When I started traveling early last year, I hoped France would be my future home, but I had no certainty of getting a visa and so was considering other options. The moment of truth finally arrived when I submitted my application for a VLS-TS: a long-stay visa, good for a year and renewable in France. (The initial application must be made in one’s home country.) And I got it!
Before heading back to France to start house-hunting, I made a quick trip to Cancun and Puerto Morelos: a last beach vacation there with Kristian, a visit to the cardiologist I have great confidence in, and a tooth repair – crown, in fact – from the dentist I trust in Puerto Morelos. Done and dusted; clear for take off! Four days after returning to the States, I was on my way to France.
I still don’t know where I’ll end up, exactly. My explorations over these last two years have comprised a mental and psychological journey as well as a series of physical displacements. In 2022, I was aiming for southern coastal cities from Avignon to Narbonne, and of that zone I still like Narbonne, but I have found the cities to be beyond my budget and the smaller towns not to my liking. In 2023, I revisited some of the Yonne and Nièvre – where I hadn’t been for 9 years – and saw cities and departments new to me as well, in the center and west-center of the country. My budget keeps shrinking and so I am now looking in some of the most economical areas, but not the Dordogne so beloved by the English; not the Aveyron; I do not like being in the mountains for more than a brief vacation, and so I’m not looking further in the Aude either (think Carcassonne). Nor do I want an isolated location, as so many Brits seem to prefer. That’s a bit of a shame, because it seems many British buyers have done a great job of renovating a property that they’re now giving up.
There seems to be a north-south cultural divide in most Northern Hemisphere countries and regions. The South does seduce with its sun and warmth and often a more laid-back style. But I’m finding my self-identification as a Northerner being reinforced. And, no surprise, I consistently find that a river running through a town makes me happier. I am looking in areas bordering the Touraine which I greatly liked at first sight in 2014; and in the southern parts of Normandy and its bordering areas. I am still considering parts of Burgundy and may revisit. In Deux-Sèvres, first visited in March, I like Thouars; people tell me to consider Parthenay, but I need to see more of it.
I’ll keep blogging my explorations. Will welcome your opinions and commentary1