Some time over the Christmas break Susan and I sat down and did a solid look at the whole France question. A year of COVID-19 had derailed our plans, and the plans of people around the globe. During 2020 France became somewhat of an “On again - Off again” project.
The deciding factor was stripping back all of the extraneous baggage and asking one simple question: when everything is said and done, is this what we want to do?
The answer was “Yes.”
January has seen many things speed up significantly. We have had real estate agents come through our house in preparation for selling it. We’re into a month of intensive renovations, mostly of the cosmetic variety - paint, patches, cleaning etc - to make our townhouse into a place that potential buyers will look at and say “Wow! We could live here!”
At the same time we’ve been looking at real estate listings with more dedication and seriousness than has been the case previously. Although Provence and Burgundy are still on the list, we seem to have come full circle back to Normandy.
We have even talked on the phone with a property owner in Orne with a house that we honestly feel we could move into tomorrow.
A house that was home to a piano teacher!
Since that conversation we have been told that an offer has been made by another couple (“les Anglais”) but we decided to throw our hat into the ring regardless. The owner and the local notaire have been contacted, and we have said that we’re prepared to put down a deposit even though there is no possible way to visit France right now.
And by “no possible way to visit” we’re serious. The French government rules are very clear, and very specific, and we don’t fit.
If you are in another country, you are recommended to limit international travel as much as possible. If you however must travel, you can only enter France if your journey meets one of the following criteria for exceptions:
If you are a French national (you may be accompanied by your spouse and children);
If you are a European Union citizen or a national of Andorra, the Holy See, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or the United Kingdom, and your main residence is in France or you are crossing France to reach your country of nationality or residence (you may be accompanied by your spouse and children);
If you hold a valid French or European residence permit or long-stay visa and your main residence is in France or you are crossing France to reach your residence in the European space;
If you are transiting for less than 24 hours in an international zone;
If you hold an official passport;
If you take up your duties in a diplomatic or consular mission or in an international organization headquartered or having an office in France, where necessary with your spouse and children, or if you travel to France with a mission order issued by your home State;
If you are a foreign health professional helping to fight COVID-19 or recruited as a trainee for this purpose;
If you are a member of crew or personnel operating passenger or cargo flights, or travelling as a passenger to reach your departure base;
If you are carrying out international goods transport;
If you are a passenger coach or train driver or crew member;
If you are a member of crew or personnel operating a merchant or fishing vessel;
If you are a student with a long-stay visa or short-stay visa (VCS) for study or placements or coming for less than 90 days from a country exempted from VCS requirements or you are a minor enrolled in school, and you can prove you have accommodation in France;
If you are a professor or researcher employed or invited by a French higher education establishment or research laboratory and you are travelling for study and teaching purposes;
If you have a “Talent Passport” or “ICT posted worker” long-stay visa, where necessary with your spouse and children;
If you are travelling to France to receive treatment in a public or private hospital.
If you are travelling to France to exercise custody rights pursuant to a court decision;
If you are working as a humanitarian worker or international volunteer.
Nothing there about ”househunting with an eye towards retiring in a few months.”
Which is reasonable, and sensible, and points to one of the other factors in our decision that it is time to go: our Canadian government’s handling of the Coronavirus.
While France and other countries are locking down everything, in Canada even Ontario refuses to just shut things down and solve the pandemic locally. And BC is even worse.
COVID is rampant in long term care homes, but our government refuses to force them to test staff and residents. After Christmas Dr Bonnie Henry celebrated a big drop in recorded COVID cases, then acknowledged that the number of people tested also was way down, so the number was meaningless.
Big White ski resort has had a significant outbreak for weeks - blamed on staff deciding to party hearty - yet stays open for business. People fly into BC for vacations, and BC residents fly to Hawaii for Christmas holidays.
And of course the big-box stores remain open, with low paid staff afraid to challenge people who ignorantly refuse to wear a mask.
Because we’ve renovating we’ve managed to make Ikea in Richmond a weekly trip. See the guy in grey?
He was near us in the closet planning department, with his big nose hanging out, spreading his germs all over the place - and then he SNEEZED! And laughed.
Ikea’s staff didn’t think it was worth talking to him, or even wiping the surrounding area that he had contaminated. Ikea’s response was formulaic, and I doubt that they’ll actually do anything.
At this point we’re pretty much fed up with Canada, and BC, and can’t wait to get to France.