My first infatuation with the notion of living in a small stone house in France came when I spent the summer between high school and college on Île de Ré. The main house of the compound was a larger residence, but within the walls of "Les Bergeries" were many small stone outbuildings, which each of the grown siblings had adapted for individual families' summer living. I was hooked.
A year or two later, I experienced the life of a young Frenchman's "second home" in Brittany, complete with the 2 CV. Primitive, but certainly doable. And cheap!
Since then, I have come so close -- SO close! -- more times than you can imagine, to owning a small place in France. First was the house in Theneuil, during a summer spent in the Touraine in the early 1990s. I was within a hair's breadth of purchasing the crumbling small rectory next to this church, complete with outbuildings and gorgeous stone courtyard. After lengthy discussions with the mayor of the village, I was not certain of the fate of the property's ancient stone wall, possibly to be torn down for a road widening. I sadly, ultimately, backed down from making an offer. The price at the time was 70,000 FF, about $14,000 at the time. Awful end of story: I bought a used Saab instead. To this day, of course, this missed opportunity will always be referred to as my "Saab story."
|The Maison de Poupee in St Enogat|
I became known among the local friends as "the woman who went out for baguettes and came home with a house." My kind of fame!
|The view from the little house in St. Enogat|
And yet the dream lives on. Whenever I tootle around the back-roads of France I always experience real estate envy.
Part two: real estate envy.
Sshhh. Some of my friends call it real estate porn. It is just as addictive, so, well, yeah. Dreaming of that sexy place that isn't yours, well, not yours now, but maybe someday, or in your dreams, or.. . well, okay kind of that. If you have that kind of real estate fixation in the U.S., for example, you know what sites you go to for your fix. If you have French real estate yearning, for a small pile of stones in the luscious French countryside, you know where to go, right?
Oh, you don't ?
Well, let me tell you: you go to Explorimmo. That's the simple part. Then you need to know some French and some French geography. You need to pick a region that you are interested in. And if you want a tiny house, enter an amount such as 100 m2 in the square meters part. Well, it's complicated. But, trust me, it's pure French real-estate gratification, right on the screen. Does it for me every time!
Part three: driving around.
There is nothing I would rather spend my leisure hours doing than exploring the routes départementales, the windy back roads, in France, and then from there even the smaller back roads. Sheer bliss. Because if you use GPS and always get where you're going, you can often miss some of the most fabulous buildings around. Driving around Provence, I spotted this wonderful place in a horse paddock in a field in a town not far from Salon de Provence.
This is my new object of desire, the tiny house that I would love to live in in France.
I want to live in this house, or I want to replicate it exactly. No more, no less. My dream.
End of story. Mine, at least. Where would you like to live your small-house fantasy in France?