Art Holiday Accommodation in SW France Details

Friday 21 December 2012


No, not quite. Just a doting granny and Jack from Toulouse.

Sunday 9 December 2012


Don't ask me why, but when checking how to spell Bonapart's name, I saw this weird spelling in an English biography and decided to use it. But when Lynne saw it she said, 'Don't be fucking stupid, Raymond - that's how you spell it in Italian.'
Tant pis, that's what happens when you can't spell to save your life.

Thursday 6 December 2012


Une manifestation s'est déroulée mardi après-midi à l'office de tourisme du Sud Albret en présence du maire Christian Bataille. Lors de la dernière exposition « Portraits de Mézinais », de l'artiste peintre local Ray Johnstone, une tombola avait été mise en place.

Le 1er prix étant un tableau et la réalisation du portrait du gagnant par Ray Johnstone. L'artiste ayant réalisé l'œuvre, il ne restait plus qu'à la remettre à la gagnante. Remise faite par l'artiste et Jean Grosselle à Laura Semana de Ramonville-Saint-Agne.

Wednesday 5 December 2012


Three paintings that may hang together in an apartment in Toulouse.
We'll have to wait and see.
Note: People without curtains should be careful what they get up to.

Monday 26 November 2012



Christmas News from SW Australia.

End of year Celebration and Coupe D'Antibes

Well, sadly le père Noël didn't make it to our annual gathering, but certainly many others did, including two rather protective hooded plovers who were  dive-bombing our pétanque players playing between the road and the archery alleys. The plovers chose to nest right on the edge of our designated pétanque "pistes" marked out the day before by Kerry, who protested  "The nest wasn't there yesterday!"
Forty seven members and friends, some from as far south as Eden and as far north as Bermagui gathered under the trees at Mandeni to sip cassis and champagne before the first round of pétanque was tackled. We needed courage for those pesky plovers! Then picnic tables and chairs were added to those already there and the French themed bunting was hung from trees. 

Clive R wins first prize in the tombola: Ray J’s painting of Napoleon                     

Saturday 13 October 2012


Sadly, it’s almost time to say goodbye. But we ended on a high note.

These pics are all of our  last day together in Gascony. Lunch at the Bastard Hotel and tasting pink champagne and Pousse Rapiere.


Ray said it was like bringing up a family. At first it seems like a long time, but we had a lot of fun and lots of laughs together. 
When it was time to leave, he and Lynne thought ‘well that’s a good job done – now we’ve got some free time on our own.

 Only trouble is, once they’ve gone, we’re going to miss them like anything. 

 Bon retour.
Bonne chance.
Bon voyage.
See you next time.

Friday 12 October 2012


This is Charlotte preparing us for a history of the water lily farm that supplied plants to the world famous 19th century French Impressionist Claude Monet.

These are the breeding ponds.

Here we are showing off out big boo... 
(Shut up Raymond! You can't say that on a blog, bless your heart.
OK, OK. I'll change it.) 
So, here we are showing off our big water lily pads which you can see in the background.

Now it's time to eat again.

Here we are learning all about Armagnac from Jean Ladeveze, a very well known local Armagnac maker.

There are sixty million people in France, which means about thirty million Frenchmen.
And guess what?
They all love pretty girls and Armagnac, and here's just one of them.

Thursday 11 October 2012


After an exhausting day's shopping (and eating) at Sarlat we spent the afternoon at Beynac Castle. 

The castle was built from the 12th century by the barons of Beynac. 

Here we are on the river side of the castle on top of the sheer cliff face that was sufficient to discourage any assault from this angle. 
But the defences were built up all round with double crenellated walls and double moats.

This area of the Dordogne saw numerous battles between the English and French which is why castles were built on both sides of the river which was the border between England and France in those days. 

The oldest part of the castle is a large, square-shaped, Romanesque keep with vertical sides and few openings, held together with attached watch towers and equipped with a narrow spiral staircase terminating on a crenellated terrace which is where we are in these photos. 

It sure as hell is a long way down. 
At the time of the Hundred Year's War, the fortress at Beynac was in French hands. The Dordogne was the border between France and England. Not far away, on the opposite bank of the river, you can just see a castle that was held by the English. 

This is the chateau's kitchen. 
Ray says all sheilas should spend all their waking hours in the kitchen and not be let out until they've finished preparing three meals every day, because that's what sheilas are for.
Which reminds us that it's nearly time for dinner.

Wednesday 10 October 2012


Seven young sheilas intimidating four elderly musketeers

Seven sheilas and a dirty road sign

Seven sheilas wearing their driver down

Four of the seven sheilas buying lots and lots of chocolate. (The other three are out of shot buying even more chocolate)

Tuesday 9 October 2012


When we arrived in the great medieval wine city of St Emilion, as you can see in the top pic, it was quite wintery.
Then we had a fabulous lunch at Amelia Canta under the umbrellas in the square.
And, guess what?
After the meal it turned out summer again.
Which just goes to show, when in doubt in  France, all you have to do is EAT.

Monday 8 October 2012


Breakfast at the Mill

Lunch en plein air at Le Vieux Pressoir

First, just after breakfast,  there was a compulsory forced march to Mezin market. We'd been told that it was flat as a tack most of the way (guess who said this).  But the truth is that the walk up the last few hundred metres to Mezin is the equivalent of the final stages of the ascent of Everest (now guess who said this). 

Most of us, as you can see, found things to buy at the Sunday morning market (especially hats).

Then it was off to a specialist duck restaurant for Sunday lunch wearing our new hats. Most people had - guess what?
Quite right: duck salad or duck jerky or duck magret or duck confit or duck dessert (just joking most people had creme brulee for afters).

Sunday 7 October 2012


Well, 10.30 came and went, and no sign of anyone in Toulouse. 
Difficult customs officials, grumpy security staff, missed planes, rude airline staff and missing baggage all conspired to get this group of friends off to a tricky start on their holiday in Gascony. 
Like boiling water, a watched-for plane never arrives - or the passengers don't anyway.
Then Ginny, Marty and Cil all got in from Paris on time - no worries. But no sign of the others. Frantic phone calls uncovered an email from London. Here it is:

Ray and Lynne,
Bonjour!  We have missed our flight to Toulouse.  We will now be arriving at 17:15PM today.
We don't know our flight number yet, either.
Look forward to seeing you then.
Debbie Eblen
Lisa Adams
Denise McKamey-Leschak
Debbie's iPad

Then Cindy arrived from Frankfurt. 

But what to do all afternoon until the others arrive? 
Problem solved: shopping in Toulouse. 
Afterwards we picked the others up on time - no sign of Denise's bag. 
No worries. We'll get it tomorrow. 
So, a few hours late we arrived at the Mill for our first glass of pink champagne and the meet and greet supper.

A quick bite to eat near St Sernin

A team shot at the Capitole in Toulouse

Tuesday 2 October 2012


It's almost time to say goodbye to Gascony.
The second of Lynne Macmillan's two fortnight long cooking groups is packing up and getting ready to leave.
A few days in Paris and then it's the long flight back home downunder.
At the great last night dinner at the Sotiate restaurant in Sos, June said a few words to thank Lynne for all her hard work .
She said that there were only three downsides she could think of.
The first was that, as usual, all good things must come to an end.
Then there was going to be an overweight problem - not with excess baggage but with extra bulk from good food and fine wine - and lots and lots of it.
And finally, everyone's  bank account had taken a bashing with all the fabulous purchases from wonderful shops in Toulouse, Auch, Lectoure, Condom and Nerac.
Just to prove her point, you can see in this photograph that if you want to get ahead, get a hat.

High fashion on display at the Mill

Bon voyage, bon fin de vacance et bon retoure en Australie. 

Friday 28 September 2012


Team photo outside Cafe de France (and outside the cathedral which you can't see because it's out of shot) in Eauze

Waiting for a Floc and Armagnac tasting at La Boubee where M Lavadeze is passionate about his metier.

A picnic en plein air at the Chateau de Laverdens

Three souvenir watercolour paintings of a medieval tower at Fources. 
Sorry none are for sale - the Guggenheim  already has options on them. 

Wednesday 26 September 2012


Tant pis, the gates were shut when we arrived for an early morning wine tasting. 

He's explaining how they make the bubbly stuff. 

And here we are with the guy who invented Pousse Rapiere, an appero the second in a row of which makes you feel as if you've been pierced with a rapier. And not many are left standing after a third.

A picnic lunch at La Romieu where the cats saved the village in the middle ages.
(Ask us about it when you see us).

In between the three frugal meals we have each day, we sometimes need a snack. 
(I was asked to delete this photo, but even between them they couldn't raise 
enough money for me to do so).

We think the fat guy in green is the driver.

Camembert, comte, St Agur, Brie de Meaux, Roquefort, brebi, or Morbier?
Oh let's just take a slice of all of them. 

One of the four gateways into the bastide village of Vianne. 

And there's always time for more shopping - no matter what.

Sunday 23 September 2012


Chocolate tasting to stimulate our appetites

A team shot at Nerac port on Saturday morning. 

We were so busy eating that no one noticed that  a meteorite had dropped into our midst.

This is the start of the walk to Mezin from Poudenas for the Sunday morning market.