It is our 22nd day of our dream trip to France and Italy. We have been looking for a home to rent in France for six months. We decided to not book from the U.S. over the Internet because the Internet can make anything look good. We wanted to see the houses in person before making our decision. So, we came to France with high hopes of seeing homes up close and personal before making our decision. Well, that did not happen. It sounds easy, but it is much harder than you think. In addition, we found that by the time we started looking in France most of the better houses in our price range were gone. We were feeling pretty depressed about the house hunting, but Rita continued her research for countless hours and located one home she really had to have. But, the owners were not available to decide whether they wanted to rent their house for this season. At the last minute, about four days ago, the owners became available, decided to rent their home, and we took it sight unseen.
The home has four bedrooms, four baths, a kitchen, living room (which they all call “the salon”) and a heated swimming pool. It is located in the village of St. Leon-sur-Vezere in Dordogne, France. The village is very tiny. I think 400 people live here. It has a church, is located on the Vezere River, a bread depot, a small grocery store and maybe three restaurants. Our neighbors on one side are farmers who have cows and bulls in their fields right outside our gate as we exit our house. The neighbors on the other side are our landlords. They live in a CASTLE with walls and turrets and everything your mind can imagine from Cinderella!! Yes, it is called Chateau de Clerans and our house next door is called Maison de Clerans.
“Clowns to the left of us,
Jokers to the right…”
“Here we are…,
stuck in the middle with you!!”
Anyone remember this song?
We got possession of the house last night. To prepare for possession, we went to the market in Sarlat to buy groceries. It is a very large market selling fresh farmer produce, cheese, meats, poultry, fish, pate, foie gras, and flea market arts and crafts. We bought cheese, wine, pate, jambon (ham), baguette (bread), and stuff like olive oil, red wine vinegar, butter, eggs, etc. It was fun shopping in Sarlat. But, it did take awhile because each merchant specializes in primarily one item. So, we stood in line for cheese. We stood in a line for pate, we stood in a line for fresh produce, etc. We also had to practice up on our grams and kilograms because that is the way the food is sold. Rita and I asked ourselves what happened to the American initiative many years ago to convert ounces and pounds to grams and kilograms??? In any event, we ended up with more of some items and less of others that we wanted until we got the system down. (You have guessed that our system involved our thumbs and forefingers squeezed closer or farther apart to indicate the quantity we wanted!!) You also have to appreciate that shopping in France is a “social event”. It takes a long time because shoppers and shopkeepers kibbitz (I don’t think that is a French word) about the day, weather, politics, kids, quality of the produce, etc. It is sheer happiness to watch the shoppers and shopkeepers smile, laugh and actually enjoy shopping.
Heres a few of the sites we saw on our way, via Brantome, (because we left a key fob there from a few days ago) so we had to go back and fetch it.
With food in our Renault, we drove to our village to see our home. Of course, we got lost. But, we were only lost for about 10 minutes. When we arrived, we couldn’t believe that the house was exactly as represented on the Internet. Everything is perfect. Rita did a great job. Our host Beth O’Reilly showed us the house and how to use all the appliances and gadgets and then we were alone, in our house, and not a hotel for the first time in three weeks. We immediately did a closer inspection of the house and confirmed again that we could not have done better. We unpacked for the first time in three weeks, because the hotel rooms have been too small to unpack in and put our things away. And, then we headed off on foot to the village for dinner. The village is really quaint.
Today is Sunday morning. Rita has figured out how to use a French press coffee maker. We are sitting at the kitchen table while I write this post and Rita is checking airfare and train schedules for family and friends who may want to visit us. We are comfortable, relaxed, and ready to start living the dream. French lessons begin this week for me. We will start looking for a local person to teach us French cooking also.
Thanks to everyone who helped us get to this point in our travels. A special thanks to the Desmadryls, Alki who encouraged us at our lowest emotional point with sage advice to be patient and everything would work out, and family and friends too numerous to name here.
More to come. BTW, the West-Kardashian wedding was wonderful. It was great seeing all our friends Anjoelina, Brad, George, Harrison, Julia, Lindsey. We will send photos as soon as we find a place to develop the film.
Oh, and just a quck picture of our littlest granddaughter at her first dance recital! (These were texted to us on our drive up to the house)