Rent our house for the Marciac Jazz Festival


We have decided that it may be time to throw open the doors to La Maison to paying guests. Although we would love to be there for the entire summer (and in the case of my husband, he actually could be there for the entire summer as he works for himself!) we’ve decided that we should probably try to make the house start paying for itself.

We’ve invested so much over the last four years to get it up to speed and make it a lovely place to holiday that is seems a shame for us to be the only people to get use from it. And there is a very popular jazz festival that takes place just down the road from us every year, bringing with it dozens of tourists etc (see our Marciac Jazz Fest experiences here) and if YOU are one of those tourists, our house would be perfect for you.

The way I see it, Jazz lovers are probably the type of people who will appreciate the charm of La Maison. They will like it’s real fires, slightly rustic sensibilities and quirky interiors. Best of all, it’s big enough to fit Akerbilk and his band almost so if you are two families it is a bargain!


  For lot more pics and all the details of how to rent click here for our Air BnB listing.

Mum and Dad and Marciac and Jazz


When Grandad and Gran came to stay…

My Dad loves jazz. But not in a ‘smokey, dingy basement bar with people in roll necks listening to students with a double bass’ jazz. What my Dad likes is big band stuff or ragtime or the kind of jazz that you’d imagine you’d hear on a New Orleans’ paddle steamer. And luckily for him (and it turns out for us as we’ve been every year since we bought our house in France) one of the world’s best jazz festivals takes place 15 minutes drive from La Maison Blanche.

The Marciac Jazz festival runs for a week (or it might be two don’t quote me) during the month of August in a sleepy, quaint French village. Only its not sleepy at all for those weeks – it comes alive like the Enchanted Wood at night. Some of the world’s best jazz musicians descend and although jazz is not really my thing and I’ve never really heard of any of them (I think Jamie thingy who is married to Sophie Dahl may have been there one year but I couldn’t swear on it) the atmosphere is amazing as our sleepy little Marciac is filled with music, wine and even stalls selling touristy tat.


Ice cream is crucial when jazz listening!

Each of the restaurants in the village expand into tents in the market square and there is an ice cream seller with around 100 different flavours. And each year we book a table at Le Monde A L’Envers a great restaurant on the square and we eat fine food, drink fine wine and listen to the jazz bands playing in the square. And when the kids were smaller they would dance but are now far too cool for such things. But as it turned out they could hand that mantle over to someone else this year. As the square got dark and the jazz got louder everywhere around us people started to dance. And when we lost Mum and Dad for a little while we wondered what on earth could have become of them but it turned out they had found a corner of the square where a band were playing and people were dancing so they’d joined in. A proper dance that only parents seem to know how to do.

And my Dad declared it was his best night out for years.

You can rent our lovely house if you are thinking of visiting the Marciac Jazz Festival click here for details.

Meanwhile, back at Summer 2013


Sunshiney home

I’ve veered off on a tangent. Which is what happens when I actually get to our french house – I want to show you all pictures in real time but if that happens I’ll lose my train of thought and the narrative bits of our story. Yes its finally nice, we can sit in one room and be warm and dry while others sit in a different room and concurrently experience warmth and dryness. Fancy that?

Its the house we always dreamed of and in Summer 2013 we threw open the doors, shutters and all other apertures of La Maison Blanche to a host of fabulous guests. I spent the longest I ever have over there with my husband and sons (regular blog readers will have read tales of my separate summers but it not click here .) And despite my usual bouts of ‘oh god why can’t I be in some sort of organised resort with a kids club’ woes – this summer was the summer I saw the value of our french folly.

Iphoto is a wonderful tool – you can spend hours just flipping through a visual history of key moments of your life (daubed with a healthy selection of selfies/foodstagrams and comedy videos if you’re anything like me!) and, if you’re like me, you can sit back and say WOW my life looks bloody amazing! If looking at other’s facebook feeds can sometimes make you want to slash your wrists in terms of self underachievment (just this week I had people posting everything from first class flights to Barbados, to Billie Piper at their new year’s eve party!) Then my iPhoto feed serves to provide just the opposite.
A quick scroll through one year of photos makes you realise just how much we pack into our lives. And how many amazing people wander in and out of it along the way, family, friends and this summer some porcine friends too.


Ride on time!

And so it is with summer 2013 – an iPhoto scan shows the White Family on our own having fun, the white family plus my parents having jazz fest fun, the white family and possibly one of our all time fave guests – baby Io having fun and finally us plus The joyous Murray Leslie family having fun with rope swings, camels and more. So really it’s several blog posts to come. But here’s the visual whistle />


Gran and Grandad!


When kids do daycare


Kids, animals and other stuff

Oh and then there was the arrival of Dawn and Cora….. But that’s definitely another blog post!


Two little pigs

Day tripping


We were still finding our way around the Gers. It’s a little known part of France without the glamour of Côte d’Azur or quaint picture postcard lavender fields of Provence. And as we’d bought the house without any advance planning or investigations we really had no idea what we would do for every holiday, for the rest of our lives in this part of France. Drink wine? Eat cheese? We did by now have French versions of trivial pursuit and scrabble but this alone could not fill four, two week holidays a year. We had a striped hammock for lazy day, book reading and we had explored a host of local eateries (in the early weeks with no heating or water, we ate out just to keep warm and use a nice toilet) our nearest restaurant is called Les 3Bs and serves everything with a nouvelle cuisine style whipped sweet potato mousse. Hake, pork or beef all with sweet potato mousse. And aguilettes de canard for the kids. But after almost a year in the house we could barely utter the words sweet potato without feeling billious. Besides, eating and drinking could not fill our days (well it could but we’d all be the size of pavarotti by the end of the holidays) so we began some local explorations. Here are our some of our favourite finds should you ever find yourself in the Haute Pyrenees or Gers.

1. The Maison des Chamaux
As I’ve already blogged, our friends Paul and Sarah Bird run a fabulous animal park only fifteen minutes drive away. And as we were now friends we could see camels and drink wine concurrently. This is not the same experience for paying visitors. But go anyway as its fun. Camels can be stroked, goats are jumped through hoops and wool is spun. My personal fave are the pigs. In mud. Happy as.

2. Biarritz
My craving for a slice of old school glamour led us on a day trip to Biarritz. A two hour drive but a place that makes me feel like I am actually on holiday. Chic people, posh restaurants and a faded glamour. The beach is big and if not directly in season, not too busy. We built sand castles, ate salad nicoise and wished we had more time to rent boogie boards.

3. Le petit train d’artouste
Discovered when our friends Ian and Alice came to stay. A good, almost two hour drive into the mountains, this is a cable car ride to a tiny train which then takes you on an hour long ride around the edge of a mountain. Best of all, along the way are dozens of beavers which being the only English people on the train we took great delight in shouting each time we saw one. Leslie nielson eat your heart out. At the end of the route is a great walk to the top of a mountain lake and a great sense of satisfaction that we had lung fulls of mountain air to flush out the night before’s peach schnapps marathon. Then, as bad fortune would have it, but giving us something to remember the day by, on the way back the train tombe en panne. We had to walk the final kilometre to the car park, dodging beavers as we went. But as we trudged wearily back to our car, we agreed that Beavers and Breakdowns would be the perfect title should Ian ever write an autobiography.
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4. The Marciac Jazz Festival
For which Uncle Ricard came to stay and did his best akerbilk impressions. The one thing guaranteed to send the children into spasms of embarrassment is uncle richard’s singing. Made worse only if I join in sonny and Cher style. Made even worse if the song in question can be sung ‘club singer style’. So imagine their horror and our joy to discover the local jazz festival which runs through the month of August features not only real, snare drum and trumpet style jazz, but also, New Orleans style jazz bands in the town square where you can all sing and dance along. The village of Marciac is taken over each night for a month by tented restaurants, bars, ice cream vendors and jazz bands so you can sit outside, eat amazing food and sing as you eat to ‘when the saints come marching in’. And on a balmy summers evening tHere really is nothing nicer, even when uncle Richard insists on conducting himself throughout the meal in his ‘dobby the free elf’ voice (dobby LOVES Harry Potter….) and Sebastian danced for a crowd, and we all had massive ice creams and Arthur prayed for a replacement family.

I could go on, but suffice to say, we had found plenty to do in our funny little, unfashionable part of France. And when all else fails, there IS French trivial pursuit where you can answer Charles de Gaulle or Vanessa Paradise for everything!