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  • Writer's pictureMme Vanessa Williamson

Lives lived are endlessly fascinating

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

This winter we welcomed the quiet months, with their opportunity to recommence work renovating our wonderful first floor salon, and take time to help plan wonderful holidays for our guests enquiries for the coming year. We also loved having time to ctach up with friends, something as simple and pleasurable as sharing meal with them. Yet we are discovering at least twice week the phone rings or a booking notification pings on my phone. We we rush about making sure everything is perfect for the arrival of our next guests. Living in Europe our guests can arrive from just about anywhere in the world. It’s a constant surprise of fascinating people who find their way to our B&B door. Most are intrigued to stay in a 18thc historic home & are even more surprised to discover Australians as their hosts. Easy conversations flow as we talk about how we all find ourselves in rural France in the modest but lovely town of Mayenne. We have had a guest from India, who stayed with us for over two weeks. Moving to Paris to undertake a Master’s degree, having just graduated was looking for work. A native Hindi speaker, who learnt English, and now French. He started in a local Mayenne company for two weeks on a cyber security project. The result a brilliant year long job offer, and opportunity to transition to a Working Visa. Then the rush was on to assist him find him an apartment to live in and a bed to sleep on by the following week. He has now moved to live in Mayenne, is hoping to play for a nearby towns cricket team over summer, & we see him at the markets on Saturdays.

Our delightful guests from China arrived with an hour notice at midday one sleepy Sunday morning. I opened our gates to meet a stunning lady who spoke no less than 5 languages, and her colleague. They travelled Europe seeking new business for their company. Following up on local business suggestion by Matt they returned 4 months later to their “home in France” for a meeting with that new company. We are expecting them back again in March. This week a businessman from Israel checked in, and after breakfast we shared a great conversation comparing life and cultures of our home countries. He also travels regularly across Europe for work visiting Auction Houses. The regular Deceased Estate sales of country ancient noble families, selling the ancestral Chateau contents are fascinating to attend. Often it is the opportunity to explore and poke about the houses is temptation enough to attend. The reality is I just cannot trust myself not to bid. So, I troll the online catalogues drinking in the artefacts of long past lifestyles I know little of from my previous life in Australia. The story of why our guest was in Mayenne was intriguing, and I would have loved to spend that day with him. But that is perfect for a story one day in a book I have promised myself to write.

Having bid farewell to our Israelie guest, last night we picked up young Lachlan from the Laval train arriving from Paris. He flew in earlier in the day to his first ever trip to Europe. With just a couple of hours available before his train to Laval, he headed into the central Paris, and drinking in the majesty of Paris and for the first time, the vast expanse of the Louvre and walk along the Seine, a new life of possiblies began. He said those few hours were enough to make him want to instantly pack up his country Australia life and move straight away to Europe. Exactly how I felt on my first visit at 21 years old in 1984. A family connection bought him to our door in Mayenne. An aspiring portrait painter, he has worked hard to save up for his first European trip of a lifetime. In a few days we take him back to the trains and bid him farewell on his journey to Florence. He has been accepted into a prestigious 6-week intensive art school, studying painting-drawing techniques for portraiture & life studies. A dream come true and I can’t imagine a more wonderful introduction to Europe and the possibilities for his life ahead.

I have always found the lives people lead endlessly fascinating. I think perhaps that curiosity makes me well suited to being a B&B owner in France.

Thank you for reading

Vanessa Williamson

6 Feb 2020

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