My journey here was largely uneventful.  Several people spoke to me in French and, due to the context, there was only one time I had to resort to “Je ne parle pas Français bien” (I do not speak French well), so at least I don’t stand out as an obvious tourist . . . despite wearing black sneakers for travel day, which I thought was a major fashion faux pas for French women (I’ve yet to see one wearing sneakers).  French trains are so fast and reliable (outside of the spring strikes) – I love taking them!

 When I arrived at my cottage, I had concerns it wouldn’t be as nice as the photos because homes aren’t built for curb appeal here – there’s a large wall facing the street and only the back stone wall of the loft room is at street level.  Once I saw the back area (front yard?), I was encouraged though:

 

I had a bit of trouble seeing anything else as I did not know a common trick in Europe (common enough the owners didn’t think of warning me) – you have to turn the handle all the way up to unlock the door (and lock it for that matter).  It was sheer luck that I turned the handle up while jiggling the handle hoping I could get in and ended up unlocking it.  Once inside though, I was happy to find the front room was large and spacious, but very homey feeling:

The newly installed heaters are great; however, they’ve had a little trouble fighting the winter chill after having been left empty awhile (it is a summer vacation home for the couple who just started renting it).  I’m thinking a fire tomorrow should get it toasty and the heaters will have an easier job after!  Since heat rises, the loft room was surprisingly warm the second day:

I opted for the downstairs room with a portable radiator to control the temperature better.  Plus, it is closer to the bathroom & has a larger area for hanging clothes!  The beds are firmer than I’m used to in the US and the pillows softer than I use, but once my pillow arrived from home (memory foam), I slept perfectly!
I also took a walk into the town.  It’s very picturesque and the buildings are very common for the area – stone and stucco-covered stone.  The walk into town from the cottage is a nice distance for a little exercise and I was happy to find that, while the local French largely do not go out in the evenings for a meal (they go out for lunch virtually every day though), the pizza place in town offered take-out still at 6 PM . . . and uses authentic Italian mozzarella that is made from the milk of a water buffalo and not a cow, so I could eat it with no problems!
After my scenic walk, I thought I’d get in more walking and photography on Sunday; however, a co-worker drove me around to the neighboring towns and showed me the various restaurants, grocery stores and other places I may be interested in visiting.  It was fun seeing more of the area, buying fresh French bread at a bread shop and stopping in at a Sunday morning town market.  When I returned, I had a lot of settling in and unpacking to do!

As I worked today (Monday) from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM, I did not have a chance to see much else!  I did experiment with cooking items that I’ve never bothered with at home since I quickly learned that, while the large grocery store has foods that are uncommon in French cooking, they will cost you much more (upwards of 4 Euro for Jasmine rice as opposed to ~1 Euro for couscous).  So, couscous, shallots and lentils it is!  

While I’d heard meat is particularly expensive here compared to the US, I found chicken breasts at a very reasonable price and 5 days of groceries costed me 32 Euro.  This included sides and chicken for 4 meals, fresh fruit, plenty of sparkling water (no filter here=water tastes funny to me), French ham (that along with my 1 Euro bread would have made a couple sandwiches) and even lentils with sausage and 2 microwaveable meals that could serve as lunch . . . assuming the French didn’t eat lunch out virtually every day.  So, instead I have a stash of easy-prep foods in case there is an evening or Sunday I forget to stock up!  Breakfast is typically very light with coffee, so I’ve adopted that habit given the larger lunches, and will be eating French-style breakfasts.