Sometime last autumn I had a dream of being in Southwest France for a week with all the family together. It was the Dominique’s Villas brochure which inspired the dream. We found the perfect house to accommodate ten of us, which included a dormitory/playroom at the top of the house which our four grandchildren could share. It took little persuasion for our daughters and their husbands to agree to accompany us.
We arrived at Favreau by different routes. John and I drove down from Cherbourg over three days, Louise and John with Nell ten, and Ruby five, flew from Stansted to Bergerac. Alexa and Rupert with Xavier seven, and Joe four, took the Eurostar from London to Paris, and the TGV to Bordeaux. Both families hired cars.
It was wonderful to see their faces on arrival. Our daughters could not believe the beauty of the house in its setting; the children were so excited by the pool, the toys and the activities available, our sons-in-law loved the space and the fact we were in rural France at its best, surrounded by vineyards. The house and grounds provided sufficient space for each of us to do our own thing.
For six days we lived the dream. Rupert and one of the Johns collected our croissants and pains au chocolat from the boulangerie in the nearest village, for breakfast each morning. We shopped in the local markets for our fruit, vegetables and fish. Cherries and asparagus were at their peak, as were strawberries and apricots. Even the children enjoyed shopping in this delightful way, with the added bonus of spending their pocket money at the toy stall. We purchased our superb wine from the nearby cave.
Xavi, our naturalist, formed a meaningful relationship with the frogs in the pond. Joe discovered the game of badminton, in which he was partnered mostly by Grandpa. Nell and Ruby set up home in one of the outhouses by the pool. Younger John and Rupert had fiercely competitive games of table tennis, and cooked gourmet food on the barbecue. We all loved the swimming and sitting round the pool reading or drawing in the children’s case. The wine town St-Emilion, one hour’s drive from Favreau, is a good place for a family outing. But mostly we just walked about the local area listening to birdsong, watching the croaking frogs in the pond, and generally appreciating the unspoilt countryside.
Favreau is the kind of domaine which imposes no demands of modern life on its visitors which is why it is so relaxing. It is a place where doing nothing at all is possible; a rarity in today’s world. We all adored it; the children in particular. How hard it was to leave.