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Decisions Decisions... (Head and Heart)

I ended my last post at the moment of my arrival at what turned out to be now our house. Yes, it felt like home. But even when it "feels like home" one needs to separate feelings from common sense, right? There was a myriad of thoughts going through my brain - is this the right choice for us? What if we are making a mistake? What if decamping to the countryside is not the lifestyle we can adapt to?

On the train ride back to Lyon I made a long list of pros and cons. Back in Lyon the same evening I told my husband - "you have to see this house". We called the agent the next day and arranged for the second visit.

We are surrounded by the beautiful countryside

How does one make big decisions like buying a house? One shouldn't be guided by emotions, it takes discipline. And it is so easy to get caught up in a fantasy. On vacation you see beautiful stone houses, with roses climbing a fence, and everybody around speaking lovely French. It is like a fairy tale, and if we fall in love with something we can talk ourselves into almost anything...

When we started looking to buy we made a list of important - realistic - considerations that our future place will need to meet. After all, it is not going to be a vacation property, but somewhere where we will live full time. It is going to be our last property that we buy and live in (barring such circumstances as living in an old folks home later, possibly...) Jim and I approached the task rationally, "armored" with a list of criteria we talked over many times.

We decided to search in Burgundy after I abandoned the dream of living in Provence. We spent a few days there in July and after I almost passed out of heat exhaustion, it became apparent that the climate is not for me. The crowds of tourists, the insane traffic, and skyrocketing real estate prices helped the decision to not to settle there.

Provence will always have a special place in my heart, but for everyday living we wanted somewhere quieter. Settling somewhere off the tourist track where summers are still temperate appealed to us. This part of Burgundy, in central, rural France, is stunning, but mostly undiscovered by too many tourists. This suits us.

Our autumn garden as it greeted us right after we moved in

I mentioned that we made a list. It was revised a few times over the course of the search, but the main points remained:

  • being able to get a daily baguette by walking to a boulangerie It's so important to have the basic "commerces" (shops) accessible on foot. When you look at the real estate listings in France, there are plenty of charming country properties, many of them far from the nearest bakery. We were realistic - I would detest to have to drive every day to get my daily baguette! In our little village we enjoy having a boulangerie, an epicerie, La Poste, a pharmacie, la biblioteque, a tabac/brasserie, and two salons de couiffure... as well an a doctor's office and a team of nurses that will come to your home to draw blood or give you an injection. All necessities are right here.

  • an ample piece of land where one could have a garden - to our delight our garden is a private, walled, area with plenty of room for a flower garden and a "potager", still a "tabula rasa" for me, will be a wonderful project to plan it and grow flowers and vegetables. A small stream flows at the bottom of it... with an unobstructed view of nearby forests, hills, and farms

  • off-street parking, and

  • "elements d'ancien". Check, check and check. The house dates to 1795, is built from the Loire valley stone, and has numerous original details that miraculously stayed. The front "cour" is gated, offers privacy and space, and with two garages the parking is not a problem. And there are plenty original details for the vintage and antique obsessive me. The oak floors, the original "tomettes" (terracotta tiles), the beams, the fireplaces, the cornices...

We happily discovered that the original fireplaces were kept in most rooms, the grandest one in the "salon"

  • some renovations were acceptable to us - there will be a big reno coming our way shortly.... with some other modifications that we knew were coming in a few years, but didn't expect to deal with them so soon... but that's another story.

  • we were looking to have an accessible public transportation - this is the big compromise we decided to make, to accept the lack of it. We are 30 km away from a train station. The bus line is nonexistent.

For every minus there are bonus points - being in a beautiful region, living close to nature, in a small village surrounded by forests, in an area rich in history. Being able to breath fresher air, go for walk or on bike rides on country lanes straight from our front gate. Pouilly fume vineries are nearby, and charming small towns are easily accessible by car. All waiting for us to be discovered!

Medieval architecture of Donzy, a little town closest to our village, festooned in blooming wisteria

Our house search in Burgundy was nearing a year. After over five years in living in rental apartments in a busy city we yearned for a place to call our own. So the decision to purchase this house was reached with a heart and a head at the same time.

My husband and I saw the house together almost two weeks after my visit there. I was on pins and needles, afraid that someone else will swoop in and buy it! Or that Jim will not see the charm and possibilities of this place the same way I do. We spent a few intense days in the area, weighing many details...

We decided to make an offer. It was accepted immediately.

That was April 2023. Yes, it does take a looong time to close on real estate property in France. We signed the final sales contract at the end of September. The madness of the big move to the countryside was upon us...

To be continued....

Thank you for following along!



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