It was frosty and bleak on the day of our visit. But as we wandered around the ancient winding streets and over the bridges, hands buried deep in our pockets, I was transported to a fairytale land, where time seemed to have stopped. Segur is a place where lifestyles haven’t changes all that much in the last 500 years. Residents live, as they have lived, for generations. Simple pleasures, real food, idle time....
On a whim, I mentioned I’d quite like to buy a house in Segur. And, as luck would have it, there was one for sale. When I made the somewhat off-the-cuff remark, I thought it was unlikely to be possible. I didn’t live in France, didn’t speak French, didn’t have a French bank account. But as my parents' friends were prepared to introduce me to their bank manager, I thought I’d push the possibility as far as possible. I’m like that.
And so, by 2007 I was the proud owner of a small house in Segur. An ancient house, with an even more ancient cellar. It also boasted a less than desirable 1970’s renovation, not to mention an unfortunate damp smell on the ground floor. Carried on my whim however, and spurred on by romantic visions of summers in the village, I overlooked all of that.
As we spent our first night in the empty house was, on borrowed leaking airbeds, Kristoph wondered what I’d done. Finding himself away from London, in rural France, in a village devoid of mobile phone reception and internet connection, he was less than relaxed, and eventually broke down on his walk to get a baguette. Apparently the romance of the village wasn’t felt by everyone. And Kristoph could certainly smell the damp.
Over four consecutive summers, interspersed with entertaining a merry band of friends and family, we slowly dismantled the 1970’s hallmarks. We’ve removed linoleum, plaster board, chip-board, and traces of pastel blue paint, and replaced them with oak floors, sisal floor coverings, exposed stone walls (and bedrock, as our house is build into the side of a hill), and white walls where plaster remains. We removed the partial kitchen and started from scratch, designing a bespoke oak fitted kitchen, which was constructed and fitted my local artisans.
This year, we also fitted a new roof. Ceramic tiles from the old one had started falling off and dropping onto the cars below. It was time. The family of animals living in there were also relocated, and features included to ensure they don't move back in. There’s still work to do and probably always will be. It’s rustic, but that’s how we like it, and how the house shall stay.
Today, Kristoph and I divide our time between a flat in London and the village of Segur le Chateau. Kristoph has learned to enjoy life in the country. Foraging in and around the village is one of my favourite idle pleasures. The woods and hedgerows lining the fields provide foods in every season. We eat, drink and entertain in Segur. And these pages aim to share those experiences.
I hope you enjoy them!