I know what un coup de coeur for a house is . After one year in Paris when I came back to my childhood lost region I had one certitude ; “To live INSIDE a town, if this town is not Paris, one has to be dumb” (I was 23 and we know youth’ childish conclusions) . So I looked for a house in the forest, like those I had known so well before, thanks to the Hippies communauties time . And suddenly … at the end of a forest track, a wide circular clearing with an old house and two barns … It was a sunny afternoon of June, the people were not there, I stopped, slowly sat down on the grass below the edge trees and – I kid you not- I received a slow shower of glittering dust falling from nowhere upon my head and shoulders . I thought I was seeing it, even if later this seemed too much to be believed .
    Speaking about signs, this one was an out of space one ! After that, I didn’t try to discuss inside myself, I took the house and it has been the house of my life, for 36 years .

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      I love this story! I’m sure the glitter was real, even if it was an optical illusion of dust motes in the sunlight…it meant what it meant to you, and led you to make that place your home. I am envious in some ways about being in the same place for so long. It has not been given to me to do that, but I love the idea of home being a place that is somehow forever. Sadly, I have realized in my grand old age that the places I live in will outlive me, and even if I feel a certain pride in having been behind the creation of two houses, it is also a humbling thought.

  8. Liz · March 12, 2020

    Our cottage property!
    I remember getting out of the car and feeling like an electric current ran up my legs as soon as my feet touched the ground!
    To be honest, I wouldn’t buy a property if I didnt fall in love.
    I would say I fell in love with both houses I have lived in, obviously for different reasons, relating to where we were at in life at the time we bought.
    My advice is do not settle… wait until your heart falls in love! You will not regret it! Good luck! ❤

    • MELewis · March 12, 2020

      Wow, Liz, I never realized you had that feeling about your cottage. It is a lovely setting, and of course I know that it holds a special place in your heart after so many years, but I somehow missed the ‘coup de coeur’ story of how you felt when you first saw it. I agree with you: if I don’t love something on some level, I would have a hard time investing so much of my life in it. Otherwise, you can just rent… But I do hope we find that special place again. We’ve been lucky so far!

  9. Kiki · March 19, 2020

    Mel, I don’t even want to read the comments…. we have our house on the market for way over one year, everybody w/o exception loves it and nobody put an offer in! Can you believe it. It was our ultimate coup de coeur when we bought it, although it was massively too expensive and we had to put in another 250k€ for very much needed repairs and renovations; new roof incl some vital beams, new bathrooms, rain water collection installment, new heating, new everything, but also hunting for original missing pieces here and there as the house is a ‘meulière’ and has astonishing original features, except those that have been torn out and probably sold…. and and and.
    We had an offer which was so ridiculously low that we nearly fainted and lately a very, very interested couple, who came several times, also with both their parents – but they came over and over again just to tell us all the things they would have to ‘improve’ to get us to drop the price (again!)…. and when we told them that all those things CAN be done but are their problem if they think they need to have them, they pulled out two days ago.
    Corona is not going to help us – but we decided that we have had it and moved already back to our home country…. and we are glad we did.
    Good luck to you! And to us….

    PS: WP has decided to ‘unfollow’ me to your blog so I don’t know how many instalments I have missed since – I only ‘found’ you again because you made a comment on another blog I follow….. Quel horreur!

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