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 tour the magnificent (and dirt cheap) property we have found in Marey-les-Fussey.
The second house was built vertically, whereas the first one was slung horizontally alongside the main road through the village. This one was much newer, according to the Châlonais realtor; it was built a mere two centuries ago instead of four.
Each of the four floors had one or two rooms, and they were connected by a graceful wooden staircase that spiraled up the middle of the structure and which became steeper and steeper the higher we climbed. The final room – a bedroom under the eaves – took up the entire top floor. It was a perfect spot to come and escape from the world …once the dead flies were cleaned up, that was. Right now the carpet and the windowsill were dotted with them.
Once the house tour was done, the realtor took us down the hill to show us through the first of two massive stone outbuildings which had been used as barns for the past few hundred years. Amongst the other treasures inside we discovered a rusting mobilette, an old wooden cart that was missing two wheels and four giant glass bon bons used for distilling poire william and other hard alcohols.
“These granges can also be renovated and made into other houses,” the realtor said, caressing the wall. It was true, the rough stone and massive oak beams provided an amazing canvas.
The farthest grange commanded a view of the entire valley – yellow wheat fields giving way to vineyards and then back up to fields again, topped off by a ridge of green trees. Inside, a rickety wooden ladder was propped up against a wooden overhang. Franck squinted up its length and then swung his leg over and began to shimmy up.
The realtor clutched the ladder. “Can’t guarantee that it is safe up there you know! You could come through the floorboards – probably completely rotten.”
Franck had already disappeared above us.
“Laura, come up here!” Franck shouted down a few seconds later.
The realtor shook his head. “I wouldn’t if I were you.”
“What if I fall through the floorboards?” I called up to Franck.
“I’ll catch you.”
I put my foot on the first rung and began to gingerly make my way up, ignoring the realtor’s look of consternation. How much scarier could this really be than climbing the stairs of Oxford’s Examination Schools before my first final exam? Whatever waited for me up top, it couldn’t be as bad as the vertiginous terror I had felt then. A small hope flickered inside me that this splintering old ladder was there to lead me to a completely different kind of place – a place where I could become the kind of person who never needed to feel that way again.