The Dream. The Reality. The Gut Check.

May 15, 2014. St. Raphael, French Riviera, France.

When I was a young boy growing up in Terre Haute, my father spoke GI French at the dinner table that he had learned from being stationed in Paris, France during the big War, to end all wars. This experience caused me to dream that one day I too might be able to travel to France. Well, I have been blessed and have had the opportunity to travel to France several times in my life. But, the dream changed with age and time and the dream evolved over my lifetime from traveling to France, to live in France for an extended period of time. This year, I looked forward to implementing the dream by living in France, taking French lessons to improve my French and taking cooking classes to share in the French love of food. That was the dream. It was vague and fuzzy as most pleasant dreams are. There was a vision of a French farmhouse, fields of lavender, forests, nearby villages, and great farmer’s markets. What the dream lacked was definition. Now that we are in France we are struggling with how to make the dream a reality.

We have looked for our farmhouse online for six months to make our dream a reality. While there are many websites, friends and families willing to assist us with our search, the search has been more difficult in reality, than either of us would have ever imagined. First, you have a budget. That is reality. The chateau in the forest and the villa overlooking the French Riviera are not on our budget. Next, you have to choose an area, and in reality, you have to build a foundation under your dream. We thought we wanted to rent a home in Dordogne France known for its woods, markets and foie-gras. But, we questioned whether 3 months in such a bucolic setting would be too peaceful and quiet. So, when we left Paris on Tuesday, we abandoned the dream of a farmhouse in the forests and went for the bright lights of the French Riviera with iPad and Mac in hands searching for a villa by the Mediterranean Sea and a little more excitement than Dordogne. Our first stop was Avignon, a nice walled city in the south of France approximately an hour from the Mediterranean Sea. The Popes resided in Avignon for about 70 years and built churches, cathedrals, bridges and a lasting relationship with the French people. But, it was just an overnight stop for us. Our next stop was St. Raphael, which is directly on the Mediterranean Sea. We inspected a house, a mile from the Bord de Mer, which had four bedrooms, a swimming pool, in a gated community that needed codes to get in and out of, and, was within our budget. But, as we drove around the area, there was lots of traffic, no farmer’s markets, no forests, and seemed to be filled with hustle and bustle which obscured our dream. We spent the evening discussing the pros and cons of renting in St. Raphael, or somewhere else in France, which would more nearly fit the dream. After our gut check last night, this morning we have decided to go back to our original plan and drive 7 hours to Dordogne to see if the reality and the dream match there. More to follow.

Norm and Rita

9 thoughts on “The Dream. The Reality. The Gut Check.

    • Vern, Thank you for your Notice of Confidentiality. You have always been so thoughtful. I have put it on my wall in the house in St. Leon sur Vezere. It is quite the conversation piece.

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  1. Mary,

    I meant to send those to you before you went to visit Gabi. Sorry for the delay. We’re looking at two french stone homes tomorrow, we’ll let you know!

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  2. After some thought on ways I could assist you Norm, I decided to offer somewhat of a plan of action to ffulfill your dreams. You could join the Army as did you father in WWII with the stipulation that you be stationed in France and the Army send you to their cooking school. Not only will this solve your problemm of housing, but cooking school will be free along with free medical and transportation.

    As for Rita, pretend she’s your French girl friend, she’ll just have to sleep in a rental car parked in an alley somewhere.

    Jo and I have decided to book passage on a tramp steamer to save money, so be sure and let us know your address and where Rita is parked if you decide to follow my plan. Dick

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    • Dick, In the first 30days, you win the award for the longest comment to our blog. It was so long that I did not read it. However, Rita did read it and responded. If you expect a response from me, you are going to have to write shorter comments. If I don’t make it back by January 13th, happy birthday. I wanted to save a stamp and a card.

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  3. i just got in the mail the envelope full of pictures of your past trip. They are beautiful!!! Hope you find your vision of France home away from home.

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    • OMG! You were not suppose to receive them. Please send them to the “Man next door contest” at Playboy immediately. Place in a brown envelope with no return address please.

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