British expats run a “charity cottage” in Burgundy

Written by on November 25, 2019 in Expats in France

Rolling countryside, peppered with small trees round a lake in Morvan regional Park, Burgundy

We chat to Rosy Rabson, a British expat who retired to Burgundy and run a gite from which all proceeds go to charity. Based in the Morvan area, with its regional natural park, a land of ancient castles, picturesque villages, forests and lakes, it is a largely undiscovered by tourists part of France – and utterly beautiful…

Tell us a little about you

In 2005 my husband John and I made the decision to live in France. We were both in our 60s and lived in Suffolk. We had visited France several times a year for many years and liked it enough to consider living there.

Where do you live in France and what inspired you to move to that particular place?

We liked Burgundy and concentrated our search there. Every house we saw had at least one major drawback but eventually we came to Maré le Bas, a hamlet 10 minutes’ drive from the market town of Corbigny on the edge of the Morvan in the heart of Burgundy and we knew it was “the one”. Morvan National Park has 1,000 square miles of unspoiled wildness. It’s dotted with lakes and picturesque villages, many of which have family-run brasseries in their tree-shaded squares. Absolutely perfect for a laid back lifestyle.

What is your holiday home like?

House and cottage in a rural location in Burgundy

Our house came with a pretty cottage which we now all Charity Cottage since all proceeds we earn on it go towards the charity Combat Stress. The charity helps servicemen and women whose wounds are not visible. Read all about it on www.combatstress.org.uk. In 2012 we won a Daily Telegraph Best British Charity award. We charge £300 for a week’s stay in the  2-bedroomed cottage (sleeps up to 7) of which £250 goes to Combat Stress (the remaining amount covers utilities, a generous welcome pack, cleaning and insurance). We do a lot to promote the cottage with publications and also with French Connections holiday rentals as we love their personal touch and great support.

Can you tell us more about the area, what there is to do and see, top attractions and secret places…?

Stone sarcophogi that are centuries old laid alongside church walls in Quarry-les-Tombes, Burgundy

Nearby Quarré les Tombes is a pretty village with an enticing weekly market. Its claim to fame is the large number of empty limestone sarcophagi (tombes) surrounding the church. There were originally 1000 or more, placed there between the 7th and 10th centuries.

Saint-Léger-Vauban with its Vauban museum is fascinating. Originally named Saint-Léger-de-Foucheret, it was renamed in 1867 in honour of its most famous son, Sébastien le Prestre, Marquis de Vauban, possibly the greatest military engineer who ever lived. He built fortresses all over France, from Dunkirk to the Pyrenees: an astonishing feat given the distances and the state of the roads. Vauban angered Louis XIV with his proposal to introduce a kind of income tax, Le Dîme du Roi (from dixième) which led to the US dime. He spent his last years in the Château de Bazoches, 15 minutes’ drive from Maré, where you can see memorabilia, including a reconstruction of a mobile office, slung between two horses, where Vauban worked while on the move.

Château-Chinon has no château – its small 10th-century fortress was destroyed in 1478 by order of Louis XI – but the town has two museums, a Circuit François Mitterrand and an amazing fountain. Mitterrand was Mayor of Château-Chinon before he became President of the Republic in 1981. The Musée du Septennat (a septennat being a seven-year term of office) houses the gifts presented to Mitterrand while in office. He donated them to the town because they were presented to the Presidency rather than to him as an individual.

Closer to home, Corbigny, our nearest market town, has an enticing market and some interesting old buildings.

Why would you recommend someone visit this area for a holiday?

This area has beautiful scenery and is outstanding for nature lovers – red squirrels abound, meadows full of wildflowers, lakes, rivers and a canal, glorious architecture, Roman remains, vibrant markets, a leisurely pace and Burgundy food and wine!

Book Charity Cottage at: www.frenchconnections.co.uk

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