Saturday, February 22, 2014

Return to St. Hilaire d'Ozilhan





We have been running, sometimes in circles. For we have had a shift of inner direction in our house-hunting forays to and fro. 


We have been peeking into secret gardens adorned with mysterious staircases that climb heavenwards blindly...


...while wondering what the view might be from above to below.


We have cat-scratched at patinas...



...and followed light's traces from east to west, or is it north to south? To see where her elegant tresses fall...


...and where they remain pulled up chignon tight. 


For what we have realized, is that it is less about falling in love with one particular house...


...but more about the "how" of where we will live next.


We both feel a rousing need for quiet...


...and a speck of order.


Something that Arles with its casual abandon may no longer give us.


And so we are roaming, returning to villages like St. Hilaire d'Ozilhan...


...looking with eyes and hearts wide open until we are sure of what is next.


Have a lovely weekend everyone...

49 comments:

  1. Darling Heather:
    Are you really to move from the apartment which you have made into such a stylish, interesting and comfortable home? Doubtless you will do the same again wherever you choose to be, but do take care for these things can cause so much personal stress.
    But let us be positive. What fun you will have looking to find the right place. And when it is discovered, for sure you will know it is meant to be.
    Enjoy your weekend. A day borrowed from spring here in Budapest. xxx

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    1. Hello my dear friends, it is so lovely to hear from you again! Yes, it is true that Remi and I will have to move. Our building has been sold and we declined on buying our current apartment due to the noise that surrounds us permanently in this part of town. So we are on the hunt and you are correct that in times it can be quite stressful, most certainly as there is a time constraint--we need to leave by the end of June!

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  2. Thank you for including us on this journey. I know it seems like it has been a long one, but once you arrive at your destination, I know you will be glad that you took the time.

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    1. Thank you for the good thoughts Judith--and yes, it is starting to get a little long, it is true!

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  3. Dear Heather, You may have found your village...it looks so promising. ox, Gina

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  4. If the photos are of the places y'all are looking next, then I feel that's the Next.

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    1. It is one gorgeous village...very quiet too...

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  5. BEAUTIFUL! I love the pictures from the village...
    Have a nice weekend!
    Titti

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    1. Merci Titti! It was such a fabulous one that I am just returning to blogland now. Hope yours was the same...

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  6. I think I'll visit you and join in the fun b

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    1. Oh really now? I think that you already did!

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  7. I know that no matter where you land, Heather, it will be somewhere beautiful. You have such an eye for the details I loved. Sun and shadow. Patina. Can't wait to see your next home! XOXO

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    1. You and I like all the same things Jeanne! Bisouuuus....

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  8. What a little piece of heaven is this tiny town! Thank you so much for sharing this quest with all your followers. I'm enjoying your search SO much! :)

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    1. I am glad someone is! ;) hehehe Just kidding but we are getting a tiiiiny bit anxious...

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  9. Are you heading for this building again? If only there was more light and more green...

    I understand the need for more silence. Two years ago I moved out of a Gothik Revival Building of the 19th Century in the center of town. It had incredible, original carvings and stuccos of dragons on the seiling... and other things...

    All my friends asked me how I could leave it? I said that I needed more peace and calmness. And more trees and flowers to look at. And I am very happy with that now.

    I keep my fingers crossed for your house hunt!


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    1. Silke, your former apartment sounds absolutely amazing! But I do understand, it is similar to our last apartment in Arles--hand painted 17th century beams, Roman ruins preserved under a glass floor, a jardin du curé...but NO light at all (not even in the garden) and a very oppressive atmosphere. So we over compensated a bit by coming to this apartment with a bit too much life!

      Calm and green are what we are seeking. And yes, we did stop by to see if there was light at that house again because there was so, so much that we liked about but unfortunately there was none...

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  10. how beautiful these photos are, good luck with the search x

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    1. Thank you so much, FF--I am beginning to think that we are going to need it!

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  11. Heather, be careful about living in a tiny village. It can be very isolating. Our Mas is only 5 minutes from Maussane and 5 minutes from St Martin de Crau but I have to be very proactive if I want to see people. I love the Mas but I don't hunk I would like to live there full time.

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    1. I hear you Judy and that is why we are being careful about what villages we are looking at. There has to be some life...and some of them have quite a few expats living there year 'round which is attractive to me as I don't have contact with any in Arles.

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  12. I see "that" house again. Ours is 1640 something and we have the dallage floors in all but one room. I am trying to find an artisan who knows enough about the one in our kitchen to tell us how to restore it as it needs lifting in places and cleaning, grouting, etc. Your need for light is important...we are lucky enough not to be closed in. I must send you photos sometime. You WILL find your home, and soon.

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    1. Oh I would lovelovelove to see photos, pleeeease! :)

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  13. While you quest continues...you have taken us once again on a magical journey.....so thank you Heather...I feel sure you will find your heart's match and build a new home to cherish...
    week- end warm thots to you and yours...

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    1. Thank you joyful, you always give me such wonderful encouragement!

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  14. 'We have cat-scratched at patinas...'

    my dear, you have such a way. I love what joyfull7 has said because they are right, you have taken us on a magical journey. I do feel like we're walking alongside you and Remi on your vital search and I will say this, the place itself will leap with joy when it is chosen by you. I mean that with all my heart.

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    1. You are so special dear Suze. Very dear to me and I will keep those fine words close...

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  15. What beautiful shots and intriguing possibilities!

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    1. Alas, none for sale in our price range save the one without enough light!

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  16. "Quiet is the new luxury"; said by my friend.....the extremely talented John Saladino! Those are important things!

    I love following your quest! Thank you for including us! We all love you, your Remi, and your dogs! What a delightful thing you bring to us!

    Bravo!!

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    1. Thank you Penny, coming from you that means the world to me!
      Gros Bisous,
      Heather

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  17. Wishing you strength for the search. :)

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    1. I am beginning to need it dear G, grazie mille!

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  18. Dear Heather,

    Have I told you the story of how we came across and bought this rambling, 220 year old house?....

    Entry # 3948957 in the "Ya Never Know" category:

    Herve and I (we'd kept two small, neighboring houses in Durham for ten years) had, for about seven years wanted an old, relatively "in the country" house. Every once in a while, we'd pack up and go look at something (which always turned out to be "wrong" or plain-out impractical for one reason or another.....usually at least two reasons).

    At one low point, a little more than two years ago, we drove out here to Hillsborough (a tiny, 18th century town that's been almost entirely bypassed by development since 1860 or so) to look at "Heartsease"......a very lovely (from the outside) amaglam of a simple 1784 house and a greek revival, 19th century, two story addition/wing. It was going for a million dollars, which Herve admitted we could afford (need I emphasize that, as the resident epidemiologist, he's rather more familiar with and in-charge of these figures than the resident, self-employed artist?).

    In any case, I was, actually, relieved to go inside and find (as Herve later agreed) that the interior was just TOO TOOOO TOOOOO renovated beyond repair. Everywhere you looked, there were elaborate Brunschwig&fils window "Dressings" (no way any of these could be called "curtains"), inappropriate-if-undoubtedly-expensive Chandeliers from Sotheby's or Christies, thick WHITE carpets (thank you, I keep a pack of rowsty terriers), and basically just no end of having rigged the house out as though it wwere some Newport mansion rather than a fairly simple, 200 year old house in North Carolina. All too obviously, it was/had been owned by a very rich divorcee with too much money, too much time, and too many decorating-magazines on her hands. It was (is, for that matter) quite lovely if it's the sort of thing you like, but I couldn't help hissing at Herve, as we followed the real-estate agent up the stairs, "Okay....we're gay....but we're not THIS gay.....".

    After making appropriately non-commital remarks and thanking the agent for her time, we slodged down the drive back to the car....where, the moment we'd closed the doors, I said "Why would we pay a million dollars to buy a bunch of stuff that we're going to tear out and throw away the moment we get in the joint?". Herve agreed with me.

    As we pulled out and began driving away, I spied a comparatively small, but very lovely & simple (as in not overly fussed-over with inappropriate "Restorations"), obviously 18th century house....sitting sort of close to Heartsease, but situated much further back from the road. I wearily said "Why can't we just find a house like THAT one anywhere?" (to be continued....)

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    1. ........Later that day, I told Frances Mayes (yes, she of "Under the Tuscan Sun/Bramasole fame) that we'd been looking at a house. She emailed back "Oh, was it the Webb House?". I should emphasize that Frances (who when she's not in Tuiscany, lives about thee miles away at Chatwood, the farm she and her husband bought a few years ago) is an inveterate and canny house-hunter. She's the first to admit that she loves "looking" athouses the way some folks love "looking" at clothes in stores.

      I told her I didn't know what the "The Webb House" was. She asked where we'd been (this is a tiny town, in which there only about 20 "named" houses). Turns out that "The Webb House" (you can see it on my Facebook page) was the house I'd been longing for. I know.....too "Miracle on 34th Street" for words.

      It was only sort of on-the-market....which is how things go in places like this. Also?...it cost half of what we'd just been dispiritedly looking at. Within a month, we'd bought it....and within three months, we were living in it.

      In any case, I've never lived anywhere (and trust me; I've spent most of my adulkt life living in rented places that certainly didn't cost a million dollars) since college that didn't just turn up via a casual conversation or a blind-turn on a side-road (usually when I already knew that I'd need to be moving, but didn't want to face the prospect of doing so).

      Something will turn up, Heather. As far as I've ever learned, finding the right place to live is like finding a person to fall in love with. One does, of course, have to do the dreary slogging in an effort to demonstrate to yourself and everyone else that You're Being Serious About This Issue.........but the final lucky-ticket always seems to land in your hand just when you weren't actually looking for it.

      Avuncularly yours as ever,

      David Terry
      www.davidterryart.com

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    2. I do know that story David but I loved reading it all over again, it gave me hope! And do you know that from the very beginning my instinct has told me that we will find something at the very last minute? We shall see if I am right...

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  19. Your pictures make everything 'picturesque' and beautiful and yet I know what you mean about looking for what's important to you. There are inevitably trade-offs. Space instead of light, kitchen instead of balcony, and vice versa and so on. Right now they're filming downstairs. They're often filming here. This crew arrived last week. They're polite but in the way at times and friends ask how I can put up with the inconvenience. And I point to my view, and gesture at the light. I could have a much bigger place elsewhere for the money, and be somewhere no one would ever ask to come and film, not a music video or a television show or a car commercial. But I have what's most important to me, and it is just right. For now. Looking forward to seeing you soon - bises,

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    1. George....what sort of house do you live in, if I can ask? there was a very interesting article (this is a weekly feature in the magazine "The Week"....."Houses with ______") a month or so ago, which was "Houses with Film Credits". All ten of them (which varied wildly in terms of size, style, age,etc) have been used many, many times in many movies/television shows. It was very intriguing to look at them and realize, for example, "YES!.....that's the 'loft' in "Ghosts....and it was also the apartment in _____ and _______."

      Amusingly enough?.....I'm longtime friends (we're the same age) with the daughter of a deeeeply Southern family who've owned the same, enormous plantation house (you'd recognize it) since 1830 or so. It was w-r-e-c-k by the broke-ass 1930s, and they were about to give it up finally, when it was "discovered" by Hollywood. This was after "Gone With the Wind"s release......and, suddenly, Hollywood was pumping out Southern Gothic movies...."Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte", "Raintree County", "Jezebel", etcetera....this was a very hot genre for about twenty years there. During the 1970's and 1980's, Hollywood started pumping out equally Southern (if not so entirely Gothic) television productions such as "Roots", "Tom Sawyer's Adventures", etcetera......all, once again, requiring a large, antebellum mansion with at least one double row of giant oaks leading down to the river landing.


      My friend's family's house is THE house every American associates with "Civil War Stuff". About twenty movies and thirty television shows have been filmed there over the decades. The house is, of course, restored beyond belief. The trade-off, according to my friend, is that she and her sisters spent all of their childhoods moving, every six weeks, from spot to spot in the house to avoid film crews. Apparently, ther mother always reminded them that THIS IS PAYING FOR THE INDOOR BATHROOMS, Girls!"

      Similarly?.....my Oxford tutor was related to the Fiennes family, which has owned Broughton Castle (fairly near Oxford) since 1400 or so. It's THE house inevtiably chosen when film-crews need a comparatively small, exquisitely mellowed Medieval/Tudor (Broughton is both) manor house/sorta-castle.
      I went there once to visit the family (he's a Baronet, and she's the daughter of, I think, an earl) and found them living in The Servan'ts back-kitchen & laundry room (I kid you not). Actors were swording-it-about on the front lawn while some love-scene between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII (or some other Tudor couple) was being filmed in the upper hall. It was all amusingly surreal, as visits to peers of the realm go.
      If you go to the website for Castle Broughton (they have one these days), you'll see a stirring series of photographs of the new, electronic refrigerator being hoisted by a crane down into the kitchen (the only way to get it there), while the Lord and lady wave their arms and cheer out on the lawn. THAT, also, was paid for by filming-rights.

      Obviously, I find this way of making-the-house-pay-for-itself very interesting. As I recall Sharon Santoni (she of "My French Country Home") almost had her house chosen for a movie this past Fall, but the filmers balked when she balked at the suggestion that she board all her dogs and horses and children for six weeks; that was a bit too much, she thought.

      Sincerely,

      David Terry
      www.davidterryart.com

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    2. I so enjoyed reading both your original comment, George (and from what little I have seen of your amazing apartment I absolutely understand your feeling) and your always entertaining stories, David. Thank you both for being your wonderful selves. And yes, George, I can't wait!
      Bisous,
      H

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  20. This town looks age-deep in patina. It is a lovely place. I can see you living there. The pace seems unhurried, the buildings dreaming about ages long past. I am enjoying this journey with you.

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    1. Yes, Loree, you understood the feeling of St. Hilaire exactly. I don't know if it is where we will end up but I appreciate it enormously...

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  21. Do all ivies climb or others crawl down?

    Interesting doors and windows and stairs can leave one breathless with less hints of what to select.

    Still an enjoyable search it seems.

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    1. Mmmm...I am showing you the enjoyable parts...there have been many, many disappointments and travelling around for nothing...!

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  22. shutters! blue paint! stone steps! ironwork!

    b l i s s .

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