When I went to France in January to help my friend Didier in his search for a French home, we viewed a dozen or so potential properties.
One was a renovated castle owned by a couple of Irishmen in their sixties. The place was immaculate inside and out with many rooms that looked like film sets.
Another was a half renovated house put up for sale by its English owners unable to finish it after running out of money.
Each of the houses we visited, from the quaint to the grandiose had its own charm, its own story to tell.
One had a sad look about it.
It was located in a small village in the Lot.
The owner, a retired solicitor who now lived in Paris, used it as his summer home. The accompanying estate agent explained that the old man, now in his nineties had been born and grown up in that house.
After boarding school he spent his military service in Africa. When he returned he practiced law, first in the village and then later, having married a Parisian woman, in the French capital.
He insisted on spending the summers in his native village. His butler always came a few days ahead, opened up the house and prepared it for his master's arrival. Everything had to be exactly where it had been left at the end of the previous August.
As we walked from room to room we marvelled at the exquisite antiques furnishing them. Some of the ornate wallpaper peeled off the walls in many of the rooms.
One room, the lawyer’s childhood bedroom oozed sorrow.
It had remained untouched for over sixty years, set exactly as it was when he left for boarding school.
Dusty books, toys, African artefacts…
An old wooden high chair…
A single bed with a greying wrought iron headboard.
A marble hand basin.
A room with so much history it transported me back to my own childhood and the farmhouse we left for the town.
It stirred up forgotten memories. Happy and sad. A wave of nostalgia enveloped me.
The whole house exuded sadness, longing, emptiness.
Labels: hols, life, Travel