A ‘coup de cœur’ is the eloquent expression the French use when describing ‘love at first sight’, which is what we experienced when we discovered the medieval village of Montréal. That feeling has never left us over the twenty years we have lived here. We had previously worked in London for the BBC, and Christine found that for two years she could commute weekly from Montbard, a half an hour’s drive away, where the TGV to Paris connected her to the Eurostar and delivered her to London before midday. A travel option many of our guests use.

In the following years we have become fully integrated into the village, which is part rural, part second homes for Parisians. It is a delightful mix of cultures all coming together for local traditions and festivals. The highlight being the medieval pageant in August where most of the village takes part in unfolding the fascinating history of Montréal. I am often invited to play the English King, Edward the Third who laid siege to Montréal, in 1380. As this is a somewhat controversial part, I try to opt for performing as a jolly monk, which also avoids the necessity of wearing tights.

Christine walks the medieval St James’s routes across Europe, one of which starts close to us in the beautiful town of Vézelay. She has written a light-hearted book ‘Walking Back to Happiness’ describing her experiences, plus three children’s book ‘Cowardy, Cowardy Custard‘ which are published in both French and English and her first novel ‘Jack be Nimble which was published in 2022. I keep busy as the president of a small music society. We have concerts in our barn, both classical and popular, occasionally hosting choirs from the UK who wish to travel abroad and perform as part of a holiday break. The money we raise supports children in their musical studies.

The surrounding country-side and the Morvan National Park are the perfect place if you love animals. We have a Bearded Collie, eight year old Crumble, plus our cat Rhubarb who rules the roost. During Covid our son William converted our medieval bread oven into a small pizza establishment, and is happy to offer gourmet pizzas to our clients when he is in residence at Maison Crème Anglaise. We grow vegetables with the help of our gardener Henri, and pumpkins in the Autumn – Christine’s passion. Our apple and cherry trees supply us with fresh fruit for the table.

Graham Battye.