If you need a place to unwind, this simply decorated, informal and spacious French farmhouse will do it. There is ample room both for large gatherings and for solitude. Although I was there with just two others, I could tell it was perfect for a family with active young children. The garden is big enough for football, but close to the house, also offers a usually sunny terrace suitable for quiet reading and early evening G&Ts. A reasonable cycle ride away, the local town, Auxi-le-Chateau, is attractive and has everything you need, while retaining a relaxed ordinariness. There is enough historical and cultural interest in the surrounding region to suit most. The Authrie river, which flows through the town, makes the area attractive for boating and for hikes along its banks. Larger towns, such as Amiens, offer good day- trip destinations, but mostly you will just want to stay around the farmhouse and do very little.
When I showed up on the doorstep of Rue Touillette last September, I was something of a wreck. After a year in which my mother passed away, my only daughter left for college and I couldn’t drive for three months because of a broken ankle, I was someone in desperate need of a break.
Rue Touillette provided an idyllic retreat. I left two weeks later, rested, refreshed and restored. The people were kind, the countryside lovely and the food and wine fabulous.
Each morning, I threw open the French doors and stepped out into the sun. I sat on the patio in the lush, green garden and wrote. For lunch, there was salad with fresh lettuce, cucumbers and the largest crimson tomatoes I’ve ever seen, all from the weekly farmers’ market. I delighted in the aroma of newly-baked French bread, local chevre and pate. A glass of chilled, crisp Bourgogne sat at my side. There were tiny wild strawberries, thick yogurt, dark chocolate and strong French press coffee.
Although I was there on a solitary journey, the house would be perfect for families. There is one large bedroom and one smaller bedroom downstairs. The top floor is a bright and spacious loft, with two bedrooms and another bathroom.
The kitchen is cheerful, sunny and well-equipped. The downstairs den is cozy with a TV and an impressive selection of books.
Each night, I went into the nearby village of Auxi-le-Chateau and became somewhat of a regular at a charming bistro. The owner, who spoke no English, patiently explained the daily specials to the American, who spoke no French. On my last night, he presented me with an extravagant tropical cocktail and insisted on taking my picture with it.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the farmhouse was it is off the beaten path. This beautiful area of France is not touristy. This is not to say it is boring.
In WWI, the Battle of the Somme was fought nearby. The farmhouse itself has a rich history. Other historical monuments and museums in the region are worth visiting.
I also enjoyed day trips to Amiens, with its stunning cathedral, and to the wide, iridescent beaches of the Cote d’Opale.
My only regret about Rue Touillette is that I didn’t stay long enough and I can’t get back soon enough.