The Grape Years – La Maison des Deux Clochers

This is an excerpt from my first book project about our adventures buying, renovating, and renting out our four homes in Burgundy. I’m currently searching for a publisher and / or agent, so if anyone knows of anyone who would be a good fit s.v.p. send them vers moi!

This excerpt of “The Grape Years – La Maison des Deux Clochers” picks up as Franck and I think we have found the perfect house in Burgundy – an absolute steal.  After hiding out in the village washing house (so the other villagers won’t see us) the realtor finally arrives and we begin the tour…


Magny-Les-Villers, Burgundy, France


As we approached the black Citroen that had pulled up in front of the gate, a sweaty man stumbled out of the driver’s seat. A flurry of papers slid out of a file he clutched in his hand and scattered over the dusty ground. Franck collected them swiftly, passed them back to the realtor, and herded us towards the shady patch in front of the house gate.

Once we were safely away from the village’s main thoroughfare, Franck stuck out his hand. “Bonjour.”

The real estate agent was still muttering vague mercis and merdes and fais-chiers but managed to shake it.

Vous êtes Franck Germain?”

Oui. And this is ma femme, Laura.”

Being introduced as Franck’s wife was only a year old and still gave me a shiver of delight. There was a cave-man possessiveness about the word “wife” in French; “femme” meant both “my wife” and “my woman” at the same time.

The agent clasped my hand briefly in his moist paw and then began to forage in his pocket for the key to the front gate.

Franck was quivering with the need to get us out of the villagers’ sight. He sighed in relief when the realtor finally extracted the key and opened the creaking barrier.

“So you’re from Châlon,” Franck said, his voice low as we walked into the grassy yard between the two houses. “This is a bit far away for you. Do you represent a lot of sellers in this area?”

The agent shook his head. “Almost never. Completely out of my secteur, this is, but it is being sold by some old ladies who are friends of my mothers. I’m doing it as a favour but to tell you the truth it’s become excessively inconvenient.”

He led us, or rather was hustled onwards by Franck, into the first house that ran low-slung across the back of the yard.

I stepped inside and looked down. My feet stood on huge flagstones – perfectly polished with time and wear. The room was beautifully cool. From what I knew of these old Burgundian houses, the walls were made with stones equally as thick and massive. The kitchen was sparse and simple but I loved everything about it; the scratched wooden cabinets, the huge double sink, even the spiral fly tape that was dotted with several large and expired victims. The back of my neck prickled; I swear I could almost feel the sweet breath of Franck’s guardian angels behind us.

We continued on to the other rooms. The house was small but oozing with potential. There was the fabulous kitchen, bien sûr, and then a bedroom graced with wooden floors with deep patina. I looked right on past the mustard and green velvet wallpaper, the cross complete with an impaled Jesus over the headboard, and the dried and very dusty bridal bouquet under an even dustier glass dome on the bedside table. Take all that away and this room would ooze with charm. Next to the bedroom was a small WC with a sink but no other bathroom (I wondered where the previous occupants had washed – in the well?). Next was a separate living area with more glorious flagstones and a massive stone fireplace.

Franck didn’t say a word but from the flash of his hazel eyes I knew he wasn’t missing a thing.


A suivre…