Click to enlarge the picture, and many thanks to Maggie and Michael Moss, and to Maggie's brother Ian, for providing this photo of their second home that is now our own.
We moved here, to Mas des Brun (Brown's house), in September. See what it looked like then, in the latest video at the end of this post. Sign up to our channel. We welcome your ideas and thank you for joining us throughout this renovation series. For the moment, we are brainstorming. (We hope to begin improvements in September 2013....) Please share this post with anyone who loves architecture or decoration!
mas (mahs) noun, masculine
: une ferme provençale, or Provencal farmhouse
Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc:
Un mas désigne une grande ferme en Provence.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
My first thought, on seeing the mas that would become our home, was c'est dommage! Funny words to utter on seeing the house of one's dreams!
"But what is wrong?" The realtor asked.
"The place charming—it is just what we are looking for," I explained, "but I wouldn't want to spend the night here alone! It's too secluded."
"Not at all!" Christine assured me. Come have a look!"
I followed our realtor as she ascended the stone steps beside the garage. As she walked, she chatted about the property. "My parents live on the other side of the forêt," Christine said, pointing to the trees at the head of the stairs. "I grew up here and know the neighbors, who are just around the corner. You'll see...."
We waded past some overgrown buissons, and minded our hides while passing some prickly pear cacti. Just above, a great boulder marked the edge of a glorious field carpeted in wild flowers. Beyond, we caught sight of an historic borie!
The view from the end of that field, where there is another well (inside this rock borie). You can just spy the boulder to the left of the photo, behind the chair. Below the boulder is the farmhouse.
Jean-Marc, the realtor and I stood at the edge of the clearing, two of us amazed to learn that part of the land belonged to the house we were visiting.
"Did you see the borie?! I elbowed my husband, who had already turned to the realtor.
"Is that part of the property?" Jean-Marc asked. How many times had my husband pointed out the stone structures, during a hike in the fields of Provence. More rare than the beloved stone cabanons, were the historic stone bories with their unmistakeable spheric shape. This one seemed to have a unique purpose as une couverture de puits. It covered yet another well that belonged to the ferme.
Christine confirmed that it was part of the property, along with all of the terrasses above it. We would visit those next, and admire the stone restanques that held the terrasses in place.
"Your neighbors!" Christine declared, and Jean-Marc and I brought our focus back to the field, in the middle of which a horse grazed peacefully. Just beyond, we saw the château.
I was delighted to discover the neighbor's potager and to see how the property was teeming with activity.... beginning with a couple of geese that rushed up complainingly.
So the place wasn't isolated afterall! It was alive and soulful. Geese! Chickens! A horse and dogs!
"Do you like sheep and goats? There are a few of those too..." the realtor smiled.
I couldn't wait to meet the neighbors, even if their châtelaine status was a bit intimidating. Then again, anyone with a yard full of chatty animals had to be down-to-earth kind of people.
Returning to the house, below, I gazed at its façade. The pictures we had seen didn't do it justice. It was a sweet and original farmhouse that had somehow escaped the horrors of modern renovation. The question now was, could we be as delicate and discerning in carrying on with the home improvements that were begun in the 70s? I would not want to gild the lys, as my grandmother used to say. And what a precious lily this was!
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Join Jean-Marc and me on an AMA river cruise beginning on the Seine in Paris, with a focus on Normandy! Click here to read the details.
le mas = Provençal farmhouse
c'est dommage = that's too bad
la forêt = forest
le buisson = bush
la borie = spherical stone structure, like a hut, found in the countryside of Provence where agricultural workers built them.
une couverture de puits = a cover for a well
la ferme = farm
la restanque = hand built stone wall terrasse
le château = castle
le jardin potager = vegetable garden
le châtelain, la châtelaine = a woman who owns a large house, a female château owner
le lys = lily
Where to Stay in France: a message from our sponsor
Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.
Lost in Cheeseland & an Interview!
I recently had the chance to be interviewed by Lindsey over at Lost in Cheeseland. If you have a minute, enjoy our chat, as well as my most recent French language hoop I failed to jump through.... Click here to read about it--and to enter to win a book!
VIDEO: If cannot see the following video of our home or mas, please click over to the French Word-A-Day blog, or to our YouTube channel (where you can sign up to be alerted to the latest videos that we upload). Having trouble hearing the video or viewing the full size? Click over to the channel to view.
Enjoy a funny thought bubble? Name this photo in the comments box. (Smokey left. His mama, Braise, is on the right)