Let’s lay it all on the line right here: I WANT TO MOVE TO SOUTHWEST FRANCE.
When we first decided to start housesitting (more info on that to come), we booked a place for Southwest France. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but Google Images made me feel much more comfortable.
We flew into Paris, spent the weekend there, then took a train to Marmande via Bordeaux. Then our hosts picked us up, and drove us the 40 minutes or so to their house. What I saw out the window was rolling hills, filled with row after row of vines. Grape clusters glistened in the sun and small church steeples peeked out from above the red and orange tree tops.
We passed through tiny towns where French men and women waved us on, chats and chiens lounged in the sun, and packed charcuterie shops called our name. Finally, we pulled up to the most fantastic, traditional stone house.
Ponds flanked with marble tiles, filled with tiny orange fish and vibrant lillypads, outdoor wooden tables covered in candles and ready for a cheese tray, lemon and apple trees heavy with fruit, and a messy rose garden with yellow, pink, and red blooms greeted us. Behind the house is a field stuffed to the brim with yellow flowers, miles of them it seems.
A sparkling blue pool looks over a small vineyard and a truffle patch, where sweet dogs sniff out the expensive, and insanely delicious, treats. Friendly horses graze the far pastures, 3 of them (Poly, Goldie, and Chelsea) and 2 donkeys (Biscuit and Luc). Pippa, their dog, and their 2 cats, Coco and Kizzy, lounge next to the pond, watching the fish with laser focus. Lilly lays next to Pippa, occasionally chasing her (despite being 1/5 her size!) through a maze of clay pots filled with succulents.
Three gites (guesthouses) hide behind the main house, with ivy crawling steadily up their stone fronts, and baby blue shutters. Their British neighbor greets us with a “cheerio!” every morning and drops off one thing or another. A recipe from a Harrod’s cookbook for Yorkshire Pudding, a book all about how to cut French cheeses (who knew there were SO many ways!), a map book of the region, lovingly ear marked to our area.
The way of life here is slow, and I really dig that. Everyone seems to lounge, especially when the sun comes out. We fix up an impressive charcuterie board with baguettes and different types of cheese for lunch, an activity that takes us longer to prepare than to actually eat. We accent the setup with those little pickles everyone loves, cut up and salt some tomatoes, and drizzle chili oil over the baguette rounds. French butter (my god is it good) and my favorite drink, Schweppes Zero Agrum, top off the table.
Every day, we walk out to the orchard with both dogs hot on our heels. We collect a box full of apples for the horses and donkeys to enjoy.
We walk the dogs through a tree tunneled path, through fields and next to a house with the sweetest man, always waiting with dog treats, despite not having dogs of his own.
We got insanely lucky for our first sit, and I wonder if we’ll feel this way about every place we visit or if this is just the most charming, magical place on earth, I don’t know. But for now, what I do know, is that we’re really, really happy here.