St Jean, for hundreds of years a tiny hamlet at the foot of Cordes-sur-Ciel and sometime hospital for it’s larger neighbour, had fallen upon hard times.
It’s once beautiful buildings had all but collapsed. The bell at it’s 10th Century chapel had long since ceased to chime and it’s verdant land had been busily growing trees and climbers that were slowly claiming St Jean for their own.
And yet it was a jewel, albeit firmly ‘in the rough’.
A family – looking for a home, looking for peace and quiet to grow and be happy, tripped upon this beautiful but neglected corner of paradise and embarked upon a journey of love and renewal.
The family, now grown, lived amongst the rubble and the builders.
It was fun – frustrating sometimes, difficult often – a new home, a new country, a new language, but it was most definitely fun.
The four children made new friends, and very quickly St. Jean became the centre for many games, and much noise and laughter. Later, much later they were off to Madrid and beyond to learn another culture and another language but St. Jean remained home.
Along the way, serendipity kicked in – a future husband met at the local Cordes school, a future wife met in the classrooms of Madrid.
Yet always St Jean was their rock – sometimes to cling to but more often to build upon.
It is often said of parents that the greatest gift they can grant their children is to give them roots to grow and wings to fly.
St. Jean, this little bit of paradise deep in the south west of France, gave them their roots and certainly gave them the confidence to try their wings out for size.
St. Jean has, some 25 years later, been transformed.
It provides spacious, comfortable and above all else homely peace and tranquillity.
The four children: Ali (along with husband Tom), Jamie (along with wife Katia), Chris and Matthew all have a strong sense that their loving, re-invigorating home should be enjoyed by others – effectively to broaden the St Jean ‘family’.
This may be for a spiritual or sporting retreat, it may simply be for that extra special family event – a place to gather, a place to reconnect…