I live in a beautiful village in the south of the Loire Valley area, within a few hundred meters of cafes, shops and services. All around is farmland, castles, rivers and woods...and more ancient stone villages. I'm an American woman of retirement age (hah!) and have been living off and on in France for 50 years. Two years ago I bought House Charming and I am happy that life has brought me here to experience this simple but beautiful home.
Once upon a time, I was a cooking teacher, having spent a year at culinary school in Paris. I've been leading tours of France for Americans for more than 20 years. Alas, as rewarding as those endeavors have been, they did not give me much of a budget for home repairs!
The general style in my house is tidy and pleasant. I live with one lovely cat named Lucie, who is friendly and sweet. I'm interested in a wide range of things and look forward to conversations with interested visitors. People who can hold up their end of a conversation will be appreciated.
Experience has shown me that my most successful workawayers are women over 50, largely because they already know how to do things without constant supervision, they are respectful of my privacy, and they take pride in a job well done. I'd really like to have just one grown woman workawayer at a time, sorry guys.
True confession: I don't respond to requests from men, young women, twosomes and those who post glamour photos and what appears to be a dating profile. Thus my low response rate on my host page. Life is too short to spend my time responding to those who haven't bothered to read this profile.
I also can't have a smoker, however discreet you think you are. And I will ask you to wash the dishes and keep the kitchen clean while you're with me. I'll do all the cooking, and hope you will let me know well in advance if you have any strong likes/dislikes regarding meals. Please be prepared to clean your room and bathroom carefully when you leave, so that the following visitor will arrive to a fresh clean situation.
It would be very nice if you would kindly take some time to write a complete profile which says more about you than you are enthusiastic, willing to learn, love dogs and babies and like to take long walks. I want to know what you can offer me.
Generally speaking, I'd like to be in touch well in advance of your arrival date, so we can get to know each other a little on line, and be reassured we'll be a good match. I typically limit stays to 7 to 10 days.
Staying with me in my home is a personal experience unlike staying at a hotel or hostel, and it's important that a potential visitor be respectful and friendly, with a good attitude for our exchanges.
Help around the house
If you're interested in experiencing how the French really live outside of Paris and the big tourist attractions, come for a stay with me. All year round there are small concerts, shows and activities, in addition to outdoor flea markets, festivals and walking clubs. There are a fair number of British residents in the area, so community life is sprinkled with English language. This year the Irish Night we held next to the village church drew 800 people for live music, dancing and beautiful fish & chips! My neighbors are friendly French people, you can definitely improve your French as much as you'd like. You can come along to my traditional dance group on Tuesday mornings, there's also zumba and yoga during the school year, and in summer the municipal swimming pool is open.
The main projects I need help with are fairly cosmetic, anything technical my builder/handyman will do (he by the way charges a rather hefty rate, which is fair enough because he does know how to work magic.)
The wall-to-wall carpets in the 2 small bedrooms and hallway upstairs should be pulled out, and they're glued down with some kind of uber crazy glue so some muscles are needed for that. Once the ugly carpet is up, the wallpaper will have to be steamed/scraped off, and then painted. After that, new flooring is to be laid, but I may need professionals for that part. It's a long-term project so it will take a series of helpers to get it all done.
My first work-awayer did a great job on my window frames, and the next ones painted my front door -- it looks great now! In general, window washing is something I'd like help with. Are you handy with a drill? I need to hang some framed things on my walls. Help me turn my mattress? Move some boxes to/from storage? Get things to the recycling center?
My garden always needs trimming, sweeping, weeding and general tlc, you will want to have some heavy work gloves. I grow tomatoes and peppers in the summer, along with a selection of herbs. My workshop at the end of the garden is always ready for a good clean and tidy-up.
Overall, I am hoping to welcome people who represent solutions rather than posing new problems for me to resolve. If you're friendly and an experienced do-it-yourselfer, you'll be a great success with me!
The upstairs part of my house is for guests only, and I only accept one work-awayer at a time, so the whole floor will be all yours. It has two smallish guest bedrooms and a guest bathroom with shower, toilet and basin, all off a wide hallway at the top of the stairs. (I live exclusively on the ground floor.) There are two twin beds in one room, and a queen size bed in the other, with good pillows and bedding. Each room has a dormer window looking out to the 19th century primary school across the street. There's room for your belongings, hangers on a rail, a small table and chair, it's not luxury but it's far from camping.
Note that my house is on the main road of the village, it's a one-way sort of ring road. There are very few cars passing from 11pm to 6am, but before and after that there are cars passing every few minutes. If you sleep with your shutters and window open, you will hear that traffic, and the kiddies in the school yard start shouting in earnest around 8:30 a.m. or so on weekdays, and also at recess and lunch time (during the school year). Between cars and when the kids are indoors, it's entirely silent, there are no big highways anywhere near, no barking dogs or crying babies. However -- if you're a light sleeper and you don't get out of bed fairly early, you may be disturbed by the school kids. Additionally, the streetlamp just outside my house switches off at 11pm, after which it is pitch black. You can quite literally look out the window and see the Milky Way when it's clear. But if you go to bed before 11 p.m. and light coming through the curtains is likely to bother you, the street lamp may be a problem for you.
Recent dinner menus for workawayers: local Sainte Maure goat cheese, goose or pork rillettes. Cod fillets with brown butter and capers, Chicken Cacciatore on creamy polenta, Buckwheat crepes with ham, egg and cheese, Pot au Feu, Tartiflette Savoyarde. Typical desserts are plum clafoutis, peach crumble, chestnut cream "Mont Blanc" and baked apples.
At the top of my village, housed in the chateau, is the very fine and modern National Museum of Prehistory, where our claim to fame is the flints fashioned into tools during the Stone Age, and traded all across Europe. During nice weather, half the town will stop into the cafes, it's an easy way to meet people. The excellent Tourist Office is steps away, always full of info for visitors. The municipal swimming pool is open in the summer, there are zumba classes (in French!) during the school year. There are buses to and from my village a few times a day, especially handy if you'd like to go to the big city of Tours a bit more than an hour away. Tours is on the main high-speed train line between Paris and Bordeaux.
The closest train station is in Chatellerault, about 40 minutes drive time from my house. Please have your departure travel arrangements paid, reserved and in hand before you arrive at my house. I am unable to loan you money to pay for your transportation, so please have a fallback situation ready.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week