We’ve been home for a bit over a week. Minimal jetlag ,thank goodness. We find jetlag unpredictable…sometimes we suffer it and sometimes not. I guess it is just one of the prices we pay for living in a country at the bottom of the world.
As we locked up and readied ourselves for the trip home I said to Janelle that I am really looking forward to coming over to the house for a holiday. On this last trip the time we spent there was quite stressful and we were pretty much tied to the house.
In a way that didn’t matter because we both love to cook and each night after dinner we watched French TV for a couple of hours in the hope it might improve our comprehension a bit. Our problem with improving our French is that at our ages you don’t seem to retain much new stuff. But we battle on. As I have said before the phone is the killer. When someone speaks to us one the phone in French we are just lost… There’s no reference to work from unless you can pick up a word or two. Just as you need a guru to refer to when you are wrestling with computers , so you need a bilingual guru nearby to help you through the French day ( and night ,je pense).
Somewhat along these lines is a problem I think that big French organisations are missing. There are an awful lot of people living in France who do not speak good French. Yet the Oranges and Credit Agricoles of this world do not fully accept this. Orange has a number you can ring if you are an English speaker and you get to speak to an English speaker ,but all their written material is in French. Similarly ,Credit Agricole has an entire department in Nimes set up to service English speakers but all the material they send us is in French. Welcome to France!
On the whole I think we can be pleased that we got done what we wanted to. In 8 weeks we settled on the purchase of Chez Fitz , installed two bathrooms and a kitchen ,unloaded a container and set the house up. And did it all over the Xmas/ New Year period.
All the local people we dealt with showed us great goodwill and were unfailingly pleasant. But , as Olivier said to us a few times ,a lot of the tradesmen are ” not serious”.
In both Sanilhac and Uzes we found the locals pleasant and helpful .and English is widely spoken, particularly in the larger places like Uzes.
We were really surprised at the problems that we and our friend Reg experienced in trying to get things delivered .There is also a problem in many stores with stock levels. Reg wanted some wall lights from M Bricolage. Only one in stock. He ordered the number he wanted, pre paid and they took three weeks longer to arrive than he had been quoted. Locals said that this is typical.
Our friend Hugh ,who has lived in Provence for over 15 years told me that tradesmen tended to be pretty casual about sending bills , sometimes taking months.. We told our tradesmen when we were leaving and that we wanted to settle up before we came home. We still haven’t had a bill from the electrician.
We had a few days in Paris on the way back .As always, it was great. We went to Retromobile, which is probably the best event on the planet if you are into cars. Some friends had us for dinner at the three star Michelin restaurant at the Bristol Hotel. One of the best meals of our lives. If you like food and haven’t had the full Michelin experience, don’t die wondering.
In Paris we stayed at the Travellers Club which is at 25 Champs Elysees. It has reciprocal arrangements with The RACV and most of the other motoring clubs. Try it if you can. It was built by a banker for his Russian mistress and is just magnificent. Not expensive.
I’ll do another blog on Paris I think, because we have found quite a few good spots over the years and no trip to France is complete without some time spent in Paris
Since we got home we have been working on getting the website sorted out. We have loaded the photos of the house and are in the process of loading a video walkthrough of the house .
I have written and Janelle has typed, a Book of the House explaining how the house works and how the surrounding area works. We will put parts of this up on the website too. I am also going to do a little video of Uzes and of the Sanilhac Truffle Festival.
The reaction to this blog has amazed me and has encouraged me to keep going. So watch out for a Paris blog shortly.