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If you read “Finding a Home in France, Part One”, you may remember that we expected to close on our apartment purchase in April. But France is full of surprises! On March 7, just over three months after our offer, the apartment was ours. The closing was assisted by Pogo, the notaire’s enormous dog.

We immediately drove to the apartment, intending to celebrate with a bottle of Champagne. But our car had other ideas, as it adamantly refused to squeeze itself through the winding, incredibly tight entrance to our below-building garage. By the time I got the car down to our level, we were both exhausted and stressed. “Shall we just go home?” I asked Phil. And we did.

After accepting the fact that we’d be parking on the street (the upside is having an entire garage for storage!), we began interviewing contractors for the renovations. The first one was highly recommended, and we liked him—but he couldn’t start until September. The second did not inspire great confidence. But the third time was indeed the charm, and we hired Benoit, who could start immediately.

Benoit’s design for our bathroom and toilet room.
Photo from Sandy Shroyer.

We hosted a final apéro in our old apartment, and the next morning we moved into our new home. There were a few bumps in the road: our bed came without feet so necessitated a quick trip to purchase them (who knew that in France beds are sold without feet?); there was no electricity or water for the washer/dryer hookup — and for part of a day, no hot water; and the oven, which we’d planned to keep, didn’t work. And we still haven’t figured out how to use the intercom phone system for admitting guests into the building. But problems often lead to innovation; I figured out how to bake on the cooktop!

Fluffy biscuit baked on the cooktop. Photo from Sandy Shroyer.

First up on the renovation project was painting. We decided on a pale blue-gray for the entire apartment. And we got rid of some really amazing wallpaper!

Yes, that is toilet paper wallpaper! Gone now. Photo from Sandy Shroyer.

One of the things Phil insisted on was a big American-style refrigerator with ice and water in the door. So when our contractor connected the water source, my husband was elated.

Frigo ice! Photo from Sandy Shroyer.

The painting is now almost complete, and in a couple of weeks the new kitchen will be installed. Just last night I was fiddling with the dials on the oven, in which I was storing my kitchen knives, when, VOILA, the oven came on! All this time we’ve actually had a working oven; we just weren’t smart enough to figure out how it worked! The good news: I have an oven! The bad news: we had already bought a new one.

This is a working oven.
Photo from Sandy Shroyer.

We now have selected all the bathroom fixtures, have bought almost all the lighting, and are considering kitchen backsplash options. One thing we’re nerdily excited about is the new toilet, which incorporates a hand-washing station. The used hand-washing water is used to flush the toilet. Environmentally sound!

Amazing handwashing toilet.
Photo from Sandy Shroyer.

Despite all the challenges, expense, and moments of feeling foolish (see oven, above), we are thrilled to be in our new home. We love sitting on the terrace with a cup of coffee or glass of wine, we can watch TV from our new sofa, and we are happy to be chez nous. And thanks to Renestance, this place is ours!

If you are considering purchasing property in the Languedoc region of France, hire Renestance as your dedicated house-hunting expert. If it’s another corner of France that you’re dreaming about, we are available to offer consulting and guidance. Please let us know if we can help you in this exciting project!

Sandra Shroyer

In early 2022, Sandy Shroyer retired from her professional career. Her jobs have included cooking for hired ranch hands, serving as a community mental health center staff psychologist, performing various leadership roles in healthcare firms, managing a lot of highly successful sales executives, and selling technology and services to health systems and health plans. The best part of her career was people—those who became lifelong friends, those who irritated her into learning important lessons, and those who taught her things through their kindness and genius. Her superpower is connecting people, whether it’s professional networking, introducing friends who become friends with each other, or just figuring out who might like to know someone she knows. She tried never to miss an opportunity to have fun at work. Sandy and her husband traveled full-time in the United States during the pandemic, and they are spending their retirement in Montpellier, France.

All articles by: Sandra Shroyer

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