A few years ago, Michael Baynes and his wife were sitting in a hotel in La Jolla, Calif., contemplating the next phase of their lives. They tried a little experiment: Each one would scribble out the place in the world where they'd most like to live. They passed the notes across the table to one another. Both had written "France."
And that, more or less, was that.
Today, Baynes is selling vineyards and chateau properties in the Bordeaux region in the southwest part of France, aiming to put an Anglo-American spin on real estate practices in a country that's famous for going its own way.
In 2006, Baynes, who had been a partner in a real estate development firm in Newport Beach, Calif., had wound down his principal business and was working as a con