The address simply says Chateau de Gudanes and the tiny 49 person town it’s located in. No number, just an assumption that the mailman knows the way.
The trip to the Chateau started with a 6 hour train ride from Paris to Toulouse. I was gazing out the window almost the entire time as the terrain changed from flat to hilly to mountains in the Midi Pyrennes with little villages dispersed along the way.
My first look of the Chateau was pure excitement. After months of planning and waiting, I was finally there. A field of yellow flowers stretched in front of the Chateau. It stands at the high point in the valley where it’s located, surrounded by mountains and keeping a protective eye on the two villages below. I’d caught quick looks of it through the trees as we were driving up but it was nothing you could have imagined. Smaller at first, but as you walk up larger and more imposing with an aura of mystery.
My stay started with exploring the Chateau (I went up almost every day to do a little wander and see what work was being done), preparing for a workshop on renovation techniques, visiting brocantes, and entertaining several guests that popped by with sweet treats.
Going through my pictures of the Chateau was like saying hello to an old friend. So much has changed and happened within those walls over the years and even since I took my first pictures. The front rooms cleared out to make space for the restoration workshop, a new table brought in that had been built from wind-felled trees on the Chateau grounds, the temporary kitchen came together, and electricity and plumbing were brought to the Chateau for the first time in years. I took most of my pictures in the first couple of days that I was there when everything was new and discoveries kept popping up. The Chateau is surprising in that way though, there’s always something new to be found even after you’ve walked the rooms a number of times.
Since starting to post about living in Paris, one of the most frequent questions (besides the language) that I’ve gotten is about renting an apartment. I can honestly say it was the hardest part of living abroad for me. I ended up moving 4 times in one year and looked at a ridiculous amount of places with little to no success.
Now that I’m moving back for another year it’s allllll coming back. The stress. The small panic attacks. Not knowing where I’ll be in a month. Here are my best tips (hopefully I can take my own advice and find something):
– If you are going to school in Paris, check with the school on lodging options. I found out that Le Cordon Bleu had a person whose job it was to help find apartments for the students. There was even a list of different people you could contact who rented out their places to LCB students.
– Stick with agencies. The agency fee stinks. yup I know. But especially when you are searching from abroad the safest way to guarantee that you will have a place to stay when you arrive is to go through all the necessary paperwork. Agencies that are used to working with non-Frenchies are: Lodgis, ParisAttitude, and Paristay. If you feel like your French is up to par sign up on Seloger. This is an online site where agencies will post new apartments. (This is what I’ve been using but since I’m not in Paris physically and able to run into the agency as soon as one I like posts, I haven’t had any success so far.)
– Prepare your dossier. This will be a little different depending on your situation. Check with the agency for the exact specifics but it will probably be something like this:
- Piece of identity (passport)
- Document justifying your stay (school acceptance, work engagement form).
- Proof of income: To prove you can pay for the apartment by yourself…work contract or letter from employer, last three pay stubs, last income tax. If you can not show proof of 3x the rent in income, a guarantor (preferably French) who would provide the same items, or a bank guarantee (not preferable but essentially a certain amount of rent is “frozen” in your French bank account for a certain amount of time. The owner can access these funds if you are unable to pay rent).
– Look in more unconventional places. Sabbaticalhomes rents and house swaps with students but also professionals. The American Church in Paris lists daily new apartment and employment offers.
– The best/easiest way to find a place: know someone who is moving out of theirs, and snag it! The landlord usually asks the person who is leaving if they know someone that they would recommend to take the apartment. (This is all good and well, but it’s all about luck and timing.)
– Consider booking a short term stay through AirBnb and looking when you arrive. This will allow you to walk around the area where the potential apartment is, hopefully see the inside, and maybe even talk with the owner.
My sincerest best of luck wishes are being sent your way. It’s certainly a jungle out there…
To read up on my previous apartment posts, check out the below:
Have any tips for finding a place in Paris? List them below in the comments. :-)
I came back from a rainy walk around the nearby villages one day and bumped into my now good friend Lucien- a French man of a distinguished age who told me one day that he was going to chainsaw some lumber later that afternoon and another day that he was painting a house. yup.
Him, his German friend and the Australians from the Chateau had just finished a heart stopping, grueling match of tennis and were about to celebrate over a bottle of champagne. I got pulled into the mix and we were soon sitting around a table which about halfway into the bottle of champagne turned into Lucien and his friend telling a myriad of different tales- the ones where you just wait for the ridiculous twist at the end. Somehow we decided that this was going to be a French lesson so my job became translating the stories to English or retelling them again in French. Unfortunately my translations would always fall short at the endings leading to mass confusion, hilarity, or just blank stares and desperate explanations. :-D
Here’s one of my favorites:
There were two brothers. When one brother got something, the other brother had to have it as well. For example, they both had homes and each had a blond wife. One day one of the brothers decided he was going to buy a horse so of course the other brother decided he would too. So two horses were bought. As they were bringing them home they started discussing how they would tell them apart. One brother suggested cutting off an ear. No no the other brother said – we should cut off one of the horse’s tails. After much thinking one of the brothers said- how about you take the white one and I’ll take the black one.
hardy har har! groan.
I won’t recount the others because they were just as bad or worse than then one above, like the one about a gorilla at a zoo.
Lucien and I at the village market.
The beginning of the Nectarine tart story has to start with a quick lay of the land. Currently I’m helping at Chateau de Gudanes which is situated in a tiny 344 person town. They know the exact number of people and that it might increase to 346 soon. Monday in little bitty towns in France are much like Sunday, except it’s kind of a tease. Where as you know that everything on Sunday is closed, well on Monday everything is open as normal except the one place you have to go- the grocery store.
This might have lead to me becoming the subject of discussion for an hour around town when I walked down the mighty hill into the town square in a rather cute sundress in the height of lunch hour; subsequently standing there gapping because not only the grocery store was closed, but also my second choice the Tabac (small gas station like store), and my third, the boulangerie. My thought was for the boulangerie I could walk in and say you’re croissants are the best in town (har har) … I’m in a bit of trouble, trying to make a tart as refreshments for an interview, and I need something n’importe quoi! that could top it! Then my hope was that he would completely understand being a fellow baker and sell me a little cream or something.
But I’m not yet on little town French time and everything was on the normal two hour lunch break and not set to open for another 30 minutes and I was on a time limit- the interview started right now. I slowly started back towards the hill resigned to the fact that the tart would just be a plain tart, and then slowly stopping as I passed the one and only restaurant in town that was bustling. hmm! I walked inside to where I was then ushered back outside by a rather suspicious waitress. Not having time to prepare my French, the exchange went something like this “I made a tart for an interview for a magazine (but I could have said store because the words are so similar)(but I couldn’t think of the word for newspaper!). Do you have some creme fraiche?” That’s all I could muster which garnered lots more suspicious glances and debating with another waitress then much going back and forth between the kitchen and the dining area. It was quite the scene. hehe
I did leave though with a glass from the restaurant full of cream from the region that had been carefully wrapped in plastic. But it doesn’t stop there, of course I ran into someone I knew, an older French gentleman, who asked me in French “Are you going up to the Chateau now? With just that?” Why yes…why yes I am!! I’m quite scandalous. ;-)
The nectarine tart in question was fairly simple because I was running super low on ingredients. Simple sweet pastry crust par-baked, a bit of plum jam made at the Chateau last summer brushed on the bottom, then nectarine slices arranged on top, skin side down, and coated with browned butter. Popped in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the nectarines were soft but not broken down, and the tips were just starting to brown.
ps- after all that they didn’t end up using the cream, but the newspaper writer did want to mention the cooking classes we will hold at the end of July.
pss- I made another tart to take down to the restaurant as a thank you the next day- a little tart legere au citron. The Chateau is now worried that the restaurant might steal me.
I found this post in my drafts from when I was living in Paris two years ago and had to share. :-)
- I do laundry constantly. In our washing machine you can fit a grand total of 4 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, and some underwear. Here’s the kicker- everything has to air dry and it takes upwards of three full days!
- I’ve found myself walking down the street thinking…. that’s one limp baguette and then giggling into my scarf.
- Dog poop becomes an obstacle course when walking to class.
- Deodorant, though sold in the stores, is not that commonly used. Avoid the metro in extremely hot weather!!
- The yogurt selection is massive.
- The only words you need to know when visiting is “Bonjour!” Say it to absolutely everyone. No not everyone. Store owners, yes. Random people on the street? Noo.
- I get whiplash every time I hear English and find myself looking for the person.
- It’s very common to get asked for directions by French and tourists alike.
- The best way to see Paris is to head out and walk!
- Carbs compose of 50% of your diet. The other 50%? Cheese & pastries.