The owners, Georges and Michèle, are about our ages, recently retired themselves, and they raised their family here. They have just finished a new construction adjacent to an older house that one of their sons had recently bought, not far from here. So, they are still in Carcassonne, near their kids and grandkids.

They are wonderfully warm and friendly. Since this was their lifetime house, it is obvious that it is a little strange for them to be renting it out to strangers, Americans at that! We have already agreed with them that we are Hawaiians, rather than Americans — in general, and especially in the light of the next president.

Upon our arrival, they toured us around the house in detail, explaining the heating system, the appliances, the propane tanks, etc. Obviously, they have cared deeply for the house.

Georges insisted kindly that the next morning, we go over to their current house so that he could help us establish our account with the electric and water companies, as well as the internet / TV / telephone company. I sat with him and Michèle while he made the calls, waited on musical hold, and then explained the situation: his house, new renters, etc. On the first call, he explained that his renters are American. On the next two callers, we are Hawaiian.

There is quite a bit of chicken and egg here regarding setting up service accounts and setting up a bank account. The internet / TV account requires that we have a local bank account and a specific number (RIB). So we couldn’t get internet going right away; we have a phone appointment later this week with the internet service, by which time we need to have our bank account. Georges was patient through all this, offering to keep helping. Without his help, I’m sure we wouldn’t have all these services before April!

(A couple days later, we went to a local bank with our British+French consultant, Rachel, to start the account set up. As anticipated, the bank wants lots of documention — passports, US IRS forms, past tax returns, past US utility bills, current French utility bills (which we don’t have yet), copy of our lease, and a formal attestation by our landlords that we exist and aren’t nefarious. Rachel and the bank person noted that in the US and UK, banks want customers and their money; in France, not so much. Basically, to get a bank account, we need to have lots of evidence that we really live here, but in order to get that evidence, we need to have a bank account. Catch 22 (mostly; Rachel and Georges are helping us through the French bureaucracy).)

All the conversations with Georges and Michèle are in French. Fortunately they are patient with my French; they make it easy to talk about the house, where to shop for different things, as well as their own history. Nice people: so far a great balance of helpful without intrusiveness.

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