Posts Categorized: 2022 Europe

Mont Saxonnex, France

The sensation of time passage feels like a week at most, and yet also like a quarter of a year in this goofy autumnal hourglass. The feral cat and 11+ year-old mighty duck are self-sufficient compared to the (easy) 5 year-old and (needy) 3 month-old dogs. The puppy dominates our attention and steers our daily schedule toward brief bouts of work punctuated with outdoor drinks of fresh air below the Bargy mountains.

Our housesitting residence was originally a high barn loft perched atop a small two-bedroom residence built in the 1860s. Our hosts spent the first two years of ownership in the original ground floor residence while they converted the upper barn space into a two-story, five-bed-two-bath layout. It’s a continued work in progress after 18 years; the kitchen recently received a new oven unit to replace the antique woodstove. A young family of four from California started their yearlong downstairs rental in July, so we’ve landed in a surreal US west coast normalcy. Their residence on the ground floor shares a dividing wall with the original cowshed, which was converted into a one-bedroom apartment, rented for years to a kind Frenchwoman who loves dogs and feeds the puppy chex mix.

The access road Chemin des Voyis is named for this hamlet, off the main switch-back arterial to Mont Saxonnex, and the house numbers here indicate the metric distance of the building from the arterial. The great-great-grandson, born and raised here, lives across the street to the south with his children and grandchildren. It was either his great- or great-great-grandfather who settled this acreage in the late 1800s and who built this central barn-cow-house. The two or three surrounding houses in this hamlet are still in the family, owned either by his cousins or other relatives. He tends an enormous garden on his plot, and feeds apples to the cows in the field to the north, adjacent to the garden and tool sheds here.

We’ve eaten heartily from the ample garden to spare the produce from seasonal rot: cabbage, eggplant, leeks, beets/greens, kale, nasturtium, beans, carrots, pears, onion, and zucchini! Loads of zucchini, ou courgette en français. A week ago, we hunkered down for a 2- or 3-day thunderstorm event, complete with photograph-worthy lightning bolts that danced on the surrounding rocky ridges. The elder dog Meg hid in every tiny corner while the puppy played, oblivious to the commotion. We’ve felt right at home, yet suddenly married with young children, staying hydrated with Evian-fresh tap water and strangely interacting with very few French locals due to our distance from the sleepy, pre-ski-season town center.