French Country

My life in France is not what I expected.


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Jacques Report

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So here he is today. I think he has doubled in size since I brought him home, what, a couple of weeks ago? Notice how he’s not holding still? That’s typical. I believe I got this shot just as he was about to jump up and check out the iPhone. I am making chicken soup for dinner; he may have thought a bit of that lovely poulet noir was attached.

The word for this dog is “mignon.” Fashionably dressed young women leave their shops to run out onto the sidewalk to tell me how cute he is. “Il est si mignon!” It’s one of my new standard phrases, along with “Quel age a-t-il?” Okay, I knew that one, but I didn’t have “how old is he” on the tip of my tongue. Jacques is teaching me French.

If you move to France you have to give up on the idea that your life will function in an efficient manner. You could run into a strike or a demonstration. It could be Sunday or some part of your local merchant’s day or lunchtime off. Or, well, you could have a French puppy. Jacques thinks every moment is another opportunity to play. Today at the flower shop I stood in line and tried to hold my purchases as Jacques tried to consume the nearby tulips. I tried to sweep the floor as Jacques tried to eat the broom; when Moses arrives in June we’ll see about posting video of that. If I were holding Jacques in my lap right now, he’d be walking on the keyboard. He is great fun. He is teaching me to be more French.


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I have competition!

Check out the Chateau Gudanes: http://www.chateaugudanes.com.

Forget the maison bourgeoise, which is what I own. These people are truly ambitious. They chose a real-deal, full-bore chateau. My house was unoccupied for two years, theirs for four. Mine is a bit of a pit, never very nicely detailed, never listed. Their house? Grade 1 listed and replete with amazing, worm-eaten detail. I can replace; they must restore. My little acre is really just a decent garden for a house the size of mine. They have so much land that they must have some Plan B for maintenance; my Plan A, a lawnmower and some pruning shears, would have no chance. I live in nice, forgiving beach town conditions; they have mountains and snow.

Chapeau, guys. Now this is an adventure. And good luck to your portfolio; may it thrive. You’ll be needing every euro.

Tomorrow I’ll drive south again. It’s time to pull out the camera.


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A little tonic with that gin, please.

I went through a major rite of passage today. I became a Paris driver.

I have driven in Paris before, but it was totally accidental. I was in Burgundy, my husband was ill and the trains were on strike. I’d have driven through Istanbul, Delhi, even, to get him home and safe. So I did. Then I dumped the car, flung my keys at the rental people and hoped I would never have to do that again. That’s not a Paris driver; that’s a driver who finds herself in Paris.

Then I bought a house in the country. That’s not something you can realistically do without a car, though I suppose you can go the Miss Daisy route and get a driver, too. Not within my budget, I’m sorry to say, so I went for Plan B. Plan B is a rental car to tide me over until my Lexus arrives and the rental of a parking space from my key to all things Paris real estate, Francois Brunel at Apartment Living.

This afternoon I picked up the car. Let’s just say I will never actually buy a Renault Captur. It’s not fun. I got it with so little gas that I think it had air in the lines. It hiccuped half the way home. That’s over now but it will never handle well. And does it have blind spots? Yes, plentiful and huge. The guys who prepped it for me tuned the radio to the Latina station, as if Hispanic techno-pop would be just the thing to calm the jittery nerves of this tired old lady who, most of the way home, had no clue where she was headed.

At least it comes with GPS, which guided me to my destination. Unfortunately it did not park the car. After about 15 minutes I managed it. Lots of back-and-forth, lots of OMG, am I going to hit that, but I never did. The car is in its new home, safe and sound and I am recovering. Sunday I drive up to Beauvais and then I come back. Monday I drive to the country. A week later I drive back. Rinse, repeat.

For better or worse, I signed up for this. It is part of the long-term plan and part of who I now am. Among other things, I am a Paris driver. But stressful, oh yeah. Make that G&T a double!

 

So where are you???

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See those three green arrows? That's the Vendee. The bottom arrow is probably sitting right on my house. The blue arrow points to Paris. The islands are much farther away then they appear. Brittany and Normandy to the north, Bordeaux and Biarritz to the south. I hope this helps.

I must get this question every day. It’s time for an answer. See those three green arrows? That’s the Vendee. The bottom arrow is probably sitting right on my house. The blue arrow points to Paris. The islands are much farther away than they appear. Brittany and Normandy to the north, Bordeaux and Biarritz to the south. And what is that little hat with the antennae? I have no clue. I’m new in town.


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Felled by jet lag

Must wake up.

Apart from that extra five or six daytime sleep hours — no, it doesn’t really affect the amount of sleep I need at night — it has been a good day.

I got my hair cut. I’m a regular now, greeted like an old friend. The stuffed ostrich behind my hairdresser is totally ordinary, part of the furniture, though I would miss it if it were gone. The surprise was that David Mallet took a break from doing shoulder-length blunt cuts on stunning young women — straight out of Haircuts 101 — to do something sculpted and very flattering for a woman even older than I am. I was impressed; when the situation calls for it, that man can cut hair. The place was happy and busy, maybe because Fashion Week just ended and everybody can get back to real life. This is one of my favorite places in Paris. I am glad I can finally go in there every six weeks, just like I’m supposed to.

On the way to the Metro I found a shop that sells incredible housewares. No, sorry, don’t know the name, but it is just off rue Rivoli. Across the street is the Louvre des Antiquaires and to the left and across rue Rivoli is the Louvre itself. I resisted the stunning sushi plates and tea bowls, only just, contenting myself with a little Chilewich mat for dog bowls. Zero One One? Was that the name of the shop?

Did I mention the puppy? No? Well, he’s not here yet. All in good time.