Our appointment with the Notaire was for 10am in the morning so we arranged to carry out an ’inspection’ of the house the evening before. This is important as, when you sign the Acte de Vente you sign to say that you are accepting the property in the condition you find it on the day so it is important to verify that everything that you have agreed to purchase is still in place and that they haven’t removed kitchen units or ripped up floor tiles without your knowledge (although we would have been pleased in this case as they are so awful!). Monsieur & Madame G looked absolutely shattered when we turned up as they had spent the day supervising the removal of 30 years of possessions, which at their age is no mean feat. Monsieur G had such a bad back that he could hardly stand up straight but still insisted on showing us how to clean the swimming pool steps and how to work the garden watering system etc. We had a brief inspection of the house and had to try hard to express our pleasure at the furniture they had left for us - some hideous table lamps, a couple of very antique (and not in a good way!) beds, and some assorted tables & chairs for the garden.
The next morning we arrived at the Place de la Republique so early that we went for a coffee and then strolled towards the Notaire’s office. On the way I was startled to hear a cry of ’Madame Eeell’ and turned to see the excitable estate agent bounding towards us. He suggested we go for a coffee before our appointment and just as we were demurring he caught sight of Monsieur & Madame G and included them in the invitation. They also suggested that perhaps there was not time as our meeting was in 5 minutes so he pointed out that without all of us there would be no meeting and then dragged us off to a café! This was my first clue that Notaires are not quite as ’scary and official’ as I had first thought. I was also surprised to see that Monsieur G was wearing shorts, having earlier suggested to my husband that this was not an occasion to wear Jeans - you can imagine how delighted my husband was when we discovered that the Notaire himself was wearing Jeans!
The Notaire then read through all 27 pages of the Contract document, checked our passports, and then we came to the final part - the signature. The contract was opened on the page showing the property outlined on the ’Plan Cadastral’ (land registry) and then we all had to make sure our signatures started in the outlined section - presumably so that we all knew exactly what we were buying (and selling). And that was it - a shake of the hands and the house was ours.