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I had an excellent time at Natalie’s staying in a mini-suite of my own in her lovely house and garden.

She made me feel immediately welcome and at ease, adapting her speaking, both speed and use of language, to my modest understanding of French, reinterpreting difficult conversations that I had not fully understood between her and her friends or on our trips to various sites close to the house.

Her daughter visited from Paris for a few days and was equally helpful and welcoming, gently correcting my French but never making me feel stupid or over self-conscious when I did not understand or struggled to express myself.

Natalie’s food and cooking was also wonderful and the meals relaxed and informal, starting with a lovely breakfast and coffee, a picnic or excellent lunch, thé anglais around 4pm, apéros at 6ish, often with friends, and a nice meal later in the evening.

I have come away feeling more confident and less timid about speaking French, happier to initiate a conversation and grateful to Natalie for welcoming me into her house and involving me in her daily life.

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