House sitting in the South of France
We’ve been in France for just over a week. It’s hot, it’s sunny, and it’s absolutely beautiful. We have breakfasted on Croissants and fresh crusty bread most mornings, swatted dozens of pesky flies, and attempted to communicate with smiley and surly locals without much success.
Our journey began at 2.30am on Saturday 24th September. I had set my alarm for 4am and woken up at 12.30am. Having been unable to get back to sleep, I woke Luke, bundled him into the van after hugging mum and dad goodbye, and set off to Folkestone just before 3am. The night was beautiful and starry and we had the pleasure of seeing a fox, badger and owl all before we got to the M42. After a short delay, we were on the Channel Tunnel at 10.20am and in France for midday (French time).
After almost 5 hours driving and somehow managing to navigate through Le Mans, we arrived at our AirBnB for the night. The cutest, stockiest little French Bulldog, called Edmond (!!), greeted us with slobbery kisses whilst the friendly hosts gave us a cup of tea and suggested where we should eat. Our first proper meal in France was a salami pizza and a vegetarian filled pancake, which were both delicious. Back at our room, we were asleep before 8.30pm (7.30pm English time).
Sunday was rather drizzly, but our mood was positive after a brilliant night’s sleep and Luke was over the moon when our route took us on part of the famous racing track at Le Mans. We took the A roads from Le Mans, through Tours and into Chateauroux, then the free motorways to reach our final destination; the toll motorways we used the previous day had amounted to €45! The countryside moulded from large, flat farmland fields, to flowing, forest hillsides. We crossed many large, serpentine rivers and drove through pretty French towns. We arrived in a terracotta and gold, medieval-style village, that lies on an old pilgrimage trail, before 7pm and saw our temporary home where we would be staying for the next month.
Our brilliant host introduced us to two lovely, lively hounds, called Zippy and Casper and gave us a quick tour of the tiny village, including the bakery/grocery shop which we would be using on a very regular basis. After a somewhat surreal evening of watching X Factor and Poldark and eating, essentially, bangers and mash (the French twist being Aligot instead of plain mash), we took the dogs out for a five-minute stroll through the dark streets and marvelled at the magnificence of the stars.
Since then, our days have mainly been spent walking the dogs through the forests (and getting covered in cobwebs whilst doing so), reading, writing, relaxing and, of course, eating! We treated ourselves to a very posh dinner one night at a hotel in Puy L’Eveque that had the most stunning views I have ever seen from a restaurant. The sun melted beyond the horizon as we dined on jambon, fresh figs and garlic bread, followed by scallops and prawns, and Charolais beef tartare. Whilst the evening was simply stunning, my stomach did not thank me for eating raw meat – the following two days were spent indoors, feeling very sorry for myself!
We have explored some nearby towns. Puy L’Eveque is a medieval town on the River Lot and is very pretty. Fumel, also on the river Lot, is more modern with more amenities. Today we lunched in Prayssac and ate a fabulous three-course meal and wine for only €33. After that we drove through the Mediterranean-esque countryside and found the town of Montcuq where, like in a movie, people were playing boules under a tree-lined avenue and old men sat at a table playing cards and smoking cigarettes.
It is tres gentil here and we are loving it. Here’s to another three weeks in the South of France!