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One of the reasons I visited the South of France this year was to see my longtime Harvard friend Charlie Flatt at the farmhouse near Toulouse that he and his partner Markevin are renovating. I had seen many lovely photos that Charlie posted on Facebook and on his blog over the past few years but I was nevertheless blown away by the loveliness of their house and the surrounding farmland.

The farmhouse is surrounded by wheat fields.

Their property is surrounded by wheat fields.

In addition to the main house there are farm buildings on each side.

In addition to the main house there are farm buildings on each side.

The house is a tenth of a mile from the road, down an allée of plane trees.

The buildings are a tenth of a mile from the road, down an allée of plane trees.

The house is on a high bluff overlooking the River Tarn.

The house is on a high bluff overlooking the River Tarn.

Spring is a busy time on a farm so Charlie and Markevin worked most mornings, while I dozed or read the wonderful Mémoirs d’Hadrien by Margurite Youcenar. After lunch Charlie drove me around the countryside and showed me the coolest places in the region. I’ll put the pics from those tours in a photo set, but on to the important stuff:

Markevin and Charlie

Markevin and Charlie

Charlie making our first lunch

Charlie making our first lunch

Lunch al fresco overlooking the River Tarn. (Our lunch spot was bulldozed the following day to create a ramp down to the basement but it was nice while it lasted!)

Lunch al fresco overlooking the River Tarn. (Our lunch spot was bulldozed the following day to create a ramp down to the basement but it was nice while it lasted!)

Our first dinner was a rich duck dish that Charlie cooked up, accompanied by endives and mashed potatoes.

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For our second dinner we went out to a good local restaurant, L’Auberge du Flambadou.

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Markevin and Charlie at dinner at L’Auberge du Flambadou

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For our last dinner Markevin cooked his signature rabbit stew, which was delicious.

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Markevin’s rabbit stew was as delicious as it looks.

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Adding the sauce!

Markevin’s cat Minou took an immediate liking to me and slept on my bed all three nights I stayed there. I haven’t shared a bed with a non-human animal since college days and I found it surprisingly congenial (albeit sometimes distracting).

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Minou and me waking up.

The farm is in some respects still a work in progress. The future master bedroom, for example, was used by the previous owner to dry garlic. I urged them to retain the atmospheric strings but they seem determined to modernize. 🙂
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Similarly, the cave (basement) hasn’t had a good cleaning in perhaps 25 years. These bottles could go directly into a museum.

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Charlie and Markevin are sometimes daunted by all the work that still has to be done to the place. It pains them to see all the ways in which it doesn’t yet embody their vision. But as a visitor I mostly noticed what a lovely and comfortable home they have already created.

Only part of the enormous kitchen/dining/living room, which extends the entire depth of the house

Only 2/3 of the kitchen/dining/living room, which extends the entire depth of the house.

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They keep chickens (and guinea hens) for eggs and meat. But they’re also lovely.

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Sunset over the Tarn from an upstairs window of the farmhouse.

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