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One of my students, Saori, is living in the countryside in France. It is very interesting to hear about daily life for a Japanese person living there. Recently she told me about the house that she lives in with her French husband and two cats.
"About My House" by Saori C.
When we came back to France after spending 3 years in Beijing, which has a terrible pollution problem, we wanted to live in the countryside in an old house.
In France, the foundation of old houses are made with stone, so there are still many old houses and apartments. As for my house, the previous owner traced the history back to 1830. So, it is at least 190 years old, and probably much older. My house was also a bistro at one time. When you look at the wall facing the road from the inside, one part of the wall is thinner. It was probably the entrance of the bistro. That room is now a shower room and a guest room (mostly used by my cat, Mystic), so there is no trace of it anymore.
There is a doorway in the kitchen. This door is divided into two parts, top and bottom. This kind of door was used to let air in by opening the upper part, and keep livestock inside (or outside) by closing the lower part. I really like that there is some history in my home, even though it’s a bother to open and close two small doors each time I go in or out.
The house was habitable when we bought it, but the interior was behind the times. In Japan, people usually hire professionals to do it, but in France, many people do interior work by themselves. We replaced the floorboards and wallpaper, and painted walls and doors ourselves. We also remodeled the whole bathroom. We threw everything away, and covered the floor and walls with new tiles. We installed a bathtub, a sink, cabinets, and a toilet... we got completely exhausted! We still have some work to do in the house, but... We’ll see.
The foundation of my house is very thick, so it’s very cool on the ground floor even under the scorching sun. In winter, we can have a fire in the fireplace. It’s very pleasant to see, and I really like it. Besides that, it is the only place where my two cats will stay next to each other!
We have two gardens. We had a nice time playing Mölkky and Croquet on the grass during the lockdown. We also planted some japanese vegetables, and we compost vegetable scraps and use it to grow plants.
We also have a wine cellar under our tool shed. We try to keep wines in order to age them, but we often drink them before waiting as long as we should. So, we can’t build a nice collection.
I don’t know how much longer we will stay in this house, but for now, I’m enjoying my country life.