Blog Archives

Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly

From the government’s website on aging

One of our local newspapers had an article entitled, “How much does it cost to be old in France?” so I just had to read that. With homage to Ethel Merman’s character Annie Oakley on Broadway, aging just seemed to me to be a natural process with no admission charge. However, if you want to stay for the whole show you have to pay the price which depends on where you sit from the orchestra to the balcony. It also depends if you are like 85% of the French who say that they want to spend their retirement years at home rather than moving to group living arrangements or to a medical facility. A website that specializes in banking and insurance for seniors (Retraite.com) teamed with another site that helps people live and age well at home (Silver Alliance) to calculate the costs. Read the rest of this entry

Raise the roof

The original 100-year-old roof

It was 1954 when singing cowboy Stuart Hamblen released his hit single “This Ole House” that included lines such as:

Ain’t got time to fix the shingles

&

This ole house lets in the rain

Until recently he could have been singing about our own house but it was reasonable to expect that after nearly one hundred years, the roof was going to need some repairs. Prior to selling our house in Atlanta we had to have the roof replaced and all of the price estimates came in at about $10,000 for new asphalt shingles on a 4000 square foot (372 m2) 3-story house. Last summer during lockdown we had plenty of time to investigate a similar project here on our 1-story house measuring 1055 square feet (98 m2). Granted, now we had terra cotta tiles (on the main house and on an attached room) instead of asphalt but the surface was about 1/4th of what we replaced in the US so we should have been in for a pleasant surprise, right? Well, the cost certainly was a surprise! Read the rest of this entry

Open house

Open the window in the village of Limeuil

“Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash” are words that we generally associate with a Christmas poem so this may seem an odd time of the year to mention them. They describe, however, exactly what we’ve been doing at the house all summer long. Sunrise is around 6:00 AM and by then we have indeed “torn open the shutters” and opened all of the windows plus even the doors that give access to the courtyard. While we are both fans of the light that has famously drawn artists to the south of France for centuries, in this case we are seeking something else: cool morning air. We can let in this genuine breath of fresh air and thanks to thick masonry and stone walls, capture it to keep us comfortable for the rest of the day. Free air conditioning! Read the rest of this entry

The heat is on

Bill tends the fire to keep us warm at Chateau de Ranton

According to the refrain of singer Chaka Kahn’s 1997 number one dance single, Never Miss the Water, “you never miss the water ‘til it’s gone”. We would add the word “hot” to the song to make it especially relevant to us. We have a tankless water heater, truly not much bigger than that breadbox of days gone by, that gives us an endless supply of hot water to our sinks, shower, and radiators…except when it doesn’t. That was the situation recently when the 9-year-old circulation pump started making funny little noises that gradually grew into louder bangs each time we turned on a faucet or changed the setting on the thermostat. In the 4 years that we’ve lived in France we’ve never needed to call a repair person, thanks to Bill’s handyman savvy, but this was beyond even his skills. Time for an expert. Read the rest of this entry

Attractive cities

The attractive village of Rochefort-en-terre in Brittany

Radio station Europe1 had on their website an article that was headlined, “The Three Most Attractive Cities in France.” Since Bill and I enjoy traveling, especially here in this country, I was anxious to read about some new destinations. The lead-in said that at the top of their list of 30 places were Besançon, Orléans and Saint-Étienne while Bordeaux was at position 20, Paris at 26, Nice at 28, and Nîmes at the very bottom. Interestingly, we have visited all of those cities that came in at the low end, some several times, and always found them inviting.  In contrast, we only knew one of the top cities, Orléans, because we stayed overnight at a pet-friendly hotel when we moved here with our dog, Heather, and were driving from Paris to Carcassonne, but that doesn’t really count. What that headline meant, we thought, was lots of new discoveries to make…until we read the rest of that first paragraph. Read the rest of this entry

Who knew we needed that?

Hedgehog snacker

When you move to another country and pretty much everything you bring with you fits in 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks, you’re going to have to buy a lot once you arrive and get settled in. We sold our house in the US fully furnished, down to the silverware and plates, so we needed a place here that had everything included. We achieved that during our first year by renting a house normally used by weekly vacationers so everything we left behind was suddenly available to us once again. Because it was a compact (read “small”) place, anything new we bought had to have more than one function since storage was limited. I wrote about it in Double or Nothing and we’ve been able to stick with that ideal for the most part. Then we bought our own house and the rules got relaxed a bit. Read the rest of this entry

Confirming the big decision

Safe harbors, literally and figuratively. This is Le Bono in Brittany.

During the 15 months after Bill initially asked “Why don’t we move to France?” we did a lot of online research to make certain that we were headed in the right direction. Before we boarded that Paris-bound Air France flight in Atlanta with our dog Heather and almost all of our possessions in 4 suitcases and 2 backpacks we had looked at dozens of websites, blogs, surveys, and government documents to be as informed as we could. Now that we live here, one online newspaper that we look at daily is The Local that gives news and tips in English on succeeding in another country. In one helpful article they assembled a list of reasons why this land well known for bread, cheese, and wine might just be the best place in the world to retire. Since we’ve now been here for a bit over 2 years I thought it would be interesting to see if we agreed with their list. Read the rest of this entry