A Holiday at Home in France


We can’t always get away on vacation, much though a recharging of the batteries is desperately required, other factors come in to play and we cannot leave. But, then, why would we want to, we live in one of the most popular holiday destinations in France, mostly frequented by Parisians and the French, with a handful of in-the-know Brits, Belgians, Dutch, Germans and other lucky people!


I mean who wouldn’t enjoy a long leisurely lunch in Rochefort, a mere ten minutes from our house and we’re in another world, city life that buzzes but is small enough that one can always park and wander everywhere in a very short space of time.IMG_3134

We headed north to Poitiers once more, where Millie took possession of the keys to her studio apartment, a huge step into the world of adulthood, we are so proud of her, as her life as a university student will soon begin. It’s a city full of culture and history, with so much incredible architecture that I could just stop and snap photos for hours.IMG_3116IMG_3120

Within a stone’s throw of her soon-to-be new home there is a huge archeological dig taking place. Medieval walls have been discovered, the first layer goes down to the 14th century and once they go lower there’s evidence of Roman remains.IMG_3124

It was incredible to stand so close and observe the past. These bones, (I’m sorry they are a little blurry) had just been found and were causing much excitement.IMG_3123

But it hasn’t all been city focused, we’ve spent afternoons lazing on the beach and enjoying long picnics and we’ve taken to the river, one of our favourite summer activities, kayaking and paddle boarding.IMG_2877IMG_2885

The scenery never gets boringIMG_2889IMG_2888IMG_2892IMG_2868IMG_2869

even if for some small people, oggling at old houses just gets a bit too much!IMG_2876

Another highlight of the summer has to be breakfast on the terrace. Although we try to eat every meal outside during these warmer months, starting the day outdoors and having the time to enjoy fresh fruits from the garden and eggs from our own hens, without hurrying, does feel wonderfully decadent.P7730123

Evening meals have revolved around salads and anything involving tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines, you guessed it we have a glut, so lots of home made ratatouille!P7730148

We’ve done our fair share of sightseeing, because there is just always so much to see here.IMG_2899IMG_2900IMG_2897IMG_2896IMG_2861

And then there have been the night markets, very much a part of the summer season and hugely popularIMG_2916

Locals provide simple impromptu entertainment, accompanied by a light supper and a fortifying glass of wine, they sing, play guitars, put on incredible puppet shows and always for free. These are not professionals looking to make money, these are individuals and families who just love life and it shows, the incredible joie de vivre and bonheur is catching.IMG_2913IMG_2907

Dining under the stars, I have to think perhaps we are the luckiest people alive.IMG_2906

And to cap it all, I’ve also taken a short road trip to the most northern tip of France, ending at Port Diélette, way up the Cherbourg Peninsula. P7730154

Where we looked west to the small island of Alderney, Roddy’s family home, the Channel Islands, where two of our children were born. P7730159P7730157

Well it wasn’t really such a short trip, many many hours of driving were involved with the girls being the perfect passengers. Only three times did they ask if they were there yet and it occurred to me, adults actually do just the same, they are no more patient, the simple difference is a child asks “How much longer?” whereas a grown up merely puts it more gracefully “What’s our arrival time?”

It’s been good to see some more of France and although out of necessity, I’m glad we stayed here for our holidays. Very sadly though it’s nearly over, school resumes next week, I’m one of those parents who hates it when the children go back, I’ll miss them during the day, even though it is just a few hours, their company is always fun. But, it does mean normal life will resume, and I for one will be back to blogging properly and regularly and you know what, I am really excited about it!




30 thoughts on “A Holiday at Home in France

  1. Welcome back Susan! Your post absolutely perfectly mirrors my very words yesterday to an ‘agent immobilier’ showing him our place for a evaluation. I said that living here is like a permanent holiday, eating all meals in the shade of a sunshade/parasol or, when a tad cooler, around a weatherbeaten wooden table with candles on every surface (I have now stones with candle-sized holes in them, very practical, rustic and fitting) and some wine in the glasses…. We are surrounded by flowers in pots (the only ones who survived the canicule) but the snails had a big series of field days as most of the meter-long leaves of a plant whose name I always forget and therefore the choice of surrounding greenery was somewhat limited. The food tended to be mostly cold or cooled down – right now I have a compotte of pears with cinnamon bars and a bit of orange juice waiting to be eaten with something light. A series of pears and my first (and last) halfway serious recolte of blue grapes will end my offerings from our ‘land’….
    What I do miss terribly is the sea or even a lake – and I DO believe that you live very close to the paradise. I can’t wait – on the other hand – to get my daily bread once again from ‘my’ boulangerie, although the alternative one is very very good too. The butcher is back, the pharmacy has regular opening hours and the train stations are not only holding tourists.
    We wish Milly the VERY BEST for her studies. She will not only learn a lot in an educational way but learn even more about her way of life. She will learn to discern between dreams and reality, about the person she is to become and she will want to live with and she will have to take decisions to form her for all the years to come. It’s an exciting and very important time in anyone’s life. She is of course well prepared – having lived in this particular family – and I have no fear for her personal values! 🙂
    Although we had a most amazing time in Devon, life has got a hold on us again and I have been frequently talking about visiting you again…. I have absolutely no idea when and how and what – but talking about it keeps it more real for me. HH is doing his thing, we have (once again) this on-off mariage we are so used to, he’s in one country, I’m in the other. Can’t wait to see us ‘united’ forever and a day, although I then might miss some of the ‘me-time’ …. and he too I guess 😉
    Your photos – as usual – are simply wonderful, and they heighten my willingness to speed-up a next get-together. If only you weren’t so far – and so very far from transports.
    So, welcome back, I’m glad to read you again.

  2. Well reading this I feel like I escaped from out family’s summer business in cape May, nj and visited you! How beautiful and relaxing where you live is! I too regretted our kids return to school at this tone of year! Thanks for your posts and I for one never get tired of the scenery especially pix of elegant old homes! Enjoy this wonderful end of summer time!

  3. Even here, in North Carolina, we never tire of exploring this enormous state. There is so much to see, and being relatively new here (8 years) we pick and choose carefully! We just got back (see my IG feed) from the Blue Ridge Mountains and oh, what a delight it was!!! Yes, I agree that a few hours in the car can transport anyone to another world…

  4. Dear Susan,
    how blessed you are to live in paradise!
    i do think your road trip to northern tip of France must have been delightful. it is so nice to go back to places where you lived before and where two children were born. Nostalgic.
    The worst part of traveling in the US is the horrible traffic. Traveling by car has become very stressful.
    I wish we had more outdoor restaurants here with a joyous atmosphere because dining under the stars is enchanting.
    let us know about the last little puppy. Is he still with you?
    Cheers, Patty

  5. That’s how life should be! Make the most of the lovely weather. I also love to start the summer days with breakfast outdoors and continue like that for the rest of the day. Your area is lovely. We visited Ile de Re ladt year and loved it . Planing a second visit.I love my little paradise in the Mayenne and have to drag myself away on a glorious day. Our friends ask the perennial question “where will you be going for your holiday”? and I tell him but I am on holiday and they just smile. I love exploring France so much to discover right on our doorstep. Love your photographs 😊

  6. Welcome back! It sounds like a lovely summer It is always a treat to read and see your lovely photos.

  7. My world is now complete – welcome back. Our summer is winding down, the weather is changing. The smell of smoke in the air is gone. We do still have watering restrictions, and the forests are tinder dry.
    We are starting to get excited, as our departure date for France is creeping closer. Your photos are irresistible, and I can smell and taste the wonderful meals to come.

    I’m really excited for Millie as she embarks on this new and very important stage of her life. You are certainly going to miss your right hand lady very much.
    Ali xxx

  8. It looks so very like Mornac sur Sedre for your evening village fête. Don’t tell me you were there for their Thursday fireworks! We’ve just returned from your neck of the woods but didn’t have a spare moment to see if you were home as we had friends with us. It would be a shame if we’d missed you by a whisker in Mornac though. Have a lovely start to the school year, even if I agree that it’s so tough to get back into gear after the lazy days of summer.

  9. Susan,
    When I read your posts I am so transformed to your part of the world! A mini vacation for me this morning! Thank you so much for sharing! I love the photo of your sweet wee one asleep on the kayak! I, too, am not fond of the back to school time. I miss my their laughter and activity during the day. Unfortunately, here in the states, school started in early August! What are they thinking??? I consider summer officially over after our holiday weekend (Labor Day), but summer memories are still lingering. Keep posting….I love it all!

  10. You certainly live in a fabulous part of France, Susie and Roddy. We have loved our visits to see you and your lovely gite over the past three years and so sorry that we can’t join you this year. Hope to visit again soon x

  11. Welcome back! It seems you all had a wonderful summer, and I agree totally that eating al fresco is just lovely, although we don’t often get the opportunity here in Edinburgh! Good luck to Millie as she begins university, and what a beautiful city Poitiers is, hopefully we’ll get to see lots of photos when you visit. xxx

  12. This summer has flown by and I’m so happy to know you’ve had a little rest and relaxation. Thank you for your beautiful photographs and observations on vacation. Now, back to nesting and readying for the colder months. Enjoy these last few days with the children home.

  13. You are very very busy in summer and it really isn’t the time for you to go away a lot, particularly as you live in such a gorgeous spot. So much more sensible to travel when the roads are freer and to drink in the vacances atmosphere all around you in summer time. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. We have been home-based since early June (we took a trip to Baltimore and DC at the end of May) and I don’t regret a moment. LIfe is too precious to be wished away and it is lovely to catch up on what you have been at! X

  14. A lovely post, Susan! Oh, to be there! The best I can do is have a jar or two of Bonne Maman jam on hand. Hope you’ll be able to post more about Poitiers when you get a chance. The archeological dig is fascinating! Cheers!

  15. Love the pictures – stone walls & the buildings are so beautiful. My husband would have enjoyed your pics also. Thanks so much!! Flowers are so gorgeous & some vacation!!!!

  16. Loved the holiday ramble! And knowing that Roddy came from the Channel Islands and it had been your home for it seems quite awhile . . . oddly enough, way back in my first marriage we grew ‘tired’ of the multiple long journeys to Europe from Australia every year . . . being able to ‘carry’ our businesses we first looked at London and the Home Counties and then did a lot of ‘homework’ about the tax advantageous area . . . it did not happen but I learned a lot doing ‘research’ . . . . Oh, back to your post – having been a night-owl since childhood, just loved your night markets . . .what deliciously romantic fun after an early dinner . . . or perhaps even the site of the same . . .

    1. Ah, not everyone who lives in the CI is a billionaire tax exile, alas…. 🙂 Night markets are great fun, I agree. I wish there was more foodie stalls though – they always make me peckish. Although, perhaps, it’s better there are not.

  17. I didn’t want this post to end! I can picture myself at the evening market, listening to music and having a glass of wine. Lovely!

  18. HI Susan. What a lovely idea, those evening markets! This year, with our gorgeous long hot summer, we could have had them here! I’m so pleased Millie has begun her journey into the adult world and has her own apartment in Poitiers. You must be so proud, but as a Mum, I’m sure you feel a bit anxious for her too. I remember leaving my son Mark in his room at University and walking way. He didn’t know a single soul and he was 17. It tore my heart, but I knew it had to happen and he would be ok. And now he’s 40!!! And I’m so proud of him and what he achieved at University and since. It will be the same for you, you will have the joy of watching Millie’s journey through life as a student and then who knows? She will have the world to discover. Good luck from us Millie.

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