Monday, July 4, 2011

FIRST FULL DAY - JUNE 13

The day broke bright and sunny. Another beautiful day in Paradise. You can’t help but notice the light. This is our first time in the Languedoc in June and the sky is a delight – Mediterranean blue with wonderful cloud formations. Very much like Big Sky country in the American west. And such long days – it stays light until after 9:00 PM. And that Languedoc light has a texture all its own. It’s no wonder that great painters flocked to this part of the world.
Again, light breakfast – coffee, a pain au chocolat, a scrambled egg. Then a meeting with Berangere, the real estate agent. I would use the word gamine to describe her but I'm not certain if it carries negative connotations. She's young, slender, and dark with close-cropped, boyish dark hair and piercings not limited to one on each ear lobe. But she speaks better than passable English and is quite business-like. She took pictures. She measured with one of those laser devices. She came back in the afternoon to take pictures of the patio when the sun was high.
Berangere walked us through the paperwork. The contract would be non-exclusive. She even suggested that since her company – Freddy Rueda Sarl – specialized in foreign buyers, we might also want to contract with a local agent. The house, she explained, was well suited to a young French couple with the garage; the light, bright, open rooms; and the communicating bedrooms for the children.
We settled on a price. Considering what we paid six years ago, if we got our price we would come away with a satisfactory chunk of equity given the world-wide housing crisis. Less than we'd hoped, but satisfactory nonetheless.
I took a walk down to the mercerie to pick up the Live Box (kind of like a modem) that would hook us into the internet. I had called Orange, our telephone service provider, from the States a couple of weeks prior to our trip and requested that internet service be made available in our house. (They have an English-language line!) I answered all of their questions and was told that a Live Box would be delivered to the mercerie down the street prior to our arrival. I was told to bring identification because the Live Box would be released only to me.
The mercerie is an old-fashioned dress shop, complete with yarn and thread and ribbon and patterns and a few racks of ready-mades. Why Orange, a huge telecom company, should choose a little shop like that as the drop-off point is a mystery, but who am I to argue? The Live Box was not there. I was even allowed to go into the back room and check. So I walked back to the house and called Orange. The Live Box was sent to the house. Wait a few days.
We learned a few days later that someone had signed for and taken our Live Box. Apparently, there is a black market in unlocked Live Boxes and ours fell into the wrong hands. Orange was very nice about it, they believed that we didn’t have it, but it was several more days before a replacement made it to our door. Best laid plans! We had hoped to be on line from the first day. Instead, it was the tenth.
Lunch was comprised of the same light pickings as dinner the previous night – cheese and charcuterie and wine.
You must remember when in France that the French take lunch time very seriously. If you have not completed your business by noon, you must wait until at least 2:00 PM before commerce resumes. We waited and, after 2:00, we headed up the road a few kilometers to the vineyards of Laurent Miquel. Another tip – you will be tempted buy more wine than you can drink in a short stay. Don't. The rose doesn't improve with age.
We confined ourselves to purchasing one mixed case, four bottles of rose and two of the viognier that is the specialty of the house.
From the vineyard north of Cazouls we drove down to Nissan lez Enserune to check in with the Sans, proprietors of the Hotel Residence. I’ll talk about that meeting in a separate post.
By now it’s about 3:30 PM. We want to stop by the Caveaux St. Laurent in Capestang to purchase a case of rose. At less than 4 euros a bottle, it’s excellent sipping wine for a lazy afternoon and we’ve gone through a case or more every time that we visit. The caveaux is open in the morning, closes at noon, and doesn’t reopen until 4:00 PM. We arrived at about 3:50 and waited.
At about 3:58 a white van drove up to the door. After a moment, a man stepped out of the passenger side. He came around to the driver’s side and spoke to the driver for a moment. At precisely 4:00 PM, he turned the key in the front door, walked in, and turned on the lights.
I don’t want to suggest that I was amazed. I don’t suggest. I assert. This is the south of France. Granted, it’s not Mexico, but it IS the south of France.
To the minute!! Wow.
We bought our case, drove to Cazouls, and did a bit of shopping. We checked out the Leader Price – a kind of discount, big-box grocery store – and didn’t buy anything, picked up our provisions at the Carrefour – most importantly a duck breast with a wonderful layer of fat left on it – and headed home.
I fired up the bbq and that duck was a treat.
I spent some time messing with the television to find as many English language channels as I could for Jill, then bed early.

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