I've been obsessed with the idea of buying my own house in France for--literally—more than two decades. I may have still been in my twenties when I made my first real-estate-scouting trip, traveling from San Francisco to rendezvous with realtors in rural Brittany and Normandy, when real estate was REALLY cheap and the prices were still in Francs. I'm glad I didn't take the plunge then, because I wouldn't have wanted to live in Brittany, even part-time, so it clearly wasn't meant to be. In the intervening years, I zeroed in on Paris (too expensive) and Nice (less expensive, but still too expensive), and then drew up some criteria to help me keep the fantasy alive.
My ideal place in France, if not in a big city or a gorgeous sun-splashed Mediterranean village, had to be within reach of a big city. That means a train station is a must. I also wanted to be around water, and, in a truly perfect world, there'd be something vegan happening nearby. Oh, and some diversity in the population would be a HUGE bonus.
I set search parameters on French real estate sites like SeLoger and LogicImmo, and every now and again, something would pop up in a town called Montrichard. On the surface, it seemed to have a lot of potential: an historic town center (which I read as "tourists" and "things to do"), perfectly positioned on a scenic river (the Cher) with its own swimming beach, just 90 minutes by train from Paris (it sometimes takes that long to get across town in traffic!) and—now this was really important—it had its own Biocoop in town AND a weekly open-air market!
Other things about this town appealed to me, including the fact that cycling is big here, and that aquacenter with indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and hot tubs, and a hammam, right across the river? SELLING POINTS GALORE!
I didn't know much about the town other than what I read online, which wasn't much—or so I thought. Turns out I'd been to Montrichard once before, about seven or so yeas ago, when I went to visit my friend Terresa who was staying in Pontlevoy, one town up the road! And you know why we came here? To go to the Biocoop! I think that's what you call going full-circle.
Of course, I had to fall in love with a particular house right as covid started. And so began the adventure of buying a house in another country that I'd only ever seen online. Crazy, right? More on that in my next post!