About Us

Marion and Jan

Jan and Marion, you live here in the Dordogne valley since 2014. Let me start with the question that probably everyone asks: any regrets?

Jan: No (laughs). We live a beautiful life here. I am completely relaxed here and I really needed that. I am physically much more active now, which is nothing but beneficial for my health. Returning to hectic Belgium? No, thank you, I’ll pass.

Marion: Regrets, no, me neither. Although I do miss my former colleagues sometimes, and the library of Ghent, because Souillac’s library is really not its equal.

You now call the Dordogne valley your home, in a region ideally suited to tourism. Did you visit the area before on a holiday, and did that inform your choice?

Marion: No, not at all. We had never heard of the Lot, let alone of Rocamadour or Sarlat! Chance brought us here, but we could not have picked better ourselves. There is so much to see and do here, even us have not been everywhere yet. Castles, beautiful villages, caves, …

Jan: And everything here revolves around food and drink!

Marion:… there are amusement parks, animal parks, a few beautiful gardens and, for me, importantly: it is a very green region. Okay, that means that it can also rain a fair bit here, but rather that than looking at a withered landscape for the whole summer.

Jan: Whenever it rains in summer, we are happy. And unlike Belgium, the temperatures here are always very enjoyable.

When I look around here, I only the indeed very green valley and the few houses of this small hamlet. Isn’t living here very lonely and far from everything?

Jan: Not at all. Souillac center is just 4 km from here and Souillac is a proper city (laughs). Admittedly, it only counts 3500 inhabitants, but it offers everything we need: supermarkets, bakers, butchers, pharmacists, banks, doctors, dentists, you name it.

Marion: And our hamlet currently counts 9 residents and one couple that is diligently renovating the castle of La Forge. We regularly arrange aperitifs together, and we can always count on each other. For proper neighborhood parties we look beyond our little hamlet and about 40 people gather to celebrate together. Everyone brings something to eat or drink and it is always great fun.

Jan and Marion
Jan et Marion in action

Jan: Fortunately, those parties take place after our busy season. And during the season we are not at all lonely either, because then our house is full of guests. Mostly guests from Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, but we have already had so many different nationalities stay with us!

What type of guests really feel at home with you? And vice versa, who do you love hosting in your house?

Jan: We offer both rooms and gîtes, which attract quite different kinds of guests. And the people in and out of season are also very distinct. And yet there is a greatest common denominator: our guests seek a quiet holiday environment but do not want to sit alone on a mountain. They want contact and interaction with us and with the other guests. Sometimes to join the table when we cook, sometimes for more practical reasons: because we can give them excellent suggestiosn due to our knowledge of the area, or with our knowledge of French we can help you for example make a reservation at restaurants.

Marion: In spring and autumn, we mainly welcome young pensioners or young couples with babies. Here the tourist season already starts around Easter and ends around 11 November. Outside of the high season, it is never too busy, and temperatures are usually exceedingly pleasent. On top of that, prices are lower, always interesting. In July and August, as is the case everywhere, we see more families with children, although couples continue to find their way to our rooms and gîtes for two people.

Jan: Especially in our large gîtes, families with children have a perfect time. The pool is right next to their terraces. So the parents can keep an eye on the children while they sit at the table. Or father and mother are sunbathing at the pool, with a baby monitor nearby while the little one is taking their afternoon nap.

With all those children on the property, can you still call it a quiet holiday spot?

Jan: Yes, of course, and we are even quite adamant (laughs). For starters, we only have three large gîtes and one family room, so there are never too many children at any given time. And of course they can play in and around the pool. But in the house and in the mornings and in evenings I will be the first to remind them to be quiet and to be respectful of the other guests as well.

Marion: No one has ever had any issue with all that exuberance around the pool. It even contributes to the holiday atmosphere. How often does it not happen that the children here, even though they speak another language, are fraternizing and playing together throughout their whole stay. Really heart-warming.

Jan at the barbecue
visiting friends at Jan and Marion

Do the people really only come here on holidays, or do some guests only stay here for a night, on the way to their final destination?

Jan: Most guests come here on holiday. The region lends itself perfectly to a proper gettaway, so why not? During the summer months, we only rent out the gîtes per week. It is mainly outside of the high season that we receive guests just staying the one night. We used to think that was a shame because you cannot build a connection with guests that stay for such a short time. But experience has proven us wrong, as many of these guests choose to stay with us again on their way back home. And that always gives an extra dimension to their arrival.

Do those returning guests always ask for the same room, or are they flexible?

Marion: Fortunately guests are usually very flexible. I am sure that the fact our rooms all breathe the same atmosphere plays a role. We have worked hard from the very first winter to renovate everything and we have put a lot of thought in the design. We decided to go with stylish yet unpretentious spaces that we could fully identify with. Spaces we would personally like to live in. This led us on a quest for beautiful dark wood furniture that would contrast beautifully with clean, crisp white walls. We also chose to restore the authentic boarded floors to their former glory. Finally, each space has a playful touch that, according to guest reactions, is particularly appreciated.

A playful touch, what do you mean by that?

Marion: Every room or gîte adds a unique through a single wall with special wallpaper or a door with a cheery sticker. The biggest surprise of all emerges at night, when the room turns dark. If you keep your eyes open a little bit longer, you will surely notice that …

Jan: Come now, don’t ruin the surprise! Let people come and find out for themselves.

And what about the renovations, are they completely finished?

Jan: Fortunately yes. After first tackling the rooms and gîtes, we have now also thoroughly renovated all terraces. We also erected a nice pergola, and put in an extra terrace higher uphill, with a view over the valley. Finally we have done some limited landscaping of the garden area immediately surrounding the house and gîtes.

Marion: We live here in such a beautiful rural environment, it would be a shame to go against by trying to impose an unnatural order. A large part of our garden is simply forest, which even has some wild trails running through it! In the planters between the gîtes and the swimming pool, we opted for robust plants that can take a beating. A large number of those plants are also capable of propegating themselves, choosing the best locations. No landscaper can match that. Of course we still have to do some limited amount of weeding, but we don’t have to spring into action at the first blade of grass.

Jules the dog at Le Manoir at Souillac
dinner with jan and Marion

Jan: It is a beautiful garden, and it is teeming with butterflies. Never thought that I would grow to notice things like that.

Finally, do you enjoy spending time in the kitchen? When can guests join you at the table?

Jan: We like to cook, but we do not do it every day. We really enjoy bringing guests together, so we prefer cooking for more than just one family or couple. We occasionally cook ‘on request’, but only on days where we do not have our hands full with cleaning, washing and ironing. Because yes, we do everything here by ourselves, which between to two of us makes for busy days during the season.

Marion: Every day I do prepare a breakfast surprise. This can be pancakes, or a cake, or fresh yogurt.

Jan: Yes, we pay a lot of attention to breakfast. I love a good baguette and a fresh croissant myself, so I want the same for our guests. The baker delivers fresh bread every day of the week, which is a real luxury. Even guests that stay in a gîte can use that service, to the delight of many.

Something I can confirm! We had a great time here, thank you for your hospitality. We will undoubtedly come back again.