Give a girl a break

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Where I’m at

House-hunting by car with Kristian (January 29-February 7) gave us an almost overwhelming amount of impressions and information to reflect upon and evaluate, after 1600 km on the road and numerous house viewings. I’m a bit shaken up by my re-evaluation, which I cover in another post, and have stepped back for a moment.

First, a couple of weeks in Tours just to think and plan. Traveling like this takes a lot of planning time – that is, traveling on my own, no car. I have to search for bus and train schedules to see which towns I can get to from which base location, figure out where to stay, and book everything. Trains are easy to check, with the SNCF app. Buses are organized by region and department, so I check the official public transport sites and download maps and timetables. When traveling beyond a region, or sometimes even just across a couple of departments, I’ll check FlixBus and BlaBlaBus (or, BlaBlaCar, as their app is named). I’ve been surprised by how often FlixBus turns out to be a good option.

I had absolutely nothing planned beyond Kristian’s visit. I’ve now gotten to all the most interesting houses I’d bookmarked over the last year and more. Many properties stay online for months, some even more than a year. The ads may be taken down and reposted, since RE sites show properties by “most recent.” It’s a laugh to see a house come up as a recent addition when I’ve been seeing the property online for more than half a year. In any case, I have only a couple of apartments in the back of my mind, and almost nothing else on my wish-to-see list. A friend who has acquired a good number of French properties tells me that March and April are the months when listings ramp up and sellers get more ready to make a deal, because of taxes coming due. Time will tell – shortly! I hope to find new listings, of course, but I must also redo my searches with new parameters.

Calling a break!

I’ve decided to take a real break for a couple of weeks beyond the resting-up in Tours, and indulge myself with the arts. I meant to focus entirely on house-hunting this year, until I sign a contract. But – I’m not that disciplined, I’m a little burned out, and I too readily give into temptation.

The irresistible temptation that I ran into is Franco Fagioli’s performing in a new, staged presentation of Porpora’s Polifemo. I went to Amsterdam last year to hear FF sing Polifemo in a concert version at the Concertgebouw, with Julia Lezhneva whom I also adore. So I had steeled myself to forego this season’s concerts – until I heard, saw, a video excerpt of Franco singing “Alto Giove” in the current production. A complete change from performances over the last decade, such as with the Bach Consort Wien in 2013 and as recorded with Academia Montis Regalis in 2014, that bit of singing did me in. I have listened to Franco’s performances of this aria hundreds of times on YouTube; it sustains me, it’s my main counter-stress support; no other singer even begins to touch me as his renditions do. I must hear and see this performance. The Opera national du Rhin is presenting Polifemo in three towns in Alsace, so – off I go to Colmar for the final performance.

Since I’m going so far east, where I’ve no interest in house-hunting, and I’ve been seeing lots of announcements of the TEFAF art fair in Maastricht, why not travel on? Booked three nights there, then will make a day trip to Aachen to see Charlemagne’s cathedral. While TEFAF is going on in Maastricht, there are a lot of jazz performances in the cafes and bars at night, so I think it’s going to be a delightful time.

Combining house-hunting and some great fun

I was already planning to attend the 75th edition of the mid-March wine expo in Thouars, where I want to view houses anyway. I’m hoping Kristian will join me there again, as it was lots of fun last year. Four euros entry fee per day gives you a souvenir glass and unlimited free tastings, offered by producers from all over the country.

To get to Thouars from Maastricht, of course one passes through Paris, where I have booked a fairly cheap seat for Simon Boccanegra at the Opera Bastille.

More immediately, I’m heading back to Montpellier where I have my official address (per my visa). I’ll get to spend some time with the friend who helped me with my visa. She wants to convince me to buy near Montpellier even if that city is not affordable. I am reconsidering the south and hope to view a few properties before I head off to Colmar. But my first night in Montpellier, I’m going to see André Dussollier on stage at Montpellier’s beautiful Opéra Comédie in a piece he calls Sens Dessus Dessous.

Give a girl a break? This one’s always ready to simply take one for herself. Read about the fun times next month!

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