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FINDING A HOUSE IN FRANCE: FIRST STEPS #2

 First, be advised. I am not an expert in anything except my own experiences. And my experiences are confined to a particular time and place. If you have issues, I welcome them in Comments. We've been house hunting in Herault on several occasions since 2003. (Herault is a French department, somewhere between an American county and a state.) We twice visited to find a holiday home from which to learn about and explore the region. After deciding that this region of France was where we wanted to settle in our retirement, another search led to our current home of seven and a half years. And recently, we searched for a home with broader, gentler stairs given the state of our old bones. So I do speak from experience. As always, my advice is free of charge and worth every penny. There's no multiple listing service in France. Each agent has their own website and, while some agencies do cooperate with partner agencies, it can easily be the case that there is a house for sale next door t
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SELLING OUR HOUSE IN FRANCE: TRUE STORY #1

 Transacting business in France is always an interesting undertaking.  Don't get me wrong. I am not one of those sourpusses who has moved to France and complains that French people live there. But French people do have ways of doing things that do not often correspond to the way that I am accustomed to doing business. We are selling our home of seven years in order to finance the move to a house more suitable to our age and old bones. (Links and pics below.) We'll have fewer, more gentle stairs to climb. More room to display, store, repair, and otherwise deal with the stuff we've accumulated over those years. We're talking about multiple opportunities for cross-cultural misunderstanding. Take the case of applying to our French bank for a mortgage. I won't go into numbers. But I walked into the meeting with the young, casually dressed banker hoping to borrow about 40% of the cost of buying the new house. (It's strange calling a house built over 1,000 years ago a

BAR LE 40: RESTAURANT UPDATE

Quarante has a takeout pizza joint, an upscale-wannabe restaurant just outside of town, and the Bar Le 40. Tito's Pizza is OK. It offers thin-crust French pizza, if you like that sort of thing - or can at least get used to it. Christophe, the owner, also runs the local wine co-op. (Why is Christophe's place called Tito's? I've never asked.) Because it's the grape harvest now, Christophe is busy day and night. Tito's is closed. Pizza will have to wait for a few weeks. The Terminus, as you might surmise if you have a bit of French, is in the old train station just outside of town. The owners have spent the past few years 'upgrading' the menu to the point that they have priced themselves out of our rotation. And then there's the Bar Le 40, which most of us just call Bar 40 because who needs the extra syllable? The management of Bar 40 has changed hands several times since we moved here more than seven years ago. The latest owner, Alex, is the son of a p

RANDOM THOUGHTS NOT FRENCH: SGT PEPPER, TALIBAN, iPHONES, AND MORE #2

SGT. PEPPER Music is essential. Spotily brings classical music to our house in the morning, jazz in the evening. When I need to, I put on my headphones and let Led Zeppelin get loud. Very essential.   But I need more room on the shelves in my office and my CD collection is so old school. So I'm verifying that all of the tunes on all of my CDs have been ripped to my portable hard drive. (I only ripped my favorites on some of them.) As a result, I've been listening to stuff that I have put aside for a while. In that vein, I listened to St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (SPLHCB), all the way through, from start to finish without stopping, for the first time in over 30 years. At least. I'm going to pick nits. SPLHCB is not my favorite Beatles album. Revolver is. SPLHCB is basically a pop album, and their pop is my least favorite Beatles music. Fully half of the songs on SPLHCB fail to impress. On Revolver , only Yellow Submarine doesn't work for me . And that may

LIVING IN FRANCE: THE SEASONS, EXERCISE, AND HANGING PICTURES #2

LANGUEDOC COUNTRYSIDE I grew up on a dirt road surrounded by woods, cow pastures, and corn fields. I wasn't Opie. I could walk into town, we had access to both New York and Philadelphia network and local TV and radio programming, and both families of my parents had within memory lived for a time in New York City. We weren't hicks. But I could splash in a clean creek, pick gallons of blackberries without working very hard to find them, and drink milk that had very recently been inside of a cow that lived just down the road. Can you imagine going into a dairy barn, running the mixer to incorporate the cream, drawing off a gallon of fresh milk into the jug that you brought, and putting a dollar into the cigar box atop the mixer? I feel at home in the Languedoc.The cow pastures and corn fields of my youth have been replaced by horse pastures and vineyards. Stone walls and tree lines separate the one from the other outside of Quarante as they used to do outside of Flemington before

MOVING TO FRANCE: OVERVIEW AFTER SEVEN YEARS #1

We arrived in France on 16 April, 2014. I had retired just two weeks before. Our house in Pennsylvania had been put on the market but was as yet unsold. But we made it here and we have been here for just over seven years. I posted about our experiences after three years. It's time for an update. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY We have not regretted the decision to move to France for one second. Not one single second. BUREAUCRACY It's been an unforgettable couple of years for French bureaucrats. Brexit and COVID have generated the need to design, distribute, amend, interpret, and enforce all manner of forms and procedures.   There are tens of thousands of Brits who spend from a few weeks to many months in holiday houses or primary residences throughout much of France, although the major concentrations are on the French side of the Channel and down along the Med. No longer citizens of an EU country, Brits will have to live by different rules. They will be limited to the number of days they can

INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL, GUNS, AND D.C. STATEHOOD

Some stuff to get off my chest... INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL Check out a guy named Cameron Smith on YouTube.  Here's a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CprziVZHqBk  Settle in. It's over an hour long and he's not the most dynamic speaker. But if you want to think seriously about how the human race might colonize planets in solar systems other than our own, this guy has done the initial serious thinking for you.   Some of my favorite science fiction stories have been concerned with generation ships, interstellar conveyances that recognize that sub-light travel between solar systems requires planning for, at the very least, hundreds of years of travel. These works of fiction vary widely thematically. Many end badly or, if they end well, are initially presented to the reader as being a failed project that required saving. Regardless, I think that one of the reasons that I enjoy these stories is that, in order to be serious, they have to take the time to create scenarios