In the summer of 2001, Robin Johnson and Jim Thaman, a couple from the United States, stumbled upon the charming village of Cajarc in southwestern France during their European vacation. The picturesque town in the heart of the Lot Valley region captivated them, leading them to contemplate the idea of living there. A year later, they turned that dream into reality, choosing to semi-retire and start anew in Cajarc. For Johnson, an artist, and Thaman, a woodworker and musician, the allure of the town lay in its beauty, vibrant local scene, and intriguing characters.
The couple’s impromptu decision to explore housing options in Cajarc became the turning point in their lives. After some serendipitous encounters, they discovered an 800-year-old house that had been on the market for eight years, with a price tag of $36,000. Despite the neglected state of the property, they saw potential and were particularly drawn to the tiny courtyard and garden. The affordability and the promise of a simpler life convinced them to take the plunge. The purchase process, facilitated by a postcard as a contract, unfolded smoothly, and by June 2002, the couple was on their way to Cajarc, ready to embark on a journey of renovation and integration into the local community.
The couple’s initial years in Cajarc were like living in a fantasy, with every aspect of their daily lives becoming an adventure. Embraced by the locals, they became the first foreigners in the village, forming connections across generations. Despite the challenges, such as language barriers and renovation costs, Johnson and Thaman found solace in the simplicity of life in Cajarc. They established a rhythm of spending half the year in France and the other half in California, enjoying the best of both worlds. Their story is a testament to the transformative power of unexpected encounters and the pursuit of a dream that leads to a fulfilling and unconventional life.