We have been coming to France and the Dordogne for many years, beginning in 1989 for summer vacations and to buy French antiques for Alain's gallery, Alain Pioton Antiques in Hudson, New York.
The buying trips were business for Alain, but they were also a summer respite for me from my work as Professor of English at the City University of New York where I taught 18th Century English and 19th century American Literature and later Gay Studies, one of the first such courses in the US. During an exchange year teaching at the University of Paris I wrote my first book in Gay American Studies: Masculine Landscapes: Walt Whitman and the Homoerotic Text, that appeared in 1992. That was followed in 1994 by a study of 19th and early 20th century English and American gay literature, A Road To Stonewall. Two books followed in 2001: The Columbia Anthology Of Gay Literature and Homophobia: A History.
Having early on fallen in love with the Perigord, as our French friends reminded us we should call it, we began to think about living permanently in France. Needing something to do, the obvious choice was to rely on past experience and open a B&B as we had done in one American house where we had extra bedrooms.
By 2006 the new B&B was ready. We furnished it in the summer of 2007 and opened in 2008. It was back to the US at end of summer in 2008 and in September Alain closed his shop after almost 30 years in business. The movers came, and in October we said farewell to Hudson and the US. I brushed up my French and Alain came happily home. We have never regretted it.
Since we opened in 2008 we have gained a clientele from all over the world, and more and more people stay every year. We love doing it. We have been especially pleased to see that we have a large number of gay clients--almost 50%. But as we say on our site, in the tradition of gay hospitality everyone is welcome at La Millasserie.
When the B&B isn’t keeping us busy, as it does from May to October, I write--novels now.
We met in America in 1977. We were married in France in 2013.
I often think that the sensations are heightened here in what the French call la France profonde, deep France. The taste of food, the sweetness of the country air after one of the spectacular late-summer thunderstorms that role ominously though the region, suddenly etching the sky with alarmingly jagged bolts of lightening. The drowsy rich summer days, followed by cool autumn nights and then the chill brilliance of a mid-winter frost, not just the light millimeter thick coating of American frost, but a thick, glittering covering, laid on as if with a brush like brilliant icing studded with tiny diamonds on some elegant pastry.Perhaps because men and women have for so long worked the fields and every inch of land that can be tilled, the entire countryside has the effect of having been landscaped by some master hand.
That stand of ramrod straight dark green cypress trees just over there—is it by chance that it grows in such an elegant placement, seemingly deliberate in its arrangement against the amazing blue of the late summer sky, standing as a vertical backdrop to the vast horizontal swath of golden sunflowers that cover the hillside, yellow heads peering up at the sun and turning to follow it? Picturesque sheep graze; complacent cows, mellow red coats alive against the green, stand or lie together beneath a shady tree. A lonely donkey forages in a field. Bells sound from church towers--it is the time of the Angelus.
History sounds in those bells and it is present there just as it is in the lichen-covered golden stone of every ancient house, in the narrow streets of ancient tiny villages, in the hauteur of a forbidding and crenellated chateau that towers imposingly next to a rushing river. Indeed history seems to infuse the very air of the Perigord, heir to all the ages of eternal France.
There is mystery here and some say that it was born with the magic that scholars claim the ancient cave paintings may have been trying to conjure. Whatever the cause, the Perigord is indeed the most magical and the most beautiful region in all of France and as you drive along a narrow country road, the rich dark forest bordering either side, you suddenly see in the distance ghost-like towers rising above the trees, floating, it almost seems, on the horizon, the misty towers of a castle in the air.