12 March 2013

Keeping watch

Our house is what is called « un pavillon sur sous-sol » here in the Saint-Aignan area (and maybe all over France) — sort of a bungalow over a basement. "Basement" and especially the French term « sous-sol »  ("below-ground") is kind of a misnomer, since none of our house is below ground level at all.

At any rate, that means that our "basement" (entryway, pantry, utility room, and garage) sits on a concrete slab on the ground and the main living level is on what we would call the second story in American terms. In French, it's an elevated first floor — un rez-de-chaussée surélevé. All of that means that we sit up high and with our big windows, we overlook most of the hamlet — the neighborhood.

The side of the kitchen with the leak, all put back together yesterday.

In fact, now that we have had the attic space finished and furnished, we have an even loftier (ha ha) view of the area. We keep an eye on the comings and goings of our neighbors, the vineyard crews, the occasional pedestrian, the dogs and cats, the deer, and any other traffic passing by. (A tractor pulling a trailer full of gravel and a sort of road-grader vehicle just went by — they must be resurfacing part of the gravel road through the vineyard.)

I mentioned the leak in the kitchen ceiling yesterday. Well, it rained steadily for an hour or two overnight and we had no repeat of the phenomenon. It seems that the roof leaks only when an extraordinarily large amount of rain falls over an unusually short period of time. That's good, because we don't urgently need a repair — we need a long-term fix. (I'm used to this — three of the places we lived in in San Francisco had roof leaks at one time or another.)

What we noticed out the kitchen window yesterday morning

Yesterday, as I was taking the picture of the kitchen, through the window I noticed a red jeep pull up at the neighbor's house. It was the departmental (county) emergency services. Two uniformed agents (employees of the fire department, I think) got out and went into the neighbor's house — I'm talking about the shut-in neighbor who fell twice last week and who we assisted.

A couple of minutes later, an ambulance arrived. Both the emergency vehicles had blue lights flashing. I don't think they were responding to any drastic emergency, but they came to carry the neighbor out of his house and take him, I assume, to a hospital or convalescence home where his condition can be re-assessed.

First this Jeep-type vehicle arrived...

When the emergency crews brought the man out of the house, he was in a wheelchair. His house is built in the same style as ours, so they had to carry him down the front steps. Then they could roll him down the driveway and lift him into the ambulance. I watched from the kitchen window, discreetly, and I saw that the neighbor was conscious — he was talking and looking around. It was raining out, or had just quit raining.

...and then this ambulance pulled up.

So that's the latest installment. I don't know exactly what's going on, and I don't want to be seen as a busybody. I predict that the neighbor will return to his house at some point, but I don't really know that. I'm just glad that his medical needs seem to be getting the attention of the authorities.

Now there are six empty houses in the hamlet, and just three houses that are lived-in. It's getting lonely here.


  1. I think it's the same picture in many areas. Along the small lane, which leads from the village centre to our house,only one of the five houses is occupied - and that at weekends. When we bought three were occupied by old ladies who are no longer there.

    As you say it's getting lonely. As we are only at our hous during holiday periods no doubt our other neighbours further along the lane feel the same!

  2. I guess we are lucky. Of the houses in our immediate vicinity, 7 are occupied, all by people a decade younger than us, 2 are empty and one is a holiday home.

  3. Are the unoccupied (not the secondary residence) houses for sale or for rent? Or are they simply unoccupied, waiting for the occupant to come back or for the heirs to decide what to do? You are well located, but aside from employment at the Beauval zoo, I don't know what else there is for younger, working folk. Tours is a bit far for a daily commute. If ever we decided to leave Paris, I could imagine living where you are, but I don't think we'll ever decide to leave here.

  4. It's such a lovely area that in a way it's surprising that people aren't queuing up to live there. But I suppose that if there is not very much employment it's only retired people who like peace and quiet that might move in.

    I'm glad the gentleman next door is getting something done, he obviously can't carry on as he is much longer.

  5. Right now our neighbours are here, but they live in Paris and the house is their holiday home.

    At one time our lieu-dit had 4 or 5 houses. Now all bar us and the neighbours are in ruins and gradually sinking into the woods.

  6. I've been wanting to send a comment to Judy but she usually gets here earlier than I do. Today might be my chance. Just wanted to say Judy, thanks for the link to Amy's blog; I'm enjoying her take on Alencon.

    Ken and Walt, we really enjoy living in a quiet place and every time we come home, whether it's from a trip to the nearest grocery store or a day in DC, we're so glad to get home. Don't you feel that way after a day out?

  7. I hope it's nothing too serious for your neighbour, but it's good that the medical/health authorities are now involved.
    I like peace and tranquility, so your little hamlet would be an ideal life for me.

  8. It is not unusual at all in France to have hamlets like yours, where people have their country home and will eventually retire there (or not). I think I would be very happy living in such a place as long as I had a nice, comfortable house, fit for my needs.
    (I just "like" le zoo de Beauval on Facebook. Such a nice place).

  9. I hope your neighbor gets whatever help he needs. Good he has some family to help with the decision making.

  10. Hi Carolyn-- I popped in this evening, so I've seen your comment :) I'm glad you're enjoying Amy's blog from Alençon. She's a great young woman!

  11. Hi Ellen, thank you so much for those photos this morning. I hope you don't mind that I posted some of them.

    About the houses in our hamlet, only one is for sale at this point. It's a small house on a triangular lot. I've never seen inside, but I posted about it here a while back. I don't know the asking price but the notaire handling the same is Séverine Fève-Taphinaud in Saint-Aigna

    Carolyn, I agree with you about having peace and quiet and little neighbor noise.

    Judy, have you given us the address of Amy's blog?


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