In the first of a new series we talk to Tony Conlan, the owner of La Cour Cottages, two cottages and two converted barns on the border of southern Brittany and Loire Atlantique.
Q: How long have you lived / owned your gite in France?
We have owned La Cour since 2005.
Q: What do you love about France?
The food, the wine, the people, the sun, the sense of space, the relaxed approach to life and the empty roads!
Q: What made you choose southern Brittany?
We had searched for many years throughout France for a rural idyll to call home and had never quite found the right one until we visited La Cour. We always loved the unique Breton culture and were particularly attracted by the microclimate in this Southern area of Brittany offering sunnier climes than more northern areas. We were instantly captivated by the wonderful old cottages and barns which still enchant us even now after enjoying eight very happy years here. The area surrounding La Cour is designated as a protected area of natural beauty. We knew that La Cour would always be a very special place to stay. Thankfully the previous owners were looking to retire and so our dreams became a reality.
Q: Tell us two things you like best about your Gite
1/ The situation in a rural hamlet and yet only a 1km from the village with its café bar and boulangerie and within easy reach of all the beaches and attractions.
2/ The gites offer the wonderful original charm of their 17th century origin whilst also providing all the modern conveniences for a relaxing holiday.
Q: What one thing would your previous guests say about your Gite?
They absolutely love the large selection of bicycles from kids to adults (and 2 child seats!) which always seem to create many happy memories of discovering the countryside around the cottages.
Q: What is your favourite attraction near to your Gite?
The swimming lakes with beaches! Perfect for picnics, swimming and messing about on the water.
Q: What’s the oddest thing about the French culture that you’ve experienced?
Faire la bise or the greeting with a kiss still remains a mystery for us. Our French friends have explained the “rules” many times on how many kisses one should offer on each cheek and to whom, however, we still find ourselves in awkward situations! It has sometimes taken us 15 minutes just to greet everyone, it’s pretty daunting when you arrive in a room with 20 or so people. By the time you have greeted everyone it’s nearly time to make the tour again to bid your farewell! We have found that a good sense of humour normally overcomes most tricky situations!
Q: Which do you prefer and why – Entrecote Frites, Fish ‘n’ Chips or a good curry?
Despite our love of traditional Breton food, we still enjoy a good curry and have taken great pleasure in introducing Tikka Masala to our French neighbours and friends, they love it, although they are still a little sceptical about lime pickle!!!