We love meeting friends, family and neighbours of our hosts. They always have colourful stories to tell about the property, the town, the region, even the country where we are staying.
While we were on our first French pet and house sit in Normandy, we met Geri, an entertaining and joyful American with a love for France.
We loved her dogs, and we enjoyed her company. Geri agreed to share her story of moving to France. She’s taken on a huge task – renovating an enormous old stone house near the small village of Crasville.
One winter’s morning in Normandy – we met Geri at one of her favourite locations. The vide greniere at a neighbouring village called Yvestot Bocage (eve-stow bow-carzgh). In French, vide greniere (veed gron-yay) literally means empty the attic.
See what she comes home with, for her house! This is Geri’s story.
The world’s favourite city -Paris – has a rival within its own country!
Bordeaux – the other Paris in South West France.
Bordeaux – the other Paris is the 5th largest city in France and with a population of 240 thousand, so it’s very easily navigated. There have been settlements in this location on the Garonne River, since Roman times, so plenty of history.
The ancient heart of the city remains – under UNESCO world heritage protection.
The golden age for Bordeaux was the 18th century, with luscious honey coloured stone and lots of attention to detail. When Baron Haussmann was remodelling Paris, he used this town as his inspiration.
The Porte d’Aquitaine marks the symbolic entry to the town.
The rue Sainte-Catherine is one of the longest in Europe.
You may well shop until you drop on this 1.2km strip of retail! Where the street meets rue St.Remi is the entrance to Galerie Bordelaise, a shopping development of 1834.
I want to show you what is quite possibly the most exquisite fountain in the world.
I think it rivals Rome’s Trevi Fountain.
To one side of the inner city is 31 acres of space punctuated with extreme beauty. This city landmark is known by locals as the Monument aux Girondins. It was dedicated to a political faction that were massacred during the French Revolution.
The grand column reaches 50 metres into the sky. At the tip is a bronze statue of Liberty. There are masses of horses that are bursting with energy.
I expected to see them break free!
We’re lucky to still have this masterpiece. In 1942 during WW2 the Germans had plans to melt down the bronze to make cannons and they were removed. Luckily that didn’t eventuate and they were found in Angers, a city about half way between their home and Paris. They were returned, but not completely reinstated until as late as 1968.
From the fountain, take a comfortable stroll through a grove of trees towards the river, you will be glad you did.
Place de la Bourse was built in 1755 for Louis 15th as a symbol of the city’s prosperity.
Stand back close to the river and admire the affect made by the Miroir d’Eau. The mirror of water. It’s the largest reflecting pool in the world. One inch of water covers 37 thousand square feet of granite paving, giving the illusion of walking on water.
Many people know Bordeaux because of its most famous export that comes in a stemmed glass! Bordeaux is the world capital of the wine industry.
Grape vines were introduced here when the Romans were in this area.
There are 287 thousand acres of vineyards in this areas, contributing 14.5 billion Euros to the economy from roughly 960 MILLIOIN bottles of wine!
Bordeaux produces both red and white… and it could be an everyday quaffer, or one of the most expensive on the wine list.
Thank you to Chateaux Dauzac for showing us through the wine making process.
Everything you need to know to have a fabulously authentic travel experience HOUSE SITTING & PET SITTING
We would like to share some valuable information and TOP TIPS about having an unforgettable time when you go house and pet sitting. We gathered this knowledge from our experiences and some of it we learned the hard way!
In late 2015 we set off on a year-long, four-country journey. We started at home in Australia, then packed up everything and took a flight to Paris! We spent most of 2016 in France, UK and Italy. We traveled 30,000km by air and 36,000km by car. Along the way we picked up a lot of helpful tips for a smooth journey. If you’re new to house sitting or if you’ve tried it already, we hope you can take away some tips that will enhance your time at each of your many destinations.
TIP 1 – SELECTING THE REGION
As basic as it sounds, paying close attention to the locations you choose is critical. Also, the time of the year when you visit can make a big difference to your experience. A great question to ask yourself is – What will the weather be like when we go there?
We knew England would be cold for us, especially Scotland, so we applied only for sits during their summer. If you are used to cold climates, you may want to go to a warmer region and vice versa. Many sits may be booked months before the actual scheduled time, so do your homework on this one.
Another things to pay attention to is the time of the tourist season and as we discovered in Bordeaux – will there be any major events taking place nearby? We had to move our car by several blocks for the weekend.
Know the address of the property.
While this might sound like a no-brainer, we came extremely close to becoming seriously lost, not once, but twice!
Get very clear about where you are. Establish landmarks and have a back-up plan. Take a photo on your phone.
To read ALL 14 TIPS… . PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW
This is detailed and valuable guidance from a couple who travelled in 4 countries for 1 year – primarily house sitting and pet sitting.
As if that wasn’t enough – they also shot and are now writing “Village to Villa” LIVING LIKE LOCALS – a 13 episode TV series – NOW IN EDIT.
Just scroll down to the black strip and you will see how to become a FOLLOWER.
We’ll help you to create a killer profile and nail the perfect sit for you. THANK YOU we are grateful for your interest and support. Please feel free to share with others who might enjoy our adventure.
How about spending an entire month during the springtime, living in a French Chateau at no cost to you?
We were lucky enough to do exactly that during our year of house sitting. We lived in a French Chateau in South West France.
This is a video about Chateau du Mauran in the south west of France.
The garden was at its best when we stayed at this stunning French Chateau.
From early to late May we watched as nature did her most amazing work. The roses were resplendent but the real stars were the Wisteria and the “Van Gogh” Irises. Perfection together.
Staying in this amazing house for a month, gave us many stories for our TV series “Village to Villa” We lived like locals and enjoyed authentic travel experiences with neighbours, friends of the house owners and people we met along the way. We will share them all here on this blog. If you’d like to follow our incredible year long journey, please leave us your details in SUBSCRIPTIONS – and we’ll send you a note when we post another story. Thank you.
Can 2 producers really shoot video for a 13 part TV series without a crew?
Neil McLean and Gai Reid are the only members of the camera crew for their 13 episode TV series “Village to Villa”. We developed our “TV production in a back pack” so we could travel for one year and shoot a TV series without a camera crew!
Having covered 4 countries – living like locals – we have now begun the huge editing phase. Luckily we have 2 awesome editors. Meet our crew.
Gai & Neil have worked in television production for most of our working lives. That’s a scary number of years!
Gai experienced a little bit of everything during her time spent working in regional television in NSW and Tasmania. Mostly she has worked in Brisbane networks as a writer and producer in factual programming.
Neil has worked mostly in news in regional and the networks of NSW and Victoria– as a reporter, reader and news director. We both know what it’s like to spend a week or longer on the road.
Normally when a TV crew travels to shoot a program – 4 people would check in 12 to 18 pieces of luggage, including cameras, tripod, lights, sound gear as well as crew suitcases. NOT for TV Production in a back pack.
Because of the nature of our project – we couldn’t take a traditional camera crew. So WE became the crew!
That meant we had to figure out another way to bring you what we knew would be engaging and inspirational stories.
We came up with PRODUCTION BACK PACK!
We streamlined down to the absolute minimum gear – we had to carry it where ever we went. It really was a production in a backpack. AND it enabled us to shoot a TV series without a crew.
Most importantly – we wanted to record authentic travel experiences that filled us with joy!
We wanted to be able to talk to strangers without intimidating them with a large camera on a tripod. They needed to feel comfortable in order to open up and tell us their stories. We wanted to make story gathering a pleasurable experience for everyone involved.
So when we set out on one of our many trips – we had a suit case each and ONE backpack of camera gear!
We used a Nikon digital SLR with external Rode mic; a Samsung Galaxy-K phone with external Rodes mic; occasionally a basic Samsung phone; a Sony Action Can and a seriess of mounts. Sometime we shot an interview with 2 different angles. We found a fantastic tripod that folds down to about the size of 2 fold up umbrellas. THAT’S IT! This is how we were able to shoot a TV series without a crew.
We wanted to be one of the early adopters of using a mobile phone camera to shoot a series – to show that it COULD be done.