There is something about arriving in a country where they speak a different language that sends a frisson of excitement through me.
Stretching up to Belgium and Germany in the north, across to Switzerland and Italy in the east, and down to Spain and the wonderfully warm Mediterranean in the south, France covers over 643,000 square kilometres and offers a plethora of different regions and climates for the traveller to sample. The northern regions like Normandy mirror the temperate climate of Britain; the eastern alps, often still impassable in April and May offer excellent ski opportunities in winter; St Tropez and Cannes on the French Riveria (and the Principality of Monaco – one of my personal faves) offer wonderfully warm French chic and excellent sailing opportunities; while Marseille straddles the Med. at the bottom, almost guaranteeing succulent summer sunshine. And this is only the tip of the iceberg with many wonderful regions within.
This year we set our sights on the Dordogne in the south west, flying into its capital of Bordeaux. Not generally a lover of resorts, I find a car gives us the freedom to avoid the tourist traps, explore the surrounding area at our leisure, eat at French cafes, visit markets and soak up the local culture.
Nestled in rolling countryside, equidistant between two ancient bastides, and offering panoramic views of surrounding fields of sunflowers, maize, Cyprus trees and olive groves the gite named ‘Josse’ was our home for the week. Josse is a beautiful 18th century construction with a large swimming pool, table tennis, badminton, bbq… In short, everything you need to occupy an eleven year old, not to mention two forty somethings;)