• Daily life

    Lockdown at Maison de la riviere

    Hello from Maison de la riviere! We hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during the lockdown. We’ve been busy enjoying the lovely weather bestowed upon our region since the lockdown and making the most of our free time, with land maintenance and repairs, in expectation of the end of confinement and the return of our customers. But of course, we are not all about hard work only. We also keep in touch with our friends and loved-ones through carefully-executed greeting cards, such as the ones below. And when we’re not being creative or hard at work, we focus our attention towards the most fortunate member of the Maison…

  • Our journey,  Work in progress

    One year of Maison de la riviere

    It’s hard to believe that we’re already celebrating one year in business. After a painstaking nine-month renovation project that costs us a few neurons and damaged muscles, as well as a few quid, we were finally in business. Come December 2018, we welcomed our first group of guests. Apart from my humble waitressing career more than a decade ago and the customer servicing skills I have acquired during my many years as account manager in advertising, I had no experience in hospitality. Neither did my husband, a self-confessed ‘hater’ of people. But thanks to his remarkable design skills and my irresistible charm, it appears that we managed to strike the…

  • Our area,  Things to do

    The Bayonne Ham Festival

    A few weeks ago, we came across the Bayonne Ham Festival during another one of our many DYI store trips to the French Basque capital. It became evident that something big was happening in town when we saw cars parked all over the roundabouts, miles before we got anywhere near the centre. When we finally reached the banks of the river Nive, we understood why. Dating back to 1462 (yes, that’s right!), Bayonne Ham Fair takes places every year during the Easter weekend. Over 30 local producers compete in showcasing their produce. Three different elements — pigs bred for meaty, muscly back legs, a rich diet of grains and nuts…

  • Welcome to Frenchfully

    Meet Rum

    A little over a month ago, we welcomed a much-awaited new member of our animal family into the world: Rum, the baby pony. His mother, Isla, has been with us since June las year and she was already pregnant. A few weeks ago, Rum arrived during the night. Since his arrival, he has become something of a local attraction. He is a friendly little fellow and loves a cuddle and a back rub! But of course, we first have to pay the tax to his mother Isla who won’t accept anything less than a handful of delicious grass!   Our guests couldn’t get enough of baby Rum. And who can…

  • Our journey

    One year of Frenchfully

    It’s hard to believe we’ve lived in France for over one year. It’s hard to believe that three days ago we celebrated one year of Frenchfully (the blog). But what’s even harder to believe is how much we’ve packed in one year! We arrived in Biarritz in November 2017, with no idea what the future had in store for us. We were excited about starting a new chapter; a new adventure in a new country. We were fed up with life in the big smoke and yearned for the comfort and peace promised by the countryside. A few days later we moved into our new forever home, Maison de la…

  • Day trips,  Our area,  Things to do

    Autumn in the Pyrenees Atlantiques

    As the nights are drawing closer and the smell of burning wood lingers in the air, one knows that autumn is truly here. And although the changing colours of the trees and the crackling sound of broken leaves under feet delight people everywhere in the world, there is a lot to be said about the bucolic peace and sense of wonder one will encounter on a walk through the many quiet roads that criss-cross our region. From the village of Jasses, just outside the fortified village of Navarrenx, we took a country lane that lead us through copper-coloured forest. Half an hour later, we left the forest behind and stepped…

  • Events

    Hosting our first wedding

    On 8th September 2018, Irina and Leigh took their vows at Maison de la riviere. I’ve known Irina for more than ten years. She is one of my best friends and she was my chief bridesmaid at our wedding, two years ago. It was an honour and a pleasure to suggest that the wedding they envisaged (‘We really loved your wedding,’ they said. ‘We want something similar’) was entirely possible at our new home in France. Why not? They’d get the perfect wedding venue and we’d get another challenge (as if we hadn’t set ourselves up enough challenges) and the opportunity to spend time with friends we hadn’t seen in…

  • Our journey

    Launching Maison de la rivière

    Alistair and I have been trying since the day we got on that plane to Biarritz on 6th November 2017, leaving London for good. Nine months went by and we finally had a baby: Maison de la rivière . Ok, I know that’s not a baby in the traditional sense, but it’s a baby nevertheless. A baby we gave our sweat to, our tears, our days, our nights, our money and, to a certain extent, our health. What was supposed to be a straightforward project of decorating, turned out to be more of a full-on renovation. Walls had to be cleaned of wallpaper, then left to dry out the moisture…

  • Daily life,  Our journey

    A quiet and predictable life

    This morning I go through my Facebook feed and read a post about a friend who lived close to where we used to live in London (Streatham) listing all the lovely things she will miss about her house, as she prepares to move to a new home, and all the things she wouldn’t miss. ‘Pollution and grime. Not feeling safe enough to walk to or from the station after dark. No sense of community.’ To which somebody posts a comment saying ‘There isn’t much sense of community anywhere.’ It makes me think of the conversation I’ve had with Alistair a few days ago when, reminiscing about our former life, we…

  • Biarritz,  Day trips

    Day trip to Biarritz

    Alongside the beaches of Portugal and, of course, Cornwall and Devon, the South Western coast of France is a well-known European surfing spot since 1957, when the American writer Peter Viertel decided to open a surf club in Biarritz, thus bringing this sport to Europe. Surfing is such an integral part of life of the people of Biarritz that it is given as an option to students for their baccalaureate exams. But Biarritz is not only about the surfing. It has been the destination of choice for the rich and famous since 1854 when Napoleon III and his Spanish wife Eugenie, chose Biarritz as a summer residence. Since then, it…