Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our House

"Our the middle of our street" Well,I hope it's not quite the same house as Suggs sang about but its a nice house all the same, and yes it is in the middle of our street.
Its a distinguished looking house, taller than its neighbours, with a balcony on the top floor which gives you a great view of the Pic de Midi. Its' not for those who suffer from vertigo but for the rest of us its like being in an eerie.......looking over the surrounding roof tops, up and down the road, over to the river and the weir. There's the church spire one street over to the left, and if you lean out far enough(heaven forbid) you can just see the 'Vival' sign outside Stephan's epicerie to your right, and the tabac sign of the little bar and depot de pain is a few yards to your left. The boucherie of Paul Fontan is ten yards away in the Place Julien Olie, where the mairie has its home. So life in 'Le Village' is compact.
We have neighbours on a come- and- go basis. Because the village is so scenically attractive there are quite a few holiday homes right in the centre. The French laws of succession ( otherwise known as the Code Napoleonic) make it highly unattractive to sell the family home when parents have finally made the short, steep journey up to the village cemetery. The proceeds of the parental home must be equally divided between all the siblings....a recipe for family feuding if you ask me.
And then of course there is the thorny question of inheritance tax. So....the end result is either houses which fall into decay, or on a more positive side they are retained and used as holiday homes for all the family.
This isn 't a bad option. Especially here. There is trout fishing in the river, designated walks in the surrounding hills, and the ski stations of Super Bagneres, and Le Mongie when the winter snows arrive.
In August all the previously empty houses open up and the village population expands by at least a third.
Now they've left us, to return with the half term holidays, Christmas and the ski season....which is at it's best from January onwards. The Pyrenees may be slower to accumulate a good covering of snow but when it does arrive the ski staions are family friendly with good runs for all abilities and you don't get ripped off for a 'vin chaud' and a croque monsieur.

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