Happy New Year TWG’ers!!! Usually I would have my top books of the previous year up by now, however I have an extract for my first blog tour of the year instead!
Let Lucy Coleman transport you to glorious, sun-drenched France, for the perfect feel-good read.
Paris and the Palace of Versailles have always meant a lot to TV producer Lexie. Her grandma Viv spent a year there, but her adventures and memories were never discussed, and Lexie has long wondered why they were a family secret.
When work presents the perfect excuse to spend Springtime in Versailles, Lexie delves into Viv’s old diaries and scrapbooks, and with the help of handsome interpreter Ronan, she is soon learning more about the characters that tend to the magnificent gardens, now and in the past.
In amongst the beauty and splendour of the French countryside, a story of lost love, rivalry and tragedy unfolds. Can Lexie and Ronan right the wrongs of the past, and will France play its tricks on them both before Lexie has to go home? Will this truly be a Springtime to Remember…?
Standing here in front of this pretty little cottage, its pale grey paintwork with the tiniest hint of blue reflecting that rustic, French vibe, I take a moment to gaze up at the façade of my home for the next few months. It’s every bit as quaint as it looked in the photos on the agency website and I couldn’t be more delighted.
It’s one of six mews cottages clustered around a beautiful, and very old, cobbled courtyard. With two cottages on each of the three sides facing the entrance, it’s a gated community in miniature, hidden away behind a row of four-storey buildings with shops and offices at ground-floor level, and apartments above. The buildings act as a welcome sound barrier, given the proximity of the bustling Avenue De Paris, the central artery of three main thoroughfares leading to the iconic Palace of Versailles.
The entrance to this very secluded hideaway is two enormous, ornate metal gates sandwiched between a charming little café and a boulangerie. It couldn’t be more perfect, or more enchanting, and is an oasis of tranquillity just metres away from the busy chaos of the streets.
Number Six, La Cour Céleste abuts the high wall that runs behind the rear of the properties on the main road and, whilst rather modest in size, these wonderful little cottages have the feel of robustly built and characterful stone houses in miniature. Each property has a golden emblem set above the front door, based on a celestial theme. Number six has a star; the others feature the sun, a moon, a planet, an angel and a King’s crown. The latter, no doubt, a reference to the Sun King himself, Louis XIV.
There are no delusions of grandeur because of the simplicity of style, but at three storeys high and with the trademark grey slate, Mansard-style roof – often referred to as a French roof – the four sloping sides do make it rather whimsical. Three elaborate dormer windows with the traditional lead dressings make the scale pleasing to the eye. It’s not just a roof, it’s a statement and one repeated throughout the city of Versailles.
The ground-floor frontage of number six comprises an integral garage, next to which is a storage facility accessed by double wooden doors. A few feet the other side of that is the entrance. A standard rectangular building face-on, inside it only extends back the depth of one room, albeit generously sized.
The lintels and reveals around the garage, doors, and windows have been fashioned from huge pieces of stone and are beautifully preserved. The whitewashed stonework contrasts nicely with the soft colours of the paintwork and the attention to detail adds to the overall charm.
None of the other properties have a garage, I’m surprised to see, but mainly because there are four raised flower beds housing manicured shrubs and a couple of medium-sized trees. Three of the properties have weathered metal chairs and bistro tables in front of them and, together with the greenery, it feels neighbourly and well loved.
I’m tempted to check out the garage first, grateful I went for a smaller, economy hire car, which I hope will fit easily inside. Street parking is notoriously difficult so close to the palace. The taxi had to double park while I popped into the boulangerie to collect the key and the entrance code for the gate.
Instead, I turn the key in the front door and lug the two suitcases inside. After more than a year of planning, it’s all suddenly happening and it’s hard to take it in. I’m buzzing with optimism and I can’t wait to get started. But first things first.
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