We have arrived in Southern France or more specifically in Boulogne-sur-Gesse, a small town, two hours by bus from Toulouse near the Pyrenees. We are here to experience life on a small holding via a cultural exchange and are helping out with various tasks. We mostly help with the animals: three dogs, Casey, Oreo and Ziggy, two cats, Charlie and Scarlet and three chickens. Our hosts Patrick, Marie and Alina have welcomed us heartily and are spoiling us daily with wonderful meals. Highlight so far was an outdoor lunch on our second day here. We have also met Christine from Australia who has been very helpful in getting us settled into a routine. Other than the three chickens, Patrick and Marie are not using the property for farming and when they moved here from Belgium three and a half years ago the plan was to have a restaurant on site. Local regulations proved hard to navigate and instead they bought a restaurant in a nearby town which we look forward to visit. Patrick also owns a butcher shop in the town.
The weather for the most part has been cold with the odd ray of sunshine. The old farm house is charming but cold this time of year. We close the shutters late in the afternoon in order to keep the room temperature somewhat warm. The proximity to the Pyrenees is evident and you can feel and hear the wind blowing in over the mountains and hitting this old farm. The walls are thick but have very little in the way of insulation to hold onto the heat. We are told that on really cold winter days they wear hats and gloves in the house.
The farm is situated just outside Boulogne-sur-Gesse and we have been to town a couple of times. It is a cozy little village with about 1,600 inhabitants. A Centre de Ville, a church, a couple of small super markets, a post office, various little stores and a rugby field are what we have seen so far. On Monday we went into town and everything was closed. The town center was pretty much deserted. It felt as if the town was sound asleep perhaps anticipating busier times coming up in the spring and summer months. Tuesday we were on recycling duty and as we passed through town there was more life as the stores were open and school kids were milling about in the streets.