|A film crew at the Château de Javarzay|
A bit like the misty mornings of Autumn, my head is a little clouded at the prospect of the rapidly approaching end of the summer season at the Château de Javarzay. It has been a blast once more, welcoming over three-thousand visitors, including almost a thousand international tourists, from thirteen different countries, and rescuing two species of bat from the spiral staircase.
|A long-eared bat, rescued from the staircase|
Some of the visitors will stand out more in my memory than others. One Monday evening, just as we were closing up, two men appeared by the door and started to read the opening times. I could hear them speaking in English, so picked up one of our English flyers and popped outside to explain they were a bit late for a visit today, but that we’d love to see them on Wednesday. We chatted for a bit about the château and the museum, and when they asked about things like vintage car rallies, I was able to regale them with tales of 75 Porsches parked within the courtyard to the rear of the château and the MG car club lined up at the front. However, sadly there was nothing else in the calendar for the two weeks they said they were in the area. They then revealed they were a film crew for A Place in the Sun, a long running UK television programme finding holiday homes abroad for sun-deprived Brits. As I may well have watched an episode or two over the years, this certainly piqued my interest.
|Some of the 75 Porsche parked in the courtyard|
They asked about filming the outside of the château to use as one of their postcard shots for an episode to be set in our area, and I happily gave out the contact details for the Mairie (mayor) to get the required permission, as well as waxing lyrical about life here and all the fantastic events that are organised over the summer. Almost as a last-minute parting thought, they asked for my phone number, to let me know when they would be back to film. A few days later, they called, with a question – would I be happy being filmed, talking to their house-hunters about what it’s like living here?
Two thoughts instantly flew into my head. The first was the wooden freeze pose that automatically descends as soon as someone points a camera in my face. The second was that this is an experience that will put me way out of my comfort zone, so I obviously have to say yes. Adrian and Ed thought it was hilarious, but I am a firm believer in pushing my comfort boundaries and I’m also quite used to chatting away to holiday makers at the château who are keen to find out how a British woman gets a job in a château in rural France – in short, by saying yes to new opportunities.
It is fair to say that the weather this summer has been mixed, so when I opened my shutters on the morning of the filming and it was chilly and misty, it was difficult to predict whether it would be overcast all day or follow the normal September pattern of misty mornings and warm, sunny afternoons. Luckily, the mist was already lifting by the time I cycled to the château, with my favourite dress rolled up in my bag and by the time we set up by the lake at the back of the château, the grass was still damp with dew, but the sky was an incredible shade of blue, that complemented my dress nicely.
I did have a brief fan-girl moment/flicker of panic, when I recognised the presenter of the show, Lucy, who was the face of Homes Under the Hammer for fourteen years, and I was rather in awe of how easy she made talking to the camera seem. Happily the team were very gentle with me as a total TV newbie. The soundman was discrete as he attached a box to my bra strap and dropped a little fluffy microphone into my cleavage, reminding me that just four days earlier I had worn the same dress to work (on my birthday) and had suffered an epic underwear fail. Despite bringing a change of clothes to work with me, swapping cycling gear for something smarter, I don’t normally bother with two bras. It was just bad luck that it poured with rain on my way in, soaking me (and my padded bra) to the skin, so I had no option but to spend my birthday wearing my dress with nothing on underneath. I was rather grateful that I was appropriately dressed today.
The cameraman, who I’d met on the steps of the château, was patient, relaxed and put me at ease, so I was almost able to forget he had a camera in front of him. Lucy was chatty and friendly, and made me feel like we’d known each other for years. The house hunters had already had a few days experience of life on camera and were keen to hear my take on life here in the Deux-Sèvres. In the days before filming, I’d come up with a plan to ignore the camera and just pretend I was talking to tourists who had walked into the château. It worked and it was a great fun experience, although having to have the same (or at least similar) conversations over and over again, to ensure different angles and close-ups were all covered, did seem rather weird.
|A Place in the Sun - the château, the house hunters, the presenter and me|
Almost as quickly as they’d arrived and set up, they were gone, off to view their third property, a thirteen-minute drive from Javarzay. It was interesting to learn that filming one episode takes them five days on location, where they must wear the same outfit every day and the location of each property is kept a secret from the couple, until they arrive. I have obviously been following Lucy on Instagram to see where else they have been this week (Cognac and the Charente Maritime) and now it’s just a waiting game for the new series to hit the screens.
They have probably already forgotten meeting little old me, but I will remember them and be grateful for another memorable experience that came my way thanks to working at the château.
I know it’s been way too long since my last proper blog, so now I’ve got more free time, I’ll do my best to catch up with some of the other memorable moments from our busy summer.