08 January 2011

Progress and changes

Jacques the building contractor sent one of his men over on Thursday to seal all the cracks and seams in our upstairs closets where cold air was coming in. It took the man all day, and he seems to have done an excellent job. It's been very windy this morning and we aren't feeling it up here in the loft at all.

The weather is still very mild and very wet most of the time. Walt got up this morning, looked out the window, and said: "There are all these very strange points of light in the sky." Ha ha. That's right, it's clear this morning, but that's not supposed to last. A rain front is moving in from the northwest and will give us steady rain all afternoon and into the night, according to the forecast I just saw.

This morning's sunrise, with a rare clear sky

Oh, and I got the currency exchange done. It's easy once I've made up my mind. I set up the transaction, then I send a request form to the bank in the U.S. by e-mail, and I wait for a call. The phone rings, I answer a few security questions to prove I am who I say I am, and the money is sent.

Living on U.S. dollars in a country where they are not the legal tender is not the ideal situation to be in. But there we are. We are at the mercy of the dollar/euro exchange rate. It certainly makes budgeting more complicated.

I ended up getting a rate of $1 U.S. = 0.76 € this time. That's not too bad. Expressed in dollars per euro, that's 1 € = $1.31. I realized a gain of a couple of hundred euros by waiting a few days as the euro fell against the U.S. dollar. Every euro counts, that's my attitude. When I changed money last spring, I got 80 eurocents per dollar, but in March it was only 72 eurocents. So my average for the year is $1 = 0.76 €. We did several currency transactions in 2010 because we were having the attic converted into new living space.

In other news, we think one of the houses in our hamlet might be going on the market. There are only 9 houses here at La Renaudière, and about half of them are occupied only seasonally. None has been sold since we bought ours in 2002/2003. The house we think might be advertised for sale soon belonged to a woman who died last year. She was 95 years old. Her two children — people my age — inherited the house, but one lives in the Paris area and the other lives down south near the Mediterranean.

Yesterday's sunset

Both of the late owner's heirs have come and spent a few days here over the past year, but not often, and they never stay long. One of them told me the place needs a lot a work. I've never seen the inside, and, unfortunately, they don't seem to do open houses here the way they do in the U.S. to sell houses. I'd love to see the interior, what facilities it has, and how it is decorated. All I know is that there are at least two small outbuildings and there's a small orchard of half a dozen apple trees out back. The house has great views of the vineyard right outside.

We haven't seen any « A Vendre » signs go up yet, but there's been a flurry of activity over there this week. Obviously, contractors are being called in, either to repair things or to spiff the place up. And Walt found a real estate agent's calling card on the ground on the road out there. I don't even know if the heirs are here right now, or are having all this done from afar. I haven't seen them or their car.


  1. I saw Claude out in his yard this morning, so they're there.

  2. I really like to see the insides of houses that are for sale -- when we built our house here in Virginia we got a lot of ideas by looking at other houses (magazines, too). Best of luck to the heirs in selling. Is the housing market taking a nose-dive in France, too?

  3. Hi, just to say I have been enjoying your blog for some weeks now. Happy new year!

  4. Methinks it would very much be in the vendor/estate agents' interests to allow you to view this house. You are rather influential. Sounds idyllic to me.

  5. ooooh - interesting. I'm writing to you off-blog.

  6. Beautiful sunrise picture! If the US Federal Reserve starts raising interest rates (which they will probably have to do) the dollar will go up in value. I remember back in early 1985 when the exchange rate was 10 francs to the dollar for a few months. We stayed in hotels we could have never afforded otherwise.

  7. Ken, you may have a new career selling real estate. Probably half your blog fans are on the notaires de France website right now looking for this house. Maybe the new owner will be a friend and/or fan of your blog.

  8. Carolyn - I had the same idea! The way Ken and Walt describe all of their meals - who wouldn't want to live nearby and if they were lucky- they might get an invite someday!!!

    Seriously, Ken, your blogging is a great way to advertise the "frenchiness" of a place that is not on the tourist route. As it is, I sometimes open up your blog and feel like I'm sharing your activities with you and France!

    Thank you.

  9. The weather is miserable but look at the great photos you het.

  10. It's a struggle to get any good pictures outdoors these days, really. The two in this post are ones I took from the windows, inside the house.

    Cynthia, I agree with you about seeing other houses. The French real estate market is not booming, as far as I know, but then there was no bubble here has there was in Spain, England, and the U.S. Houses out here in the French countryside tend to stay on the market for a very long time before they sell.

    Thanks, Diogenes. I remember when the dollar was that high against the franc. It was when the Socialists won the French presidency (Mitterand). Unfortunately I was in the U.S. then and not traveling to France at all. I do remember when the euro was first introduced that the dollar was as high as 1.20 euros as opposed to 0.77 now. Yes, if the Federal Reserve starts raising U.S. interest rates, the dollar will strengthen.

  11. Hello, Ken. I'm a friend of "Bill from New Hampshire." He's been raving about your blog and his trip to Saint-Aignan, so I've been spending some time today reading your blog. It's delightful! I'll check out Walt's blog next. I live in Sacramento, CA, but I get to France whenever I can. I have a brother who lives outside of Geneva and has a house in St. Hilaire-d'Ozhilan, near Provence. I haven't spent time in the Loire, but now, after reading your blog, I must! I've also enjoyed your blog about your visit to NC, since I have family in Raleigh and Durham. I'm looking forward to future posts. Mary Mc

  12. Just revisiting your blog after a fairly long spell and came back to this post, which I did read when you wrote it. Have you noticed how the € has come back up? You really timed your exchange perfectly.
    Any news on the house which might or might not be for sale?

  13. Hi Ellen, yes, I have noticed that the euro's come back up. I hit the exchange at exactly the right moment, which makes me happy. I would be even happier if the euro would settle down to about $1.25 or $1.27 though.

    No news on the house. The people who own it left a day or two after my post so I don't have any news. There are no for sale signs up.


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