Living, surviving, thriving in rural France

Honor Marks on her life in rural France.

Honor and her dogWhen I look back at my life so far, I can hardly believe that I, Honor Davis Marks, a cosmopolitan city girl at heart, now live in rural France.

I moved here almost ten years ago and my journey has been full of good and bad times but overall, I am extremely proud of my adopted country and the wonderful gîte business I have created, Maison de la Roche.

My now ex-husband and I moved here when our daughter was just four years old. None of us spoke French but we craved the climate of this arid region and the beauty of the big blue skies. We undertook the restoration of our home, a former wine domain that had been neglected for years, and it was a full time hands-on slog to modernise it. Although my ex took on the bulk of the heavy work, I became chief labourer and I can honestly say that the beautiful and comfortable home we created is thanks to the hard work we both put in. When I look at it, je ne regrette rien – as the French say!

We have created three gîtes which all sleep four, a secret garden and a beautiful swimming pool. Right on our doorstep are a plethora of opportunities to get a taste of real France. We really do live in a glorious part of this fair land.

outdoor pool at Honor's homeFerrals les Corbieres is a small village within the Aude department of southern France, and close to the city of Narbonne. Nearby is Carcassonne, a UNESCO heritage site where Walt Disney found inspiration for the castle that proclaims the start of each of his films. Minerve, a village that clings to the gorge in the heart of the Minervois wine region, is also on our doorstep. The closest beaches are in Gruissan, located on the edge of the Parc Naturel Régional de la Narbonnaise en Mediterranee. A quick drive brings you to Lake Homps and endless bicycle paths along the Canal du Midi.

We keep the gîtes available throughout the year and I pride myself on offering all our guests a service that is second to none. See our Tripadvisor feedback for reviews!

Our daughter is now 13 and she has thrived. She is fully bilingual and after a slow start – the French didn’t really understand about playdates as younger children tend to be looked after by extended family rather than socialising out of school hours – she has a huge circle of friends and enjoys all that France offers. I consider us fully integrated into the village and region and I have lots of French friends and thankfully, I can now speak the lingo!

outdoor seating at Honor's homeRegrettably, my daughter’s father and I split up just over a year ago. It was unexpected and of course it has been completely devastating. I have had some very bad moments and still have them from time to time but I do believe in myself and when I flail I try to think of myself as a positive role model for my daughter and this helps to lift me and boost me along.

Women are strong and one of the wonderful things about us is that we are never too proud to ask for help. Over the last year I have endlessly sought support from my friends and received it unconditionally. The strength of women is a miraculous thing. I miss the marriage that I thought I had and I hope to meet someone else in the future but I am thankful that my ex is still living nearby and hope that he and my daughter will be able to enjoy a good relationship irrespective of the breakdown of our marriage; getting that right is one of my priorities.

Other than that, my plan for the future is to continue to offer the guests who come to stay in my gîtes a wonderful holiday. I want our visitors to fall in love with France just as I have myself. I try to enrich their holiday experience so that everyone who visits Maison de la Roche leaves with a trunk full of happy memories.

  • I stumbled upon your post from Twitter and love your story. I am so glad for you that you managed to stay with your gites and continue after all the hard work. I too have a love affair with France but only holiday rather than live there at the moment. I hope to be able to spend more time in France as my children become more independant. I admire your brave move and hope everything continues well for you… Annette

    • Thank you Annette – that is really kind of you to say. Do come and stay with us and follow me on Twitter so I can keep you up todate of all the lovely things there are to do around here. I can’t do this without you all!!
      Honor x