La Cressonnière

December 23, 2010

Would you like to know about the house we are renting in France? It’s a house with a name instead of an address — which makes me smile every time I think of it. I’ve never lived in a house with a name! It’s called La Cressonnière and it means “watercress”. (Incidentally, to honor the name of the house, I have been looking up watercress recipes — if you have a good one, please let me know.)

The house is in the Normandy region, about 1/2 hour from Caen. (In Caen, you can catch a ferry to the UK.) It’s big enough to fit our family, it has an artist’s studio and a beautiful garden. There’s even a piano — so my kids can continue their music studies while we’re there. There’s an older part and a newer part of the house. The older part is 17th century. The newer part is 18th century. : )

Ben Blair visited the home a few weeks ago to check it out in person, see what the countryside is like and how easy it is to access Paris. He loved the house and brought us lots of video so we could get to know it too.

Everything about the house is beautiful and interesting. The home owners have excellent taste. The husband is an artist, and he’s taken great care with every detail in the house. In one room, he uses salvaged wood paneling from a 17th century church on the walls. On the doors, he scouted authentic period locks. And his wonderful artwork makes appearances in every room.

Finding this home felt like a gift. It was the right size in the right price range. It was close enough to Paris — so I could see my sister. And it’s beautiful. Moving to France is a treat, and getting to live in such a special residence is equally a treat.

Some practical notes:

1) One of the reasons we took this daydream-of-moving-abroad seriously was our difficulty finding a house we wanted to buy here in Denver. There are lots of amazing neighborhoods here, but after looking fairly intensely for almost a year, we hadn’t found the right one to purchase. So we decided to consider that circumstance a blessing, and make the most of our flexible housing situation. We still hope to return to Denver after our time abroad and find a place to call home.

2) We looked into several different countries before ultimately deciding on France. When my sister, Jordan, made plans to spend a year in Paris with her family, that definitely influenced our decision. We think it will be fun for both of us to be in France at the same time. She can play city mouse and I’ll play country mouse.

3) Another factor that assured us La Cressonniére was the right place, is that the wife is Australian. So, while we’re working on our meager French, communication is still easy — hooray!

4) We found La Cressonniére on — my favorite source if you’re looking for a long-term, furnished rental. But there are other great sites as well.

If you’re considering your own adventure abroad, I hope these notes about our thinking and sources will help you.

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{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amanda December 23, 2010 at 12:27 pm

jealous! jealous, jealous! the house looks amazing, and perfectly French :)


2 Wendy December 23, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Beautiful! What a dream come true!


3 Emily @ Merrypad December 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm

That’s mindblowingly gorgeous. What’s the sq. footage? Will that yard private to you? How many rooms? More pics to come?


4 Redmenace December 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm

It’s gorgeous! You will have the time of your lives!


5 Janice Winter December 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Hi Gabrielle, I am so jealous of your upcoming move. My daughter and her family lived in London for 4 years and in Frankfurt for 4 years so I was able to visit often and totally fall in love with Europe. It will be a lovely experience and one you will always be glad you decided to do. When I retire in another year or so I am commited to make the same move. Good luck with all your future adventures, I enjoy your posts so much and can’t wait for them to start coming from France………


6 Jan @ Family Bites December 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Wow. It’s really, really gorgeous. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to read more about your adventures abroad.


7 Porsche December 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Just one question. Can I come and visit? Please? :)


8 bdaiss December 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Gorgeous! Won’t it be fun to discover the history for yourself?


9 annabelvita December 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm

It’s totally gorgeous! What an amazing find.
It’s name means “watercress bed”, which I think is perfect. Makes it sound like a big cosy nest of watercress.


10 Anne M. December 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I…LOVE…THAT…YARD/GARDEN! Absolutely beautiful!


11 Erin December 23, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Oh, that walled garden alone… what amazing adventures your children will share!


12 Shakyra December 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Beautiful place! We are currently stationed in Italy and you have given me an excellent idea! We are already adventuring living the Italian life but how about making something even more exciting and renting a place for a whole month?!!! Mmm Florence? Venice? Somewhere in Germany? If we are going to do it we might as well do it big! Enjoy your time!


13 Amy December 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

What a beautiful home!
I love to eat watercress sandwiches
First a little cream cheese (or some such) then some watercress, perhaps some cracked black pepper. Ta da!


14 Nikki December 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm

It is beautiful! You guys will be so happy there, congrats!

Oh and Merry Christmas!


15 Sandy Plunkett December 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Hello there! Just wanted you to know that I am a close personal friend of the owners – have known the wife for 25 yrs. She called me last week to say how excited she was to have such wonderful tenants for their very loved home. I first stayed in this house 12 years ago after they first bought it. The work they have done is unbelievable!! Really hope your new life in Normandy is wonderful for your family.


16 cassandra December 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Enjoy! SO very jealous…a dream come true…something your whole family will always treasure and remember fondly :) Plus, such a beautiful house/home!! Bonne Chance!!


17 Kimberly December 23, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I am so happy for your happiness, Gabrielle. Here’s to making dreams come true! Happy Adventuring to you all!


18 Monique December 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

The house is beautiful! Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together. It’s so amazing that you are living out your desires. I wish you and your family all the best. Happy Holidays!


19 Andie December 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Caen, Normandy, Deauville! My happiest places on earth! Send love from me to Deauville. And enjoy your journey.


20 elz December 23, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Gorgeous. I just WISH. But, neither of our jobs is moveable. The time I lived in Europe growing up and later studying were my favorite times.


21 KarinS December 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Simply gorgeous! What a magical way to spend a year in France. I look forward to hearing all about your adventures.
Happy Christmas from Newfoundland!


22 Victoria December 23, 2010 at 1:54 pm

It looks and sounds fabulous. Wbat a great time you will all have there. Merry Christmas in Denver, next year you will be celebrating in France! Yay.


23 Chris December 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I’m so excited for you! My husband is in the Air Force and we are moving to Europe in the summer as well. We are going to Germany and I could not be more excited!! I look forward to following your adventures on your blog as we have our own.


24 stacey December 23, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Love the new digs! I think one of the best ways to use watercress is the simplest…fresh picked on a sandwich with bacon and some herbed mayonaisse, so simple to make yourself. My father in law and I pick it in the spring and fall here in Pennsylvania and make sandwiches for days on end! Just imagine, some good countryside bacon and crusty French bread (toasted is even better)…seems so simple and fitting for your new French lifestyle!


25 Kat December 23, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Oooh, looks gorgeous! Hope you will be taking advantage of that ferry to the UK x


26 Kat December 23, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Oh and my favourite watercress soup recipe on my blog:


27 Kristen December 23, 2010 at 3:35 pm

So happy for you all!


28 Erin December 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Great opportunity and beautiful house! We’ve taken the boat/ship ride from Caen to the UK. Pretty easy 5 hours and then another 2-3 train ride to London. You will love the Noandy region, beautiful! I’m jealous of tour adventure! Enjoy!!


29 Robin December 23, 2010 at 3:49 pm



30 Brittany @ The Aubergine Notebook December 23, 2010 at 4:18 pm

you’re house looks so charming! what a great experience this will be. :)

definitely take the ferry to the u.k. i’ve done the eurostar and the ferry. both are fun but there is something about being able to see the english channel rather than being under it!


31 katy December 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Wow! You are certainly living the dream. Congrats on the great house!


32 Liz December 23, 2010 at 4:42 pm

For those of you wanting a foreign adventure in a gorgeous home somewhere, we’ve had great luck with house swapping. Had a great Spring Break holiday in Mont Tremblant, Quebec at a ski chalet while the other owners enjoyed some city living in New York. Congrats on your new serendipitous adventure, Blairs! Looks like a magazine spread already.


33 Anna December 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I find posts like these fascinating. Can’t wait for more!


34 Michelle Glauser December 23, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Congratulations, that looks gorgeous. And you should definitely make it over to Germany and Switzerland, my favorites.


35 Adventures In Babywearing December 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm

How fabulous! I love Normandy and Caen- you must visit the Memorial there- it’s amazing and powerful. And all the castles around that area… so magical!



36 Bonnie December 23, 2010 at 6:06 pm

I am green with envy! I hope that you and your family have a wonderful experience. I’m looking forward to discovering France through your blog.


37 Erin December 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I’m green with envy….I’m certain you can see this in my typing! France holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. I’m excited to re-live the excitement by reading about your adventures. Thanks for sharing.


38 Julie December 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm

How incredible!! What an unforgettable experience it will be for your family…way to go Blairs! Live it up!


39 Collette | Hoopty Doopty December 23, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Wow! Breathtaking and I’m sure you will all have a magical experience there.
It’s definitely a bonus that the wife is Australian. Yay! Australians are good peeps. I’m an American living and now calling Australia home.

The photos are fabulous and that garden is something else! Love all you are sharing.


40 Sheryl December 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm

We’re thinking of moving to France, I’ll be looking forward to hearing about your adventures!


41 steph t. December 23, 2010 at 9:53 pm

beautiful!! i can just see you guys there! i bet you’re getting even more excited now. :)


42 Yanyan December 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm

What a dream come true. All the best with your move, this is so exciting and wonderful! Especially for the kids! You are such an inspiration! Merry christmas and happy new year dear Gaby, Ben and your beautiful children!! Yanyan


43 Madison Judd December 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Congratulations!!!! Hope things go smoothly and you and the family ENJOY.


44 Megan December 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Incredible! Congratulations and well done!


45 kelly December 23, 2010 at 11:57 pm

lovely. lovely!!! couldn’t be more thrilled for you all. hope the internet speed rocks your socks off too… :)


46 Natalie December 24, 2010 at 12:07 am

So excited for you!

I took the train from Caen to Paris and it was definitely do able! I think it was about 2 hours. We did a Day Trip to the D Day sites — how amazing that your kids will be able to learn about that part of history.


47 alyson boehr December 24, 2010 at 12:39 am

OH MY! What a beautiful garden :) How exciting for you!!!


48 Erica December 24, 2010 at 6:31 am

What a beautiful home! What an amazing adventure!


49 Deborah December 24, 2010 at 6:40 am

When I opened the page for your blog and saw the picture of this lovely house I just said “Ohhhhh!” to myself. So incredibly beautiful, and the gardens too. Thanks for sharing your experience with us so we can live vicariously! Love it!


50 Anneliese December 24, 2010 at 9:04 am

This sounds like such a fabulous adventure for your family! You are so fortunate to be able to pull it off. My family lived in Germany for a few years when I was young and there are so many fun memories I retain. I think it’s a great experience for children. And how great to have your sister there too!


51 Sara December 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Just love it!! I am just so thrilled for you all!! Once again, you are inspirational in the way that you and Ben Blair use your creativity and mindfulness to achieve such fabulous goals for your family. So glad you’ll have such a beautiful setting on your adventure!


52 Amy Smart December 25, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Gabby – This looks absolutely dreamy. I am just so excited for you and your family. And to get to read about all of your adventures. I’m proud to say I practiced French with you back in the day. Bon Chance!!


53 deborah@applesinwonderland December 26, 2010 at 9:52 am

storybook. like right out of a storybook. do you feel like you’re dreaming? i’m so looking forward to reading about your family’s adventures in this new story of your lives. :)


54 Sarah December 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Slice canned brown bread with raisins (near the baked beans section at the grocery), spread the slices with goat cheese and top with watercress leaves. Sandwich two slices together and roll in crushed toasted hazelnuts.


55 sara December 26, 2010 at 8:05 pm

It looks so perfectly French. I am so happy for you guys – I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures abroad and live a little vicariously through you!


56 Lynelle December 27, 2010 at 11:24 am

Awesome! How did you plan with the kids– such as finding schools?


57 Debbie D December 27, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Yes. Please.


58 chelsea December 27, 2010 at 10:43 pm

How fun!!


59 Beth December 28, 2010 at 7:06 am

This looks amazing. On a practical note, I am curious about how you were able to obtain visas to live in France for this long?


60 charity December 28, 2010 at 9:56 am

Congrats! So excited/jealous to read your adventures aborad. Good Luck!


61 Missy W December 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm

You continue to be an inspiration to me! These days I hardly get past work and Trader Joe’s. To dream of living somewhere magical is almost too hard to imagine. Good for you!!!!


62 Dina January 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

How lovely! I am curious, how did you all decide on Normandy as your region of choice? What an enriching experience this will be for your family.


63 Bren January 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Hi! Fabulous rental you found! I was referred to your blog by a newcomer to mine whom advised we should link up as I’m moving to Paris also! I’ll actually be in Paris and Normandy. Congrats to you for deciding to live abroad. I’m excited and look forward to the experience! I hope to connect with you.

Best and Happy New Year!
B So Chic! (fashion)

Flanboyant Eats (culinary)


64 Jessica R. January 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm

oh – here it is! YAY! beautiful – enjoy =)


65 Alyssa January 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I am way behind on your posts, but I had to tell you: Normany is fantastic! In addition to all the castles, The Peace Museum in Caen is amazing. Go! (also, as I’m sure you already know, you aren’t that far away from the D-Day beaches and memorials. Those are also amazing).
But my absolute, absolute favorite is Mont St-Michel. Might be my favorite place on earth:


66 julieg January 4, 2011 at 10:00 pm

I have to ask, how expensive is that? My Daughter’s school principal is having a sabbatical in France for a year in Nantes. Not as grand of a house but still a very nice modern house with a pool and I wonder how they can afford it…sorry if it’s a crass question, but since you are a stranger, I guess I can ask. My husband is Swiss but we can’t afford to ever live there, not in a house, maybe an apartment LOL


67 Amanda January 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I am hoping to capture some of this spirit of “It’s now or neverness” so that I can spritz it on our life.

So excited for you all.


68 Emily January 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm

More and more I’m thinking our family needs the adventure of living abroad, even though it would probably be easier if they were younger. But you only live once, and LIVE we need to do!


69 Bonny February 1, 2011 at 8:26 am

I want to see pictures of every room!


70 sarah @ cookingpretty February 6, 2011 at 7:12 am

I just stumbled upon your page from a link at Not Martha. I have LOVED reading through your entries about relocating your family to France – thanks for all the detailed info!! We are in a similar situation…living in the Boulder area, searching for a home to buy without much luck finding something we love, etc. We have a one year old and my husband works from home as a software developer so we are seriously considering a year abroad if we don’t find a house we love by July (when our rental lease is up). I can’t wait to follow along on your adventure in France!!


71 Nadege Conger February 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Hi Everyone, I am delighted that Gabrielle found La Cressonniere, it is indeed perfect for her large family. As the founder of, I want to tell Sarah, that we have other beautiful homes posted at Not just in France but also in Italy, Spain, Australia and, in 48 other countries. If you have any questions, please email me. Cheers, Nadege (a mom who loves homes and travels)


72 milimelo February 17, 2011 at 3:36 am

Hello, I found you blog by accident…. it makes me smile, because… i’m living in caen, so we are neighbourg… ;-)


73 milimelo February 17, 2011 at 3:37 am

So, welcome ! hoping you enjoy your stay….


74 La Franglaise February 22, 2011 at 5:20 am

I lived in Deauville for five years so if you would like some insider tips about things to see or do in the region, give me a shout. I’d be happy to share! Belle journée à vous, La Franglaise xx


75 Anne Bourghlandy March 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

It’s like I am seeing a glimpse of heaven. Greenery!


76 Shelley May 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Breathtaking!!! The home and its grounds are gorgeous! What an wonderful experience for your family. My family and I were in a position to move abroad to Chile for 6 months, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. I would so love to live abroad for some time. What a great gift you are giving your children!
ps: I simply adore the treehouse and its details!


77 Julie K June 13, 2011 at 11:00 am

I happened to flip on the tv to the hgtv channel last night and saw you guys on the International house hunters show. It was so fun to see you and your home there in video form. I’ve now spent the morning going through all your past france posts. So fun! I wondered how the house hunters show came about and when it was filmed?


78 Dawne July 8, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Bonjour Gabrielle,
I just got finished watching the House Hunters International episode for the second time, and couldn’t wait to race to Google and find you! I have a big crush on your whole family , and of course on that incredible house! I just loved seeing you and the children making art in the atelier! I’m going to follow your blog from now on. We leave for our Normandy vacation next week, and although we won’t have time to look for property on this trip, we do so want to spend a year living there in the very near future.
Now I’m off to catch up on your blog and your Flickr!


79 Amanda July 9, 2011 at 12:06 am

Just saw you on House Hunters!!! What an amazing experience for you and your family!!! My husband and I only traveled to Paris once before our little ones….but I am dreaming to go back! Cannot wait to follow you and your family and all of your french adventures!!!


80 Sarah Neilson August 13, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I saw you and your adorable family on House Hunters International! Every time I watched that show I catch the “living abroad bug” and this episode was no exception. I just died over all the houses you toured loving every minute of it (especially that converted convent!). I saved it and made my husband watch it with me later telling him that you guys were living my dream. My second thought (after complete envy) was I totally bet they’re LDS! Haha…low and behold I believe you are. One of my friends, Nicole Gerulat, writes for babble also. Reading one of her posts today I stumbled upon your blog. What a random little world we live in. Anyway, you’re family is beautiful and I can’t wait to live vicariously through you until I can have adventures of my own! Good luck in France! -Sarah


81 Zee August 24, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Hi Gabrielle! I just saw House Hunters too and it was so nice to see you and your family! I loved the farm house you chose, beautiful! Great choice!


82 bw August 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

Hi Gabrielle! My wife and I have seen your HHI show a couple of times, and are totally fascinated with all three of the houses you toured. We’re wondering what your feelings are about the whole House Hunters experience. How did you happen to get involved with HGTV… does HGTV pay the families that participate in those shows… do you tour numerous homes and then settle on the three to be filmed… was that experience something you’d do again or not… etc., etc.


83 September 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Another option if you searching for a furnished rental is You’ll also find homes for exchange and house sit opportunities.


84 pamela September 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm

loving!! Dreaming of the day we can move overseas!! Thank you for all your insight!


85 Luciane at January 10, 2012 at 9:27 am

Hi Gabrielle,

I just found your blog because I watched you guys on HH. What a fantastic place! It must be dreamy living in a place with such character and soul. You can feel the passion of art in every room.

I hope you guys are being happy and feeling blessed in your home.


Luciane at


86 Ed Ritter January 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Bonjour Gabrielle,
My wife & I are watching this episode on House Hunter’s International right now. When you mentioned you were a blogger, I looked you up. I appreciate the spolier and enjoyed your story of finding a house in France. Wonderful and enjoy your stay!!!



87 Carol Rea January 29, 2012 at 12:48 am

Not even sure how I stumbled onto your site, but am thrilled to be able to enjoy it! I happened to watch that episode of House Hunters International and was nearly jumping up and down to see that you chose this very, very special home. Now that I’ve learned more about you through your blog, I’m pleased at what a truly perfect match it is for you and your family. I have a little dream lurking in the back of my own mind that I, too could have an adventure in a little place in France or England… someday. Thank you for sharing your life with us.


88 Blair Destro March 22, 2012 at 12:06 am

When this property was up for sale we seriously considered it, maybe it’s nearby?


89 nancy June 5, 2012 at 8:43 am

Excellent post with beautiful pics. I wish i could own a similar house… it looks so frechish…. Any Vacation REntals for this house?

(caribbean-villa-rentals . org )


90 Jennifer January 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Hi, I am enjoying your blog. May I ask how you support yourself financially as you say you no longer do your graphic art – do you work using blogs? is it the advertising? Apologies if this question is too blunt but I ask as I am living in France too but need to find a way of bringing in an income. I am not in a part of the country I like and want to move to the countryside as well. My boyfriend is in Montpellier but I really dislike it and am very unhappy in this industrial city, you see.


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