Painstakingly Renovated – Part Four

Painstakingly Renovated


Not my words. But the actual tagline on a listing from a well known Immoblier. (eeeemobleeeaaay) A real estate company.

I had spotted this property while still in the USA. I enquired and got a focused response from a lovely woman, the estate agent, Mimi.  Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Mimi hoped the house would still be available when we moved over in October, as it was somewhere in the middle of July. Damn, I thought. It is not uncommon, due to COVID, that people are buying site unseen, to flee the cities. The French real estate market has been mirroring the American crazy….everything worth a euro is selling within hours and days.

I have 2 good friends who have done this, and netted fabulous properties that would have been long gone had they not acted in haste and with determination.  Howard’s motto is ‘there’s always another bus’ and so there you have it. Thank God for Howard.

We moved up north on a Wednesday and had this house lined up for Thursday afternoon. Was the house still available, I had asked a few days prior? Why yes it was, as the several people who had shown interest, had ‘suddenly disappeared.’  Mimi’s accounting for why the house had remained on the market. And is still on the market, at this posting, I might add.

I think they were in hiding. In fact, I am pretty sure they had entered the witness protection program.

I ask: what did I misunderstand about the description ‘Beautifully renovated village house’ and ‘…has been painstakingly renovated’ ??? What determines a beautiful renovation? Is painstaking work to one, just child’s play to another? We know some people have bad taste. And some people live very, very, very simply.

And one man’s castle……is another’s nightmare….

We moved to France to inject some simplicity into our lives. COVID showed us all we needed and a lot of what we did not need. Then there are wants….totally different. I wanted a painstaking renovation that looked something like the Instagram accounts that I follow and drool over. There, I said it.

And so hopes were high. And we all know, in this very difficult time, without hope, and love, what else is there, really?

Upon entrance one wished they had a gas mask. This was the only moment in my life when I silently thanked COVID. My medical grade mask came in handy. The musty, moldy, mildewy smell was overpowering. The paint was peeling. The cobwebs taking over. The bathroom was ancient, the kitchen vile and unusable. The garden was waist high, the out buildings filled with rubble. The barn’s roof caving in…People inhabited this house less than 18 months ago, until COVID kept them from returning to France. Many, many, homes owned by the British and left to turn mossy. The pandemic, and the unpopular Brexit…created a lot of false advertising.

So I could justify the mustiness, but who would cook in such a kitchen? What IS all that stuff in the outbuildings? Why, why, do people paint rooms in poopy colors? Isn’t it universal knowledge that there is a product used in painstaking renovations called ‘weather stripping?’

Camping, not even glamping, would be so much better. 

The worse it got, the more Howard stood there in anger. So the more I started babbling to fill the silent void. I asked questions that Mimi replied with ‘I don’t know.’ I strategized about renovations and rehab. I exhausted my limited ability to be creative. I wondered aloud about where does one find the English community.

‘In the pub’ was the 3 syllable answer.

At one point I found myself musing that the sweet baby Jesus had it better than this. Away in a manger with no crib for his bed. But snuggly in sweet hay with cattle lowing, a mother in the most gorgeous shade of blue, wise men bringing gifts, and a little drummer boy rat a tat tatting….all while in a barn with a brilliant bright star illuminating his humble beginnings.

Howard assessed it was painstakingly renovated in 1940. And possibly not lived in since then. We passed.


6 thoughts on “Painstakingly Renovated – Part Four

  1. Avatar Gail Pudaloff says:


    OY…do I feel your ‘pain/dismay/and ”how can they get away with ALL OF THIS/THAT?!”

    You’re amazingly strong and self-determined….which is why your SMARTS told you to ”get-the-heck-out-of-there-and-go-elsewhere”…..which translates to ……..??! CURRENTLY you are WHERE ….and yes, hopefully with ”pics – par excellence” (that speak the truth!!)

    Hope all of you are super well, that your 2 week USA visit was a great one and that Sable missed you tons….and is soooo very happy to have Ma&Pa back home…WITH HIM!! :)~


  2. Avatar Sydnie Malick says:

    So excited you have your blog Love it send me a picture of your new home

    1. Syd, will post pix in blog posts!

  3. Avatar Gail P says:

    LauraLee…as per your usual, your writings, memoirs of ‘Houses-on-the-Market’ are ‘Price-less!’ Your writings contain the ever-great visuals and I need to read them …again… & sometimes another ‘again!’

    Thx for sharing ‘YOUR-TOUR-DE-FRANCE’ of where you are, of what you see ….and then some w. extra-ordinary adjectival phrases which emphasize even more ‘facial expressions’ of ‘maybe’s’ or ‘not-at-all’ or…well, I’ll let you finish your Real Estate Voyage…hmmm…perhaps you’re a ‘R. VOYAGEUR?’
    gail P

    1. Avatar gail Pudaloff says:

      May I ask my brother (who was an English Prof. @ 6’8″ tall) if he’d be interested in reading YOURS??! I’m sure he would be…..but would never just ”give him your wonderful ‘everything’ here….and would ask ahead of time….””IF”’ he could and then he just might (very most likely!) want to be a ‘member’ of your Writings!??~~

      I plan to read and re-read your colorful-ness-es over n’ over again!

      Better than even one of those great French Movie….mais certainement!!

      Keep ‘livin’ the good life….La grande vie….to keep you and your souls filled up with ”la joie” and all else that’s good, sweet, and ‘vundebar’….as you 2 deserve all that’s super GREAT IN LIFE!!! La Vie est belle!! (…errr…at least here in your home and grasses and flower beds and all else that keeps your heart pitter-patter and ”happy!”

      So please share w/ me if it is OK if my brother wants to ‘join your Writers’ Club’ as he thirsts for travels that fill us up from ”here>to>there”…..

      Many hugs galore to you ‘3’ ~ (yes, Sable, you head your family…for sure!!)

  4. Avatar Dana Dolan says:

    You have seen your share of poopy houses in your search for French charm. Don’t worry you’ll be lucky like me!

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