Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Lovely Awkward: A Year of Wine, Romance and Life Among the French

Tuesday 16 October 2012

A dream home in the country?

We've put our apartment back on the market in the hopes of finding a place with a little more room for the baby. My concept of "a little more room" and the professor's concept, however, don't appear to be quite the same thing.

Last weekend, while browsing the apartment listings here in Nice, the professor asked how I'd feel about a having a little house in the country. I said that I'd always dreamed of having a small apartment in the city and a bigger place in the country -- one where I could have a big oak table outside and tons of dinner guests. It would be crazy and wonderful if we could somehow win the lottery and get everything in this next move, I told him, but I wasn't expecting to get this place in the country for a few years yet.

"We could just look for now," the professor replied with a big smile, pointing to an ad he'd found for affordable land just outside of the city.

So, we loaded the baby into the car and drove off to test out the concept -- each with our own idea of what having a home in the country meant.

My idea is probably one that many North Americans have: A villa that requires a little love and attention, that has a few grape vines, maybe an orange tree, and a perfect spot for a garden once a little weeding has been done. I pointed a few of these out as we drove through the little villages surrounding Nice, and a few more, even while the spaces between the villas grew, as we started to climb the side of one of the valleys in the Alps beyond the city. Eventually, though, I stopped pointing out villas altogether. There weren't any houses left.

The prof's idea of a house in the country, I soon discovered, was this: A tent. With some rocks around it, and a mist so strong that you feel as though you're in the clouds. The mist gives you some privacy, I guess, but only from the few lonely horses and goats that your kilometers-away neighbour might happen to own.

As we drove through the Col de Vence in search of this land for sale, the prof. grew more excited and I grew more skeptical -- even though I love tents and normally think any adventure is great.

I now support this skepticism with a few facts I learned on the internet: The Col de Vence is apparently one of those UFO-sighting kind of places. The theory: no one else was out there, so it must have been the aliens.

(I first looked up Col de Vars by mistake, which is described as a high mountain pass, with an elevation of 2108 m (6916 ft), that is ONLY OPEN from May until October. I believed that was the place because THAT'S how remote I consider it!)

We've been sticking to the city listings since -- not because we don't like the Col de Vence, but because it won't exactly take away the feelings of remoteness that I've been trying to shake since I first moved to France.

Col de Vence -- the pass that, well, isn't going to pass, but makes for a beautiful drive nonetheless.  Cyclists, apparently, love it.

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