After a long search for the perfect spot to live in France, Dutch couple Petra and Jan fell for their rustic farmhouse 'like a ton of bricks'. We can understand why! Among the ancient trees, across a sloping terrain, one can almost touch the sound of silence. Le Puy Ardouin is an earthly place that speaks for itself, that brings you back to simplicity.
Sunday, March 15th. We've just completed a training course in the Netherlands and plan to drive to France tomorrow morning. We hear that from 18.00 that evening all restaurants in the Netherlands have to close their doors. We're worried about making it back to our place in France, Le Puy Ardouin, because there's a threat of a lock-down. That's why we decide to leave immediately and drive through the night.
On Monday morning we're relieved to be greeted by our dog Lola and our friend Peter, who looks after our house and the animals when we're away. Later that day it becomes clear that from Tuesday at noon, France will also go into a strict confinement. We have made it back just in the nick of time.
With the lovely weather we almost feel on holiday on our own property. We do maintenance, pruning, sowing, planting, painting, a job here, a lick of paint there. We go for walks through the surrounding meadows and occasionally meet one of the neighbours who is working on the land. The only thing we miss is walking in the villages around us. Menomblet, 2 km as the crow flies, has a very nice short, or a long one. We also like to take a tour around the plan d'eau of La Tardière or at Breuil-Barret. Each and every one of our options offers quiet little roads where the dog can walk freely, and rolling landscape with beautiful views where we meet no one.
That'll have to wait. At first we monitor how Covid-19 is developing, in the Netherlands, in France and in the rest of the world on a daily basis. We discuss the possible scenarios coming our way and seriously take into account that we can't open the campsite this season. We resign ourselves to it and fortunately we have just enough savings to last until Jan's pre-retirement next year. That ensures that we are calm and relaxed. That we can also really enjoy this special, unique time. In those first few weeks we regularly make videos about our life at Le Puy Ardouin.
One of our accommodations is Tiny House Le Granit. It is a log cabin of 20 square meters. There is a luxurious bed, a full kitchen with hot and cold running water, a lounge area and a wood stove. For the sanitary facilities, shower and WC, residents of Le Granit make use of the communal facilities. From the terrace of this cottage you can see the sun rising and you have a phenomenal view of a hill full of old oaks and gigantic stones as we know them in the South Vendée.
Since there are no guests anyway, I decide to use the house as an art studio. I love arts and crafts, drawing and writing, and am busy improving my photography skills.
For years it seems a lovely idea to have my own space for this and it's a great opportunity to look for silence, privacy and inspiration in the tiny house to see how it feels.
Normally the 'residents' of this log cabin are holiday guests or, in autumn and winter, people who want to be on their own for one or a few weeks. Either to figure something out, or to unwind, or to try out whether living in a tiny house would be something for them.
In the tiny house I feel like a fish in the water. It's so nice to create my own atmosphere there, to be able to leave a studio setup for photography, that in the future it can't be avoided ... there will be a new tiny house for me!
In recent weeks the Covid curve has been declining in Europe. We're getting more optimistic, the rules are getting more flexible and slowly but surely we're starting to get used to the idea that there might still be guests coming to Le Puy this summer. The nice thing about this place is that it's actually already Corona-proof. The absence of children, space for the guests and the peace and privacy, that is our unique selling point. The pitches all have a unique location with different views and lots of space. The cottages and furnished tents all have their own spot with terrace. The sanitary facilities are also spacious and are located in the courtyard where you can easily pass each other with plenty of space.
Still, to dot the i's and cross the t's, we have created a protocol. For example, we will deliver the bread to the accommodations in the morning instead of having it picked up. No more than eight people will be able to lie around the pool and a maximum of 4 at a time in the water. Of course we will make sure that cottages, sanitary facilities and sauna are disinfected after use. But in truth much remains the same. The weekly outdoor cinema, where we usually show a French art-house movie will continue and also the morning walk will be honored. We're looking forward to meeting old and new friends and we're all ready for hospitality at a social distance.
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