The book


House-hunting in Gascony (SW France) is not for the fainthearted as Peter (48) and Janneke (45) discover. But they find their dream house. Starting its renovation they not only find an old grenade, but a bunch of secret papers as well. They are shocked being told about a murder in the village, threatened by snakes and other vermin and a mysterious derelict neighbouring farm seems to be booby-trapped, but why?

Jan wants to convert the house into a small luxury hotel, her husband pretends to go along but is very much against it. Will the pool be ready in time, before its builder comes into an inheritance and retires? It’s very, very quiet, but not everything is sunny in France…

Whether it’s her arguments, the old house that works its magic or the rosé, after a almost a year of ducking the question Peter now finally succumbs to Jan’s idea to have a hotel. The house back home is sold, a flat found. They are now in France most of the time to help the workmen. Then the hotel is in business. Jan has interviewed Yvette, a local girl to help her with the rooms. Delayed guests have arrived. Honeymooners. Peter gets fined by the Gendarmes but blames Jan. Hugo Sanchez, a ghost from the past drops in, claiming the house is his. Jan buys an old cupboard for a song that’s worth a fortune.

Jan kicks out the first guests. New guests arrive, down to earth Ray and Carina and the posh Marshes. The males starting a pissing contest.

Nearby Spain is visited, guests looking after the hotel. Peter gets his first Ferrari. A French neighbours explains why the British are strange people and that cave people were the first foreigners who came house hunting in France, 25.000 BC.

Still in bed Peter finally meets Yvette, the new chambermaid. Is the baker’s wife unfaithful? How do the French call gay men? An Englishman pops in to pick Peter’s builders brains because he has bought a ruin.

Four German guests arrive with quite unusual tastes. Peter does a shocking discovery in their bedroom. Ray needs a landline soon and Carina has to cook without a proper kitchen. What is Yvette doing in a swingers club?

Hugo Sanchez is seen again in the area, still chasing the secret papers that Peter found and lost.

Peter misjudges his young American guests. A dog selects a new master. A letter arrives from Spain from the man who claims he is the owner of the house. The French neighbour analyses British behaviour. Again. A Belgian guest has an unpleasant wake up call. How powerful is a French mayor? Terrorists are seen in the area. Future neighbour Dave, the man who bought the ruin dies. Peter checks out a potential terrorists’ lair. Guests have their car stolen. Dave’s bereaved brother arrives and tells a shocking story. Pictures of Jan’s interior are made for Elle Decoration. New guests are not what they were expected to be.

Scantily clad models pose around the pool, soon joined by a naked Yvette.

Hugo Sanchez, now on a nocturnal Nazi treasure hunt, takes Peter to the local graveyard! Then Peter’s biggest secret is revealed. A real Hollywood actress and her baby-faced lover arrive. They are desperate to find out the identity of the famous singer/songwriter is who keeps to his room. Another guest makes a confession that ends the treasure hunt.

Peter is invited to cook at a Hollywood wedding. Baby-face smells someone smoking pot and wants some himself.  Jan plans a party. A bachelor tells Peter of a very un-orthodox way to find his bride. Someone is being arrested by the Gendarmerie. Another one marries the wrong bride. A lone guest discovers an interesting notebook in the library that can change the future of aviation. Is Yvette getting married?


"Yet another expat story about moving to France? Boring?

Peter Schoenmaker re-invented the genre.

A year in Provence meets Hotel Babylon"


Samantha Brick (Daily Mail)


Webdesign: Maaike Schotsman

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