Our house has a large eat-in kitchen on the ground floor, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor and a large sitting room on the top floor. It can sleep six comfortably, as we have double beds in each bedroom and a double sofa bed on the top floor. Some of the furnishings - including a seven-foot-long kitchen table and a four-poster bed - come from east Africa, where we lived for five years. There is a small courtyard garden, with large table and chairs on a patio.
The house is renovated, but we won’t pretend it’s fit for a magazine photo spread. It has its imperfections: the hot water heater is beside the kitchen windows for all to see, the toilet is a bit cramped and on the ground floor, and some of the stairs creak. But the house has warmth and character, like the huge exposed oak beams in the kitchen, refinished wood floors in the bedrooms and the skylight on the top floor.
The house is equipped with stove, fridge, washing machine, TV and DVD player, and two portable stereos. We like to cook so our kitchen is well-stocked. We have two bikes, tennis rackets, lots of novels and non-fiction, and toys, games and books for kids.
This is a part of France that is packed with chateaux from the Middle Ages, painted prehistoric caves, some of the best vineyards in the world and quaint villages built of honey-coloured stone. The Dordogne is also known as Perigord, considered the home of foie gras and truffles. Some highlights: The valley of the Dordogne River, where you can visit 800-year-old hilltop villages like Domme and Beynac or canoe past chateaux. The prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux. Castelnaud chateau, which survived the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion. St. Emilion, a gorgeous hillside town surrounded by vineyards producing famous wine. And the sophisticated cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse are close enough for day-trips.
Issigeac is in many ways a quintessential French village. Mealtimes dictate the rhythm of life. The main sounds of the village are the ringing of the church bells and the cooing of the doves … there’s virtually no car noise because traffic is routed around the lines of the village’s old walls.
You can walk from one end of Issigeac to the other in about three minutes, but you never would, because you’d be stopping to say bonjour to the people along the way, or you’d be popping into one of the three bakeries for your morning croissant. The rest of the village shops offer enough variety that you can get pretty much whatever you want to eat or drink on foot: two grocery stores, an organic food shop, two butchers and a wine shop. If you don’t feel like cooking, there are three restaurants, three café-bars, and a tea-room. A few artists have chosen to live in the village and sell their work from ateliers in their homes.
The village is at its best on Sunday mornings during the weekly market. Fruit and vegetable stands form the heart of the market in the central square. Lining the streets are stalls that specialize in chicken, cheese, fish, olives, fresh juice, crèpes, foie gras, seafood, paella, sausages, plus whatever local produce is in season.
We are a Canadian family of four. He is a journalist, she consults for international aid agencies. We have two young children. We are currently based in Toronto, although we have lived in Montreal, Vancouver, Nairobi (Kenya), and Accra (Ghana).