Open Thread - Homesteading in France

Homesteading in France with title.jpg

TOUSSAINT and FALL

Why you Never Take Chrysanthemums as a House Gift

When we first started investigating where to retire, we came down to finally France. In 2010 we were already on the east coast for a conference, so using our air miles (remember those?) we kept going East and landed at Charles de Gaulle.

France is the size of Washington and Oregon plus the six big points.

We had deliberately chosen an area further into France than the regions directly across from England and settled by many British, The Midi Pyrenees.

It was Fall and gorgeous. We stayed in three areas in the Midi Pyrenees: Castelnau-Magnoac just two hours from Spain; Cordes-sur-Ciel, a bastide town, and Dijon. We had seen a lot of the area watching the Tour de France.

In our second stay in the hilltop town of Cordes-sur-Ciel, we met English speaking French and British people. Visiting for dinner we learned not to make the dreaded mistake of taking Mums, which had sprung up in all the markets and spilled out of flower shops everywhere.

Toussaint Chrysanthamums 1.jpg

Toussaint Chrysanthamums 2.jpg

We finally understood that the feast day of Toussaint, or All Saints' Day, November 1st, the cemeteries burst with pots of Mums for departed loved ones and ancient families.

Fall Florist.jpg

It would be bad form or worse to take Mums to a new acquaintance, and there are many other bouquet flowers to chose from.

A frenzy of flower buying and cemetery visits take place before the actual Saints' Day. On that day, almost everyone starts the day in a procession followed by Mass, then lots of family meals. We stumbled on a lovely village along the Aveyron River, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. The procession was in progress:
Toussaint Village Aveyeron 1.jpg

Toussaint Village Aveyeron 2.jpg

This village was tucked across a small bridge (pont) at the foot of limestone cliffs. These were sheepherding people and this group was wearing their traditonal garb.

As we made our way out of the region to our last stay in Dijon, we stopped in Lyon, the food capital of France. This city deserves its own essay, but we think it is much more typical of France than the Disneyland of Paris and so much more approachable. The food is everywhere.

Toussaint Lyon.jpg

We were traveling by TGV-Train à Grande Vitesse, high-speed train. We love them. We stayed just enough in Lyon to whet our appetites for future visits and continued up to Dijon, which was in full Fall markets.

Fall  Market Dijon.jpg

The Chanterelles, Boletes and other savory mushrooms were everywhere. This market in central Dijon was designed and built by Eiffel. It is a sensory overload experience.

Fall Mushrooms Dijon.jpg

While we still had the rental car which we put over 1500 miles on, we climbed out onto a remote plateau called the Campagnole. With a view to the valley below, we caught a huge bonfire just at dusk. The sunlight striking the limestone cliffs was golden.

Fall  Campagnol bonfire.jpg

We fell in love with this beautiful region of France. But in the end, realized that the criteria we had for aging in place required more access to trains, services and active cities and towns serving rural villages.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

I have at least one correction and additions.

Lyon is in the region

Auvergne Rhône-Alpes

Lyon or Lyons is the third-largest city and second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, about 470 km southeast of Paris, 320 km north of Marseille and 56 km northeast of Saint-Étienne. Inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais and Lyonnaises.

Dijon

Dijon is the prefecture of the Côte-d'Or department and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in Northeastern France. In 2017, the commune had a population of 156,920; the Greater Dijon area had 250,516 inhabitants in 2007. The earliest archaeological finds within the city limits of Dijon date to the Neolithic period

We eventually settled in the Saône et Loire department of Bourgogne.

In Our Garden This Week

With the help of our Irish and English friends our greenhouse project is almost finished this week. To say the least it is much more of a structure and beautiful than we ever thought about or could have anticipated. We upscaled sealed double pane glass removed from the house doors and windows before we upgraded during the rebuild. Photos will come later once I get them loaded into our photo program and uploaded to C99 editor.

We have two one meter X two meter X 90 cm high German metal garden beds and now one rendered block bed at least thirty percent larger than the others. We are using Permaculture layering to start all the three beds off: grillage on the bottom; forest decayed logs next; granitic soil layer; then good dirt for Fall planting or horse manure for overwinter with Wheat stem for the top layer. One bed is planted with lettuces, Mesclun, greens and spinach tops. The other is partially planted with Radishes and carrots. So far so good.

We can store potted Canna, Geraniums, and other expensive plants for next year. First time ever.

France Today

France is trying to rally other European countries into forming or I should say re forming NATO or something like it without the US. Macron is a huge military and globalist guy.

I am not happy with his push to military escapes and presence in most places the US would also be. France of course was one of the first post-colonial military back in Africa.

This little nation of 66 million should spend its hard earned revenue somewhere else. The French do have a sense of social culture, but it's being frayed and local taxes have been whittled down, so previous sources of building beauty and infrastructure in local departments and regions is drying up. The money left is in the hands of the national government and whoever is running things at the moment.

Joe has been featuring France now and again in the EBs. For a tiny nation they have a large footprint.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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QMS's picture

I see at your market there are Girolles, Cepes and Frommaettes.
Would that make a good stew with some pressed duck?

Culturally, France is much older than US. You do not seem as hell bent on
empire adventures as we, except maybe in Africa.

NATO is not a peacekeeping agency. Better off without it.

Au revoir!

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@QMS Cepes or Boletus edulis, Pilzen in German. A meaty, mushroom that can hold its shape and soak up the juices is the way to go.

Yes NATO is an adventuring, impoverishing, multi-national armed force. It needs to be gone.

What I'm trying to get at is that Macron wants the same level if not more but European based as he is no longer confident in US consistency or agreement. His militarism is high.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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Lookout's picture

Congrats on the greenhouse, garden beds, and French adventure.

France is a foodie's dream. I'm hopeful by spring the worst of COVID will be over and travel will be back on the docket.

I've been out mowing this AM, and will need to do another round this afternoon. This is probably the last round before winter stops the growth.

Keep the stories coming. I'm enjoying your project. Thanks for the OT!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Dawn's Meta's picture

@Lookout washing and line drying as fast as I can. Towels take two days to dry, but they do.

We still have a final mowing of our lower meadow to do. Cosmos and Zinnias are still blooming against all odds.

We had our first freeze last night. Clear skies and the heat goes up.

The green house has block that is rendered so it is warm on the lower part of the walls. The floor is packed earth with gravel. It's a very nice little house.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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enhydra lutris's picture

Glad that your greenhouse is done. I wish we had built one here way back when we got the place, it would be very good to have now, but it is way too late in the game to start such a project.

Good luck with your ongoing projects.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Dawn's Meta's picture

@enhydra lutris I am late in life and yet hold hope for a few years of peaceful gardening.

I had an idea for two block raised beds with double-paned windows in a tee pee shape over the two from the outside blocks. Maybe up on wood sills, but thick like beams. I was trying to design a way of hinging the frameless windows so they could be hinged in some way and openable with some kind of prop/stick to hold them up.

We have learned that buying least expensive pvc doors with the windows is one of the cheapest ways to get the glass. Just remove the frames then use the rectangles of glass in the wall/roof of the green house.

Here I am cheerleading. I hope you just mean for this season.

You take care.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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Granma's picture

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@Granma

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Thanks for all the beautiful pictures and descriptions. Your greenhouse does sound great.

We had five inches of rain last night so that should do us for a while. It was welcome, but the weeds are having a field day month. I am so behind with clearing them out.

I still have a few zinnia and cosmo blooming as well. I planted them on inspiration from Lookout. They lasted all summer and are still providing color. The white brush, Senna, Blue Mist Flower, Mexican Oregano, Stevia, and Turk's Cap are all in bloom. We still see quite a few butterflies, hummingbirds and goldfinch at the blossoms.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@randtntx summers here. The grass and weeds (what few we count as weeds these days) grew so fast and lushly.

You must be warmer, as our flowers are almost done. We couldn't believe the overall height of our flower jungle along the driveway and around the rond point (round about) at the end. It was throw out the seeds on bare dirt and let the gentle summer rains, thunderstorms and moderate night temps help them to jump up. Boy howdy, they sure did. Gardening in granitic soils is new. Our PNW soils were clay and heavy. These are gritty and full of minerals which plants must love.

Our greenhouse is like a little chapel. We'll have to find a name for it.

May you have more time for your plants to flourish yet a little while.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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QMS's picture

@Dawn's Meta

you've got your bathroom, bedroom, mud room and living room...
vert chambre

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@QMS

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Lookout's picture

@randtntx

...and no I don't really hate to say it, cause I'm glad you did!

I still have a few zinnia and cosmo blooming as well. I planted them on inspiration from Lookout. They lasted all summer and are still providing color. The white brush, Senna, Blue Mist Flower, Mexican Oregano, Stevia, and Turk's Cap are all in bloom. We still see quite a few butterflies, hummingbirds and goldfinch at the blossoms.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout . A belated TY for your idea. I was pleasantly surprised how well those flowers did here and how much we all enjoyed them. I hope to expand their bed by next spring because the Turks cap have taken over the space.
And yes, you did tell us Smile

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snoopydawg's picture

"Do you want a woman like that never helped another woman and was a warmonger and ripped the heart out of the country."

Oh my you have to read the other replies. Thatcher was hated bigly. 21 gun salute but shoot the casket. And even worse…

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

@snoopydawg It is about policy.

Ilhan Omer is an idiot.

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NYCVG

Dawn's Meta's picture

@snoopydawg perceptions up to present day. Boris is not helping, but hurting the UK and they need him out with a better choice toute suite.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

zed2's picture

I strongly recommend folks here read "Globalists" by Quinn Slobodian, in order to understand whats happening in the world today.

Especially the US which is the belly of the beast so to speak. Its unthinkable that we would keep the promises made in the New Deal today with our current ideology. It would be against everything we (the US) now stand for. The other neoliberal nations (like France) would not stand for it. Its important to remember that the current regime is strongly anti-majoritarian as they put it.

On principle. The European social contract begun to be dismantled around wto decades ago.

They would never tell us the truth about this, its all a sham.

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snoopydawg's picture

@zed2

until Clinton got rid of it and what do you know they caused a global economic crash a decade later. Wall Street on parade has an article up on how dangerous the banks are now. Obama got Dodd-Frank passed and then congress rolled it back during Trump as well as redlining on black mortgages.

Bush cut taxes and Obama kept most in tact or rolled them back just a little bit. Trump cut more and Biden said he’d reverse them, but not very much and now president Manchin has ruled out any roll back. But I’m pretty sure that the ones on the little people are still going up next year.

We have taxation without representation and the rich have representation without taxes. Or well see my 3rd sigline.

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

@snoopydawg especially the sigline.

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3 users have voted.

NYCVG

Dawn's Meta's picture

@zed2 easier to read.

Neoliberal France is moving quickly into promoting and supporting global corporations and trade.

When we first began looking at France in 2010, there were small manufacturing plants, buildings, companies throughout rural France even in remote areas like the Jura (eyebrow of the Alpes). It was one of the things that impressed us.

In addition villages with a butcher, sausage shop, cheese, bakery(s), schools, church, gathering hall for the locals, Tabac, small clothing shop, and many others. These were signs of thriving life. Connecting to hubs in larger towns with TER (local trains) then to cities with TGV.

What's not to like?

Under Sarkozy, Hollande and worst of all, Macron, the dismantling of the social contract has been going on in earnest. And their beacon in all of this has been the US.

I'm hearing just the whispers of maybe the US isn't so grand after all.

It's a tough position for us, because we left as cultural refugees (and of course financial for retirement). But we see the quick erosion of the best social and wonderful things that made each little spot in France so proud of what they make, the beauty they present (Fleurie villages), the things that made each place different and special.

So disheartening.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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snoopydawg's picture

@Dawn's Meta

First they starved it of funds and now because they did they can say it’s not working anymore and so…the globalists are making their move in many countries. Very sad to see governments selling out their people.

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

It was a very long time ago when we were in Zurich with my brother-in-law and sister who worked at the time for Lufthanse and then we took the train to Paris.

Ohh la la! Tres bon. so fast. Even the menu in the dining car blew us away.

What is going wrong in the USA we asked each other. mmmph. now I have a bettter idea about what our country is.

I am enjoying your weekly columns immensely. Which is probably obvious. TY

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NYCVG

Dawn's Meta's picture

@NYCVG @NYCVG Prague. We went out of Macon to Dijon, transferred to Strasbourg on the TGV to Munich (München). Went to the Hofbrauhaus in München, stayed the night and transferred to a German train the next day into Praha (Prague). It sounds kitchy, but it is really good food for masses of people.

We had a marvelous time there. There is a river wider than the Seine in the city. We took one evening for a jazz boat dinner cruise. We sat at a table with an 80 y/o dad, and his two sons, one from Corsico. When the band, which was pretty good, played and sang 'Mustang Sally' man oh man was our table up for singing that at the top of our lungs. We had so much fun.

We went to the Dvorak concert hall and heard Olivier Messiaen, and went to a local big church concert for an Advent concert.

AS a side note, later we went to the famous Élysee Hall in Paris to hear Daniel Barenboim conduct the Lyon Symphony in Ma Vlast by Smetna, a Czech composer.

We had a Spanish restaurant on the same block as our apartment. Lots of good food. Very much a crossroads city - so many nationalities.

Coming home we went through Zurich on a Czech train that was a sleeper. Very nicely done and again, fun. 150 euros for train, sleeper and breakfast. There we got on a TGV to Dijon, and took a local back to Macon.

Thanks for commenting. Always welcome questions.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

what you did by pulling out and going ex-pat in rural France is simply remarkable. What you are doing while there is also remarkable.
None of my previous trips to France got me to your area, but it is a beautiful, charming country.
I hope you survive Macron, and in the future, Le Pen.
meanwhile, my name for your green house is joie de vivre Room.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@on the cusp In 2010 we looked at our potential retirement, and thought we aren't going to do well here. So we started really looking at where we could go. First in the US, but as rural people going to an urban city was too expensive almost anywhere. And infrastructure if it exists, stops at the city boundaries.

So we started looking overseas. That was the beginning of our search. We knew we had to make the move before we got too old to do it, so we started making it a priority to figure out how and where.

Once we chose France it was a matter of making lists, and more lists. The famous administrative paperwork of France is really no worse than our own county, state, Federal pile of rules. Just takes the patience and giving everything they might want/need.

A special first year immigration agency made all the lists for us and got us where we needed to go to file papers and get our first visas. We did have to go to San Francisco to get our exit visas from the US.

We really took our time looking for the place to land and where we would like to live. Hard to discern in a foreign land.

We did have a plan to live debt-free here, but it hasn't worked out because crooked real estate. This is not the same everywhere, but it is difficult.

We now have our ten year residency cards after the first four years of yearly filing with the prefecture.

Having $40,000 in the bank that we could show them was very important, but the cost was on paper, not paid to France. They didn't want us to become hard luck cases.

Le Pen is a strange case. She is very pro France, which Macron is not. She has stated many times that she would not abandon the social contracts on healthcare, education public services. Macron just does these things. And we are unravelling.

On the other hand, Le Pen's France for the French, is very xenophobic and non immigration. Oddly, Macron has immigrants stopped at borders and the ones that get here are in awful conditions in Calais and other places.

No great thinker on the horizon no matter which way we think.

Macron is going to see us all injected if he has to tie us down. The man is mad.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.