Continuing with The French Escape theme, I’d like to welcome fellow author, Sue Fortin to the blog. Sue’s French home isn’t just for holidays, it provides her with her very own writing retreat. How heavenly is that?
Anyway, here she is to tell you all about it.
The Great French Escape
Our French escape started many years ago when we used to visit regularly on holiday, in the days of paper maps and bookings made by post or, if feeling particularly brave, over the phone. We visited many parts along the north coast of France but always felt connected to Brittany. Life in Brittany rolled along at a gentle pace, especially in the rural areas, reminding me of my childhood years spent in Cambridgeshire where farming life sustained the small local communities and whilst the UK might have moved on since the 70s and 80s, life in Morbihan (a department in Brittany) seemed to have paused – it offered a warm and nostalgic feel.
Fast forward several years and three children later, we were in the fortunate position to be able to realise our dream of buying our very own holiday home. Brittany was our natural choice, not just because of the nostalgic feel to it, but in practical terms, it was easily accessible from our home in West Sussex. We could be at the ferry port in twenty minutes, take the overnight crossing to St Malo and motor down to Morbihan in two to three hours.
Once we decided that our dream could be a reality we began our search for a home via the internet. Properties identified, viewing appointments made, my husband then had several trips over to France to look at the various houses. I didn’t go with him as whisking three children back and forth to France wasn’t practical. It was on one of those visits that he phoned and said that he’d found ‘the one’. I had only seen it on the internet but I trusted his judgement and enthusiasm and said that if he liked it then I was sure I would too. The same afternoon he was in the estate agent’s office signing the paperwork. I finally got to see our new home three months later when we went to the notaire to complete the purchase. I’m pleased to say that I was delighted – my husband made a great choice!
Over the years we’ve gradually renovated it – when I say ‘we’ I actually mean my husband. As he’s in the construction industry it was something of a busman’s holiday for him but he assured me that he enjoyed every minute of it. Well, that’s the official line anyway.
When our children were younger it was primarily a holiday home for us but as they’re now grown up and tend to do their own thing, it’s become something of a retreat for us both, together with our youngest daughter. We love going there for the simple and quiet life it affords us. As soon as we arrive, we can feel the stress and pressure of UK living just slip away.
A couple of summers ago, I spent several weeks there writing while my husband entertained our youngest. It was one of the best writing experiences I’ve had. I found the whole atmosphere both relaxing and inspiring as I could concentrate of my writing in such peaceful surroundings. The only interruption I had was the herd of dairy cows passing by the cottage twice a day as they went for milking or a tractor trundling by. Later this year, I’m hosting a writing retreat there for myself and two other writers and hoping they feel as inspired and content as I do when I’m there.
Sue is a USA Today and an Amazon UK #1 bestselling author, with The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister both reaching #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Translation rights have been sold worldwide for both novels.
Sue is married with four children and one grandchild and lives in West Sussex.