The Little Farm in France



We’ve just spent two weeks in the La Creuse area of France living in a partly renovated farmhouse in the hamlet of Le Petit Aigu. With Marcel and Ciane (originally from Brazil) we’ve been helping clear some garden area, tackle the blackberry ambush, build a potting shed and construct a new chicken coop/grand palace. We also got to run around with the three sheep and scream out a few cock-a-doodle-doos with the three chickens and their king le coq. 

The grand palace built by Quin Pote and its king ‘Adonis’ alerting the photographer to back off

To give an idea of population size in the hamlet; I saw more stray cows pass than cars, the most noise came from the screaming of the neighbours black sheep  (imagine a murderous woman with dementia whose just sipped her coffee and realised the milk’s off), and empty stone barns outnumber people. All the farmhouses are massive stone structures with thick wooden beams running from wall to wall to provide second floors and storage. Back when the area was first populated it used to be that as a family grew, so too did the farmhouses as rooms and stables were built alongside. Peering into some of the empty barns, it’s easy to imagine taking on the ultimate renovation project, buying some sheep and disappearing off the grid for a year or two.

Boy was it a magic, by the time we were sitting down to our first evening feast after we’d been picked up from the bus station, it was clear that Marcel & Ciane have hearts of pure Brazilian-Swiss-French gold. Yes you can adopt us, thank-you.

While on the tiny farm in the La Creuse area of France (the centre of the country where the landscape is covered in green)….

– We learnt a bunch of new skills: gardening by the lunar calendar (e.g. which day the moon would prefer you to plant spinach etc), pottery and the various ways your perfectly crafted cup can fly off the wheel and thwack into an unforgiving wad of failure at any moment, finding the north star and how to pronounce French words…

Lunar broccoli performing morning yoga
Leaving the pottery wheel for now to concentrate on more reliable techniques.
Drying lavendar to take in the backpack and make everything smell like a garden
Quin nailing the French

– We shared many a story into the late evening (such as the time Marcel ate 25 ham and cheese sandwiches) and pondered the meaning of life…it turns out it was wine and tapas all along…

‘Competitive Tapas’ where everyone creates a dish and we all win because there’s no one else to eat it.
Quin’s ‘champions’
Polenta planets, beetroot hummus and avo

– AND ate a bloody delicious amount of home cooked meals that I can’t stop thinking about.

Both are sensational cooks and having travelled and lived in many parts of the world, have a wicked knowledge of foods, ingredients and stories. Having their own olive grove in Southern France where they produce olive oil each year meant we copped a new found appreciation for the golden liquid.

You can find a recipe for Marcel’s Burro e Salvia Spaghetti here and one for Ciane’s no- knead Spelt Bread here. As well as the delights of the local markets turned picnic here.

Garden tomato’s, spelt bread and olive oil bruschetta

Fig and toasted almond spaghetti with salty sesame seeds

It’s incredible to step back and look at all the connections you make and continue to make with people throughout your life. As a collection, it could be quite astounding. Travel has a way of forcing connections and while some fall apart (only meant for a certain time and place), some feel immediately like they were always there waiting to happen. Sharing space, ideas, stories and meals with Marcel & Ciane felt like we’d found another home, a nest amongst the blackberry bush chaos of the globe. I already can’t wait to meet around the table again, wherever that table may be, France, Brazil or back in humble old Adelaide. Having the ability to travel the world is a gift I’m truly appreciate of.

We’ll miss this big old guy
The local wildlife in Petit Aigu.

Au revoir you bloody legends.

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