After graduating from university in Paris, Amy de Leusse took a job that meant she could stay on abroad. It also allowed her to save up a deposit for the cottage in the Gers that she later discovered was being sold by the same family she once worked for. Some things are obviously just meant to be.
With the help of her now husband, Pierre-Emmanuel, Amy has transformed La Petite Maison du Gers into a chic holiday let that she opens up to others who it is hoped will, like her, keep coming back for more in the Midi-Pyrénées…
La Petite Maison du Gers is set within the village of Saint-Orens-Pouy-Petit and surrounded by fields and vineyards. Here there are more tractors on the roads than mopeds. It’s a far cry from the urban environment of France’s first city.
So was her adoptive French family surprised to see Amy come back to the area where she had spent six of her summers? “No,” she says, “I was in love with the region and the house was a perfect project… not too big and lots of potential.” It sounds ideal for a first time buyer, if not second home buyers too.
There was no major building work required, but the temptation to tear things down or knock something through can still prove too much for some. Not Amy though, who freely admits, “I am always looking for projects at the house and things
to improve, but it is hard!” There was nothing she didn’t like.
All it really needed was to be furnished and decorated. “We decorated the house in a neutral and simple style,” Amy explains, taking inspiration from French culture and looking at other traditional farmhouses in the area for ideas.
It’s all in the details
The wooden beams and original stonework have been made a real feature of against the white painted walls and natural tiled flooring. Quality fabrics and furniture that Amy reveals were sourced from the Conran Shop, as well as local brocantes and boutiques near the flat in Paris, only add to the image that impressed even ELLE magazine.
Although the decoration isn’t particularly personal, there is a good reason why Amy is yet to make her mark on the property. “The interests of our guests were a priority. It’s the kind of place where anyone can arrive and feel chez eux,” she says.
Her guests are very fond of the decoration, describing it as ‘stylish yet comfortable’ so it seems that Amy made the right decision in this case to let her head rule her heart. But in spite of the neutral decoration, Amy still has a favourite room – the living room.
Not only does it have wonderful high ceilings, but it’s a room for all seasons, says Amy. It’s got a door on to the partly covered terrace, offering easy access to the pool during the summer months and thanks to the wood burning stove, even in winter it’s the best place to be.
The outside of the house has not been neglected either. The window shutters have been painted in pastel, there are loungers around the pool and red geraniums in pots placed on the terrace.
La Petite Maison du Gers is available for holiday rentals all year round. However, “it is very busy in spring, summer and autumn,” Amy warns. Most of the time that she spends there herself is in winter, when a long weekend in the country provides the perfect escape from the stresses and strains of city life.
When living in Paris, Amy misses not only the stunning scenery and views from the house, but the people, the local products and the weather. The Gers department is one of the sunniest in France, which means more barbeques and more opportunities to eat outside or just enjoy an apéritif with friends.
Of course, Amy won’t rule out some summer stays. “Maybe in the future, when we have a family,” she says, “we’ll reserve longer periods in summer for us!” So if you want to go and stay at La Petite Maison du Gers, now’s your chance!
Se the La Petite Maison du Gers website for more details about the house.