August 05, 2007

Home Plans

To answer a few questions about our living arrangements in France: The village of Argenton-Chateau has a population of about 1,100 residents, and in researching further, approximately 3,000 people live within a 7 km radius of here.

We share an 1800's apartment building owned by the instructors at Studio Escalier, and enjoy a large apartment with a shared kitchen/bath. We have a full-sized gas stove and small electric oven, and enjoy our dishwasher, although I only tend to use it after entertaining a large groups. Our apartment is usually reserved for additional instructors, so it is larger than most apartments for the school. The windows from our bedroom/study, our bathroom, and our kitchen overlook the back garden area, which is accessed via a lovely double semi-spiral staircase. The garden overlooks the northern valley, and the community pool in the distance.

Two upstairs apartments are 2-bedroom with shared kitchens/baths, and there is one studio apartment with private kitchen/bath on our level. The only window coverings on the north side of the building are wooden shutters; which must be closed every evening to keep early sunrise from waking us too early. Lizards of about 4-5" long like to play in the sunlight near the shutters, when the north side warms up at midday. Other things that are different? No screens on the windows and no A/C, but thick masonry walls keep (at least first floor) pretty cool in warm weather. There is a small building attached to our building which houses two large carved stone tubs/vats which were used for a laundry, and a large brick bread oven - this structure is no longer in use, but I could imagine a great pizza restaurant, with outdoor garden cafe seating.

The Studio Escalier website also has a link to a famous resident: Fripon the donkey. He likes pears, but carrots seem to be his favorite. At other regions in this area, I have enjoyed the sight of dogs and their owners in all types of business establishments; the Tabac here usually has one or two patrons with a dog at their side (on or off leash), and the cafe I frequent in Thouars has two cats who seem as relaxed and at ease as the owner.

We do not have a TV, and the clock/radio has limited reception - more talk programs than music. The apartment building is set up with wireless internet, which is our main source of world news. Living here for three months has given us a greater understanding of what "stuff" we need and do not need when we return home. Our TV at home may be moved out, or least to our spare room. Drying clothes on a clothesline would not be out of the question now. Walking and riding bikes for nearby errands and work, would be better for us and for our bank account. Purchasing locally produced food and produce would help to support our small struggling farmers, and would be better for our health. And striving to maintain a more leisurely pace (although our employers may not agree to a two-hour lunch break), may help to establish fuller happiness and contentment in our busy lives.