Our winter holiday will be extended, as we get an unexpected opportunity to house and cat sit in a château in Southern France. A couple of years ago, I also had a ‘sit’ in the same area and I love to go back. We drive straight from the Costa Brava to a small village in the vicinity of Puys L’Eveque and enter the long driveway towards the old and impressive mansion. The landlord welcomes us with a very tasty supper and he gives us a tour over the grounds and through the different buildings. Later in the evening, we try to find our bedroom, but we get lost immediately!
Early in the morning, our host is leaving and for the next two weeks we have the responsibility to look after two cats and 19 bedrooms! We live mainly in the kitchen, which is heated by a separate unit. Temperatures will not reach over 17 degrees Celsius, but with a few sweaters on and a cat on your lap it is warm enough. My partner finally gets the huge fireplace in the kitchen going, but it doesn’t give us any heat.
The wood stove in the living room works great, so by the time supper is finished, we switch rooms.
The cats are mother and daughter, but it turns out that the little girl is afraid of mum; she is most of the time hiding behind the books in the library. Mum goes wherever we go; she follows us in the garden and sits close to us in the kitchen.
Our huge bedroom has tall windows with amazing views over the river Lot. It feels like living on the water. The weather changes and the river changes too. Instead of calm flowing waters, the river gets wild and noisy!
After the rain, we get snow! This will happen only a few times in the winter, according to some locals. It changes the grounds into a winter wonderland. The rooms are getting colder too. To reach our bedroom, we have to climb enormous marble stairs and pass the music room. Nothing is heated, except our bedroom and bathroom. I try to play the piano, but my fingers get frozen!!!
On one of these mornings, the sun suddenly comes out and the wind is waving the grasses bordering the river Lot. My partner looks out of our bedroom window and sees a kingfisher rapidly flying along the waters. The bright blue wings are glittering in the sunlight. I quickly grab my camera and open the window. Our room is situated high above the water and my presence doesn’t disturb the kingfisher. Maybe not 100% clear, but I am able to get this beautiful creature on camera.
Although it is winter time, we fully enjoy the experience of looking after this huge mansion. It also gives us time to explore more of the Lot area and discover other medieval villages.