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Note: Book Giveaway Challenge at the end of this blog.  Don’t miss it!


You all follow me and my blog, and I am so grateful.  I hope it gives you pleasure.


But now I am going to tell you who I faithfully follow for inspiration!


One of my favourites is Janine Marsh of


Janice is an award-winning travel writer, blogger, author, and publisher of The Good Life France Magazine.



Janine Marsh at her home in rural France



Like much that happens in life, this all materialized for Janine by happenstance.


On a whim (really! They were not even looking!) Brits Janine and her husband Mark bought a rundown farmhouse in ultra rural Northern France, and like so many ex-pats who buy in France, they starting renovating.


What makes Janine’s story unique, however, is that she also started to populate her new home with stray animals.


In fact, when locals got her number, they sometimes just dropped animals off on her doorstep.



Janine and her rescued dogs



Janine now has a large menagerie of cats, dogs, ducks, chickens, geese, and hedgehogs which she has all named.


(Ensuring that they will never end up in a pot on the kitchen stove thankfully.)


A brood of seven ducklings was called Sneezy, Wheezy, Grumpy, Nosey, Chewy, Sleepy, and Beaky.


Ginger Rogers is a deaf ginger tomcat.


There are dogs named Ella Fitzgerald, and Churchhill.


You get the idea.


I hungrily await Janine’s blog just to hear how everyone is doing, and also to learn more about her new friends and neighbours who are quite the characters.


So, Janine is my Guest Contributor this week and she sent us this missive exclusive to my blog along with some recent pictures of her life in the French countryside.



An entrant into the Best Straw Sculpture Contest in Seven Valleys where Janine lives!

By Janine Marsh


“In my little corner of France, some of the most important things in our daily lives are community, family, friends and neighbors, bread, cheese, cake, wine – and the weather!


The French constantly express their disbelief at: 1. How wet it is; 2. how dry it is; 3. how hot it is; 4. how cold it is.


And then talk about it all the time as if it had never happened before in the history of the world. Ever.  (Diana’s note; Canadians are so like that too!)


In our village, it is an acknowledged fact that 90-year-old Claudette, my neighbor, is a weather guru.


She is as spritely as a woman half her age and as thin as a reed – this is in spite of the fact that her favourite snack is sugar cake.


When I asked her the secret to her energy she said it was down to the healthy French diet.


She eats a slice of pork belly for breakfast with a glass of cider.


She’s never been on a plane or train, the furthest she’s been outside the village is to the local hospital 20 miles away.


But she is as obsessed with the weather as the rest of my neighbors and watches the daily hour-long Météo à la Carte programme on TV. Yes, an hour long.


If anyone wants to know about the weather, Claudette is the person to ask. She is assisted by her son-in-law Jean-Claude who studies the activities of insects and frogs to help make an accurate forecast.


Claudette, a wise woman, always quotes Victor Hugo with her weather predictions, her favourite being “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”


My sort of weather forecaster!”



Janice with a Massive Gingerbread loaf from the Mulot & Petitjean Gingerbread Museum in Dijon! (There’s a museum for that?)

About Janine Marsh


Janine’s website is


She is the author of two great books, My Good Life In France, In Pursuit of the Rural Dream

and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of Good Life. 




You can see more about her and purchase these books on my website by clicking on the above links.


You can also follow Janine on Instagram at #thegoodlifefrance




Book Giveaway Contest Right Now!

I am GIVING AWAY one of Janine’s books tout de suite!

And here is how you can WIN!

All you need to do is LEAVE A COMMENT below.

You can respond to this blog,

or write about where in rural France you would like to visit?

A funny story about your pet?

Be creative.

The Best Story Wins!

Note: Most of you have been emailing me directly instead of commenting below. 

And while I love hearing from you, other subscribers say they MISS seeing others’ comments. 

So just a reminder to PLEASE PLEASE share your COMMENTS below.



Disclosure Policy: This site uses affiliate links that may generate small commissions based on clicks and purchases in order to support the costs of running this site.  Any products that I give away are personally purchased by me unless otherwise specified. I write all the content on my site unless otherwise specified. And I respect the privacy of my subscribers and do not share their information with any other party or organization.

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  1. Catherine Willis-O'Connor on May 16, 2021 at 7:18 am

    I would love to read her book. She sounds like a person with a great sense of humour.
    Thank you Diana!

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 11:59 am

      Both books are very entertaining!

  2. Gretchen Greene O'Brien on May 16, 2021 at 8:17 am

    What an interesting woman Janine Marsh is! Will look forward to hearing more stories about her new life in rural France – especially her menagerie!!

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      Thank you for your comment Gretchen. I am glad Janine’s story resonates with you. Her books are wonderful. Diana

  3. gailtschilling on May 16, 2021 at 9:22 am

    Janine’s menagerie reminds me of the rescues my kiddos and I raised in Wyoming along with cats, birds, and fish:
    Zezel – a three-legged, yard sale gerbil (named for a hockey player) who escaped into my heating ducts
    Ninja – the box turtle who couldn’t hibernate so needed nose drops (yes, nose drops!) and tub time with lettuce and burger. (Hated finding burger in my bath!)
    Chips – A Great Pyrenees who drooled on the table, knocked over my toddler with his tail, and scarfed the Christmas turkey!
    Loved them all.

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      Ok the Great Pyrenee sounds like a story! Thank goodness your toddler was ok afterwards, not as good an outcome for the turkey!
      Best to you, Diana

    • Janine Marsh on May 22, 2021 at 10:24 am

      This made me laugh so much, Ninja sounds like my sort of turtle! We have a duck called Rambo who was abandoned as a duckling and lived in the house with us – he’s grown now and outdoors but every day I still have to give him a cuddle or he sulks! best wishes, Janine

  4. Luci Rizzo on May 16, 2021 at 9:29 am

    I love animals! There is no secret here. I have a beloved cat Lily who has her own IG “lilyrussianblue”. She is much loved. Her personality is typical of all regal cats. She comes when she feels like it and demands attention and affection when she wishes. Having said that she is very gentle and sweet too. She is an acrobat and likes to entertain our guests who visit by walking the tightrope of our upstairs loft banister. She scares the heck out of everyone but revels in the attention! Little brat!! I wish i could show u a photo of her antics but i don’t see a place to add photos. If it were only up to me (and apparently Marc says its not!) i would have at least one more cat and 2 dogs (well even one dog would satisfy me for awhile). For now we have one very interesting little cat whose little antics leave us joyful and grateful for her presence in our home.

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 11:59 am

      I follow your cat on Instagram… such a beauty. She looks like she has such a wonderful personality. Great story. And love hearing from you. Diana

  5. Judith Herbig on May 16, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Love reading your blog! Planned a 1st trip to Paris last year which got cancelled; then planned one this year which will have to be cancelled but believe I will get there one day! I have three cats who love to sleep all around me every night.

    • Diana Bishop on May 16, 2021 at 3:50 pm

      Oh Judith.. I can so relate. I have cancelled again and again. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that I will get there in the next 8 months. Won’t really be fun there until everything opens up again. Best to you and thank you so much for commenting on my blog. Diana

  6. stephanie on May 16, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Thank you for introducing me to Janine! I immediately went to her website. One of the first pictures I saw was Janine at a Gingerbread Museum holding a gigantic loaf of gingerbread. My heart skipped a beat. I’m obsessed with gingerbread, but don’t find it done well or often here in California. Signed up for her newsletter and instagram.

    • Diana Bishop on May 16, 2021 at 3:49 pm

      I am so glad that you are now also following Janine. That picture of her with the gingerbread was in my blog today. I hope you saw that. I thought it was extraordinary too— enjoy! Diana

    • Janine Marsh on May 22, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Hi Stephanie I love gingerbread too and I persuaded a Michelin Star chef to give me his recipe! Its the authentic French version based on his grandma’s recipe – she was famous in my part of France for her gingerbread – and her beard! best wishes, Janine

  7. Ellen Bishop on May 16, 2021 at 10:59 am

    Loved hearing that Janine saves strays. Will be looking forward to reading her blog, especially regarding the menagerie. Sounds like she’s my kind of gal.
    Also, Diana I really enjoy the things you bring to the table, so to speak.
    I’ll never get to go to France, but I can enjoy it through the eyes of your contributors, and it’s a lovely moment in my day. Thanks.😉

    • Diana Bishop on May 16, 2021 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Ellen,

      Yes, isn’t it wonderful that Janice saves strays. Of course part of her story that she writes in her books, is about her French neighbours who think Janine is mad for doing so. The local vet who get a lot of business from Janine’s new family members even remarked once..”you cannot save them all!”
      Love the comment Ellen and I hope you will continue to comment often. Best to you, Diana

  8. Trudy Van Buskirk on May 16, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    I’d love to visit Christine Camm (who I “zoom” chat with every Friday since I won an online French lesson here in December 2019). She’s an ex-pat Brit who lives in a small village in rural south western France. The closest town is Pau but she can see the Pyrenées on her walks. She moved to France with her husband Mark about 5 years ago and not only offers learning French online but also airBnB rooms!!

    What a life!!!

    • Diana Bishop on May 16, 2021 at 3:45 pm

      I do indeed remember that! That was one of my very first Giveaway Draws. I love that people connect through my blog and meet new friends who love Paris and France. Christine is a gem! Thank you for your comment Trudy! Diana

  9. Rebecca Brown on May 16, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    My husband and I spent our honeymoon at a farmhouse in France, near Cognac. We would be startled awake every morning with someone honking their car horn. We couldn’t understand why someone would do this every morning…. well, we found out on our last day there. There was a bakery van who had been told that we were staying there and every day he passed by to see if we would like any baguettes, croissants, pastries, etc… Oh man, we wish we had known earlier and could have had freshly baked goodness every day! Oh well…

    • Diana Bishop on May 16, 2021 at 3:44 pm

      Great story Rebecca, I would be kicking myself. Thank you so much for commenting. Please continue to do so. And you have certainly been entered into the book contest with this story! Diana

  10. Carmen on May 16, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    I love your BLOG. I would love to live in or near Reims or Chartres. I love the beautiful cathedrals and I love going to mass. Sainte Jeanne D’Arc is my favorite saint.

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 11:57 am

      Carmen, I too love Chartres. I did a blog on that city and the cathedral a little while back. You can find it on my website under Travel Stories .. at www.
      I wrote about the labyrinth at the cathedral that is only open on Fridays. Have you walked it? Diana

  11. Diane Jacob on May 16, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Bonjour, mes chères amies!! I am French Canadian, a Foodie and a caterer who LOVES to teach Cooking with my girlfriends because after the participative class, we sit around the table and enjoy the feast of our labour. I continue to dream about visiting the vineyards of France to learn about the differences in grape varieties first hand and would love to sample the gastronomie of small intimate restos and bistros throughout France and indulge in some of the local cuisine from grandmas and grandpas willing to share their family recipes. I worked for a gentleman from Provence for 7 years at Diva de Provence and he had the gift of sharing his real life stories surrounding his childhood with his prominent family. When he retired, he returned to France, l’Amour de sa vie (the Love of his life)! I plan, one day, to relish in the lifestyle and landscape of France at its finest…maybe with a diverse group as lovelies such as you, “Woman of a Certain Age in Paris”. Au revoir!!

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 11:53 am

      Salut Diane — I am sure you will get that chance to go back and stay in France in the nearest future. I too clamor to go and stay for much longer periods each time. I am making so many new friends there and the lifestyle … it is what we all love about France! Thank you so much for your comment. Diana

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 11:55 am

      Diane, I am so thrilled with your comment. I too just pine to get back to France and for longer periods of time each time. Best to you, and thank you thank you for sharing your story. Diana

  12. Margaret Ann Gendreau on May 16, 2021 at 10:49 pm

    I started following Janine immediately on Instagram, thanks Diana! What a great story to go along with my breakfast here on the balcony in Vancouver, as I yearn for a return to France, just like so many others. In the meantime I fill up on France through your blog and the wonderful women I have met through your zoom programme this year! Merci Beaucoup Diana!

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 11:51 am

      I do love hearing from you Margaret Ann. I am so glad that I am keeping the dream to get back to France alive for all of us and appreciate your comment. Diana

  13. Shardie Stevenson on May 17, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Love this lady and I will follow her on IG. What an idyllic life!
    The comments from her and about her Mom were great and the photos gorgeous!
    And her obsession with weather 😁

    My daughter’s father’s family are all farmers as you know Diana. I encountered this same weather obsession when I first went to visit their farm … 19 years old and a “City Girl “. It was however rather a negative thing o stead of how she sees it. It was either too hot , not enough rain , too much rain etc etc. Every day started like this and there was running commentary on it throughout waking hours. I suppose their livelihood depended on it but honestly , it never seemed good enough!
    To be honest …. it drove me crazy 😜

    • Diana Bishop on May 17, 2021 at 11:49 am

      I do know what you mean. I think Canadians are obsessed with the weather too — we live in a country where we also get a few nice days and think that we will pay for them with rain or snow. But farmers have even more reason to talk about it. Thanks so much for the comment BF! Diana

  14. Janine Marsh on May 22, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Thanks so much for sharing me Diana – one of these days I hope I’ll get to meet y’all in Paris, share a glass of wine, talk until we lose our voices, laugh so much we ache and count our lucky stars… Thank you too for all the lovely comments from your friends – put a big smile on my face on a rather miserable day in my part of France – outside my pigsty window I can see the rain falling and the trees bending in the wind. I already know what the topic of conversation will be when I walk the dogs later through the village – the weather, of course… Hugs from France, Janine xx

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