Real Estate in France

July 8, 2011

Sometimes we daydream about buying a house here. We imagine renting it out as a vacation home, and maybe living in it for part of each year. Sharon recently told us about this property:

It has 5 bedrooms & 4 bathrooms, sits on 2 acres and has outbuildings. It’s priced at about $300,000. Are you tempted?

The idea of owning and renovating a house in a foreign country sounds amazing and terrifying at the same time. What’s your take? Would you ever look at property in another country? If you’re curious, we like this site for searching.

P.S. — Speaking of real estate, our House Hunters International episode re-airs tonight. See schedule here. Or you can find it on YouTube.

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{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashlea Walter July 8, 2011 at 5:29 am

Gorgeous! But it also looks like it needs at least another 100K to fix it up… or maybe just a really strong set of hedge trimmers – hard to tell! It would be fun to invest in something like that with family or close friends who share very similar values, aesthetic, interests, lifestyle.

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2 Design Mom July 8, 2011 at 5:36 am

Hah! So true about the hedge clippers. That landscape looks positively unruly.

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3 Ana July 8, 2011 at 5:45 am

Wow! I’d jump at this opportunity if I could~!

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4 Dee July 8, 2011 at 6:05 am

I’m extremely tempted. I would definitely buy property in another country if I had the chance!

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5 Everton Terrace July 8, 2011 at 6:19 am

A dream of mine, sadly I’m not sure my husband shares it :)
I also fear I would have to learn French but still I dream…

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6 Susan July 8, 2011 at 6:41 am

I dream of it all the time…and WHAT?! How did I miss that you were on HHI?!! Whoa…going to find that episode right now, so great!

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7 Danielle July 8, 2011 at 6:47 am

I would love to live in a foreign country! My husband’s company is based in Germany and I’m always telling him how willing I am to move. For now, at least, I think it’s just a dream.

Thanks, too, for the reminder about the House Hunters episode. I’m setting my dvr right now!

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8 Zoe July 8, 2011 at 6:51 am

Yes, I’d be tempted. That house is fabulous… so much potential! I agree that it’s both terrifying and exciting, and certainly requires the financial resources. But with input from people who’ve done it before, your own talent and imagination, and some patience, this could be an incredible family treasure for years to come.

Personally, I’d love to renovate a house in another country like France, but we’ve decided that our priority is building a small cottage on our near my family property in Nova Scotia. I dream of spending my summers there again…

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9 Jillian July 8, 2011 at 7:10 am

I just watched the House Hunter’s International about your family. Great show! And the houses you looked at were amazing. I think it was a good call not to take the one next to the church…the bells would have driven you all crazy. About 5 years ago we bought a house in Italy and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t mind going back to renting! Much less stressful and less costly. Best of luck! x

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10 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 5:13 am

There are lovely advantages to renting!

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11 elissa, ebb & flow July 8, 2011 at 7:17 am

how incredible. i would love to do that one day and with a price tag like that it is quite tempting. i should probably get settled here before jumping overseas but in the meantime i’ll be day dreaming….

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12 Cecilia July 8, 2011 at 7:21 am

That house looks fantastic! I would be more likely to buy it with a group of relatives or friends, people to share in the up-keep and financial burden. As a mother of 4 who is currently listing her vacation home on the real estate market, it is so important to consider all the time and money that 2 residences require. My husband and I came to the realization that we could go away each weekend and it would still be less expensive than renovating and maintaining our vacation home. I have to support your decision to “borrow” your home rather than “own”. I love your blog, thanks for sharing the beauty as well as the nuts and bolts. :)

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13 Christine July 8, 2011 at 7:30 am

I was so bummed when I missed your House Hunter’s episode the first time it was on, so I’ve actually had it on my calendar to tape tonight! I just watched it on YouTube (I’ll watch it again tonight with my hubby), and I have to say I somehow feel like I love your site and your family even more now? Because I saw your kids running about being kids, heard you and Ben Blair chatting about the houses and saw how great you two are together and even saw you picnic in Paris?

I’d love to have a homebase in another country, but I fully admit that I would never be able to get it quite up to snuff in terms of the upkeep that I would want. I like the leasing option, and I think I’d go for an apartment in Paris.

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14 Shannon July 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

Just watched the HH episodes. Loved the house you chose. How spectacular for you! Sounds like things have worked out well. So happy for you.

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15 Sue July 8, 2011 at 7:54 am

There was a wonderful tv show in the UK a few years ago – it may still be on but we’ve moved away since… it was called Grand Designs and was fronted by Kevin McCloud. Many of the projects they highlighted showed people renovating buildings in foreign countries… and most looked like complete nightmares! BUT, the finished results were stunning, and (I imagine) completely worth the sweat and tears. You should check out an episode or two. I think you would be inspired…

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16 Barchbo July 8, 2011 at 8:12 am

I already set my DVR for tonight – I cannot wait to see the Blairs in HD!

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17 christy July 8, 2011 at 8:47 am

LOVE this idea, and this property. I have my dvr set to record your HHI episode tonight!

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18 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag July 8, 2011 at 8:57 am

If you haven’t already, you must read ‘A Year in Provence’ by Peter Mayle — it’s one of the funniest books I’ve EVER read — and it will give you a good idea about what they went through buying and renovating a home in France!

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19 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 5:15 am

Agreed! Such a great book.

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20 Mary-- The Yellow Door Paperie July 8, 2011 at 9:01 am

I just watched the whole episode on YouTube. What a hard choice to make, but I think you made the right one.

This house is just divine! Are you thinking about going back to Colorado post France? Or another part of the country?

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21 Stephanie @ henry happened July 8, 2011 at 9:13 am

We are seriously thinking of sojourning to France for the summer next year. I told my hubby – why don’t we rent Design Mom’s house? :)

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22 Mrs. Kate B. July 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

I just watched your House Hunters episode on YouTube. How lovely to see you and your family in action, moving and speaking! :) Also, it gave me a new perspective on your life and how rural you truly are. I recently moved from a home that was just as rural (but in the U.S., of course), and I often felt just a bit too secluded. Very brave and exciting to be doing that in a foreign country!

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23 Sarah July 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

I would absolutely be tempted. Because your family is spending this year in France, you and your children will always feel tied to France in a special way. How incredible to have a home there that you could have as a vacation rental, with the knowledge that you always get to ‘book it’ for yourselves first! Being able to return to France regularly will help your kids keep that tie to France, keep up their French, and facilitate more economical trips to other European countries with France as your home base. That being said, clearly the renovation aspect would be challenging and time-consuming when you’re working with contractors, legal issues, etc. in French. If you started it now, however, you have the huge advantage of already being in the country and not having to fly back and forth or deal with finding a rental while you work on the renovation. Good luck deciding!!

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24 Amy P. July 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

I’m so glad you shared that link with me! I don’t have cable, but was curious if you had looked at other properties in France and why you selected the home you did. This program answered all of my questions. It was also wonderful to see your reactions to the home, and your beautiful children, of course! Thanks!

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25 Darcie B. July 8, 2011 at 10:50 am

I would love the link to this home. My husband, myself and our 7 children have spent the last two summers in the Avignon region renting a “Gite” and we have talked about buying an old place. This looks perfect. Could you please email details? Thanks! Love your site!

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26 Jennifer July 8, 2011 at 11:30 am

I am most certainly tempted! Which is why my husband quakes in his boots every time I talk about living in a foreign country and purchasing a vacation home there. :-) My mom and I like to daydream over the phone together about purchasing a family vacation home – and who knows? It isn’t too far fetched of an idea! Look out Hubs!

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27 DENISE. July 8, 2011 at 11:39 am

Oh my gosh, I have such wanderlust right now that I’m seriously tempted. Seriously! And can’t wait to see you HHI episode tonight. Have a fun weekend!

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28 Ninou July 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm

So great that House Hunters is available on youtube! Even if the suspense wasn’t there, having followed your adventures at La Cressonière since your move to France, I was happy to take a peek inside the house! And I realised I have the same table cloth in my own kitchen (the red with the white spots), love it!
You guys made the right choice, even if the kitchen in the Chef’s house was truly amazing! Having lived in Alençon for a while, I also know that this area is extremely charming, it’s no wonder you fell in love!

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29 debbie m July 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I am more tempted to rent a flat for a few months in various places instead of being tied to one place. But, this sounds good too!

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30 Khali July 8, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I would do it in a heartbeat!

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31 Jennifer July 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Gaby, I think about this *a lot*. Although we were lonely when we lived in the country and very happy to move to Paris, I think that as our family grows and grows up summer in rural France would be amazing. My dad is an archaeologist, so I grew up spending the academic year in the US and the summers abroad working for him. It was a great balance of feeling rooted and exploring the world and I would like to be able to offer something like that to my own kids. We’ll see! Thanks for the inspiring picture and also for making me nostalgic for our country life.

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32 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 5:16 am

I love your thoughts on this topic, Jennifer. Thank you!

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33 Carole July 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm

If I could find a place like that in Italy (my paternal grandparents were Italian), yes, I’d take the leap (if hubby was willing lol). I’ve lived in one state my entire life, always having wanted to experience some place new. I know I’d probably come back to my home state eventually, but if I weren’t married I’d be off and running before I get too old to try. lol

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34 Melanie July 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Ryan and I just watched it on You Tube (we don’t have cable) and loved it! You two are good actors. I like the part where you had to go on a walk and contemplate the tough decision. It’s really cool to see the area. All of the houses you looked at were incredible!

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35 Miz boo July 8, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Squeeeee!!!! Watching right now!!!

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36 M. Peterson July 8, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Ok – family is TOTALLY adorable! And the kids seemed so well-behaved. Baby June looked totally delicious.

My husband and I watch this show religiously and love to guess what house will be chosen and we’re usually pretty good at it. Now I know it’s because the house is chosen *before* filming. Kind of a bummer, but we knew something was up because of the way people react.

My question is this: how would you have felt if you’d been shown a house you actually liked a lot better??? Also, how did you not gush over the wall in the one house that said “I <3 NY" on it? The intro never mentioned your formerly living there, so maybe you did gush and they just cut it out?

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37 Elizabeth July 8, 2011 at 9:13 pm

The househunters episode was so fun — will there be more?

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38 kat July 8, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Just saw the HH episode! My husband and I are kinda obsessed w/ HH normally so it was fun to watch someone we *know* on it for a change. But I’m confused…was the whole thing basically pretend? I mean, it was my understanding you had already rented the house in Normandy before you moved there; that Ben Blair saw it in person but you and the kids only saw video and photos until you moved in. Did he actually consider those other houses at one time? Or was the show just a fun adventure in what could-have-been with the safety of an outcome already decided? Do you think that is how HH always works? I still love the show but this knowledge does change my view a bit. I have always wondered how anyone could by a house (especially in another country) if they have only seen THREE options. Now I won’t be as worried that these people are stuck with limited choices :-) It was fun watching your kids–i feel like we know so much about them. Also, your brother-in-law painted a portrait of my twins which is easily my most prized material possession right now, so it was fun to see him *live* as well!

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39 Iris July 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Yes — I’d like to clear this up too. Fun to see the Blair family but – eh – sort of makes me hate HHI now. It’s all totally made up! I never really understood what was in it for the house hunters — now even less so.

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40 Kate The Great July 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

I thought the same thing. I suspect it was a dramatization, a weaving of truth and fiction. They were already living in the rental before they filmed, but their responses to the other houses were genuine. And they daydream about hunting for houses; maybe the producers decided to put the rental in there when the third house was unexpectedly taken.

Did you notice that they didn’t take the kids with them to the rental? Maybe they were afraid that one of the kids would shout something like, “This is my room! See my clothes in this closet?!” or “Good thing we already live here, huh?” At any rate, the show has a pattern and a structure to each episode, so they had to fit the dreams of the Blairs into the structure. And that’s hard enough.

Good job at that decision-making dramatization at the end, Gabby.

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41 Kelly July 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I was watching HHI and you mentioned your blog. I thought to myself is it the same lady from the blog I read awhile back, and yes it was! Small world in a funny way! I hope y’all are enjoying your adventure!

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42 Marissa July 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Loved the episode. It was so great already knowing which one you chose. :P Kind of weird, though, how they took you around to other houses when you’d already chosen that one! How does that work??? Thanks for sharing…

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43 Kate The Great July 11, 2011 at 10:43 am

I thought the same thing. I suspect it was a dramatization, a weaving of truth and fiction. They were already living in the rental before they filmed, but their responses to the other houses were genuine. And they daydream about hunting for houses; maybe the producers decided to put the rental in there when the third house was unexpectedly taken.

Did you notice that they didn’t take the kids with them to the rental? Maybe they were afraid that one of the kids would shout something like, “This is my room! See my clothes in this closet?!” or “Good thing we already live here, huh?” At any rate, the show has a pattern and a structure to each episode, so they had to fit the dreams of the Blairs into the structure. And that’s hard enough.

Good job at that decision-making dramatization at the end, Gabby.

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44 Claire July 8, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Thanks for sharing the YouTube link! I had so much fun watching it. It’s like we already know your family thanks to your blog! Quelle belle famille!
I would be cautious buying a house for rental in France… at least long term rentals. Renters have lots of rights in France, including not paying the rent and destroying the property. Owners don’t have much to say about it. Get some serious information before making a decision.
Bonne chance with your project…. and enjoy la Belle France!

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45 Candice July 9, 2011 at 1:22 am

Thanks for sharing the link- I watched the House Hunters episode on YouTube and it was really interesting to get a clearer picture of what your family and your area are like. What a beautiful home! The one for sale is beautiful too but I would be so intimidated!

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46 Linda Kerr July 9, 2011 at 6:00 am

Love it! Love seeing the Polarn o. Pyret stripes, too. :-)

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47 Tansy July 9, 2011 at 7:34 am

I am so glad that you added the link to YouTube!!! We don’t have cable so I’ve been checking Hulu and HGTV.com periodically to see if they had it yet. The cathedral home was so amazing! Too bad the rental isn’t for purchase because the rooms are so large. All of the homes were so character filled.

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48 corinne July 9, 2011 at 7:58 am

Saw your episode last night! We love the second house next to the church. Is there anyway to get more info on the property?? HGTV doesn’t have anything on their website.

Thanks! Best of luck to you and your family.

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49 Mary July 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

100 K to fix it up? You silly Americans!

This is France, man. Just plant flowers and squash the cockroaches, and you’ll be fine! A small price to pay for the aesthetic and cultural pleasure of living in such surroundings.

My, it IS TEMPTING! Look at those outbuildings. What possibilities there?

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50 RebeccaNYC July 9, 2011 at 9:10 am

We rent a house every summer in France (except this summer…its killing me to stay home!!) and we look at property every time we are there. I troll the immoblier sites all the time. (thanks for the link to a new one!) We are now thinking about renting for a year when we retire (not too far away to start planning, amazingly enough)…we are renters in NYC and rents are much cheaper in France than here. So, of course, this is one of the reasons I love your blog…you are living my dream!
One thing I am curious about…I have been told that if we move to france we will need to return home every 6 months or get in trouble with immigration…any info on that you can share?
and LOVELY HHI episode…my favorite so far! you are all adorable.

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51 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 4:26 am

Hi Rebecca! Yes, it’s true you have to have a long-stay visa to be here in France more than a few months. Here’s a post on our Visa process: http://www.designmom.com/2011/01/passports-visas/

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52 My Traveling Troop July 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I just watched the House Hunters International show, and I am blown away by how beautiful your home in Normandy is! I absolutely love the artist room where you and your children can work, do crafts and play. I dream of having a room like that for my family. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy your stay!

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53 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 4:24 am

Glad you saw the episode! The art room is my favorite room in the house. It’s where I’m typing right this minute.

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54 Amy W July 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm

So pretty! My husband and I saw the HGTV episode last night…and I loved it! I love you even more after watching it :-). Those houses you got to look at were just gorgeous!

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55 maureen July 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

just watched the house hunters episode – it was so strange to basically see your blog on the tv! the other houses were tempting and wonderful. love following your french adventures!!

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56 Hailey July 10, 2011 at 5:47 am

A few episodes of Grand Design should either seal the deal or sufficiently dissuade you!

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57 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 4:22 am

I’ve never seen Grand Design, Hailey. Sounds like I should definitely check it out.

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58 Susie July 10, 2011 at 6:08 am

Yes yes yes! If I had the means to do so I would love to have such an adventure. I love the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, and end up watching it
every time it’s on. I don’t know what country I would really choose though.

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59 Katie July 10, 2011 at 10:43 am

We just watched your House Hunters episode (so fun!) and my four year old said, “I wanna go live wiff dem!” :)

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60 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 4:22 am

So cute, Katie! We love 4 year olds at our house. Tell him he’s welcome any time. : )

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61 Myrna Jacobs July 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I want it! I sigh at the idea of doing that.

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62 sarah in scottsdale July 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Saw you guys last night on HGTV. It was so fun!!!

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63 Rosa @ flutterflutter July 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

I found it hard not to imagine a home in France while we were there. It is such a delightful idea! I think the reality of it might not be quite as perfect as my fantasy though. ; )

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64 JB July 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

We watched your Househunter episode Friday night here in Denver. Your Family is wonderful, I loved seeing the kids run to the playhouse. But with everything you have going, why did you and Ben look so sad and down during the show ?

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65 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 4:12 am

Hah! We laughed when we read this, JB. Didn’t mean to look sad and down. We’re delighted and very happy about our life. Thanks for the reminder to smile more.

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66 Michelle T. July 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm

So fun! I’m glad I got to see it!

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67 Melissa Edwards July 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I didn’t know you got on HHI. How awesome! I just watched it on youtube. So awesome!

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68 Dyanna Littke July 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm

watched your house hunters episode without reading this and was so excited during the episode (even though I knew which one you chose:)- they were all so beautiful! I was enamored by the old school house!

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69 rikrak July 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm

oh design mom!
i already thought your family the loveliest but seeing your amazing, engaging, loving episode last week i’m even more family-blair-smitten! what a fabulous & fun family you have, and what an inspiring couple you and your sweetie are!

woohoo! thanks for being so great.

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70 Cathy July 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I found you! Well, your site that is…I’ve had a deep-seated desire to move to France for many years, and between watching your episode a number of times, and then seeing Midnight in Paris, you’ve so inspired me (and surprisingly, my husband). Can’t wait to follow your blog and I hope you post more about living there. Congrats for your courage and thank you for sharing a bit of your heaven!

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71 Design Mom July 14, 2011 at 4:15 am

So glad you found my blog, Cathy! Delighted to have you here. I love Midnight in Paris too!

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72 Nichol H. July 12, 2011 at 12:51 am

Since my husband and I both speak Italian and lived there, we often talk about this too! It would be so wonderful to buy a small villa in Italy and renovate it. If we did, we’d definitely live in it part of the year. I think it’s a brilliant idea!

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73 Kaleena July 12, 2011 at 3:33 am

I’m confused I thought you guys already had the details of living at LeC worked out before you moved there?

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74 Allison July 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Y’all are so cute!!! What a fun episode of HHI! What a fabulous choice in house…however, it was kinda not as fun knowing which one you actually picked! Hehehehe.

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75 Heather B. July 14, 2011 at 8:31 am

Is that 300,000 in US or Euros? Considering that I live in DC where a house that size would be about 2.5million but in Albany, where I am from, that house would be about the same price. Either way, France is looking pretty good right now.

Don’t tempt me, Gabby!

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76 Malia O. July 15, 2011 at 8:44 am

Finally got a chance to watch my DVR’d airing. It was wonderful seeing all the beautiful places in France, especially the pastry counter! Although I think your rental is gorgeous, I have to admit my jaw dropped seeing the kitchen in the “Chef’s House”, drool. I would love to be able to move overseas some day, I think it’s such a great opportunity to give your children. Thanks so much for sharing.

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77 Melody August 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I’ve had HGTV on all day and your episode of House Hunters just came on! I recognized you from your blog! What a charming family you have. :)

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78 Julie Howell August 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

I was on your site looking at your great friendship bracelet post and I noticed the house in Normandy that you are renting, how funny, I just saw that episode one day last week. It was my favorite HH Internation episode. Just thought it was funny that I recognized the house and it was such a weird way to find your blog. I love all your ideas.

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79 Jennifer M January 23, 2012 at 11:39 am

I was watching House Hunters International the other day and your episode came up – I missed that you all had been on the show and the entire time I kept telling my mom and sister that you all looked so familiar! I finally said, I swear that man is the husband of a blogger I follow and that baby looks just like her youngest. Then they said it was the Blair family! I thought it was so funny to recognize someone on the show!

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