Caroline

My work with Hosted Villas comes to me naturally because the house where I am the Local Host, Château Espérance, is my family home, and I was born nearby. So I’ve known and loved this area all my life.

My father runs a well-known business in fine foods and I always wanted to do something connected with that, so I trained for 9 years in Paris and worked in two hotels, one of them being the Four Seasons George V. 

Three years ago I came back to look after the Château, and now I live in the village a few minutes away, with my son Mathieu who is 4 and daughter Joanne who is 16 months old. It’s a lively village with a great bar/café in the square, several restaurants, some reasonable shops and a wonderful weekly market that the best local producers come to. It’s so handy that we can just walk there with the children.

Before I was married I traveled quite a bit and I’ve visited Peru, Singapore and China. I also had 2 years training in Switzerland and 10 months in Canada, in Vancouver and Toronto. So I’m glad I can put all that to good use now that I’m home again!

As I grew up here, I like to find new and unusual things for our guests to do. One of the most fun is canoeing -- it’s a great way to see the scenery from the water and there are lots of places along the river where you can stop off for a picnic on a secluded island among the willow trees, or in a picturesque riverside village for a drink, a coffee, ice-cream, or a delicious full length meal. 

This is one of the best areas of France for fine dining and there are several Michelin-starred restaurants. In fact, one of the best, Le Pont de L’Ouysse, is just half an hour from the house. Of course there are plenty of less formal places as well, each with their own way of serving duck and goose foie gras, something this region is famous for. Black truffles and cèpes mushrooms are another great specialty here – I love them! Walnuts in every shape and form are another local treat, and you’ll see groves of walnut trees everywhere.

In the larger towns there are brasseries that serve food much of the day, but visitors do have to remember that in the smaller towns and villages people still do things in the traditional way. Generally all the shops and services shut between 12 and 2pm while everyone goes out to lunch. Another thing to remember is that most of the roads in this area are quite winding, so when you are planning a trip, please accept your Local Host’s advice about how far you’ll be able drive in any given hour! 

There is no end to the fascinating places you can visit around here and the different things to do. But part of the secret of enjoying it all is not to rush about. Take time like the locals do, to savour the moment and let this time-hallowed atmosphere work its special magic. We can guarantee that you‘ll want to come back for more!