Moving out, Moving in. And Parties!

The Roamers put down roots.

As many of you may know, the French people have been protesting President Macron’s new retirement rules, which raised the retirement age from 62 to 64. In Montpellier, there have been frequent manifestations (demonstrations) and grèves (strikes), mostly quite orderly. So on a recent Thursday morning I was surprised to see graffiti on all the shop windows along my route.

Graffiti on a bank window

Not to worry, though–in Montpellier there are people whose job it is to remove graffiti. The windows were clean well before noon.

Graffiti removal van

If you read my last post, you know that we bought an apartment (!!!). We have so loved our first French home that we decided to throw it a farewell apéro (happy hour party), so that we could celebrate all the good times we’ve had there. About 35 people attended; the weather was gorgeous, allowing us to be both inside and out in the garden; and it was so much fun that we ran out of lemontinis. One of our guests was someone we’d met two days earlier: Zia heard us speaking English at the grocery store and struck up a conversation. He’s from Pakistan, his wife is French, and he was longing for English-speaking friends. He came to the party and now has become a regular at the weekly coffee group!

Wonderful friends who helped us celebrate and say au revoir to our first French home

And the next morning we moved. Yep, that’s right, we’re the Roamers and we move fast! Amin and Fredrick came to help with the few heavy items, and we moved everything else ourselves. It was a busy day, but we were delighted to be in our new home. That evening we enjoyed our first dinner in our new home–party leftovers! 

Party leftovers. And the lilies Phil gave me for my 71st birthday!

We got a third estimate for the apartment renovations. Benoit and his assistant, Midi, were super professional, pointed out some minor repairs that they could include–and a few days later delivered the winning bid! We approved it quickly and were eager to get things started. Meanwhile, we settled in as much as possible.

Coffee on the balcony the first morning

The first week in our new home was BUSY! We ran tons of errands and bought essentials. Because our first home was fully furnished, we needed cookware, brooms, furniture, mops, kitchen utensils (although I had brought the essentials–knives, my super duper garlic press, things like that). And also we had parties! Dear friends Jo and Dennis came to our new place for an apéro before we all headed to a favorite restaurant for a birthday party. The food was fabulous, the company even better–and the cake! The French really know how to do les gateaux! This one was chocolat mousse atop a cake layer and a crunchy layer (kind of like a Rice Krispies treat crust, but far more refined), decorated with fruit and chocolates. Both beautiful and delicious!

Birthday Party!

The next evening we attended an apéro held to honor a friend’s sister (whom we loved!), who was visiting from the U.S. on her first trip to Europe. I was having so much fun I forgot to take pictures, but our hosts made a wonderful turkey chili feast, the wine flowed, and we chatted, laughed, and ate until our stomachs hurt. One of the best parts: we didn’t have to leave early to catch the bus because we can walk everywhere from our new home! And the next day we walked to a birthday lunch celebration for another dear friend–with another gorgeous and delicious cake. I can’t believe we have so many opportunities to celebrate with our friends. 

So, what about the apartment? Well, things are moving forward. . .slowly. I discovered that the oven, which we were planning to keep, doesn’t work (neither does the dishwasher), so we ordered a new one. Cooking without an oven or microwave has been challenging, but in a fun way. On one evening last week I had decided to make chicken pot pie. I had the filling ready to go when I remembered: no oven! So I plopped the puff pastry into my giant new skillet, turned the heat on low, and covered the pan with foil. Voila! Puff pastry, which I plopped on top of the filling like a chapeau! As my daddy used to say when my mother complained that her food wasn’t up to snuff, “But it’ll eat good!” And it did.

Makeshift chicken pot pie. It was delicious!

The renovation team has begun its work, and Phil’s studio/our guest room and the cellier  (pantry) are painted. We’ve purchased furniture and most of the lighting. Tomorrow they’ll run electricity and water to the cellier so we can use the washer and dryer (and get water and ice from the fridge door). And soon we’ll be removing everything from the kitchen so it can be torn out and replaced. In the meantime, we’re enjoying our cozy new nest, and we’re filled with gratitude for our wonderful life in France.

Grayson and Chef Bender, installed in the temporary kitchen



2 thoughts on “Moving Out, Moving In

    • Ha! Remember the stone outdoor table? And the vague agreements to come tomorrow? So funny. I met Peter Mayle at a book signing once, and he was just as delightful as I’d imagined.

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