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Renovation began the next year. We arrived at the end of April, hopeful the project would be completed by mid-summer. We planned to sell our house in the States and move permanently to France. After our first walk-through of the house, we discovered our builder was more charming than competent: everything from the foundation to the roof needed to be redone – our renovation needed to be renovated. We fired the builder and subsequently hired two building experts and two attorneys. The second building expert, hired by us but appointed by the court, first found in our favor then, remarkably, retracted his ruling three months later. We waited to sell our house in the States until we had a home to live in. Our dream house sat untouched for the next 4 years. The following April, in 2011, we filed an appeal and returned to France only to have the judge tell us we had no right to question a court-appointed expert. Our new attorney changed his strategy and we filed for another court hearing. Each year, for two more years, we would return hopeful a final court date would be set, but each year the builder was granted a postponement. In 2013 we were finally allowed to continue work on our house, but the lawsuit lingered, our retirement fund was depleted, and my husband decided he would never return to France. I made the big leap across the pond, alone. I applied for a visa and hired an international moving company. By returning every year and immersing ourselves into the life of our village, we’d been able to harvest deep and lasting friendships and an appreciation for the quality of life in southwest France which provided the support I now needed to begin my life anew. The lawsuit was finally heard September 2014. My ex-husband and I were awarded rien, nothing.
I was disappointed, to say the least, but not disheartened for this is where my heart truly resides. Who hasn’t felt the urge to drop everything and follow their dream regardless of the cost? The Gascons genuinely embrace the joy of living. The simple pleasures of life are the most important: family, friends, good cuisine and lively conversation. Well-being is not a luxury but an ordinary, daily prerogative. Economically, the cost of medical care, car and home insurance, utilities, taxes and food are a fraction of what they cost in the States. I can purchase a freshly baked, mouthwatering almond croissant or a crusty baguette at my local bakery for incredibly good value and a glass of good local wine is cheaper than a glass of sparking water. My property taxes are a fraction of what they would be in the States, a doctor’s visit 23 euros. Even airline tickets are less expensive when purchased overseas. This has allowed me to travel around the world visiting my stateside children and friends when they are not traveling to visit me. When I arrived nearly 12 years ago, I assumed the Earth was round and the sun set in the west, but I’ve discovered that lawyers have feelings, tomorrow was yesterday and pigs can fly. I have had many incredible adventures and learned much about myself through living in another culture. Instead of my world becoming smaller at this stage of my life, it has become larger and I will feel forever grateful. Sue Aran runs tours of Gascony sharing her insider knowledge of its secret gems, most mouthwatering markets, picturesque villages and glorious countryside at French Country Adventures.
Bonjour! Welcome to the winter issu
contents Features 8 A tale of two c
P 88 88 give aways Win a row of gor
The Medieval City of Carcassonne Th
The inside track The Medieval city
Left: Le Parc Franck Putelat restau
astide saint-louis Back in the midd
The weekly market (Tuesday, Thursda
information Getting to Carcassone:
When Louis XIV visited Orange, he s
The theatre at Orange continues to
The inside track The centre of Oran
Stay at: Au Vin Chambré is a lovel
There’s a little on-site shop whe
But the famous golf courses of the
If you arrive in Nimes via train as
More Roman stuff Two thousand years
The Inside Track Late night dinners
Nice Carnival for winter fun in the