Every February 2, groundhog, Wiarton Willie (Punxsutawney Phil in the USA), pokes his head outside and decides our fate as to whether Spring is around the corner or if we still have weeks buried in snow and freezing temperatures. At least one of the cable TV networks runs the romantic comedy movie “Groundhog Day” on February 2 to mark the occasion.
Since the onset of the pandemic, it’s become a joke that every day seems like Groundhog Day. Are your weekends any more special than weekdays? Not at my house and I expect the same is so at your house too!
My groundhog routine still includes morning coffee, thankfully, but it’s served at my table in front of the fire instead of at my window seat at the cafe I used to frequent for my daily caffeine fix. Whereas I used to read during my morning routine, I’m now on my computer scrolling through the YouTube channels I’ve subscribed to. It’s been a godsend to have found my people online…those who share my love of gardening, travel and decorating. I’ve found a few channels that have incorporated all three topics in one!
My recent find online is the YouTube channel “How to Renovate a Chateau (Without Killing Your Partner). In the photo (left) is Philipp and Anna and in the background is their home, the Chateau Gonneville sur Honfleur, situated in the Normandy region of France. Anna moved from the UK to Paris when she was 23 to pursue a fashion and fabric design career with the House of Balmain. Phillipp is Italian and a filmmaker. They met in Paris, married and have two daughters. After deciding to leave their hectic lifestyle in Paris, they bought a chateau in the French countryside.
They bought the eighteenth century chateau 18 months ago with the idea of operating a guest house (bed and breakfast) in their home. The chateau requires a lot of work. A tight budget meant they would be doing most of the heavy lifting themselves. Although there is still much to do in their private living quarters, they have completed three guest rooms, a breakfast and evening salon and are now accepting visitors to their home.
Their YouTube channel only has five episodes to date, but they’re delightful, and I love what they’ve done so far. They respect the integrity of the chateau and make any renovations or decorating decisions with that in mind.
Below are some photos of the chateau that have been posted on their Instagram channel…le_fleur_honfleur.
The Chateau Gonneville sur Honfleur is filled with light. Large french windows in every room offer beautiful vistas in every direction. Although the chateau may be grander than most of our homes, it appears to be manageable compared to other properties I’ve seen on like-minded YouTube channels. The grounds have not been touched, but the couple has plans for a potager (Phillipp is the cook) and cutting garden for fresh floral arrangements in the chateau.
As you can see, the chateau looks amazing, and it’s a place I love to stay in one day. I’ve never been to Normandy and it’s a good excuse to visit the region on my next trip to Paris.
I was curious why so many British citizens have bought properties in France, especially old chateaus. The consensus is the love of nature, the freedom of a simpler lifestyle, local food and antique markets, and a warmer, sunny climate. Property values in France are a fraction of those in the UK. Since the Brexit talks began, property sales to British citizens in France have moved sharply upward knowing that if a property transaction was completed before December 31, 2020, they could stay in France indefinitely. The French government offers attractive tax incentives with the property owners’ commitment to open their homes to the public for at least 40 days a year.
Watching Phillipp and Anna lovingly renovate their chateau has inspired me to think about what else I could do around my home. The take away idea I’ve been mulling around is to add mouldings to the walls in my front entry and staircase.
Showing my own home love and taking care of it has given the biggest return on my investment. After spending so much time at home this year, I’ve come to appreciate the safe and comfortable haven it provides.
It’s not always necessary to tear everything apart…often it’s the little things that create a beautiful space to call home…
Where do you find your inspiration?