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Week two in France

June 23, 2011

May 28th 2011

Well we are settling in and have finished cleaning the apartment, however there is still nowhere really comfortable to sit for any length of time. We are reluctant to go out and buy a couple of chairs as we have a container full of stuff and we’ll probably end up with too much (like we haven’t already).

First set back last week was the new car – couple of minor issues that needed attention hadn’t been completed, they have promised this coming Tuesday but we’ll see. In the meantime they have loaned us a Renault Clio – so small it feels like a roller skate with seats and is really uncomfortable to drive. I bought a GPS (Tom Tom) now nicknamed Doris and it keeps getting lost, particularly in one village we go through all the time. It also gives instructions that are not possible like turning into one-way streets the wrong way. At 300+ Euros (needed a big screen) this is not impressive but it does help sometimes and it does have a Bluetooth connection to my cell-phone. I can’t get used to the “Joyce Grenfell” voice on it though, my old Lexus was very polite, this thing is ordering me about in an imperious manner and if I take a wrong turning it gets really upset.

I still don’t have a proper Internet connection, I’m using a USB stick with a SIM card in it and I’ll bet its costing a small fortune, it’s also very slow in finding US-based websites so finalizing accounts etc is proving a challenge. My brother kindly agreed to have our mail redirected to their house (USPS won’t redirect abroad) but the Post Office decided not to redirect it but deliver to Via del Oro. This has now been sorted but now there is a huge pile of mail there – we are going to have to go through by remote control and vast expense on cell-phones – Skype isn’t practical on this internet connection. Still the volume should drop off very soon (we hope) as we get our address changed with various organizations. The phone line and ADSL connection are due on June 7.

Anyway, we have organized ourselves a bit more and are finding things like hairdressers, nail salons, food stores and we are learning the French equivalents of loads of stuff (like Bounce dryer sheets). Food is of course great everywhere, small cafes, bars, restaurants are all superb and not very expensive. We did however splash out a bit to celebrate my birthday, went with Marc & Sylvie to the restaurant where they had their wedding celebration last year – La Venetes in Arradon. Great dinner, overlooking the sea but we didn’t get to bed until midnight!

Now we have started house hunting and are working with a couple of agencies to begin with. Yesterday an agent showed us four houses and we were not impressed, all very scruffy and needing total redecoration as a minimum. Location wasn’t great either and we have decided that East of Vannes is not a good area. The villages are not very appealing, lots of commercial stuff etc. We’d like to be close to where we are but the prices are very high near to the Golfe du Morbihan so further inland is probably where we’ll end up.

Today we looked towards the North and with another agent looked at six, two of which were distinctly interesting. We are sold on the idea of the style “neo-Breton”, these are slightly older, usually have some stonework on the outside and have a “sous-sol” – basically a basement with garage, storage workshops etc. We saw two today, one needed some decoration work but nothing critical and had quite a pleasant view over the country-side, the other which was much more expensive, was immaculate – move in ready. Even the basement was completely finished and painted and had room for at least two cars (even had an inspection pit) plus a huge workshop, laundry room and wine store. The garden was huge – 2300 sq m – and had loads of vegetable plots, chicken run etc. That could be a maintenance issue in the future but the big selling point was the view, we could even see the sea in the distance. Its going to take some serious negotiation if we are to afford it and decide to make an offer. But we have plenty of time to look at others so no early decisions. Also, we are told the sale completion time from offer to occupation can take three months and this means we’ll be using part of August for this period – France is shut in August. The big difference is that once the offer is accepted the sale is a done deal and we get to occupy the house when we expect to, a big bonus as we can then time our shipment from the US.

Right now June is having her nails done and they said it will take 75 minutes so I came back home and started writing. Now we’ll find out if her cell-phone works. Then we’ll continue the “happy hour” – G & T’s, small nibblers (muse bouche) followed by simple dinner and a glass or two of wine. We are learning different cheeses and pates and enjoying the experience however we cannot find good biscuits for cheese yet. They are all of the too sweet kind or are kind of greasy like TUC or Ritz, no nice wheat crackers to be found – further serious research is indicated.

 

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Mrs Niklasson's Adventures

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