How to choose the right holiday property for you

Mike and Olivia Chesham talk about how they found their delightful villa in Sauvian. | Palm Villa - SAUV103

Mike and Olivia had always wanted to own a house in the south of France but weren’t quite sure where. They spent several holidays narrowing the choices down before finally choosing their place in the sun. Their first holiday took them to St Tropez which they loved, but they found it too busy and too pricey; a second holiday near Marseille convinced them that, even though the Camargue was a magical area, they wouldn’t want to be too near the city of Marseille. Their third holiday was to Agde which they found was less busy than St Tropez and property prices in the Languedoc are a lot more affordable than on the Cote d’Azur. What’s more, they discovered that the beaches in the Languedoc were both bigger and quieter than those on the Riviera. The huge stretches of golden sand that are typical of the beaches in this area were a huge incentive to buy along this coast.

So now they had decided on the area, where precisely to buy? It had to be a “real” village with people living there all year round, not a resort right by the sea which closed down in the winter. After a bit of searching, they came upon their villa in Sauvian. The village suited them as it has all essential shops and services, is only 10 minutes from the glorious Mediterranean beaches, and close enough to the A9 Languedocienne autoroute that trips to Carcassonne or Montpellier can take less than an hour.


Originally, Mike and Olivia hadn’t wanted a swimming pool but their three sons soon put them right on this notion; with hindsight they are glad they went for a pool as it’s a very welcome addition to the house during the hot summers and it makes the property much more attractive to potential clients. The villa they finally chose was more modern than they had expected to buy but required little work to bring it up to their requirements. Important issues for Mike and Olivia were privacy and security; privacy whilst they are at the house, and security when they aren’t. 

Work done to Palm Villa, which they redecorated themselves throughout, included using a French contractor to install new air conditioning and bathroom,  whilst the pool filtration system and TV satellite dish were done by an English contractor. They now have good local contacts which gives them peace of mind should there be any issues. Overall, they were pleased with the quality of work done and even though they managed most of the work from the UK, it all went fairly smoothly.

During the rental season, cleaning and changeovers are handled by South France Holiday Villas’ management team, which gives Mike and Olivia peace of mind.


They intend to spend more time at the villa in the future as Mike is now retired but still want to spend July and August in the UK where they can indulge their passion for sailing. Meanwhile, when they do come down they travel very light.

They have made sure that the villa is well-equipped for visitors. “There’s nothing worse than having six people stay in a house and there’s only six plates, six cups, six knives and forks etc,” says Olivia. “You need to supply enough crockery, cutlery, pots and pans that the visitors can live comfortably. We have tried to provide a ‘Home from Home’. We have learnt from our own experiences of properties that we have rented, and embraced the good things whilst jettisoning the bad ones”.

Pricing is always a delicate art but, after talking with Juliana Forte at South France Villas, and comparing with similar properties, Mike and Olivia reckon they’ve just about got their prices right. The ideal is to get 6-8 weeks rental per year. This makes Palm Villa viable and a useful asset. Palm Villa is well-placed to rent out successfully as Sauvian is a popular village and the house is detached - private but not isolated, a real plus. If you take into account the fact that you can cycle safely to the beach, walk along the shady Canal du Midi, go kayaking in the mountains, visit the local and ancient  towns of Narbonne, Béziers and Sète or sample the wide range of restaurants available in Sauvian, Sérignan or Villeneuve de Béziers, then this is a villa to treasure.