Experience Provence as a House-sitter
Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited to stay as a housesitter in a home of expats who had arrived in France some years ago. They now live in a delightful village in the Var, Haute Provence. The owners needed to return to the UK for a family function and needed someone to care for their dogs at home in France. They prefer that the dogs are cared for at home. No problem I said! My bag was packed before you could say ‘apéro’!
Why choose a housesitter?
Their two large dogs are sensitive to change, they become less anxious and do better health-wise if their routine is maintained consistently so they wanted a sitter to be in their home with the dogs. The owners offered me use of their villa and their car while they travelled for a couple of weeks. I paid for my own travel and my up-keep in their absence. In exchange, I cared for their dogs, fed watered and exercised them as part of my daily routine, and by occupying the property I kept opportunist burglars at bay. A few nearby properties had been emptied by burglars over the Winter season when many homes are empty for weeks at a time.
The Change of Scene was Refreshing
Living like a local in a real home rather than a hotel or hostel made for a truly authentic holiday experience. My stay in Provence was a delight from beginning to end, helped enormously by the homeowners taking the trouble to recommend places I just had to visit nearby.
Top travel tips for Haute Provence (from my local hosts)
While I was staying in the area there were some tips they suggested I follow to get the best of the local markets, the best views and some great historical places to visit.
- On Sunday, Le Muy market is hard to beat for the incredible selection of local produce and affordable home wares and souvenirs.
Hill top views
- For a charming hill top town visit Fayence one of the perched hilltop villages of Haute Provence. There is also a weekly market held three times a week. The town is popular for many local crafts.
- For a hamlet truly at the top of Provence visit Bargème, the highest hill top in Provence. It is a medieval village which is now deserted most of the year. But then hosts a charming Summer music festival.
- Van Gogh at Saint Paul de Mausole monastery
- Glanum – Ancient Roman village and Gaulish excavation site
I loved the idea and the actual experience of moving into to someone’s home for a short period. It can give you a very fresh perspective on your own life.
Pet Care and Housesitting
The dogs were great companions and kept me entertained during my housesit. Some people might call it a working holiday but I enjoyed the whole experience so the duties seemed like a fair exchange to me. Despite their size, the dogs were friendly, attentive and it has to be said once they got used to me they were very attentive, I felt quite safe in their company despite being on my own in the villa just outside a small village.
Preparing for the Housesit
I met the owners online after I had joined the HouseSitMatch housesitting network. After interviewing me and sending me a document of the details of the housesit we both signed a housesitting agreement noting key dates, responsibilities the offer of use of their care etc. The owners had asked me to arrive three days before their departure in order that the dogs could get to know me, recognise my scent and I learn the daily routines.
The time spent altogether was great fun, I found the owners to be friendly, fascinating and open to playing tour guides, as they showed me some of their favourite local vistas and characterful markets and villages. What a treat!
Planning care for multiple pets, large dogs especially, can be a challenge. Inviting a petsitter to your home like a friend to care for your animals and property no doubt gave these homeowners peace of mind that at least the animals are in their own home, where the environment and smells are familiar. I did my best to cherish the dogs while I was living in their home, just as the owners would have.
The Best Deal of All
Not only was the housesitting experience authentic, a working holiday but with nothing I wouldn’t have been doing at home, moreover it was a free holiday. As a housesitter I didn’t pay for accommodation. And of-course I didn’t charge them for my time or work as their housesitter. Housesitting is an exchange!
Do you need a house or petsitter? House-sitting can be a win-win for both parties, free house and petsitting, and the experienced and checked sitters get free accommodation! With more and more people with homes in Provence signing up, it’s a great way to see the area on a budget! To find a house or pet-sitter visit HouseSitMatch.
Article by Lamia Walker.