Our little old stone maison is in a hamlet in rural France. There is no public transport around not until you travel some kilometres to a larger town not far away. I love the architecture of these old stone places many, like ours, with a worn & weathered render on the outside covering the stone. The walls are very thick in these places. I’ve learned that many people have & are removing the render to reveal the original old stone. Not something we’ll be doing anytime soon. I guess it’s what we would call in Australia a terrace house. Not unusual in France to have houses adjoining, not free standing. Very common in the villages & cities of France. You can’t hear a thing from neighbours and they cant hear you. I have been told the place has real utilitarian roots in that it was originally a large & long stone barn or factory later re-purposed & divided into various sized maisons via thick stone walls. But, then, we don’t know the true story – yet.
While the earlier architectural styles of houses in France & Australia are not at all alike, one only has to drive around the inner city areas of Adelaide, & closer urban suburbs, to see the earlier colonial style terrace houses, some single story, double & some triple story. Of course they were purpose built as terrace houses & remain that way. They are not conversions as might be our maison in France. Many of these early Adelaide homes have now been revitalised & modernised inside. It seems, also, the regions of France can contrast a lot in their building & architectural styles. But what would I know as I haven’t set foot in France yet. But I talk, ask questions, research & read.
Our little shoe box is 3 stories with the basement at ground level. The two main living areas are on the first & second floor. One enters the house through the entry hallway in the basement. The basement is used as a workshop, a laundry, a car port, for storage, for anything & everything eg bicycles, furniture as well as housing heating oil and other things, necessities. It could easily be converted into a garage or an additional living area as it is fully powered and watered. We are fortunate it does not accumulate water as basements do in many French houses in certain areas including our area. People put soil or gravel in their basements. One person I know places soil in the basement. Another I know uses the basement as a wine cellar, the gravel allowing him & his wife access the wine with dry feet.
France is different from Australia in that it allows foreigners to purchase existing property very easily. Australia has various restrictions & requirements for foreign ownership of residential property. Just not as easy for a foreigner to buy in Australia as it is in France.
While I’m no expert on buying/selling properties here in Australia, let alone France, there are some interesting differences. Buying a property in France involves the Notariat. The notaire is a lawyer, a public officer who prepares & authenticates contracts. The Notaires do more transactional work & are free to act for both parties in a transaction. They are not avocats working in the court rooms. So, yes, buying a house in France is quite a different process from that in Australia.
House puchasing in France, the Contract, requires the Diagnostics. Australia does not have a mandatory requirement, like the French Dossier Technique Immobilier, for buying/selling property. The person performing the inspection of the house is a qualified certified, inspector as evidence by the Assurances:
In Australia, the buyer has the option of independently hiring a qualified building inspector to thoroughly check out & report on the structure, pest infestation, wiring, plumbing, drainage, asbestos, lead paint, salt damp etc. It’s not mandatory as it is in France. Of course a large proportion of these older homes in France are centuries old so you do need a sound inspection. In Australia, we have protective laws & causes of action in place such as Breach of Contract, Negligence, Fraud, Misrepresentation et al to protect a purchaser.
Our first trip to France won’t be to enjoy this ancient & historic country & all it has to offer. No, it will be to sort out the house & what it needs in the way of renovation & upgrading.
Ultimately, one day, I want to attend the Courts & certain Universities/law schools in France. I’m looking at Bordeaux and Toulouse. Being a lawyer, grounded in the common law adversary system, I naturally want to see the French courts in session, to visit lawyers, les avocats, to get a glimpse of how the French investigatory/civil legal system works & how the profession operates.
Can I speak French yet? Is it parles-tu Français or parlez-vous Français? No I can’t speak French yet. Je ne parle pas Francois. Well, let’s just say I can communicate at an elementary level. One needs to immerse oneself in the French culture to really ‘hear’ the language, learn it. That would require living there I would think.