What is it that made me decide to pack up and make a move across the world to a place I had never actually seen? Driving in the Lot-et-Garrone for the first time, I was left breathless by a vision of a church in the middle rolling hills covered in wheat gold grasses, russet grapevines and parched sunflowers. Have I been enchanted by the mistress of Camont, weaving her stories of chateaux & cassoulet? Was there a potion in the wine shared at sunset with the farmer and his wife at Petit Clos? Or was I unduly influenced by a rosé fuelled video of a summer night market here in my new ville? Yes, yes, yes to all of the above. But, in truth,
they only brought me to the place I wanted to live all my life. On that level of wanting something but not really knowing what you were getting in to, which, of course, has made it all so much fun!
How did I get here? It was really all quite simple. Last August my friend, knowing that I had a French fixation, sent me an article that listed 10 places in the world you could live on social security. One of them, Languedoc-Roussillon, is in southern France, between Provence and Gascony. I had never been to Languedoc, but I knew of Gascony from a quick visit a few years before. I suspected if Langudoc was affordable, then Gascony was too, and I had friends there. Well, actually, I had recent acquaintances with whom I had rapidly bonded based on my admiration for their adventursome spirt. I had Facebook stalked Kate de Camont for a couple of years already, and had met her when I took a great road trip tour of hers to the Basque country. Plus there was Cindy, the daughter of California friends, her husband and young daughter who had moved to the area 5 years before and converted their beautiful farmhouse, Petit Clos, into a Bed and Breakfast, while also growing grapes (for wine!). Not a lot, but a start!
It all seemed to good to be true, so I had dinner with my good friends Luke (the source of that article) and Darin to talk it through. Some glasses of wine into the meal, as they continued to push me in the direction of France, I said ” I thought you were going to be my voices of reason. Why are you not talking me out of this?”. The response, after “This is what you have always wanted to do…”, was “…and, if you can do it, it means we can do it someday, too!”.
So, here I am, in Nérac, France, population of about 6,800, in a house, with a terrace, in what is called Petit Nérac. It’s just a short walk down the hill to the Baise river, or over the Old Bridge, or the New Bridge, into the centre ville (town center) and the castle of Henry IV. Across the road is a beautiful walking trail that parallels the river, all part of the castle grounds. There are two churches in town with bell towers that ring on the hour, one of which is much more photogenic than the other.
I did settle on Nérac before actually seeing it, having read about it from Kate de Camont, having seen pictures and videos from other’s who had discovered it’s charms. I have not had a moment of regret since arriving. Yes, I miss my family. Yes, there have been some major challenges, but that’s a part of what will drive this blog site! And, yes, it’s not the USA, it’s France, and I love it.