The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 23

Welcome to the summer! In this issue discover Dijon in Burgundy, sensational Strasbourg (and a secret speakeasy), and lovely Cognac. We'll tell you where the locals go on holiday, the secret places. Visit Versailles and the Paris Opera, Le Touquet - the "Monaco" of northern France and wild Provence. Guides, recipes and more - your trip to France without leaving home...

Eight fraught months

Eight fraught months later the place was finished, the gravel for the driveway went in on October 28th and our first guest arrived the following day, ‘This is beautiful,’ the guest said, ‘have you been open long?’ ‘About 40 minutes.’ I muttered under my breath. The idea of opening in the depths of winter was our canny way of using what would certainly be just a trickle of guests as Guinea-Pigs while we learnt the Chambres d’hôtes ropes, but immediately we were booked up! We had always reckoned that the heart of the Loire Valley was going to be fairly busy what with the chateaux, the wine and the cheese and so on, but the world famous ZooParc de Beauval just 20 minutes away is open all year round and packed out to boot. Plus, Natalie never stops smugly reminding me, our own minifarm is partly stocked with animals from the zoo itself. Not Pandas, well not yet anyway, but our goats came from the zoo. They are, and I hate to admit this, a selling point. I’ve had a fractious relationship with the goats. I see now why the Zoo Beauval was so keen to be rid of them. They’re constantly finding new ways to escape their paddock and eat the roses, while encouraging the horse to do the same. I once had to wrestle a goat to the ground in our neighbour’s garden when she complained of being attacked. I carried the thing back home, it clinging to me like a hairy rucksack. I had complained bitterly about their behaviour for years but was now told that they couldn’t be sent back, that they were, in fact, a non-negotiable asset and I had to put up with it. I stormed out to the field to address the goats personally and in no uncertain terms. ‘Now listen goats,’ I began, finger-wagging at the bemused animals, ‘I’ve had enough. But you play fair and I’ll play fair…’

I gave them the dressing down they thoroughly deserved and felt strangely empowered by my futile actions not realising that while doing so, a crowd had gathered. Three families staying in the chambres d’hôtes had assembled quietly to see what the fuss was all about. What they got was a middle-aged man in a tightfitting suit reading the riot act to three utterly disinterested farm animals. I went red. ‘New members of staff,’ I said striding off like Basil Fawlty, ‘just breaking them in.’ I expected Natalie to be angry at the show too, but no. ‘That’s it,’ she said, ‘give the punters the angry, absurd, pent up man that’s in your books! That’s a great selling point!’ think you have to calm down to run a BnB like the perfect host and the next you’ve created your own kind of ‘man at odds with the world’ theme park, a sort of Dollywood for expats. But you know what? It works. Ian has written two books on living in France and travelling as a comedian, and this year his first fiction was published, a crime novel set in the Loire Valley. All his books are available here And if you fancy a few days at Ian’s Chambres d’hôtes and to watch a grown man swear at livestock, you can see the place here www.lapausevaldeloire. com/ And that’s how it happens, one minute you

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