Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bienvenue to #8, Rue Porte Neuve

This is no ordinary 13th Century house!

‘Number 8, Rue Porte Neuve’ is an ancient village home owned by contemporary artist, Franny Golden, who has left her painterly mark on nearly every interior surface. Located on Francesca’s ‘royal road’, this creative retreat is a perfect place to immerse yourself in French village life- the butcher, the baker and local cafĂ© are at your doorstep; the rolling hills and fertile fields beckon for long leisurely walks or bike rides. Town and markets are but 10 minutes away in Nerac and Condom.

The living room features a traditional large fireplace and eclectic comfortable furnishings. Just beyond is the kitchen, painted with Franny Golden’s marvelous murals of food- evidence of the colorful farmers’ markets of the area, ceramic floor/mosaics, gas stove, refrigerator, contemporary lighting and 19th century buffet and table. Through the glass door is a raspberry-colored “utility room” with washing machine and bathroom (sink, toilet and shower). Step through French doors out and on to a charming walled courtyard garden inviting lunch al fresco and the quiet of a summer evening amidst the flowers, herbs, and twittering birds.

Ascending the stairway to the sleeping chambers is an important mural- a “tree of life” and an painted aviary of colorful birds. There are two roomy bedrooms: ‘Les Lys’ has a double bed and opens onto a balcony with table, chairs and flower pots and overlooks the petit jardin clos. Doors and walls of this room are painted with large, expressionistic lilies that perfumes the room. The larger bedroom opposite, ‘Le Boudoir', overlooks the Rue Porte Neuve and is furnished with antiques, among them two large bateau lits or sleigh beds. The large wall in this room is painted with a mural of classic nude studies.

Centrally heated with natural gas and built of thick stone walls, the house is toasty in winter and cool in summer months. It is clear from the murals and eclectic furnishings that the proprietress is a working painter and professor of beaux arts, and maintains a winter studio here, showin her colordul work in the gallery/atelier behind the house, which has a separate entrance next to the village church. Although not included in the rental, should one desire to paint/draw, a studio use fee can be arranged. There is also a third floor in the house, that the owner retains for private use and personal storage.

First mentioned in local history in 1025, Francescas is a bastide village founded in the by Edward I in 1286 when this region alternated under French and English domain. The bastide, originally with its surrounding wall, extended in either direction from a profound Romanesque Church. Built into the walls were residences separated by common walls. Inside the bastide, the old village was built to a grid layout, tiny streets connecting at right angles. At the center of the grid was, and still is an arcaded square.

If you wish to improve your French, or live among genial, and historically courageous Gascons, Francescas is a perfect place: a kind and friendly village, having lots of commerce: bakery, grocery, butcher, gas station/news agent, bank, pharmacy, post office, hairdresser, tailor, small bar/hotel, highly rated fine restaurant, small regional museum, and gendarmerie. Francescas is about 12 minutes from Nerac, 15 minutes from Condom, 20 minutes from Agen.