Dawn came early…around 5 am…but couldn’t rouse us from our slumbers. Felix’s wanderings woke us a few hours later and all three of us started to explore our new home. The cottage was built in the 1600’s as a stable to house the horses that pulled the boats along the Canal du Midi, which was built to shorten the trip from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and, even more importantly, to avoid having to pay taxes to the Spanish…something that had always galled (or should I say “Gauled”) the Kings of France.
The cottage is entered through an old double-door. There are multiple locks on the inside…most are newer slide locks but the original locks with skeleton keys are still in use. After you enter, a small foyer leads directly into an airplane-sized toilette. To the right of the foyer are 4 steps leading down to the bedroom. The “master” bath is a step up from the bedroom and contains a shower, a sink, a bathtub and a toilet…quite compact, yet very functional. Felix’s catbox was placed under the sink and he took to it like a fish in water…he’s a very fastidious boy :).
To the left of the foyer is the living room, a relatively large room that contains a couch, a dining table and 3 chairs, a hutch and a massive fireplace. The original wood ceiling beam runs the length of the house. The kitchen is off the living room…very small with a low wood-panelled ceiling. There’s a small circular staircase leading up to a loft area above the kitchen that’s used mainly for storage since it has a very low ceiling, but it does include a bedroom….which will work fine for any Hobbits that come for a visit.
Out front is a small patio area with a picnic table and a shade umbrella for those al fresco meals that Craig and I so love. Off to the side of the cottage is a small add-on garage. The Modus has to be parked at an angle in order to allow the garage doors to close. But, oh joyous day, there is a washing machine in the garage! Clothes are dried on a clothes line in the backyard.
Next to the garage is the “basement” of the cottage; this was the stable for the canal horses but it’s now a giant workshop with additional storage. Outside the front door is a bridge that crosses the canal; boats glide under it throughout the day.
Jean-Michel and Caryl came by with a loaf of bread from a local boulangerie run by a Swiss couple (they insist Swiss bread is the best). After giving us a tour of the cottage and it’s workings (according to Caryl, due to her technical and financial resources, the workings are mainly “Mickey Mouse” …. as the days go by, we’ll understand more & more what she meant by this), Caryl took us into town to resurrect the telephone line to the cottage and have the bill changed over to our name (this is very important if we want to continue our stay in France since a utility bill showing your name and address is mandatory). We walked into the France Telecom boutique at 11:30. Arriving at any business in France 1/2 hour before lunch is never a good idea but we were welcomed in and, before noon, we had our French phone number and a promise for service by Saturday.
Back at the cottage, Jean-Michel and Caryl bid us “adieu”.
So, now, we were on our own. We started our day by heading off to Colombiers to check on our boat and stop at the Casino Supermarche to buy some food and household supplies. At Rive de France, we were told that our boat wasn’t yet ready….no surprise there…needlesss to say, they operate on “French” time. We were also told that we had a “visiteur” in November who broke into our boat, took some electronics and emptied our gas tank. Since the boat was in their care, Rive de France repaired the damage and refilled the tank. We’ll see if the “reparations” don’t somehow end up on our final bill.
When we returned home, Felix was sitting on the dresser looking out the window at his new surroundings….wish we could read his mind.
After a light dinner, it was lights off for all of us, but sleep for only two of us. Felix has decided nighttime is the safest time to explore his new home.