Loulabelle’s FrancoFiles

Champêtre - Kate Hill's creative and connected life in country France.

March 24, 2024 Kate HIll Season 5 Episode 146
Loulabelle’s FrancoFiles
Champêtre - Kate Hill's creative and connected life in country France.
Show Notes

Kate Hill has lived an extraordinary life. As a young woman she loved to travel and cook and ended up buying a barge and travelling the regional canals of France until she found her little home which back then was a ruin on the bank of the canal. So she parked the barge at the bottom of the garden gate and continued to live on the barge for her first 25 years in the area of Gascony, until the ruined 300 year old building was eventually renovated 10 years ago for her to live in. Early on in the 35 years in total that Kate has lived there, she built her little dream kitchen and learned how to butcher and create charcuterie as well as then teach others to do the same.

Kate published an introductory book about how she ended up living this wonderful life, “A culinary journey in Gascony” which was published in 1995 (and is still in print!) She then wrote another book which contains everything one might need to know about Cassoulet, followed by a series of 12 seasonal monthly books, a compilation of her essays and recipes titled “A Gascon Year”. Through substack, Kate now publishes her memoir about how she found France, “Finding France: a memoir in small bites” is now released on a serialised basis.

I loved chatting to Kate about the slowness of her life, not that she is slow in her actions, but how life in her rural part of France has forced her to slow down and live a deep immersive life in her kitchen and potager in Gascony. Locals in her area kept explaining something to Kate that sums up their philosophy on how to prioritise the important things in life: “prendre le temps de prendre le temps” (take the time to take the time). In other words, they do things such as stopping on a Sunday to share a meal with family or friends, they stop and enjoy the smaller but precious parts of life. Kate grew into this way of life, she learned how to work a potager, how to raise chickens, how to be connected to her soul. 

Now in her 70s, Kate is excited about more changes and choices she is making in her life. She is focusing on how to start anew at any age and how to live a connected country French life. This she calls “champêtre”, to be country. As part of this she will continue to host residencies at her Relais de Camont, but she will also have the time to create more herself, with her writing, her potager, cooking in her kitchen. The focus on what is really important to her is a recommendation for a more connected life for us all.

For information about the Normandy Retreat mentioned in this episode, email 

Louise Prichard is the host of the Loulabelle's FrancoFiles podcast.
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