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The few days setting up our Provence place was Sharon’s first time alone in France

          

While David was still in Pouzauges with the kids in April, I headed off to Provence to settle and set up our apartment in Isle sur la Sorgue. This was the first time that I had spent a night, let along five, by myself in France. I was a little daunted, especially not having David’s excellent French speaking skills with me, but very excited by the prospect.

Settlement went reasonably well and I even got an hour of clothes shopping in before the meeting – there was one point during it though that the notaire and owner were engaged in a lengthy discussion which did not sound too positive – it took me a few minutes to work out in my head how I would ask if there was an issue ‘C’est une problem avec le achat?’. The notaire replied in French I could understand ‘Pas pour vous; pour le vendeur’ – ‘D’accord’ I replied then waited enjoying the notaire’s view of the nearby canal and street cafes.

After the meeting, the former owner invited me out for a coffee/tea which was very nice then the agent took me to the apartment. I had been there the day before with him but that hadn’t gone so well. When inspecting the apartment, I noticed two spots on the ceiling where water had been getting in – the agent arranged for a plumber to fix the roof tiles that were causing the problem and said it would cost a few hundred euro. David was not happy as it could have been the whole roof  that needed replacing and he believed the agent had mislead him– he was ready to pull the whole deal (to my disappointment) but the agent assured David that he was a ‘man of honour’ and the plumbers would fix the tiles. They did and more as I found a few other problems on moving in such as no hot water and more roof leaks. The plumbers, Yannick (above) and Jefferson (he was French too, his mother liked American names but he was lucky as his brother’s name is Elvis!), became my reasonably constant companions in the apartment which at least didn’t let me get lonely as they joined me for many a lunch and evening drink on my balcony.  They responded in the hour whenever my pleading voice came on their mobile with ‘gut (drip), gut encore!’
 
My main learning from the experience was that while it is good to be able to speak French fluently in France, being a damsel in distress helps too. Besides spending time with my French plumber friends, the rest of my days were spent shopping feverishly to set up the place for rent. I also got plenty of exercise as the rues in town were medieval style narrow and, while David could manage to drive through town easily, I was not game so I had to carry all my purchases from shops in town or from the carpark 250m away. This made up for the food and drink I consumed in as many cafes and restaurants I could get to in between plumbing and furnishing.

Despite little stresses on the way, I loved every minute of my trip alone! These experiences helped me write our ‘after e-guide’ to benefit others.

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