After what seemed like one different hotel room too many, we finally made it to our Gite (pronounced Jite, like the way you’d pronounce the “J” in Jean) in Southwest France. Located 2 hours east of Bordeaux in the heart of Bergerac wine country, and about 2 hours from the Northern Spain border, our Gite respite for 10 days was exactly what we needed. After weeks in rainy/foggy weather, the sun is finally out and it feels like paradise. Our Gite is very old and small, but it provides everything we need, from a rain shower to a small 4’ tall door from our bed leading out to a balcony with the most incredible views of French farm country. The softer environment makes it effortless to relax. Although our journey here was grueling – driving from Ashford, UK to Dover for the ferry, 90-minute rough ocean ferry ride, arrive in Calais, France and then drive 8 hours south on toll roads to our destination; it was worth it.
Sara, our hostess, lives in the same structure with another apartment Gite between the two dwellings and as an artist she is a very intriguing lady. She enjoys her animals (hens, goats, a sheep, small dog, cats) an refers to herself as an artist but has spent the greater part of the past four years fixing up the different dwellings to create vacation rentals that do rather well. Her partner Sabin is 12 years younger, and he couldn’t look more French. A very long skinny face, maybe 120lbs with shaggy, uncombed hair, but it’s his smile and friendly reggae-loving personality that wins you over immediately. They have invited us over for a glass of wine almost every evening to swap stories and talk politics around her antique dining table in the kitchen. The décor style in both her home and our Gite is very shabby-chic French with antiques and doors that look like you could easily break everything. It all fits so perfectly, so long as my Bull-In-A-China-Cabinet tendencies don’t take over.
Of all the places we’ve visited on this trip so far (and many other previous travels) I would definitely come back to this part of France. So remote, so quiet, so beautiful. I went for a run without my music for a change yesterday in rolling hills of the most beautiful farmland with French villas scattered around. A narrow road hardly wide enough for one car was my path, yet it was the main highway in the area and thankfully no cars. The sun was out, about 72 degrees, perfect humidity, birds signing, crickets; no need for tunes to give me a boost of energy.
Somehow there’s still an undercurrent of stress & anxiety that I can’t let go of. Guilt over not being tourists and seeing every sight in the area, homesickness, missing friends and family at home. This is the part of travel you don’t think about until it sets in a few weeks or months into your trip. Few people speak of this as they only want to tell the amazing stories and easily forget the hardships of travel. Let me tell you, it does happen and when it does, it’s absolutely normal for even a seasoned traveller. Taking a day or a week to unwind and feel like yourself again is the best possible remedy.
If you really want to get perspective on how amazing of a place we live in the USA, just travel…anywhere, and you will quickly come to appreciate all that we have. That’s one of the things I adore about travel – it’s very humbling and always makes you appreciate home.