Our Maison

26th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

During a phone conversation with a stateside friend last week, she asked me which adjectives would accurately describe our new house. Ah, an easy one, I thought.

But some of what I came up with surprised her.

Of course, there were the usual suspects:

Beautiful. Ours is a very old stone townhouse in the heart of our village. And, from what I can hear of passing conversations, we are not the only ones stricken by her good looks.

Traditional. Built in the 'old style' (who doesn't love old French houses?), everything on my 'must have' list was combined in this one medium-sized package: visible ceiling beams (les poutres), terra cotta tiles (les tomettes) throughout, a huge fireplace, and a beautiful terrace – overlooking no fewer than three vineyards and an orchard in full bloom. As far as I'm concerned, life, or at least houses, just can't get much better than that.


Quaint. Some of our keys look more as if they were made for a dungeon than a house. Opening the windows to air the place out usually means that in short order I'll be joined by a fat bumblebee or three. The lack of screens (for someone accustomed to the swarms of mosquitoes back home) — along with shutters that actually work (as opposed to being glued to the side of the house for decorative purposes) — are things I have very much come to appreciate in a home.

Roomy. I never, ever, thought I would see the day when I could honestly say that we have more space than we need, but…we have more space than we need. And, after five years of living in a Paris apartment, that is no small thing.

Bien située. We literally face the village school. This means that, playground noise aside, mommy can merely open the door and shove her own kiddies out the door with her foot on the days she doesn't feel like getting dressed. Kidding, kidding…sort of.

A not-so-usual suspect

Quirky. A side effect of a house laid with old-fashioned terra cotta tiles in every room (including on the terrace) is that there are no completely flat floors. No big deal, right? Well, no, except that the scale (recently ordered by FdC to make sure she is actually losing that baby fat) has nowhere to sit. Nowhere. Not if she wants an accurate reading, at any rate.

Worse than that, there is not a single right angle anywhere in the house. Not even one. Try ordering rugs for floors like that. Or, better yet, try hanging a shower curtain in a bathroom where not only the tub is situated at bizarre angle, but the ceiling is, too. So, curtain-less we shall (unwillingly) remain.

But for completely off-the-wall house-describing adjectives, I can offer these:

Secretive. One of my least favorite aspects of the Paris apartment was the exposed pipes, especially those in the bathroom. I simply could not understand why, in a country whose engineers are capable of the likes of the TGV, plumbing could not be hidden somehow – especially in the newer buildings. An exposed pipe in a bathroom equals, as far as I am concerned, a dirty eyesore.


But in our 'new' house, a house whose walls are more than two feet thick, they are nowhere to be found. I am not kidding about this. Not only is there not a single exposed pipe – anywhere in the house – but when the two local plumbers showed up earlier this week to fix a water-flow problem in the tub, they simply couldn't find our plumbing. And, after more than an hour of searching, they left, scratching their heads.

And if plumbers can't find our plumbing, then who can?

Haunted. Yes. You read that right. More on this last adjective to follow in future postings.

There are indeed a lot of adjectives I would use to describe this house in the south, but boring isn't one of them.

Feel free to email FdC at: fdc@expatica.com

The full Française de Cœur blog can be found at:


March 27, 2006

Copyright Expatica

Subject: Living in France, blog

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