18 December 2013

La Vie en rose

That is a famous song, of course. Edith Piaf wrote the words and made the song world-famous. She might have been talking about the December sky at dawn in the Loire Valley.

Quand il me prend dans ses bras, et me parle tout bas, je vois la vie en rose...

That's our house in approximately the middle of the photo above. Below is a view farther out in the vineyard looking pretty much northwest.

I'm not trying to imply that la vie en rose — la belle vie — is what we live here, but life here ain't half bad. Even in wintertime there are beautiful moments.

Meanwhile, our long tall laurel hedge has been trimmed one more time. This time we had a professional gardening crew in to do the job, so you won't see progress reports and photos day after day on the blogs. You've seen all those posts in the past if you've been reading my blog and Walt's for a few years.

Yesterday I had a conversation with an American woman who works as a notaire — a French-government-licensed contracts lawyer — about end-of-life issues in France. I wanted to know whether the two spouses in a childless French or foreign marriage, living in and owning property in France at the time of their death, need to have last wills and testaments to define inheritance issues, or whether one spouse automatically inherits their property when the other one dies. French family inheritance laws are very different from our laws in the Anglo-Saxon world.

I already knew that the children of one or both spouses in any marriage have a right to inherit a certain share of the property their parents leave behind. The surviving spouse usually gets a lifetime right to stay in the family home. Children can't be disinherited, and they actually inherit their parents' property and become the owners. What I didn't know was that the parents of two spouses also have a right to a certain portion of the property when their adult child dies. The American notaire said it would be prudent for the two spouses to draw up their wills, with the help and advice of a local notaire, and to be explicit about their final wishes and instructions. I need to do more research on the issue.


  1. Isn't Edith Piaf the woman that sang I regret nothing?

  2. Yes, she is. Je ne regrette rien...

  3. Vis-a-vis wills, as a childless couple we're in the same position as you. We have French wills - please let us know if we can be of any help. P&T

  4. Thanks, Pauline. I've been to see the notaire in Saint-Aignan several times over the past few years. I'll go see her again in January.

  5. You're so smart to always think ahead like this, Ken. One of our friends died rather suddenly a few months ago, and many financial things were left unsettled, because proper paperwork was not in place (for example, he had forgotten that his massive life insurance policy had never had the beneficiary changed after his first wife died a number of years ago... he hadn't even named his children as contingent beneficiaries, let alone his second wife... now, it's a big problem).

    I remember learning, while I was in Paris at a class during my last trip, how unprotected non-married partners are, if paperwork is not put in place (as I have read also, of course, in your blog). An older woman was in our class, and the woman teaching it was a 20-something, with a child by the man with whom she was living, and he had a child from a previous marriage. The older woman told the younger one that she was leaving herself completely unprotected, and seriously needed to get some paperwork in place, as, if her partner died, everything would go to his young son by his previous wife, and to their child -- home included-- and this young woman would have no claim. Scary!

  6. Don't know about others. Ken,
    but I have found the hedge saga
    and photos fun to read about over
    the years. Perhaps a photo of
    the latest installment?

  7. Je ne regrette rien is one of my favorite songs ever. Lewis and I worked on our will a couple of years ago, not fun but necessary...


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