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Articles about BletiereBuying a Carp Lake in France (Part 1)
Jan 2011 by John London
Selling up in the UK, moving to France and running a commercial carp lake is the dream of many UK carp anglers. But it can be a challenging and frustrating task just to find the right lake. This series of three articles aims to give you a list of Do's & Don'ts that could save you lots of time and money.
We moved to France three years ago now and found our small piece of heaven here at Bletiere, a traditional French farmhouse on the banks of a carp lake deep in the French countryside. We now run a successful commercial carp venue with Angling Lines... but how did we get here?
When we have guests fishing here, other than the obvious questions about tactics, the question asked most often is how we started on the road to our dream. I have long wanted to put pen to paper to help others who want to follow us over here and so this is it! The following tips are based on my experience and I suspect others may have had different experiences, but this is how it happened for us.
Just remember this is a new life and a new country, so things will be stressful and you'll feel at times like nothing is happening. But believe me when you move into your new home you'll know it was all worthwhile.
Where do you start?
Well the first thing to do is to holiday over here and visit the areas you think you would like to live. Don't even think about buying a lake... just enjoy the trip and look at the lifestyle, what's in the area to see if it is for you.
Location, location, location!
Our advice on location is to decide how far you believe carp anglers will travel for a week's carp fishing... and then do not compromise on that decision! Travel is expensive and not everyone wants to drive for hours to get to a venue. It's a fine line but one you have to decide on. We took the view that we personally would not drive for more than 4 hours - so we drew a line 4 hours driving from the ferry ports and then started the search in those areas. The Internet is a great tool at this stage. You can find properties and research the surrounding area... all without leaving your desk!
Choosing the property...
Once you have spent quality time looking and have decided on an area then the really hard part begins. This is where you have to keep a level head and not let properties steal your heart! You will see and fall for a lot of places, but hang out until you find one that ticks all your boxes.
Three key decisions you must make...
1. Size of lake
Are you going to go big and buy a 10 acre lake with room to put 8 carp anglers on... or, like ourselves, go for a smaller lake and concentrate on offering the lake exclusive to a group of carp anglers for less money? Also remember that the bigger the lake the more carp you will need to stock it... and carp are very expensive!
2. Family venue or Drive & Survive anglers?
You have to decide if you are aiming for drive and survive where anglers bivvy up at the side of the lake and cook for themselves, or like us, offer a family venue where partners would be happy to come and stay in quality accommodation whilst their partners enjoy good fishing. This decision is critical as it will have a big influence on the type of venue you buy. It goes without saying that if you're going to provide accommodation you need the buildings on-site to be able to offer it. Planning permission for a new building is notoriously difficult to obtain in France so my advice would be to make sure the building is already there... and preferably in use.
3. Look at the surrounding area - will you be happy living there?
When you go to look at places don't just drive to the property and then drive back. Allow yourselves time to look around the area to ensure it's got what your guests will need, like shops and things to do for family members if you go for a family venue. But more important will you be happy living there? I suspect like us you will visit a lot of lakes and drive many miles and spend a lot of money going back and forth... but believe me it's worth it.
Don't forget this is going to be your new life and you have to be certain you will be happy there and that it's got (or the potential to have) everything you want to be able to offer the fishing holidays you want for your customers.
When you finally find that small part of France that makes you go "Wow!" as you drive down the lane (as we did) then next part of your adventure starts... buying the property and getting the permissions to start your business... and that's what I'll cover in the next article.
Read part 2 here