Monthly Archives: January 2015

Back in our beautiful house

John’s blog continues……
It was late morning under a concrete sky when I drove down Rue Droite and stopped outside our gate. Walking into the courtyard and then the house was like putting on an old shoe — everything familiar and welcoming. Our stuff. This is why we own and don’t just rent somewhere. A quick look around indicated that the house had been really well respected by our guests during the year. This confirms our theory that if you demonstrate trust in people they will reciprocate. A couple of guests had left little presents for us , which was lovely , as were the comments in the Visitors’ Book.

Off to the Boulangerie for a baguette where I was greeted as though I hadn’t been away for nearly six months.
Loesje and her lovely dog Izzy came around for a coffee and gossip. The two main items were that Izzy has been cast in a movie to be made next year and the incredible amount of damage caused by recent storms. Sanilhac, like lots of French villages, is on top of a hill. There are three roads accessing it. Two were washed away. They have been made passable but not yet properly repaired. Which brings to mind the considerable difference between the way such things as road maintenance are conducted in France and in our Nanny State. The French approach is to park a truck ( camion ) ,put out a sign behind the truck and start working. No people with flags and signs, just actual workers. Refreshing .
I then caught up with my mate Reg who came with us when we bought our house and who himself bought an apartment in Uzes. Reg has decided that he wants to spend more time in beautiful Uzes and wants a bigger apartment, ideally with a terrace and a garage. Not easy.
After a rainy night the day dawned (at about 8 am) fairly miserable. But it was a Wednesday, so into the Uzes market. The market was in winter mode ,so quite small and not too busy.

I stocked up on some charcuterie, poultry – magnificent compared to what is available in Oz, winter veggies and some absolutely beautiful flowers (which ended up lasting for 3 weeks!).
I tried for some green prawns so I could cook them with a creole rub which was left as a present but there were none. The French really like their seafood. The seafood market stalls are always busy and with great variety.. They are required to label their produce with its place of origin, but it seems pretty useless when they can say ” equator ” as a place of origin? Seafood in France is dearer than it is in Oz, sometimes quite a bit dearer. For example the huge prawns called ‘gambas’ can be over $80 per kg. Ouch!
After the market I generally wander along busy Rue Republic, past M.Martinelli’s excellent butchery to Ma Cantine for a coffee. As I think I have blogged earlier, Ma Cantine is owned and operated by the unflappable and always pleasant Thierry and his lovely wife (and chef) Fabienne, lovely warm people and soooo helpful. They have a small menu of good, simple, traditional dishes. We are suckers for the oeufs mayonnaise, with house made mayo. 5 euros! After my coffee and a six month catchup a brief walk around Uzes.
A lot of shops closed as their owners holiday after the Season. Absolutely delighted to see that our Bete noir, the Orange shop, has closed down — there is a God!
Having discovered that I had left all my medication for the trip in the mini bar in the hotel room in Lyon, I visted a pharmacy in Uzes with my sad tale. “No problem” said the pharmacist, how much do you want?”. No prescription . No problem.
A meandering drive back to the house through vineyards and forests blazing with intense autumn colours
I’m ashamed to say I had to get Loesje around to show me once more how to work the TV and the dreaded Orange Livebox. Then I remembered that I had set it all down in great detail in the Book of the House! Getting old — don’t you love it!
A few minor repairs and then a roaring fire and some local wine to welcome myself back to our second home. There was a huge storm overnight. The loudest thunder I have heard and bouts of torrential rain. Next morning Loesje told me that overnight three people had drowned and a baby was missing. Seeing the aftermath of this and the previous storms really brings home the fact that we really have a very precarious hold on this Planet.
Janelle was not due to arrive for another week or so. Reg and I spent time looking at apartments and looking for cars to buy, having decided we were sick of dealing with the car hire companies.
We saw a number of apartments in Uzes which led me to reach two major conclusions. The first is just how misleading real estate photography and descriptions can be. The second is what bad taste some people have. But I already knew both those things. This just rammed it home!
Then we were shown THE ONE. At least I thought it was, but Reg is much more considered than moi.
We were shown it by Phillipe, the owner of Agence de Passage in Uzes. He is very tall and gentle and gentlemanly. And you feel that you can trust him. Phillipe and his wife are both lawyers from Burgundy who decided on a sea change about 5 years ago. They moved south with their small daughter and started the agency. They speak pretty good English and are very correct in the conduct of their business. And quite delightful people.
It’s a 2 bedroom apartment in the middle of Uzes. It has been really carefully and tastefully renovated over 10 years by the owners with the old features preserved. It has a really great, private terrace on the roof which has views across to two of Uzes’ famous old towers and it faces south. Bliss!
While Reg was pondering the purchase Janelle arrived, went through the apartment and Reg was dead meat, especially after we told him we would buy his existing apartment! He made his offer after receiving sage advice from Phillipe and after the usual to’ing and fro’ing a deal was struck. We all went around to the new apartment the next day with champagne and flowers and Reg was made!
So now it was off to the Notaire to have the paperwork done. We decided to move on from the Notaire we used to buy our house and to instead use the Notaire Reg had used for his purchase. And she was the person Phillipe said that he would have recommended to us. Notaires seem to have a pretty relaxed life in France. The first time she could squeeze us all in was in 10 days which wasn’t bad considering that she doesn’t work on Fridays or Mondays. But then neither do most French people, it seems.

So, we find ourselves having bought another piece of property in La Belle France. It’s a one bedroom apartment right in the middle of Uzes only 50 metres from the Place aux Herbes. It comprises a bedroom, bathroom, toilet, lounge/ dining room and kitchen. The rooms are large with high ceilings and huge French ( what else? ) windows onto the street. It is in great condition — we helped paint it after Reg bought it 2 years ago. We plan to furnish it and use it as a rental property. But again we will use high quality furniture and fittings and trust our guests.

In the next edition we’ll look at buying a used car in France–tres interesant !