26 July 2013 by Jessica Boston
Meet the Owners: Fisherman’s Cottage, Plestin-les-Greves, Brittany
Vic and Mags Bevan never strayed too far from their Welsh home choosing caravan holidays in Bridgend that were conveniently close to enable them to take their elderly parents along. When it was no longer possible for their parents to travel, Vic suggested they swap Bridgend for Brittany; it was to prove to be a life-changing decision!
Buying in Brittany
During a walk through the village they were accosted by a local man hanging out of his window shouting “A vendre! A vendre!” and despite not knowing a word of French, and being initially concerned that he might be shouting that his house was on fire, the couple were welcomed in for a cup of tea.
Just a few months later Vic and Mags were back, this time ready to make an offer and buy the longhouse from the enthusiastic salesman and make it their second home.
“Being retired, we had more time to do as we pleased” said Mags “and, while I’m a Welsh girl at heart and could never live here full time, we love splitting our time between Wales and Brittany.”
The convenience of Cotes d’Amor
It seems almost as though fate lent a hand in making it easy for the Bevans to find a place in France to fall in love with; property, friends and a new lifestyle all fell quickly into place, but there were good reasons behind their choosing of Cotes d’Amor.
“The area is easy to get to, only half an hour from Roscoff port, so it’s great for us popping back and forth. That was especially important because we wanted to be able to bring our dog with us too – our dog was the first to get a passport from our vets surgery and he certainly made good use of it!”
Finding the Fisherman’s Cottage
It was on a walk with their dog Gilbert that Vic and Mags came across the Fisherman’s Cottage they now rent out as holiday accommodation. “We were walking in St Michel, it’s a tiny village by the sea about 20 minutes from our French home with a gorgeous sandy beach, and we noticed this rather run down cottage was for sale. It was such a bargain we couldn’t pass it by!
There was a tenant already there so we just let them stay on and put the project on the back burner for a few years. Once the tenant moved out there was a lot of work to do to get the cottage ready for holiday makers but we’d always been able to see the potential.”
The couple got to work gutting the place and re-fitting it with modern electrics, heating, kitchen and bathroom but being careful to retain the character of the original building. “We got planning permission to open up the back to give it a wonderful sea view, it made such a difference to the house. We actually shipped a lot of the furniture over from Wales – the style fits so well with Brittany, after all we share that Gaelic history don’t we?”
Brittany beach life
The beachside position of the cottage is a real draw with a pathway from the back of the house that takes you down to the beach in just a couple of minutes’ walk. “There is a terrace at the cottage to sit out and enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine and admire the view, but there isn’t really a garden. Having the beach so close means you can use that as the garden instead!”
The Bevans really have thought of everything and there is a little beach hut on the sand that houses all manner of beach furniture, toys and games and even a disposable bbq for dining al fresco. “The beach hut is very useful for families and people who want to do windsurfing and so on. You can store all your equipment safely in the hut instead of having to carry it up and down”.
Home from home
It’s this kind of attention to detail that has seen Mags and Vic secure over 20 weeks of bookings each year since they began renting the property out in 2010. “We want it to be a home from home” says Mags. “We actually moved in for two weeks before we put it on to rent just to make sure there was everything there we’d want”.
There are linen and towels provided and beds are all made up ready for guests, the kitchen is fully equipped for a keen cook, there’s an electric ‘wood burner’ and electric blankets for chillier months and electric fans for hotter days. “We always ask guests to say if they think there is anything we’ve missed,” says Mags, but it’s surely a rare guest that could find fault.
Mags and Vic are on hand to complete every changeover making sure everything is just so for the new arrivals. An impressive hamper of basics like tea, coffee, sugar, washing up liquid and bread is provided with added treats including wine, beer and Mags’ delicious home-made Welsh Cakes. It’s no wonder that guests return time and again, some making 3-4 week bookings and spending whole summers at the property.
“The only problem we have is having to turn people away because we’re fully booked! Vic would probably like to get another property to rent out but I think we’d really rather just carry on making sure this property stays at the high standard we’ve set”.
Lots to discover in Brittany
The Bevans spend much of the summer in Brittany enjoying the relaxed pace of life and exploring the area with their rescue dog Guto. “We are still finding new places to explore and discover even after all these years. We like to be able to recommend things to our guests based on our own experiences so it’s fun to do lots of walks and day trips to find those hidden gems”.
Vic has put together an extensive guide of what to do in the area covering everything from beaches, restaurants, bars and markets, to a huge variety of sports on and off the water, and rambling walks that highlight the beautiful scenery of the region.
“This French chapter in our lives has been such a joy, I’ll always have Wales in my heart but I’m so pleased to have the chance to meet all these wonderful people, be involved in a new community and for it all to have been such a success.” says Mags “We couldn’t be happier!”
Vic and Mags’ top tips when visiting St Michel
- Explore the beaches It is really worth making a few excursions to enjoy the beautiful beaches here. The one behind the cottage is flat and sandy, ideal for families and windsurf enthusiasts, but there are so many hidden coves and beach front villages on this stretch of coastline you must go and explore! One of our favourite areas is known as Douvin; a wooded parkland with stunning views, coastal paths and convenient picnic areas. There is a gorgeous sandy beach and it’s usually very quiet, we often have the place all to ourselves!
- Take the train! La Vapeur du Trieux offers a great day out for all the family. Take a 40 minute steam train ride between Paimpol and Pontrieux stopping off for refreshments and traditional Breton music. There are some fabulous views from the train and you can even add a boat trip or horse-drawn carriage ride to complete your journey.
- Market day. Don’t miss out on the sights and smells of the wonderful local markets. There is one nearby almost every day of the week so take your pick! The Thursday market at Lannion and the Sunday morning one at Plestin-les-Greves are particular favourites.