Wednesday, April 14, 2010


If you have been reading Our House in Provence, you know that we toured many houses in person and through the Internet for several years before we bought in Sablet.

As we had no plans for moving to France, or at least not in the near future, and the condition of the house and commercial services available in the village were higher on our list of criteria then a specific region, we had the liberty of looking for houses in several areas.

My wife, who I don't think really thought we would buy a French house had stipulations, I had my criteria too. Although, we never put them on paper, this was Shirley and my list:

1. Stone house in good condition with at least 2 bedrooms (she didn't want a fixer-upper as she did not want to have a Peter Mayle type "A Year in Provence Experience");

2. A pretty village with services such as a boulangerie, boucherie, and café. No hameau or isolated group of houses without any commercial services;

3. Old house, preferably at least 100 years old. No modern villas like you see on the outskirts of many villages.

4. Guaranteed, or at least as close as you can get to guaranteed good weather for seven or eight months a year;

5. Relatively easy and quick to get to in France. We didn't want to have to drive 3 or 4 hours after we landed at the airport;

6. Near family. We have relatives living near Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Avignon, Montpellier, Viane, Clermont Ferrand, Moroges, Collonges s/Saleve, Anduze and Nimes.

7. A house we could rent when we were not there.

8. Oh yes, we had to be able to afford the house.

Some of the areas we visited besides where we bought in the Vaucluse were in the Alpes-Maritime, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Gard, Pic Saint-Loup area north of Montpellier, and along the Mediterranean Sea between Montpellier and Bezier.

In November 2007, Shirley and I embarked on a trip with friends that would include a week in the Côte d'Azur; we were going to be based in Gassin in the Department of Var, just a few kilometers from St. Tropez. From there, we would make day trips throughout the area.

Prior to leaving for France, we arranged to meet friends for lunch at L'Ane Rouge, a wonderful restaurant in Nice, near where they live in Le Rouret. Besides teaching and working on a doctorate, Jonathon Scriven is the author of a very interesting blog called French for a While.

After a delicious and long lunch, we followed them up to their house in Le Rouret. While there, we got to talking about the fact that we (really me) wanted to buy a house in France and that we both liked the Côte d'Azur, French Riviera and would love to find a village house in the area.

They told us their children went to the local school with the children of a realtor and that we should call her. They gave us her contact information and we made plans to contact her. We were not able to meet with her before leaving but did speak and gave her our house criteria.

Several months passed and after exchange of multiple emails, she reported that she had found two houses in our price range that she thought would fit our criteria. We couldn't go then but Kerri's parents Les and Joni Pitton were visiting Le Rouret and they said they would tour the houses and report back.

So shortly afterwards they drove over to visit Tourrettes-sur-Loup and toured the two houses. As soon as they got back home, they sent us an email with information about the two houses along with lots of pictures. They thought it would be worthwhile for us to see the houses.

So in March, I decided to fly over. Shirley was not able to come so we decided I would take my daughter Tricia and 20 month old granddaughter Avery and go to the Côte d'Azur.

Tourrettes-sur-Loup is a pretty medieval village with 3,449 inhabitants located about 26 kms from Nice. Tourrettes is perched on a narrow spur of land extending from very rocky hills with the gorge of a small stream far below one high wall of buildings.

Tourrettes-sur-Loup was a fortified village and there are arched passageways through the wall of houses into the center of the "vieux", old village.

The main "Place" in the center of the village is a parking lot. The "petanque" court is at the end of the parking lot next to the road.

At the back of the parking lot, the "Grand Rue" loops through the vieux village, with one entrance through the arched "porte" at the left and the other entrance at the right, through the arched porte beneath the tall clock-bell tower.

For the most part, Tourrettes-sur-Loup is restricted to only pedestrians in the vieux village.

The houses are all made of stone.

One of the many pretty side streets that you can find in Tourrettes-sur-Loup.

One of the arched passages into the vieux village. My daughter Tricia and granddaughter Avery wait for me.

One of the houses we came to see; the door is partially obscured by the tree on the left.

At the end, Tricia and I decided not to make an offer on either house. Neither house had any private outdoor space such as a courtyard or terrace where you could enjoy the beautiful Mediterranean weather and we decided that Tourrettes-sur-Loup was not as easy to get to as we wanted.

Tourrettes-sur-Loup is a beautiful village and it is well worthwhile visiting when you are in the Côte d'Azur visiting the hill towns near Nice.

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