Yesterday morning dawned grey and cold, raindrops dripped from tree branches, the trees mourning the last of summer's softness. We grabbed our heavy sweaters, packed the car with picnic goodies, and drove down our muddy lane, dodging potholes and discussing the three hour trip ahead. In my internet search for 'people who travel in alternative ways' to live in today's world, I had found the Long Rider's Guild site. Therein was a link to a website by a family who has been living in their roulotte (horse drawn wagon) for 13 years. Since leaving Holland in 2000 they have travelled almost 2500 km a year throughout Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal. Now they are back in France. For weeks I kept returning to the site, looking at all the beautiful photos by the father of this family, André. Finally I sent off an email boldly asking if my husband Mark and I might visit, explaining that I am planning to build a roulotte, that I had never actually stepped inside one, and that I had many questions. I received a friendly response from Judith, his wife, and we arranged a visit on November 16. This was a very auspicious date for us, because it is the day, 4 years ago, that Mark arrived from the United States to live with me on the Montagne Noire. I could not think of a better way to celebrate this anniversary.
The interior of their roulotte is about the same size as Tòti Bleu will be. It felt cozy and comfortable, and as Mark who is a sailor remarked, just like being in a boat. Although the day was cold and damp, a tiny woodstove kept the inside warm. I felt we were with friends lost to us for a very long time, then reunited. ( When this feeling comes over me, and it is not often, I really believe that we must have known each other in another time.) There was so much to say and not enough time to say it all.
This is one of the two sturdy Fjord mares that have pulled Roulotte Papillotte over 2000 km each year for the past 13 years.
Judith and André both gave me valuable information for the construction of my roulotte, for the choice and care of the horses, tips for life on the road, and where to buy proper harness at a reasonable price. They answered all my many questions with interest, supported by their knowledge and years of experience living this lifestyle. We discovered that André builds a great little wood burning stove for a roulotte, and I hope to have one in Tòti Bleu for chilly evenings. They explained that it is best to travel within France as traffic conditions in Spain and Portugal are just too dangerous. We discussed the building of the roulotte and they had great ideas for using space wisely. I came home with a head full of ideas and new information. Most of all, I came home feeling that I had spent an afternoon with exceptional people. I know Tòti Bleu will become a reality and I know I will love slowly clip-clopping along small country roads with fields of sunflowers blooming all around. I know I will share this joy with friends.
One of the nicest parts of this journey is sharing it with Mark. He is as interested in the dream as I am. He drives me around, takes photos, has great ideas, and gives me the benefit of his boat building knowledge, since this is really just a “land yacht.” We talk about everything over our morning coffee. I could never realize this dream without him. How very lucky I am!!
I suggest a visit to the site : roulottepapillotte.wordpress.com
There are also videos on Youtube and Vimeo, just tap in Roulotte Papillotte.
The photos on their site are lovely. Don't miss the portraits of their daughters Saphire and Yentl Rose