AN INCREDIBLE COINCIDENCE
To All My Dear Friends
Do you believe in Destiny, with a capital D? Or, alternatively, if you prefer, do you believe that God's hand guides us, always, all the time ?
Well, if you answered "No" to any or to both of these questions, what follows will undoubtedly change your mind. Just listen to this.
SUMMER 1985. FRANCE.
Instead of going to the crowded French Riviera, where systematic gouging made me absolutely sick, instead of trying to fight my way onto a French beach where every square foot can be won only after a nasty battle, I had decided to travel South West France and to visit the numerous castles which illustrate the history rich past of this beautiful French region.
After several visits of famous castles extending from the Loire valley to the Bordeaux area, I decided to only look for all the out of the way castles, castles not in the tourist guides, castles that nobody had ever heard of. In order to find these out of the way castles, there was only one way: I bought some very detailed maps of the regions I was visiting. The best are the IGN maps with a 1/100000 scale.
On those maps, castles are identified with a X sign. So, if you want to see these places, you only need to spend a few minutes every morning finding all the X on the maps.
Now, sometimes what you find was really not worth the drive. Sometimes it is only a piece of a castle: like an old tower, a few stones, a fortified farm. But, sometimes, miracle! You find, when you least expect it, a breathtaking, unique piece of architecture in a unspoiled surrounding. And there, my dear friends, you have made your day.
One day, I was driving around Gourdon in Quercy, an area rich in castles and architectural remains. I had seen this little sign on my map and I was trying to find the castle in question. And I kept driving around it but was unable to find the place I was looking for. After an hour search, I saw in a curve a dirt road that had been obstructed with branches and bushes. Stop! True enough, there was a dirt road right behind the obstruction. I drove up the road and eventually arrived at the top of the hill, only to discover an absolutely amazing castle, obviously abandoned. I immediately went on exploring.
Love at first sight!
I thought: This is impossible! This cannot be true! I have got to buy this place and to renovate it before the weather, the years and the vandals finish destroying it.
So, back in the car! Direction the city.
I was lucky! The City Hall was open. The employee made no difficulty showing the maps of the property. I was able to check that the castle had about 44 hectares of land (110 acres), and to learn who the owner was. Unfortunately, I was told the owner lived in Italy, But the owner's mother in law lived nearby, in the city of Gourdon
Back in the car, direction the mother in law!
Madame Diaz was a very charming lady with a definite Spanish accent, She told me that her son in law was Leo Ferre, a famous French singer, that he was living in Italy, but that he did not want to sell the castle. And that I should not even try to contact him in Italy because he would not sell the castle. Period! Good bye!
Photo of City of Saint Clair
And, guess what? I took no for an answer (fortunately, I have changed since!). I did not go to Italy, did not try to contact Leo Ferre, went back to Paris and put the thick file that I had assembled in a drawer. Pech Rigal was just a beautiful dream and would remain that way.
1987 MOVE TO CALIFORNIA
Moved to California late 1987. Forgot about Pech Rigal completely.
1990 MOVED TO FLORIDA
Of course, I told him that I knew this castle and that it was not for sale. I retrieved the file that I had assembled on this Pechrigal and showed it to him.
To make a long story short, the very same day (Saturday), I contacted the listing agent, made an appointment for two days later, Monday, at 2:00 pm, flew to Paris on Sunday, arrived in Paris at 8:00 am Monday morning, rented a car, and at 2:00 pm, I visited again Pechrigal(which I knew better than the listing agent). At 4:00 pm, made an offer to buy Pechrigal. The offer was ...... accepted!
Now, guys, you can tell me whatever you want! What are the chances that, after 15 years, half way around the world, a Dutch fellow who docked his boat at my house would indirectly put me back in touch with a castle that I had been dreaming of so many years prior.
Call this Destiny? Call this the hand of God?
One thing is sure! This castle was meant for me and my family, no way around that!
What an extraordinary coincidence!
In 1998, I was living in Lauderdale Harbors in Fort Lauderdale, and had dockage space rented out. One of the dockage boat was a nice Gulfstar 50 owned by a young Dutch fellow. Over the months that his boat had been there, we had become friends, having a beer together from time to time.
One day, my Dutch friend arrived from Holland to enjoy a sailing vacation on his boat. While we were sipping a cold one, he told me that he had seen a castle for sale in France, that he wanted to buy it, but that he did not have the money.
So, being still interested in castles, I asked questions and my Dutch friend produced a set of photos of ………..Pech Rigal.