IDEAL HOMES: MORDECAI RICHLER

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The Independent Online
LOCATION: The Alpes-Maritimes. In the hills between Tourrettes- sur-Loup and Vence, close enough to the town square in Vence where I could repair late in the afternoon for drinks and newspapers. In the late 1950s I spent six months there writing. I rented a room in Tourrettes-sur-Loup where there was a rich village life and a number of impecunious young writers, painters and sculptors. It is far more elegant now than it was in my day; all the old donkey hutches have been turned into little apartments.

ESSENTIAL LOCAL AMENITIES: A decent boucherie and patisserie. Good but unpretentious restaurants. A cafe where it would be a pleasure to shoot the breeze with chums before strolling home for dinner.

CHARACTER OF BUILDING: A sprawling stone farmhouse with a roof that wouldn't drip. A beamed ceiling would be very nice.

PERIOD: 19th-century or earlier.

CONSTRUCTION: Haphazard. Comfort would be more important than geometry.

BEDROOMS: Five or six, so we could easily put up visiting children (we have five) and their husbands or wives or cherished friends.

BATHROOMS: Three upstairs, one downstairs. The master bedroom would include a bathroom with an old-fashioned tub large enough to stretch out in.

RECEPTIONS ROOMS: A living room with French windows leading to the garden and an enormous library.

ESSENTIAL KITCHEN FEATURES: Large enough to include a refectory table that would seat 12. My wife is an excellent cook, and we do lots of entertaining. Restaurant-size gas-fired stove. Adjoining herb garden.

DECORATIVE STYLE: Comfortable rather than showy. Snooze-size sofas and a rocking chair.

LUXURIES YOU WOULD INSTALL: Billiards room, wine cellar, bar. Large windows and skylights here, there and everywhere.

SPECIAL OUTBUILDINGS: Garage, greenhouse and potting shed. My wife is the gardener. I will just grudgingly pull the weeds.

VIEW FROM THE WINDOWS: Our rose garden, a vineyard, olive tree grove and surrounding hills.

SIZE OF GARDEN: Immense, bordering woods and a trout stream. I am a salmon fisherman, but I wouldn't get a salmon in France.

GARDEN'S BEST FEATURES: It produces not only fragrant roses but delicious tomatoes and raspberries in season, and asparagus as well.

NEIGHBOURS: Not too near. The sort who would never drop in uninvited, but would prove to be splendidly witty dinner companions.

MOTTO OVER THE DOOR: Beware of the Dog.

WHAT IT WOULD COST: According to Keith Sneddon of Headland Overseas, comfortable detached properties with large grounds are rare in this part of France because they are often passed down and retained within families. When they come on the market they are snapped up and Mordecai Richler should be prepared to pay pounds 175,000 for his ideal home. A further pounds 50,000 would provide the billiards room, the skylights and the French windows. Such a farmhouse is more likely to have solid oak doors, rather than the glass doors we term French windows.

Mordecai Richler's latest book `This Year in Jerusalem' is published by Chatto & Windus at pounds 11.99

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