French Muse | Our French Oasis II


Part two of Susan’s guest post from Our French Oasis.  If you missed part I go: French Muse | Our French Oasis.

Welcome to Susan’s garden!
I love this shot, of her gate and beyond that, the garden.  Join Susan as she takes us on a tour of her beautiful property in southwestern France…….



We have a large garden of just over an acre and a flock of free-range chickens, which includes several local breeds who lay very prolifically! The garden itself is a mélange of French and English influences. There are parts which are relatively formal and were well established when we arrived, they were most likely laid out by the physicist’s wife so long ago.


She was English, and she and her daughter quite obviously had read a Capability Brown handbook somewhere along the line, as they kept all the huge old trees and made sure that roses became part of the landscape.


The garden is divided into a series of ‘rooms’, a variety of areas which add to the interest. There are  more ‘cottagey’ and very English parts, and some very authentic French parts too, one of which is a courtyard garden which is incredibly simple with an old grape vine on one wall and a huge fig tree in a corner. When we bought the house this garden was totally overgrown; the fig tree had taken over and covered the area in shade, and the underlying grass was unkempt and full of weeds.



Two different shots of Susan’s antique French table and bistro chairs…both equally beautiful.

The vine had also been badly neglected, the entire space was a sad affair. After heavily pruning the fig tree and the vine, we put down weed-matting and gravelled the whole area.


We bought an old iron tub from a local brocante store; it was originally a pan used for sterilising wine bottles from the 1940’s. It makes a wonderful small water-feature.


In Spring and Summer, there is an outdoor brocante {flea market} somewhere every weekend; signs appear in villages and along the sides of the road advertising them and it’s a wonderful fun thing to do on a Saturday or Sunday morning. We usually give the children a few euros each and they go off hunting for their own treasure whilst we wander from stall to stall seeing if anything catches our eye. Sometimes we will visit with something particular in mind to buy and in some ways this is best as it helps to keep us focused!


A few weeks ago I was in search of a plant-holder for interior use. I wanted something that was preferably silver and it had to be large. Daughter no.2 and I set off one weekend before the rest of the house had even stirred. The brocante was about half an hour away but it was also in one of the prettiest villages in France and as a result it was already heaving with people when we got there.


Susan’s antique zinc buckets look amazing planted with flowers, don’t they?

We were not to be deterred though; we were on a mission. We moved swiftly from stand to stand, quickly eyeing up the items on sale and moving on before we had a chance to be tempted by anything else. It was not until nearly the very last one that we spotted a champagne bucket, but it was black with tarnish and we almost passed it by unnoticed.


We haggled the price down to something I was happy with, and were home before 10am! The rest of the family were all sitting around the kitchen table eating boiled eggs and croissants, and drinking orange juice and coffee – a typical Sunday breakfast. When we showed them our purchase it aroused little interest at all but I set to work cleaning it and two hours later it was on the sideboard and suddenly being noticed by everyone; now they love it!


Over the years we have picked up many items this way; we have bought old chandeliers and candelabra, copper pots and pans, zinc buckets which make great plant tubs and we amassed quite a few traditional washbasin enamel jugs. It’s very much a part of the outdoor season and one of the great things to do during the warmer months.


But life here is not just all about antiques and vintage items. There are so many other things we love about Living in France. Everything is undoubtedly that little bit slower, and no matter how hectic the pace and how busy we are, everything stops for lunch, it’s an important part of the day. Mealtimes are truly venerated in French culture, not just the ‘eating together’ part, but also the sourcing and cooking. Mealtimes are a traditional time for families to talk and bond, and to be truthful it’s become one of my favourite parts of the day.


We’ve always eaten dinner as a family, when we’ll discuss school and homework, plans for the weekend and what we have done that day. We might argue a point or two and we might laugh at a joke; it doesn’t really matter, the thing is we are all together. Even the school lunches are long and unhurried.

At our little local village school the 67 small pupils eat a three-course meal every day; the portions may be sensibly small but the food is excellent, and it’s one the things they all love most about French school – those lunches and the hour-long recess afterwards. Life is definitely less rushed here even in the schools!


Another thing we love about France are the fresh produce markets. Every town has a market at least once a week, and the larger towns will often have one two or three times weekly;  in the really big cities there are open-air markets every day, which are usually a mixture of indoor and outdoor stalls. This is very much still the way a lot of French people buy their produce, typically the French buy what is in season, so we don’t get strawberries in November or melons in January.  What we’ll do instead is feast on them when they do become available.


How adorable are Susan’s dogs, ready for their walk?

We are right in the middle of asparagus season at the moment. Asparagus is for sale everywhere, especially from local producers who sell it at small stands beside the road. We’re eating it every day, in a myriad of different ways, including our current favourite method of pan-roasting them with a little olive oil and garlic.


Soon we will be moving onto cherries and plums, and then apricots and peaches. This seasonal approach really makes one appreciate things so much more. Right now, with summer fast approaching we tend to live life and eat outdoors as much as possible. I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into our life in France.


Susan’s charming French home, restored and now home to her family. At night…it’s just as magical!

Thank you so very much, Susan, for giving us a glimpse into your charming French life! I am so very grateful that Susan took the time to write these posts for us. {I’m almost ready to move, you? }

To visit Susan on her own blog: Our French Oasis : Susan’s Instagram Our French Oasis on Facebook

Shop for the best in French Antiques, furniture with the patina of age, vintage accessories to delight you and your family & friends, and French Country utilitarian pieces. Treasures that make your home fresh, beautiful, inspirational and uniquely yours. Visit our shop

10 thoughts on “French Muse | Our French Oasis II”

  1. Karla Hatten

    So beautiful! Thank you for this peek into lives well lived.


    1. Karla, thanks for your visit! I agree, Susan and her family are living a beautiful life in France.

  2. It takes some digging, but you can find sometimes find great items at the vide greniers. That pitcher is lovely, they are getting more difficult to find.

    1. The pitchers without damage are really getting more difficult to find, I agree! I always search for the best ones I can find to sell at FrenchGardenHouse, ones without too much chipping in the enamel.

  3. Lidy, this is just beautiful! Outdoor spaces are just as important as the indoor spaces to me. Loved seeing this.

    Sharing today.

    1. I agree, Stacey, and an outdoor space in southwestern France? What’s not to love?

  4. Thank you to everyone for your comments, I so enjoyed sharing a little bit about our life in France, our garden and visiting the Brocantes and Vide Greniers. Hope you all have a lovely weekend, Bisous Susan

  5. John Paul

    Thank you Lidy, for this beautiful tour of your friend’s garden in France. What a lovely town. Our own farmhouse is similar, except, of course, that we have many of your treasured antiques decorating every room. We are excited about summer, hope yours is a very wonderful one.

  6. Sandy C

    Thank you for bringing us to this place in France. I always learn something from you Lidy, antiques, entertaining, travel. Love it!

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