Halcyon Days Of A French Summer……..

15 Aug

The months of July and August represent ‘the summer’ across France – only those two months, I should add! We can enjoy high temperatures, wall-to-wall sunshine, picnics by the lakes and on coastal beaches, from as early as mid-April right through to mid-November. But, July and August are the only summer months that are recognised as such by the French people.

During those two months, the famous laid-back French lifestyle adopts the stance of supine! Heaven help the householder whose plumbing springs a leak, or the car-owner whose exhaust drops off, or even the victim of fraud whose life has been turned upside-down and inside-out.

Finding a plumber who is not ‘en vacance’ during July and August is a true feat of determined dedication! Finding a garage mechanic to sort out the exhaust – without initially posturing, prancing and pursing lips as the calendar is scrutinised for a time and day that will not inconvenience ‘mon holiday’ – can take many frustrating days! Obtaining a Court hearing date during the hallowed months of July and August, well, forget it!

After living in France for a couple of years, it gradually clicks into place that virtually the entire French workforce is ‘en vacance’ during the months of July and August, unless the tourism industry is involved. Although, it is a fact that family and I have discovered a number of French tourist information centres with locked doors and shuttered windows during July and August. Usually, a scrap of paper sellotaped to the door proclaims something along the lines of…..‘Fermé. Raisons exceptionnelles.’ Quick translation – ‘if you’re having a summer holiday, so are we’!


So, bottom line, knowing how France ticks, we were not expecting to hear from the notaire this side of mid-August, despite being advised by her assistant that she would return from her annual holiday at the end of July. In order to give her as much information as possible up-front of receiving the anticipated date of the first rendez-vous, we sent her a package that we’re fairly certain will have resulted in her feeling rather shell-shocked!

Included in the package were separate files containing the full raft of survey results and Reports that we commissioned in April 2007. We were fully aware that the sellers had procured the basic necessities, but we also required a full structural survey and written, verified confirmation that our Planning requirements would be acceptable to the local Council. Copies of our architect’s Plans, dated from April 2007 to July 2007, inclusive, showing how our ‘pile’ would have been returned to its former glory as simply a family home with a lift installed in the garage to take us to the first floor. With ‘shot’ lungs, ie advancing emphysema (Tom) and a proven dicky ticker (moi) between us, we knew a house comprising more than one storey was not for us, not without that essential lift.

Had all things been equal, the property would no longer have been an ‘apartment block’ by Christmas 2007.

Prior to tucking the beautifully bound architect’s files into the package, I couldn’t help myself – I just had to take a final look through what might have been the future for our autumn years.

What a seriously stupid error of judgement!

For hours over several days, I ran the full gamut of emotions – deep sadness, raging anger, sour bitterness, fear of an endlessly stretching, empty, homeless future for my menfolk, soul-destroying disappointment – you name it, I believe I felt it.

I didn’t post the package for almost a week. There’s no point to anybody asking me why I didn’t post it earlier, I really don’t know the answer! Suffice to say, though, as soon as I handed it over to the lovely lass in La Souterraine La Poste, a huge weight seemed to lift from my shoulders and I felt at peace, as happy as Larry in fact!

Nowt so queer as folk, eh!


Posted by on August 15, 2013 in World


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6 responses to “Halcyon Days Of A French Summer……..

  1. Pip

    August 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Sorry Chrissie I really haven’t got time to read this as I’m on holiday until the 27th and in addition of course today is a day of rest for those with a religious inclination!!!!!!
    But seriously, I can well understand the holding back on dropping the parcel into the postbox. So many times you have been smacked in the face despite the overwhelming evidence of right being on your side that time and again you must have thought “Is it worth bothering to keep going?”
    Why go to all this trouble yet again only to be ignored?
    Well, if for no other reason than my fingers have become rigidly stuck in the crossed position and I need a good amount of notice to start the slow business of getting them back to normal.
    And as I said in the beginning I’m on holiday so I haven’t got time for physio and excercise. But when I have managed to get them uncrossed part of the recovery process will include regularly raising two of the re-formed digits in the air and waving them in the general direction of a certain family of French ancestry.
    And I’ve missed your postings here and on the forum. So welcome back. XX

    • hobosinfrance

      August 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      😀 Dear Pip, the alert telling me that your response had arrived almost knocked me down due to shock – knowing you and Kim and…er…France…are en vacance, I did not expect anybody to respond this month! ROFL! 😉 As always, you’re on the button and I’m pretty certain you’re quite right about why I did not post that package for the best part of a week after the large brown envelope was neatly filled, sealed and addressed. So many times, during my teaching career, I would need to spend a lot of extra time with one child or another, gently removing the destructive strands of negative self-fulfilling prophesy from their tortured spirits. As you will know, negative self-fulfilling prophesy can affect the entire future of a person (child or adult) who eventually arrives at the conclusion that nothing will ever go right because nothing has gone right! I think I had almost arrived at that negative conclusion! Phew! Almost, but not quite! Enjoy the rest of your holiday, Pip and Kim, and, as always, thank you very much for being there for us. Chrissie and menfolk xxxx

  2. Sarah

    August 16, 2013 at 9:01 am

    It’s fatal to start reading anything you haven’t seen in a while. Old correspondence you were thinking of throwing out, other old papers, your kids early schoolwork – the moment you open the pages you’re drawn in.

    In your case, you must have been so blown away by the ‘what ifs’ that it’s not surprising it caused you to falter in your task. Well done for sticking to your guns in the end. Fingers crossed…

    • hobosinfrance

      August 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you, Sarah. 🙂 I know exactly where you’re coming from, 4 kids and 8 grandkids into my life, lol! The menfolk and I decided we can’t afford to give up, despite the fact that we’re really very tired. If we give up now, we’ll never know if this new path might have been ‘the one’! So, we’ll carry on until we win at least one battle, or we have nowhere else to go! Either way will still not leave us totally devoid of a route – there’s enough material (loads of it has not been used in this blog) to compile 2 books! 😉 C xx

  3. toroise49

    August 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I still think you are so brave going through what you have been through so far. I know of people that give up!!! And go back to England. You were wrong about the courts closing in July and August. We had a court hearing the 4th August, we still do not know the reason why because the person we deal with is on, surprise, surprise vacance. So the people who demanded that we go couldn’t do anything because no one knew quite what to do. Poor Brian wasted a whole day not working. I bet they won’t refund him for wasting our time. Good old RSI lol.

    • hobosinfrance

      August 20, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Hi Di, I’m so sorry that the skeleton diary for August Court hearings caught you in its dubious web. 😦 Ridiculous, isn’t it – there are very few hearings during July and August and the cogs still don’t turn due to the infra-structure being en vacance! I’m not at all surprised that you don’t even know the reason for the hearing, I expect RSI just wanted to make life as difficult as possible for you. Grrrh. As for a refund, well, I bet you’re spot on, Di, the word, ‘refund’, doesn’t seem to appear in the French language! We’re owed thousands of euros just in property taxes that we should never have been charged, foncier and habitation! Urrrgh! Keep your chins up, both, and we’ll keep all our digits crossed for you. C and menfolk xxxx


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