Which Francophile hasn’t imagined packing it all in and heading off to France to open a chambres d’hôtes or a gîte business? Julia Stagg didn’t just dream it – she did it.
And now she’s carved out a career writing about it too.
She and her husband swapped Coventry for the delights of the Ariège-Pyrenees, where they bought and restored an auberge. Her debut novel, the appropriately titled L’Auberge, tells the story of an English couple who buy an inn in the Pyrenees. Cue village consternation at the prospect of boiled beef and carrots.
Or “les Anglais are in the kitchen and the French are up in arms”, as publishers Hodder and Stoughton marketed it when it was published in 2011.
The book’s a terrific holiday read. Smart and entertaining, it will satisfy anyone who’s ever contemplated relocating to France. (Good news: it’s readily available from Amazon.co.uk.)
Such was its success that a series grew out of it. For me, The French Postmistress, the third instalment, didn’t quite live up to the earlier books, but I’ll certainly keep an eye for the next one, A Fête to Remember.
After all, Julia’s novels are entertaining and her story is inspiring.