Now Christmas and New Year are out of the way, and in celebration of the release of The French Escape’s audio book, I thought now would be a good time to continue with the French escape guest posts and today’s feels extra special.
I always love to hear from readers, so when Judith contacted to tell me about her home from home in France, it only seemed right to let her share it with you too.
Here she is to tell you where it all began…
My French Escape began in Cardiff in 1961 when I subscribed to a magazine which encouraged learning the French language using visual material, puzzles and articles. Correspondents corner matched French and British schools and I began to write to Colette who at that time lived in Paris. A lifelong friendship had begun.
A little light gardening in Brittany. Owning a second home in Brittany is not all sea food and cidre.
At the age of eighteen I flew to Brittany in a tiny plane, to live with Colette and her family for the summer. They had returned to their roots in Brittany and I worked in their lakeside hotel in Quintin. Student days led onto busy careers and family life and we continued to meet during school holidays. My husband and son always celebrated their birthdays in France. Colette and her family held a party for our son’s fourth birthday at their home. Colette’s father loved playing with our children and we all enjoyed his Breton boules terrain in the garden. Now grandmothers ourselves, we follow the lives of one another’s families and meet as often as we can. Colette and her family were thrilled when we bought a maison secondaire in Morbihan. Her mother likes us all to call her Mamie, we are very, very close. Our friendship has lasted through family tragedies and great achievements.
Pontivy, Morbihan , Brittany, how could we resist the temptation to buy a house near the Blavet?
Our son speaks French fluently and was working in Paris when the offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked. He took the telephone call from Colette when her husband dropped dead at forty nine. Nicholas was just fourteen and we were out at a French class. He calmly took the call entirely in French and comforted Colette. Her daughters had looked after him and our daughter when they stayed with us to improve their English and care for the two toddlers.
When our daughter was a teenager, we would have a group of her friends to stay each summer. One of the girls loved to explore the stones and burial mounds with us. The rest of the group indulged in serious sunbathing surrounded by Celtic history. Guess which one of the girls has a Cambridge Doctorate in Archaeology ?
A friendship which lasts through the sixties, seventies, eighties and into the twenty first century is remarkable in itself. Our deep friendship led to us buying our home from home in France, to meeting a wealth of wonderful people and to enjoying a rich culture, a superb environment and a way of life which cares for others, cares deeply for the patrimoine, cares for the future.