La Volée is both embedded in the community of Ger and a very private place. In walking distance of the little town, which provides a supermarket, chemist, hardware store, post office, and bakery (of course!), the farmstead lies alongside the road, behind its traditional cider apple orchard. We welcome local people looking out for us as they drive by! We are situated in the bocage countryside of Lower Normandy, which is characterised by small pastures surrounded by wooded banks – examples of these stony banks, often surmounted by beeches, abound on the property.
Behind the buildings and large open horse shelter the land drops away into a secret valley, a world that is quiet and hidden from public view. The valley is the heart of La Volée and the special place that is so restorative to us who live here and to our visitors – everyone finds their own favourite part to walk or sit in and to find peace. In winter under snow the undulating curves of the valley are breathtakingly pure; in spring the chorus of birdsong is enhanced by the wonderful acoustics and wild cherry explodes into blossom; in summer the ponds are the place to be, listening to the sounds of water falling, watching the dragonflies or taking a plunge in the cold, fresh spring water; autumn is a blaze of colour as the ancient beeches turn gold. In the evening we like to sit by the firepit at the top of the hill and watch the sun go down and the bats come out, listening to the calls of the owls.
Maybe a third of the land is under trees – pines, deciduous woodland, and plantations of ash and willow. Woodland paths are being cut for guests to follow (we like the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku or ‘forest breathing’). You can walk down to the top pond which is spring-fed and full of carp and water lilies, and sit on the wooden viewing platform under the holly trees; behind this a stile leads into some open pine forest, and as you pass you can bless yourself in the ‘pagan font’ in an old beech root that is nearly always dark with rainwater.
The horses are usually at liberty in the valley; we keep the areas around the swimming ponds horse-free in summer and there is a people-only area around the top carp-pond. It can be a pleasure just to move with the herd and merge with them. The land is organic, with wildflowers in spring in particular, and autumn mushrooms and chestnuts; you are welcome to pick fruit in season.
We have so many plans for the future – more fruit and vegetable gardening, a wildflower meadow for bees, and the construction of dens and shelters with natural build techniques…. We hope you will find places to be and things to observe or do that make you feel La Volée has welcomed you and would like you to return.