Two landscapers who have never managed to break into the UK property market have bought an entire French village for €14,000.
Paul Mappley, 47, and Yip Ward, 47, bought the historic hamlet of La Busliere, Normandy, in April 2021.
Appearing in the first episode of Help! We Bought a Village, the couple describe how they’ve never owned so much as a studio in the UK, but plan to create a holiday destination in France.
The village consists of six gîtes, two barns and an enclosure plus a two-storey workshop, a cider press and a communal bread oven.
Paul Mappley, 47 (right) and Yip Ward, 47 (left) were unable to access the UK property ladder. Landscape gardeners appeared on Help! We bought a village
The couple bought the historic hamlet of La Buslière, Normandy, in April 2021 for just 14,000 euros
The couple lived in a caravan in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, before Yip was offered the change to buy the end-of-terrace cottage by a friend in 2019 who had changed his mind about buying his own.
It was then that they realized the potential of La Bouslière and decided to buy the adjacent buildings.
When the price came in at €14,000, the duo couldn’t believe their chance to clinch the deal for less than a UK house deposit.
However, they still had a huge job to do, as there was no electricity and the tap closet housed a snake and a salamander.
Paul and Yip discovered an oak-framed barn with an old apple press, a working well and a stone bakery with a domed oven
Paul and Yip weren’t bothered because when they arrived at La Bouslière, they were living in a converted horse trailer and said anywhere felt like luxury after that.
“Something like this has so much history. It’s an amazing, amazing feeling, we’re very lucky,” said Paul.
When they discovered an oak-framed barn with an old apple press, a working well and a stone bakery with a domed oven, the couple said: “It’s the first day of the rest of our lives.”
The men plan to turn the village into chalets and add a glamping site.
The village consists of six gites, two barns and an enclosure plus a two-storey workshop, cider press and communal bread oven
Paul and Yip have a lot of work to do and said they will live “camping style” while “bringing their village back to life”.
Five buildings in the village were completely engulfed in thick vegetation, and after 45 minutes of clearing they found a stone barn, which Yip described as “Miss Havisham’s house”.
Getting to the other properties was so difficult that their hedge trimmer broke down.
The couple were shocked by what they found, they found three buildings and a water well, which they hope to use for toilet flushing.
The couple plan to turn their French hamlet of La Bouslière into chalets and add a glamping site
Paul joked: ‘I don’t think we’ve ever lived in an upstairs council flat’, as he knocked down ladders to access 70 square meters of attic space.
The most exciting discovery of the episode was the old hamlet bakery and Paul in particular was impressed with its story.
It would have been a common space for many families before the French Revolution and so the baker had to be available day and night.
Paul said: “I again love all the history that goes into it, you know, how many loaves of bread have been baked for the village over the years, it’s just amazing.”
They bought an end-to-end terraced house in 2019 before finalizing the purchase of the whole village in April 2021
It may be a long time before Paul and Yip can turn the hamlet into a business, but for now it’s a dream come true.
The program also interviewed Frederick Cousteau, 77, owner of a village 400 miles south of La Buslière.
Frederick was only 34 when he decided to bring the dilapidated 20th century village back to life.
He renovated the village and has since opened as an event venue.
British chef and wedding planner Anneli Faiers has also moved to France to the private village of Gascony – a restored medieval fort.
Anneli was well on her way to making the village a luxury event destination until Covid-19 hit.
British chef and wedding planner, Anneli Faiers has also moved to France to the private village of Gascony – a restored medieval fort
Francesca and Carl, a couple from Yorkshire, bought a holiday home years ago in the Italian Alps and are now planning to start a holiday village
Channel 4 follows its first big event since the pandemic and how it hopes to generate enough business to ensure the village can be sustained.
Anneli said: “I find running this place an incredible honor and so I take it really, really seriously obviously.
“And I’m also very attached to the owners who have invested so much of their lives in this place and are so emotionally attached to it.”
The show also followed a more conventional story set in the Italian Alps outside Turin, where Yorkshire couple Francesca and Carl bought a holiday home years ago for £55,000.
Now they are gradually buying the houses around them, planning to create a holiday village.
Next week’s episode will revisit Paul and Yip, Anneli, and Francesca and Carl on their journeys to successful holiday retreats in France.