Blog Hopping in France

I am taking part today in the “Expat Blog Hop”.  Welcome to all the people taking part in this event.  I was trying to decide what to blog about, perhaps some spectacular pictures of my restoration skills, perhaps some pictures and discussion of beating back a jungle to reveal a yard and a garden that is surrounded by stone walls or perhaps some pictures of some spectacular day trip we’ve done.  However, what seems to continually come up about our presence here, the question that both French and Expats (pick a nationality, Jugon has them all) always ask is, “Why France?, Why Brittany?”

So, here it is – because!

When I first met Elizabeth (20 years ago) she told me one of the things she wanted to do during her life was live in Europe.  Well, here we are.

The idea of actually doing it started to form when we were watching a BBC program called “Build a New Life in The Country”.  We watched all kinds of people from different walks of life buy broken down historical homes and restore them to their former glory by quitting their jobs, selling their assets and then spending more than the proceeds while enduring all sorts of other controversies all in order to establish a new way of living.

I have no idea when my love for old buildings took such a firm hold on me, but the contrast of this type of work to my daily accounting life was invigorating.  Elizabeth has all the design and historical knowledge and she is the best “colourist” I know.  So, we started to search for a restoration project.  The first pictures I saw were of a castle somewhere that I forget called Blackthorn Castle – a huge project, but the concept was contagious.

When we realized that France has an amazing inventory of “old homes” and most for a reasonable price we were sold on the idea of this country.  We selected Northern France because of its proximity to England (E has plans of attending a University program there) and Northern France also offered a climate somewhat similar to what we were used to in Canada – four distinct seasons (although the winters here are not quite what we are used to in Canada – I did not pack the toboggan).

The other benefit of course was the concept of actually learning how to speak French (unlike my high school days).

A “re-con” mission in December of 2009 to actually see some properties “up close and personal”, a failed bid on our first choice (in hindsight, Thank God!) and a 1 hour stop here to see this place and we were sold.

The inspection reports came in with nothing that we were suprised about, nor worried about.  I was also not worried about any potential hidden problems either as I feel I can conquer anything (Guillaume le Conquerant!)

When we are not restoring, home schooling or giving tours of the house, we are busy with fresh and exciting activities that we enjoy as a result of our “new” life here.  We have made many new friends, Elizabeth has joined a knitting group in Dinan, I play badminton on Tuesdays and an occasional round of golf.   We have both embarked on new ventures – Elizabeth has started an enterprise with another ex-pat,  her Canadian/American/British friend, Agnes  —

While I decided to turn my attention to all the beautiful windows and doors I see in my daily travels.


Please browse through my previous posts for before and after pictures of work so far.  Leave a comment and We will randomly select one person to receive a copy of “Foreigners in France: Triumphs & Disasters – Real-life stories from expatriates in France”.  Here is the link to the other participants in this blog hop  Thank you for visiting.

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22 Responses to Blog Hopping in France

  1. M G Billes says:

    Hello William the Conqueror!
    Greetings from a gray evening in Toronto……Snow forcast for the north country by morning…Barrie that is!
    Oh WELL!!!!!!!!!! Summer will soon be here….a dn Dorothy will soon be there!
    I will bid her adieu on Friday with a visit out to Mississauga.

    Cheers for now, Love to all,

    • Bonjour. It is gray and raining here too, wait, now it is sunny, now it is raining again, now it is raining in the back yard and sunny in the front yard, now it is sunny, now it is raining. The weird Breton weather patterns, atleast it hasn’t hailed today, yet.

  2. Steph says:

    Thanks so much again for taking part. Yours was the first post in the blog hop to appear!
    I hope you get plenty of visitors today.

  3. Hi from a felllow Hopper , I will tweet your post.

  4. I can’t believe how many Breton blogs I am coming across having decided to follow the ‘hop’ -> loving it! I’ll continue to read on a daily basis and look forward to hearing all about your restoration project. I’m an expat in Brussels, with a home in Brittany, and a heart that would really like to settle down at the beach one day. In the meantime, I make do with long hoiidays and blogging about it when I’m there. Good luck with the hop!

  5. nessafrance says:

    Greetings from a fellow blog-hopper. I hope you continue to enjoy life in France.

  6. What a wonderful looking house. We took on a restoration project too but nothing quite so grand – and we were wet enough to employ builders!

  7. Oooh what a gorgeous house! Loved your post today!

  8. I only came across your blog thanks to ‘the blog hop’ so thank heavens I participated. I am really looking forward to reading more. We have restored four houses in the UK and waiting with baited breath to start on our french one – just as soon as our Uk house sells. I shall uncork a bottle tonight and sit down to read about your progress!

  9. Wow – found you because I’m a fellow blog hopper, but am blown away by your previous posts and the work you’ve done. Well done! Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two from you, though I’m living in 180 square feet in Paris, so I won’t get to put it into practice for a while. Can’t wait to read more!

  10. Deb says:

    Glad I found your blog thanks to ‘blog hop’. Keep up the good work. Don’t think you live too far from me.

  11. Great blog – can feel your passion for your project and your life in France coming through. I’m doing a renovation too – its been great at times and a reason to divorce at others! Its been good to “hop” with you today.

  12. Mary Kay says:

    Congratulations to Elizabeth and you for being brave enough to make your dreams come true! While searching for a place to stay during an upcoming weekend getaway in the Loire Valley, I recently came across a website called Workaway that matches people willing to exchange their labor for a place to stay for a week, two weeks or however long a job takes. I just thought that I would mention it in case you haven’t heard of it and are ever in need of an extra pair of hands.

    Happy Expat Blog Hop Day!

  13. How brave you are! I don’t think I would have the guts (or creativity and skills) to buy a house and restore it anywhere. But if I’d pick a place, Brittany would be super high on my list. It’s so beautiful there!

  14. Julia Stagg says:

    Have really enjoyed browsing through your posts – despite having done a fair amount of renovation with my husband I never tire of seeing other people’s successes! (I have ‘retired’ now as I’m writing full time but my husband has a project under-way which I will enjoy from a distance!) Well done.

  15. Hello from a fellow hopper. I too was an accountant in a previous life and now live in rural France – those BBC programmes have a lot to answer for!

  16. Hello! This is so interesting! I’m visiting Agde right now and it’s incredible to me how OLD everything is. Old, simple and beautiful! I can’t wait to read more about your house. Nice to meet you via blog hop! Kristen

  17. Expat Alien says:

    This looks like a great adventure! Nice to meet you!

  18. Delighted to discover your blog through the blog hop links!

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