Autumn has come, and the lawns surrounding my house in Ireland are carpeted with leaves in glorious colours. The view from my writing desk over the countryside is beautiful, and different, which brings a new energy to my writing. Still, a part of me misses the Mediterranean, azure beneath a cloudless sky, and the scent of lavender and sweet oleanders, and the drone of bees, and the dreamy, hazy heat – I miss my French home.
Every summer I travel to the Provence-
Our mas is set on a hill that affords wonderful views over the bay of St Tropez. Whether I am inside or outside writing, I am always positioned so that I can see the sea – the Mediterranean of my childhood. I write in the drawing room and at my desk, which has the most beautiful view, and all around the grounds.
As you can see, I am a keen gardener, and I like to grow plants and flowers whose colours and aromas inspire me. Vivid purple bougainvillea climb the front of my house, while in the beds I have delicate pink and yellow oleanders (beautiful and yet so poisonous; il ne faut pas se fier aux apparences!). My favourite of all is lavender. Parts of the garden are overgrown with lavender, so that the fragrance permeates the air and attracts bees and so many butterflies.
My time in France is not wholly spent at the mas, however. I also spend a lot of time at the beaches near Ste Maxime, sitting for hours, dreaming and plotting; and in the many pavement cafes in nearby towns, like Les Issambres, where I can sip a café latté and people-watch to my heart’s content. I love to explore the local area, too. The scenery within an hour’s drive of my house is absolutely breathtaking.
I especially love to visit the Gorges du Verdon, a stunning nature resort half an hour from our house. It is France’s Grand Canyon, a deep gorge through which the turquoise waters of the River Verdon flow. After a walk, I go to the village of Moustiers (pictured top left), which is quite simply one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. It is a village built on the side of a cliff, with a spring cascading down as a waterfall. Suspended between two cliffs is a golden star strung on a chain which, according to local legend, was hung by a knight during the Crusades. It is an ancient place, and a deeply inspirational one for me.
Of course, there are other places beyond France that I find inspirational, too. Ireland, where I am living this winter, has so captured my imagination that I have been reading up on its legends and thinking of a novel set on the Emerald Isle; and my travels over the coming months will no doubt spark my creativity as well. But my French home has a special place in my heart. Still, I am not sad to have left my little haven, for I know that it is waiting there for me, full of promise and serenity, and that next summer I will return and be inspired to write all over again.