Moving Again I

We are moving out of our house in 2 months—the house which we bought only three years ago. Not only are we changing our domicile, we are leaving the Parisian region where we have lived since our arrival in France in 2016. I have been in France for eight and a half years. It’s the third time I am moving my abode. Since I have not written for quite a while, this post will recapitulate my various dwellings since my arrival in France.  

I moved from Hong Kong to Orsay, a French town of 15,500 inhabitants located 30km away from the capital, in 2016 to join my husband who arrived in France a year. We chose Orsay because it was where the university he was teaching located.

Imagining squeezing our 2 bikes in the 35m2 space. On the top left of the photo, you can see that part of the kitchen corner is under a sloping roof.

We rented a tiny apartment right in the centre of Orsay. A mickey mouse apartment with a living space of 35m2. The flat was actually on the attic floor of a 2-storey building owned by an elderly French couple who lived on the floor just below. An apartment on the attic floor means that living space is smaller than the surface area. In France, if the height of a space is is less than 1.80m from the ceiling, the space is considered ‘mansardé’, that is, under the sloping part of the roof, and that particular surface area is not considered as ‘living space’.  For instance, part of the dining corner in the apartment was under the eaves. It was not considered a proper living space since I had to mind my head if I stood up from my chair.

First Move

Not the most inspiring view from the balcony, but there is still a view! If you look far, you will see the forest.

Second Move

We stayed there slightly for than two years before we purchased our first apartment in the spring of 2018. The New Apartment was twice the size of the mickey mouse flat, and it was just two minutes on foot away from the mickey mouse apartment. We were very content with our choice as we got to remain in Orsay and we liked the design of the flat – large sliding glass doors that led to a balcony that stretched around our apartment. Nothing was perfect, of course, especially concerning Our Neighbours Upstairs.

In mid 2021, we upgraded. The 2020 Covid-19 lockdown had galvanised us to search for a dwelling with more privacy and with our personal green space. This time round, it was into a house. After three months of House Searching which started end 2020, we purchased a house in the early summer of 2021. It was in a nearby minuscule town of 2,500 inhabitants, 6 km from Orsay. It was a house of 120m2 with two floors, a veranda and a garden and the best part, it was next to a small woodland. From our kitchen and veranda, we had an unobstructed view of the woods.

In the past three years, I have put in so much time, energy and sweat in this garden. For me, gardening is not a chore. Planting vegetables, clearing weeds, trapping slugs and snails, catching worms, mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes…actually help me to clear my head. I have started to see the the fruits (and flowers, vegetable, herbs) of my labour.

Flowers from the baby cherry tree planted end 2021.

Two and a half years ago, we planted one cherry tree and one plum tree to replace the two old and diseased Peach Trees inherited from the previous owner. We also trimmed down an old mossy Apple Tree. The gentleman who helped us with the replanting and trimming told us that we would likely to only enjoy the fruits only after the second year. Indeed, we have seen more flowers blossomed in the last two months than in the last two years. Baby green cherries, plums and apples have also been recently sighted. It’s unlikely that we get to savour the fruits by the time we move out.

After three years of backbreaking work…yes, backbreaking—despite the joy that gardening brings me, I can’t deny that it’s hard work—I have to leave my little piece of paradise and move again. So, yes, after spending less than three years in this house of which 5 months were spent renovating the house, we have to move again. 

Third Move

Our next destination: Grenoble, a city in the southeast of France, surrounded by mountain ranges.

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