At busy times a car or tractor comes past here about every hour,there is a feeling of being in deepest, rural France and yet it's only 5 minutes drive to the small town of Gorron. When you arrive here, look out for the old wagon wheel and the lions on the gateposts, come through the wooden gates and all you can see are trees and, at the bottom of the drive, the huge open sided barn. Park in the little car park and walk down to the house and suddenly there is a lake, a sunny terrace, my house and attached to it your beautiful cottage, and a generous welcome pack just waiting for you. If the day is cool the wood burner will be burning, the lamps will be lit and the towel rail will be hanging with warm towels there may even be a hot water bottle in your bed! If its hot and sunny (normal in summer time here) there will be fuel for the barbie on the terrace and wine in the fridge. Dump the bags, open the wine and take a walk right around the lake, watch the carp and maybe plan tomorrows fishing. Say hello to the two friendly dogs, Rory and Ruby, walk across the old woodhen bridge and pinch yourself! It's real!
If you are feeling energetic there are five bikes, three adult and two for children, free for your use. Cycle to the little village of Lesbois (you can walk it in 20 minutes, tops) There are lots of other lovely local villages with friendly bars and little restaurants and way marked walks too (try Saute de Loup, Wolfs Leap, in nearby Brece.) Gorron is a nice, normal French town, clean, tidy, friendly and totally equipped with all the shops you need and a very decent supermarket and a garden centre that sells bait (though tinned sweetcorn works quite well or just some leftover baguette!) You will also find tennis, paintballing, cinema, indoor swimming pool, creperie, pizzeria, sports bar/tabac and assorted small shops including a British run butchers, selling proper bacon, Scotch eggs and homemade pork pies! A must for sightseers is the magnificent Mont St Michel, about an hour and a half away, Europe's top tourist destination. The Normandy landing beaches, Bayeux and St Mere Eglise are 2 hours drive. Or take the high speed train from Laval(leaves every morning) to Paris. The nearest gorgeous, sandy beaches are in Northern Brittany and Lower Normandy and an easy day trip away.
You will find lots of maps and tourist brochures in the cottage to help you plan days out. After a day around the lake or sightseeing, sleep with the sound of silence, wake to birdsong.
Not that it is always peaceful here. Oh no. All sorts of hanky-panky happens on the lake with those naughty ducks, fish leap and there are dogs to walk and wine to drink and a rowing boat for larks on the water!
I live here all year round so will always be on hand to help/suggest outings/ tell you what is going on locally. (Or, if you prefer, I'm happy to leave you to have your own adventures!)I will also provide meals, (at very reasonable rates)if required. You can take these in your house or my dining room or on your terrace. The cottage also has a cool box and a picnic blanket so you can pack a picnic to take or to eat in our own woods! This is a big mixed farming area so the food in the Mayenne is amazing, We are also close to Brittany and Normandy so the crabs in the supermarket are alive...! Cooking for yourself is also easy as the kitchen is fully equipped including very efficient and fast, washing machine and dishwasher. There is a slow cooker for winter casseroles, a raclette machine for cheesy feasts a separate freezer, a liquidiser and a state of the art microwave. The grounds have lots of fruit trees, you are welcome to help yourself (in season) to apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries and black currants......! Food shopping becomes a pleasure when there are wonderful markets like the one at St Hilaire du Harcoet on a Wednesday morning where they sell everything, livestock, vegetables, clothes, tractors, and hot Mayonnaise sausage baguettes, delicious! For history lovers there are lovely medieval towns to visit like nearby Domfront or wonderful Dinan, and one of the biggest and best preserved castles in Europe at Fougeres, about half an hour away. Eat crepes and drink a 'bolee' (cup)of cider in the little square at the entrance to the castle. In the evenings venture out for a meal/ drink or slump in front of the TV. There is a lovely restaurant in Gorron offering beautiful lunches and evening meals and several of the local villages have British tin pubs who do meals and events like Open mic evenings. ( This may be rural France but out social lives are fantastic!) There is Freeview TV so you don't have to miss a thing. There is a DVD player and lots of books/games including a full sized table tennis table and darts board in the barn which can be lit up at night for evening tournaments! There is also a good WIFI connection. In the garden is a large lawn set up with a football goal for penalty shoot outs. Children of all ages on holiday here have a whale of a time. There is a big tin trunk in the barn chock full of outside games. There are swings and slides,ducks and chickens to feed and for my smallest guests a big box of toys and another of bed-time stories. Gilbert the teddy presides over everything and is available for cuddles if you forget your own one!
Another word about my fish, yes MY fish! Visiting anglers tell me they are in perfect condition and I want them to stay that way. They don't have scars on their little mouths so please no barbed hooks and don't keep them out of the water too long! You will be the only people fishing as I do not issue day permits. It is also easy to purchase permits locally for the many trout rivers in the area.
Above all I want visitors to feel at home here and to really relax. Please understand that we are not talking manicured lawns and perfectly tended borders. Things are a bit wild. There are patches of stingie nettles. (Monty Don would be VERY pleased!) That said I have worked hard on the cottage. It is very comfortably furnished and spotlessly clean. Please don't smoke in there.
Families love Weeping Willow Cottage but, please be aware the lake, is not fenced and VERY close to the house and cottage so the very small will need careful supervision. Older children will have a wonderful time as there is a small island on the lake perfect for Swallows and Amazons type games and the sort of wild woods just made for den building!They all love the little rowing boat.For horse lovers there are stables closeby and Haras du Pin, the French National stud is just over an hour away. This is also a great area for cycling and motor cycling, empty roads and rolling countryside rather than steep hills. Ask about secure storage and parking. The cottage is available throughout the year. The newly installed wood burner is very efficient. There are oil filled radiators for upstairs. The ceilings are low and it's very cosy. There are extra blankets and all the windows are double glazed. The 'ballon' water heater means there is always loads of piping hot water available. During the summer months there are lots of local 'fetes' many of which involve music. The bigger towns, like Le Mans host impressive son et lumieres and most of the villages are stiff with flower displays. But most of the entertainments in this area are very low key, countrified and very French and home grown. If pottering around antique and junk shops pleases you or maybe a car boot on a Sunday? You will love it here.
I will end with my gardens. Whoever planted the trees around the lake knew what they were doing. They are beautiful. Tall pines, pretty maples, graceful weeping willows line the banks. Each evening the setting sun glows red through the trees and casts a fiery glow across the lake making the gardens even more magical. Gradually dusks falls and all the stars appear, the moon rises and is reflected in the calm waters.
While you are here you might find yourself raising a glass to whoever planted those trees and letting this beautiful, old place cast its spell over you