We have begun exploring other departments, looking for reasonable rents and trying to get as close as possible to the ocean. On a website featuring houses for rent by the month in the Charente Maritime, also popular in the summer, we saw an ad for a house in the town of St. Thomas de Conac. St. Thomas is right next to the river Gironde but about an hour from the really good surf; it was cheap so we arranged with the owner, through email, to contact a neighbor in town to show us the inside of the house. It is a tiny little town out in the middle of wine country - fields and fields of grapes and several chateaux. The cottage was stone and simple and had a set of stairs leading to the bedroom that were as steep as a ladder: Two three year-olds + ladder stairs = major injuries. The neighbor knew that we weren’t going to take it and told us she also had a cottage to rent. Across the street at her farm she had several stone houses. She showed us around a nice one, all on one floor, but we were thinking the pastoral setting was a bit too far out for us. She asked if we specifically wanted to live in this town and explained that she had a friend who had a furnished house for rent in Royan, within walking distance of the beach and we could see it later that day. It was lunchtime so we left, bought some food to picnic on in a park. The kids ran around and played then we went back. We followed her and her friend, the house owner, to Royan, about 30 miles away.
I can’t express how amazing the house was: Vintage 60s wallpaper, beautiful big windows, a courtyard for the kids to play in, three bedrooms, a block away from the center of town, the beach, a park, etc, etc. I told her in my broken French that it was lovely and we liked it very much; it would be perfect for us and it is. We got it! How random is that? Happened to find a website – happened to contact the owner of a house who referred us to his neighbor, who referred us to her friend, who is now renting us her summer home for nine months. Pictures coming in February.