La Touche sits on top of a shallow, carving hillock, peering out over the surrounding countryside. It’s embraced by meadows of sunflowers and corn, and there’s a dark wood across the field behind. Out the front, over the lawn and fields, a bedraggled hay shed stares back, built as if inspired by the Impressionists.
Circling the outer walls, a worn chalk path winds up between the fields, to the main gates. A skinny lizard spreads itself out in the sun, using the pathway as a sun bed. As its blood warms its eyes twitch, searching above for the sweeping swallows which dart across the sky and bound between the tiled roofs of La Touche’s pretty buildings. A rustling breeze brushes the tops of the trees, shakes the sunflowers from their upward glance and slowly arrives through the front gates.
Through these gates the house cat sits upon the gravel which separates the buildings, seemingly oblivious to the air show above. The courtyard around which the three gîtes and long barn are surrounded is hung with a sweet and attractive paraphernalia: roses mark the edges, bringing light to the stone walls; a rich greenery climbs the wooden frames which roof each gîtes’ terrace. A faint splash from the pool through another small doorway is a familiarly inviting sound. It’s warm in the summer and a quick dip brings an impossibly quick relief.
The gîtes – two sat snugly apart and a third long barn which back out of the open courtyard – remain cool throughout the day, protected from the sunshine which bounces off the rooftops. Each have comfy beds and tiled floors, a private kitchen and the obligatory breadbasket – this beingFrance. Large wooden windows allow a fresh clean breeze to whisk through.
As evening comes and the sun dips and the stars appear, the swallows take one last tuck and dive across the sky as if in fits of laughter. A hand reaches for the rosé and endless sun-kissed arguments about the direction of Venus, the brightest star in the sky, replace the sound of the buzzing fields. Perhaps somewhere out in those fields, the lizard turns in, blood cooling with the midnight air and, like La Touche’s guests, awaits the renewed heat of tomorrow.
Freddie works with Traveller Magazine