Housesitting in France, Life of adventure, Thursday Throwback

Housesitting in France

An Update

Today, we were told that a gentle soul in the form of a dog called Nellie had passed away. She did well, as she had diabetes for many years, and strangely, Louie, her brother, passed away first.

Nellie introduces us to mole holes and huge moles, which is a different story, perhaps underneath the heading of Horror.

Back at the beginning of 2017, we had the opportunity to housesit in France for three months straight and care for Louie and Nellie while their family went on a well-earned holiday.

The small village where we lived for three months

Fruges – the nearest town to us

If you get the opportunity to housesit or to visit Northern France, I think you wouldn’t be disappointed. We think Fruges is a lovely place; it’s relatively lively, nothing showy, though there is some interesting architecture to be found if you know where to look โ€“ it’s just not in your face โ€“ like the lovely water tap where the locals help themselves to accessible mineral water, the public gardens hidden at the back of the Public Library and old fashioned cafes and restaurants that haven’t been updated in decades. Sipping the local coffee which would wake a hibernating polar bear in the middle of winter; it was that strong.

For those reasons, Fruges isn’t a touristy market town; it’s a hub for the surrounding farming community, so we got to experience the authentic French countryside life and the people who chose to live there. In the area we were in for three months, the village was the hub of the surrounding farming communityโ€”the lifeblood of services. Everything is done at a slow pace. There’s always plenty of time to chat over an espresso and pastry between picking up supplies and servicing machinery. It is also known for it’s abundance of pig farming and pork products. The Squire was in heaven, foodie heaven.

Heading into town for breakfast and supplies – the delectable Chaussons aux Pommes was worth the effort to leave the house early on a winter’s morning.

Housesit

Returning to France wasn’t a hardship; we had come to love many aspects of this country. Firstly, how could we not enjoy the musical tones of the French language? Over time we got to speak a few words and generally understand some of what was being said to us. Then there is the cheese, the espressos, the patisseries, the culture, the history, and the slow-paced village life; one of those would’ve been enough though combining them all had us more motivated to experience it all over again.

On arrival, we were in the company of ex-pats, so at first, the language barrier wasn’t an issue. Once the homeowners departed, we were in the thick of it all. The challenges of experiencing living in an area where perhaps one person at the local cafe could speak English had just begun. Try getting the internet back up and running in your country, let alone in France, during the weekend. With no landline, we were indeed by ourselves. Just us and our charges and not forgetting two felines named Loulou and David.

Loulou
David
The Squire, aka beanie boy with Nellie and Louie
The Squire cleaning the ice off the windscreen – we were spoilt to have a vehicle to use while we were housesitting

It was winter. People and trees were sparsely scattered around the countryside. Paths beside snow sprinkled on the bare agricultural fields were our go-to place for walking our charges, two black Labradors going by the names of Nellie and Louie.

Nellie – an early morning run

Until the night Nellie became ill, we spent a few sleepless nights monitoring her progress. What was astounding was that Louie would wake and slowly make his way to her bed, nudge her and whimper as if he understood her pain and wished she would be well soon. It was heartbreaking. Luckily, Nellie survived and was diagnosed with diabetes. After a few weeks, we were all out and about exploring. Nellie was certainly a survivor. We were fortunate to explore the numerous villages and cities around the area with them both, who were so well-behaved that we enjoyed many conversations with those who stopped to admire them.

We relished each challenge that came our way and left just a bit more resilient and with a deeper understanding of the French way of life.

32 thoughts on “Housesitting in France”

  1. I remember when you were housesitting – great memories.
    Going back to the UK on the 28th of May and two dogs that we used to mind in different houses are no more…it’s going to be sad and really strange. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you!
        We left Oz a few days into March and hope to stay on the road for 2 years this time. Spent 7 weeks in Japan and arrived in Scandinavia a month ago. Will be in the UK for just over a month (also doing Glastonbury Festival again) then head to Italy on the 4th of July.
        Not sure how long we’ll be there, but we’re trying to get to the Ukraine to volunteer. We have no plans yet for next year.
        The rough plan. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Northern France is very much underrated. We had an amazing time exploring the villages, towns and the odd city. We did complete a few housesits around that area and further around the coast.

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    1. Housesitting is a wonderful way to expand your knowledge of a country and get out of your comfort zone. Oh yes, that coffee is still etched on my memory bank and so were the pastries we could buy next door and bring in to the cafรฉ to have a caffeine hit. Good memories and it’s lovely that the people we housesat for over the years keep in contact now and again.

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  2. Ah the pure joy of house sitting. Loved reading this post and though we house sat a lot in Australia we never got overseas. This post makes me wish had done it, but reading about it and seeing the photos is a good substitute

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, Pauline, and I am pleased you enjoyed reading it. Housesitting is such a win-win situation no matter what country you do it in. We have plenty of good memories from housesitting and traveling.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds wonderful. Sometimes the best places are off the beaten track, well away from the tourists and traps. Being Italian myself I love the sound of all that delicious cuisine and strong coffee. One day weโ€™ll head back overseas.

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    1. Yes, I know that you have Italian heritage and it must be fascinating to dip your toes in between two cultures. Food and coffee is there anything else in life? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Orla, you do have children, and life is so much more fun when they are happy ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully you munched on something delectable at Euro Disney ๐Ÿ™‚

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