3 Jul 2013

A French Country Weekend

Collage Toulouse - Vicki Archer

Deja vu... that feeling that you have been there before… That’s how I felt this past weekend when we visited our friends who have a home about an hour out of Toulouse…

It wasn’t the sensation that I had been there before but more that I had lived their story.

I remember three years ago when they showed us the add for this crumbling but imposing chateau in southern France… Situated high on a hill with views that would make even the most urban of dwellers sigh… gently rolling countryside for as far as the eye can see… 360 degree views of wheat fields, fruit trees and the occasional hill top village… La France profonde

They were brave to tackle such a project… a truly abandoned plot of land with the remnants of what was once an impressive chateau… I’m not aware of the history but I imagine that the location tells of it’s importance in the region. The chateau is an imposing structure, but different to those that we imagine in northern France… Once upon a time this building would have been ‘U’ shaped, now what remains are two independent wings, a pair of carriage style houses on either side of the entrance gates and a very generous barn. Over the past three years they have restored both wings and have future plans for the other outbuildings.

Collage Toulouse - Vicki Arche

Today, their home  is an impressive pair of stone ‘orangeries’ that face each other across a gravelled courtyard and lawn… the building, long gone, that would have connected the two has become a garden and the favoured lunch spot… with magnificent views over the countryside below… One pavilion houses the living quarters… and the other an office, artist’s studio and guest accomodation… The architecture of these structures is bold… fine and regal… the stone, a wonderful mixture of cream and grey that has weathered over the centuries… a soft blue grey treatment on the window and door frames breaks the expanse of greige here and there…

Last weekend was a walk down memory lane for me… I could imagine how they felt about their property… that falling in love with something that is unfamiliar, yet extraordinary… those feelings that make the impossible become a reality… that sense that if you want to make it happen… you can and you will… A need to go forward despite all the obstacles, despite what common sense dictates… that desire to follow the heart, whatever the cost… I know those sentiments only too well… they defy the norm… they challenge what we do in our day to day lives… yet they are strong enough for us to change anything and everything to make it happen.

I kept thinking of the incredible vision they both had to embark on such a project… the patience and the willingness to wait… sheer determination… Something like this requires massive planning and faith… Confidence that what you imagine can become a reality and confidence that others will recognise what you see and work together with you to make it happen…

It was worth it… their home is a triumph and only reinforces to me that a love for France, once it takes hold, is a force to be reckoned with… xv

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helen tilston

Hello Vicki,

You say it well when you cite “sheer determination and patience and love”. How lovely that you can visit this marvelous place.
Wishing you a joyful week
Helen xx

Anita Rivera

I know the feeling, I know the hard work. Though I live in the United States, there are places in my own state that resemble the countryside of Europe and many people have built their dreams here. We too are that sort of couple. And though our home had and still has humble origins, it underwent the determination of two dreamers that with time and limited funds, created their own petit château. It all begins with love, and ends with love.

Oh Vicki, what a gorgeous home, what a wonderful memory for you, TWICE UPON A TIME!


sharon - my french country home

How you are teasing us with your pictures and your lovely descriptions Vicki, we’d love to see more! I love the pale blue they have chosen for their woodwork, it really looks like an amazing place.
Thank you for pointing out the Google reader thing, if you don’t mind I’ll pass on the word
hope your summer is shaping up well




I wish I had more photos… the problem was that the weather didn’t shine and the chance to take photos was minimal…


Thanks for sharing Vicki – I admire people who can take on such projects. For me, they are artists of a different kind.

It takes such stamina and determination to see these renovations to the end. Please post more photos when you’ll have more to share. It’s such a treat.

Emily @ Town And Country Shuffle

lisa thomson

Spectacular! I love the greige with the soft blue trim. This is proof that dreams can come true, they take time and determination…thanks for sharing this!


This is beautiful writing and inspirational as well. Thank you so very much.

Karen Burge

Oh this makes me miss our house in France! It is the same area, just half an hour from Toulouse. it’s up for sale if anyone wants to live this life I’m glad you had such a wonderful weekend in this very special part of France.

Kirsten Honeyman

Seven years ago my husband and I fell in love with property in California that reminded us of Provence. We don’t have a ville perché to look at across the valley, but we have, none-the-less, created a bit of France here in the mediterranean climate of California.

Here’s to all with romantic fantasies and the determination to make them real! I appreciate these undertakings as a true art form, as valid as any other — the art of realizing “la dolce vita.”


Stunning and wonderful….
This is a beautiful post, dear Vicki…an inspiration to those of us who are working toward the realization of our dreams…merci!
– Irina


Vicki, I perused French Essence last night while recuperating…and to read this post reminded me how much passion to have for France and your projects there…thank you formyour generosity in sharing your journey…

Victoria Austin

Thank you for sharing the dream and the hope of a beautiful life in France. I know many who have made it happen and it gives me hope too that one day I will find myself in a beautiful place that my heart desires.


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