What was your life like before Gascony?
This is the only part of France I have lived in, I spent 11 years in Madrid and then 13 years in Barcelona, where I ran a language academy just off the Passeig de Gràcia, so I had a very different lifestyle.
We came here looking for a more rural and peaceful life, less materialistic and less insecure and we have been lucky enough to find it. Life here follows the rhythms of the countryside so it is very quiet in the winter and it is always a joy to come home and light the wood burner. In the summer there are festivals, markets, parties pretty much every day so you to pace yourself!
Maybe you could explain how you became such a talented polyglot?
Some people are good at math…
Which language do you speak at home?
We speak Spanish and English at home, with a bit of Catalan mixed in?
Bliss has two great advantages that other agencies have a hard time competing with: it has an elegant and visually stunning website and a really close personal relationship with clients.
What is your favourite part of the job? I absolutely love discovering the beautiful old properties and gardens that abound here; the French have an amazing amount of patrimony. Coming from Canada, I think I perhaps have a greater appreciation of the history than many Europeans, who tend to take it for granted that there might be a 14th century archway in their living room or basement.
Who is your favourite French author? / musician?
I have always loved Amin Maalouf, does he count as a French author? I read a lovely book by Anne Cuneo but never sadly found anything else by her. And Michel Tournier is another favourite.
Sadly, I still love Garou, who is so definitely Québécois! But there is so much great French music, I am happy to listen to almost anything that comes on the radio.
What is your favourite French/Gascon meal?
It sounds like a cliché but I love magret de canard with an ice-cold glass of Pousse Rapière.
How has growing up for your daughter here in the Gers been different from your own childhood.
My daughter has never been sent out to play at -15C ‘because it’s a nice day’. But seriously, she has had a very happy childhood here, much more rural than mine but surprisingly cosmopolitan for such a small community. She has learned how to take care of chickens, geese and peacocks and has never had to shiver at the school bus stop at -30C.
How is life in Gascony different than life in the other countries in which you have lived?
The lifestyle here is very simple, there is no consumerism or desire to show off, which is refreshing. I find it great that people recycle or upcycle so much instead of throwing things away. There is a great love of antiques and vintage items which I share!
Is there one thing which particularly surprised you?
The first time we sat down to a community meal at a trestle table with a paper tablecloth, plastic utensils and wine served in washed-out milk bottles was a real eye-opener! But we loved it once we got over the shock and now we are regulars at our local night markets.
What to your mind is the most unforgettable thing about Gascony? Perhaps you could name something both good and bad.
When you arrive in Gascony and open your car window, the air smells like perfume – a wonderful mix of flowering trees, earth and growing things. I have often said that you could bottle the air here and make perfume, it’s just amazing. You only have to go to Toulouse for a day and come back and you notice it. On the down side, the beach is so far away!
I know you love reading detective books in German – what else do you love to do in your free time?
I look after my chickens and my garden and to be honest I read anything and everything I can find.
Best kept secret?
I have never been to a night market that wasn’t great fun.