The Beginnings of a French Adventure

Everyone knows how life can bring many unexpected surprises and plot twists. Sometimes, one small decision made by someone behind a desk - a client you almost completely depend on, someone who doesn't care at all about any consequences for you - can change your entire life. In our case the loss of our biggest client in 2006 forced us to choose between the two countries we lived in; we had a rental home in The Netherlands and a house we had just bought in France in 2005. We obviously chose the one we had just bought, and this meant emigrating to France. Our French adventure started when Peter and I got married on my Birthday, 13th June, 2007. It was a perfect day; everyone was there, and we we very excited to begin the journey that would take us to where we are today. The wedding party was an emotional one, because it doubled as a farewell party. Only 2 weeks later, Peter and I would move from The Netherlands to our beloved Cathar Country in south-west France.

July 1st, 2007. While the truck took almost a week to arrive, Peter and I already traveled to France on July 1st, a non-stop journey that took over 15 hours. At 5.08 am sharp we left, beeping loudly. I'm sure it woke everyone up.

The journey went very well and it was an exciting, but also a bittersweet adventure; I knew I would miss my family and friends a lot. But when the truck arrived and our furniture and other belongings were unpacked, we really felt that we had come home. ♥

The Birth of a Gite
We didn't have much time to settle properly - several boxes wouldn't be unpacked until 8 years later - for the Summer of 2007 was not going to be a lazy one. The house we had already bought in 2005 came not only with a detached double garage in the shape of a little cottage, it also came with a heavy monthly mortgage. Having lost our biggest client in 2006, we had an urgent need to create a new income, so we decided to use our last savings account to transform the double garage into a lovely, charming holiday cottage. And so, after the design I created was approved by the architect de batiment de France, work started on the garage in the Summer of 2007.

Peter did a lot himself and I helped out with the wood staining and painting, the design and the interior decorating. Obviously, the fact that we are not far from a historical monument made it impossible for us to execute exactly what we had in mind. We also found out that the quality of the material here in France isn't by far as good as we were used to in Holland. But we did our very best and put our heart and soul into the cottage, which we baptized "Le Conte du Graal", named after Chretien de Troyes' famous story of Parcifal and the Grail.

Slowly but surely, the cottage was coming together.

The first couple who rented the gite were honeymooners, which was so very lovely! In 2008 we started renting out the cottage through a Dutch tour operator who worked with the heart, and we soon became one of the most popular rentals in this part of Cathar Country. Unfortunately, the tour operator was taken over by a heartless giant a few years ago, and we decided to rent out through another tour operator, and only in July and August. However, we can offer last minutes in this period, and great direct deals in the other months.

Last year - in 2018 - we celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the gite, with heartfelt gratitude to all who have spent their vacation in "Le Conte du Graal". ♥ We are very much looking forward to another 10 years, meeting people and sharing our little corner of paradise.

Below you can see our beloved cottage after 10 years:

Most people know Peter and myself from our tours and my guide work here in Cathar Country, but we are so very proud of the holiday cottage we have created, a home away from home that we love to share with as many people as possible to experience Cathar Country while staying in its very heart. ♥ We would love to have you stay in our holiday cottage "Le Conte du Graal" and offer to you not only weekly rentals, but also transfers and excursion packages - with me as your private guide - for special tariffs, with or without transport.

Our holiday cottage can be rented throughout the year.

You can rent our cottage directly: email to anneke@panoccitania.com to check availability and to make a reservation.

For more information, click here to go to our web page. We hope to see you soon!

From Cathar Country, with Love. ♥ xox


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