We’re not invisible any more

A balloon, flying over my neighborhood. That’s new. This summer and last I have seen a lot of things that suggest that the Vendee tourist board is looking to attract better-heeled visitors.

I have to decide what to do with my rental house. I bought it thinking it would be a nice little hobby. It would pay for itself and give me, in my isolated widow’s condition, a little social interaction. What a crazy idea. With that money I could have done a zillion other things.

It does some of what I hoped for, to be sure. Most renters are nice people who relax and enjoy the house. The ones that don’t can be a real nightmare, though, and of course the social interactions are only superficial. However I travel and spend more time in Paris than I might like — not isolated at all — so Julien is the one on hand to deal with guests. Of course that means he makes all the money.

This is not a winning proposition, not for me, anyway. So I have had the house on the market for a while now, with little result.

At dinner with friends the other day, we talked about the changes in the area. With satellite TV, the Vendee Globe has become a more interesting race. The Tour de France just brought some attention to the area. We have a new crop of music festivals, serious restaurants and the like. And, they assured me, the real estate market is picking up.

People want a house near the beach. With global warming, that coastal breeze is becoming ever more welcome. Prices in cities are high enough that folks think of a smaller apartment in town and a weekend house in the country, so they have room to breathe. Prices on the Ile de Re have long been sky-high and other nearby resort towns, such as La Rochelle and Sables d’Olonne, are headed that way. So folks are looking at adjacent areas. And note, they are looking, which has not happened for a long, long time. That’s good news for me.

Maybe it sounds counterintuitive, but I’m thinking seriously of taking the house off the market. By now it’s an old listing, which can scare people off. Prices rose 5% in the last year, after years of stagnation, and they look set to continue that rise. So do I do what I’m doing now, which is netting zero results, or wait a bit and hope the market heats up enough to make the place more interesting to potential buyers? It’s hard to say.

I’m doing what I didn’t do,when I bought the house. I’m mulling it over. Jacques will have a little more time to wonder how birds got into the fireplace insert.


Here is Jacques, just before he decided to roll in all that ooze that has his attention. At least he didn’t roll in the dead jellyfish.

Someone got me thinking about beach towns. When I was a kid, they were great. Some towns were built up, some not, but a cruise along Pacific Coast Highway was always a fine, cheap summertime thrill, especially when we went as far as the beach towns in Baja. So here it is, the Fourth of July. PCH is far away but still, time for a beach run. Sort of. This time the border crossing took us to Charron, in the Charente Maritime and at the mouth of the Sèvres Niortaise river.

Charron is pretty downmarket, perhaps because of a flood that took out of goodly part of the surrounding area. For my American friends, 1m10 is about waist height. 1.5 milliard is 1.5 billion euros. 52,000 hectares is almost 130,000 acres. No wonder people aren’t in any hurry to move back.

It’s not a bad place, though, as long as it’s above sea level. We parked at a dry dock, where some boats were being repaired. There are also fishing companies and Bistro La Ponetère, which is just what you see, plus a couple of tents. A nearby sign gave a number to phone for reservations, though I doubt that you’d need one today.

The government has made the best of a marshy situation by declaring much of the coastline to be a nature preserve. Kinda sorta, pretty much. I’m not sure agriculture fits, but whatever. Those bales of hay in the distance are also in the nature preserve.

The Tour de France will roll by here in a couple of days. I’ll be off at a family party, so I’ll watch on TV, which is probably the best way to see it, anyway. Folks are excited, though, and towns are hoping for their fleeting moment of fame; 15 minutes might be a bit optimistic. Here are a couple of shots from a nearby town, located at a turn in the course.

Happy Fourth, all. Light a sparkler for me.