Painstakingly Renovated – Part Two



During our wonderful month in Lot-et-Garonne, we knew we would love to live there. It is an agricultural area, to be sure, with fields for growing I do not know what yet, that are angular in every way imaginable. It is like a puzzle. They sleep for the winter all tucked in. Tilled, organized, deep dark earth rests, receiving the rain and snow for future hydration.

I have mentioned it before. There seems to be a palatable pride in how these fields look, year round. No sloppy, weed ravaged, post harvest muddle, is left. It all speaks to my Type A, highly functioning (although living in France has sincerely curtailed this) visual self. I need law and order. And this landscape provides it.

Occasionally there are horses, definitely lots of sheep, some cattle. Speaking of sheep….the herds are moved with calculated time frames.  The careful balance of poop, that needs to return to nature, the perfect balance of taking the grass down to nubs, and allowing for regrowth.

So we decided to look at some houses. I have also mentioned we are budget conscious. Which is not user friendly in this region. But we bit the bullet, embarrassed ourselves, and called brokers based on internet searches. While we saw several houses, I will focus on one today.

I will call this property A Flock of Geese.

AFOG was situated about 20 minutes from the compound of Dana’s. In a hamlet. It looked cute with its blue shutters and tiled floors. And is the featured blurry photo ( I need lessons…). The kitchen looked quaint. It had four bedrooms, a veritable mansion, in our price range. And so we parked in front of the church as instructed. I decided to take a quick walk-about, and followed the sign that pointed that way and read BOULANGERIE. Except there wasn’t one. There may have been once, many moons ago, but on this day it was abandoned.

Strike one.

We then eyeballed the house, right around the corner from the church, which was beautiful. They all are. (the church, not the house) But I noticed immediately a too large group of cats milling around the front door. And I heard a TV and voices. My first foray into the fact that many residents remain at home during a showing, and even worse, follow you around right on your heels, and hang on your every word, that they cannot understand.

Next our realtor, Leontíne, pulled up. Her very first words: You have German license plates?

Ours: Ummmmm, we guess so. It is a rental car.

Let it be known that the French have never forgotten the German occupation, and never will.  That seems most fair to me. But I speak only to the true enemy. I myself have Schindler and Sangmeister blood in my veins. And happily we were able to put her possible poor feelings behind us.

What can I say about AFOG? The house had been on the market for 5 years. No one but me and Howard batted an eyelash.

The boyfriend was splayed on the couch watching a game show. He might have been in a wife beater t-shirt. At 2PM (excuse me, 1400H) it was a little too dark inside, to tell.

Front and center, in the dining area, was the hot water heater. We have since discovered they show up in the darnedest of places.

The ‘family’ shower room was next to the kitchen. If it says shower or bath, with the word room attached, then all the modern conveniences are in one place. Sink, toilet, maybe a bidet, and either a shower or a bath. If that word is not attached, you might find a Watercloset (WC, doooooblevay saaaaay) next door, or better yet across the house, elsewhere. Rarely do french houses have 2 full bath/shower rooms and that is manageable, provided there is an extra WC somewhere….which is a home run. We have learned, plumbing is righteous. If there is a second place to relieve oneself, a plumbing angel surely visited the house and knocked some sense in to the occupants.

The sole source of heat, the open fireplace. Which was roaring on this November day. And I noticed it was the girlfriend who continued to place logs, and I wondered, why aren’t these 2 at work???

The French can either be packrats, or minimalists. Bedrooms were sparsely furnished, but you could not place one pinky toe on the steps to the  attic for all that had accumulated. Which would be removed, we were assured, by the trailing owner, before closing.

The garage was overflowing, the toolshed was overflowing, but these things could easily be converted to a covered porch, you see. The little garden had potential. And we must see the detached garden….this is a factor in french real estate. Many times there is a lovely green space NOT attached to the house. Only ‘a few steps away’. Which negates my fantasy of drinking coffee in the mornings in my pajamas.

So off we went. Down a little lane, past a gorgeous contemporary barn style house. What what what??? Owned by Dutch, their holiday home, but of course.

And there it was. The detached garden. A nice size, really. All fenced in. And filled with a flock of geese. That came with the house.

5 thoughts on “Painstakingly Renovated – Part Two

  1. Avatar Dana Dolan says:

    Yet another lemon! You take us on a great house tour!

  2. Avatar Kristen says:

    Finally, found my way back to your page! (My tech skills are declining! 😂) Love your postings! Sounds “oh so familiar”. Making memories! Anxious for you to find “your” place! 🙂

  3. Avatar Nancy Ridenhour says:

    Enjoyed reading this. I am learning about French life.

  4. Avatar Laura Lee says:

    What great days those were, Sherry. Writing with Sarabelle. If you read the ‘about me’ of the blog, you will get the gist of why I left. Other reasons, of course. But yes, I was struggling with the quality of our leaders, and a huge influx of people to the area, and the incessant building.

  5. Your article reminded me of what a good writer you are from our days at Sarabelle’s journaling workshops. I was entranced by every word. You also brought to mind our search for a house in L. and G. A couple of them were a lot like the one that you describe here. One was an abanded farm with an enormous pile of manure in the front of the place. ‘Non’ habitable’! The one we finally bought in Monségur needed to be compltely re done but it was a wonderful time. It was affordable with the money from the sale of the house in Jamaica. We really bought the view which was the highest point in the hamlet. We could sit on the new terrace and look out way into the distance at other hilltop villages and a chateau. Sadly the marriage ended after 3 years, my work was not selling there (pre- internet) so I move to East Hampton. I have regretted leaving ever since, 2000. If I could have ‘La Boudette’ back I would do it in a heartbeat.
    As you know, Dana bought a house up the road in the hamlet.

    I am curious as to why you left the US. It had to be because of what has been going on here for the past 4 years. Well, now 5 years.

    Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading this ‘hélas’ with a twinge of longing.

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