A wonderful Christmas – House Sitting in the Lot Valley, France

Converted barn Lot Valley

Pete and Liz spent Christmas 2013 house sitting in this lovely converted barn in the Lot Valley, France

Christmas is a time when most of us want to be with family and this is particularly the case for expats, many of whom return ‘home’ for the festive season. With so many British expats in France coming home to the UK at this time of year our Trusted House Sitters provide a valuable service ensuring that homes and pets are cared for while the owners are away. Christmas house sitting assignments are being added to TrustedHousesitters.com every day – not just in France but all over the world – as people plan their family get togethers. This provides wonderful opportunities for house sitters to experience Christmas in a different country. Last Christmas TrustedHousesitters.com members Liz and Peter had a wonderful French Christmas sampling the  local food and drink and soaking up the French way of life.

Liz and Peter enjoyed the local wine from the Lot Valley

Liz and Peter enjoyed the local wine from the Lot Valley

“Even for full time house sitters Christmas is a special time of year for most people and by tradition is normally spent with your family and friends but due to circumstances with our son living in Whistler, Canada and our daughter deciding that a skiing holiday at Christmas would be a good time to see her brother this then left us with no immediate family at home so we decided to hopefully secure a nice house sit, in this particular case our main requirement was not to fly but to use our own transport so that meant UK or Europe as our target area.

After a few days a British couple who live in Mourjou, France (near the Lot valley) posted an advert on TrustedHousesitters.com wanting a couple to house/pet sit for 3 weeks over the Christmas period to look after and care for their 3 cats Henri, Pablo and Didums.  We applied for the position and after being short listed we Skyped each other and found that we had a lot in common. As this was their first time looking for house sitters they were a bit apprehensive and we like to feel that we put their minds at rest by having our own police checks and references all in place. It was agreed that we should arrive a couple of days early so that we could be shown around the local area.

We decided that we would extend our holiday and take 5 days to travel to Mourjou from our home in the north of England, this allowed us to visit family on the way down and 3 days to travel via the east side of France which is the champagne area and we planned our return to be the west side of France via Paris.

After visiting our relatives we crossed on the ferry from Dover to Calais. The weather was colder than expected but with bright blue skies and it stayed this way for 5 days which made the scenic drive fantastic! We had various stops on the way calling in numerous towns for the markets which were all preparing for Christmas.

Crisp, cold days were the perfect back drop to explore the Lot Valley.

Crisp, cold days were the perfect back drop to explore the Lot Valley.

Upon arrival we were made most welcome by the owners and the cats and after a lovely lunch we were taken on a tour of the local area. They pointed out the best places to eat and drink in the local villages. They had also compiled for us a little booklet with maps and tourist information which included market days in the local area, which was very helpful.

The following day we were shown the important aspects of their house and the cats routine, being shown their little individual likes and dislikes certainly helped us to settle in.  The next day the couple left knowing that the cats were in good hands which we feel helped them relax while on holiday with their family back in the UK.

Cats

The cats were very pleased that they weren’t spending Christmas in a cattery

Their home was a 3 story converted barn with lovely wood floors, fantastic views, and a log fire, it also had a pool but was closed up for the winter. We managed to see most of the Lot valley either by car or on foot and we soon got into the French way of spending the day, up early, out to the local market to buy fresh seasonal produce for your evening meal, lunch at the local cafe which was usually a set 2 or 3 course with a glass of wine thrown in then back home for an afternoon nap!

 

House sitting made for a very festive Christmas in France

House sitting made for a very festive Christmas in France

The cats were easy to look after and always greeted us on our return looking for small treats. The evening times were spent mainly round the log fire, reading, playing back gammon and making a fuss of the cats. The time passed really quickly and before we knew it it was Christmas Day.

By this time we knew the various stalls to buy our food. We bought a French selection of food for Christmas lunch and of course the local champagne! We have to say that our day was helped by Skyping our children in Canada.

We then had a few days to burn off the extra calories walking in the Lot valley and chopping up firewood to add to the log store. We had been told that the local restaurant was opening on New Year’s Eve with a special 7 course menu which was superb and at a very reasonable price.

 During the sit we kept in contact with the house owners by phone and email which they appreciated. We then started making plans for the owners return. We always allow an extra day just in case they are delayed for any reason, fortunately this didn’t happen this time so

in this particular sit it was agreed that when they were within 2 hours of home they would phone us and we would start to make our way back to our home.

 For us it was nice to experience a different environment on the lead up to Christmas, tasting the typical French Christmas fayre in a local setting. We thoroughly enjoyed the French Christmas experience and the feedback from the owners was also very positive, a good time was had by all including the cats to whom we also gave a special Christmas lunch.

Would we do a Christmas sit again? Yes we would! In fact we have a 2 week house sit on Vancouver island which finishes early December so we are actively seeking a house sit in the Vancouver / Whistler area from then which hopefully will include Christmas and or New Year.”

If you would like Liz and Peter to look after your home and pets you can get in touch with them via their TrustedHousesitters.com profile page.

 

 

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