The neighborhood we live in is located about half way between the center of the town of Saint-Aignan (pop. 3,000) and the center of a neighboring village (pop. 1,200). In other words, it's two miles (three kilometers) to town, and it's two miles to the village center (much smaller) from our house.
There has been a lot of building around here over the past 15 years. A dozen or more new houses have gone up just 500 meters (a third of a mile) down the hill from our place. The one pictured above is currently being built — out of hollow brick blocks that are like red cinder blocks. It sits right on the edge of the road, on which there is very little car traffic.
As you can see in the photo above, it looks like another large piece of land, next to about 10 houses that have been built over the past 10 years, is now up for sale. Whoever is selling the land needs to find a better sign maker. You kind of have to stand on your head to read the phone number right now.
Separating our hamlet, which is made up of nine older houses, from the new developments and houses down below are a big vineyard plot and a good-sized section of woods. The hamlet on the other side of the woods has its own place name, as does ours. The house above dominates the lower hamlet. It's shutters are always closed. The older couple who live there seem to occupy the lower level and leave the upper level all shut up.
The house above is unusual here because it is built out of wood, not brick or stone. It has an in-ground swimming pool. When it was first built 10 or 12 years ago, the wood was simply varnished but the house has recently been sold and repainted in
an off-white a pale gray color.
Finally, this last house is in our little hamlet, just two doors down from us. It was an old run-down farmhouse when our neighbor bought it in about 1970. He and his wife spent years fixing it up. They've told us that a family of nine was living in one room there, with a cow and some chickens in the attached stables, when they bought the place. Unfortunately, the neighbor's wife passed away a couple of years ago. I assume his daughter will inherit the house when the time comes.