Christophe Plateau loves the donkeys of Vassivière
The spring 2016 forecast is beautiful and flowery for the heights of Peyrat-le-Château (classified as a Green Resort) not far from the banks of Vassivière Lake. Go and meet Christophe, an animal lover, who decided to live in the countryside in the Haute-Vienne, in the heart of the Limousin when his career as an architect could have allowed him to travel around the world. What pushed him to settle down in Vassivière for the purposes of tourism? It's Christophe Plateau who both asked and answered. He'll welcome you to his farm in Champseau for a quiet holiday in company with his favourite animals; donkeys. Be careful, these kind, four-footed companions are really lovable. You won't be able to resist going to see them. The good communicator that he is, you can follow the adventures of Christophe through his website where he also maintains a blog.
Why the Haute-Vienne and how long have you lived here?
Rather than a decision considering the pros and cons, Peyrat-le-Château was a natural choice when I envisaged leaving Paris and my job as an architect in 2000. It was self-evident because my great grandfather's farm was here and it's where I spent many holidays building cabins on looking after the sheep with the shepherd and his dogs!
Introduce your profession:
Once I had my farming qualification, my Limousin life project was built around donkeys and walking. I wanted to combine an agricultural activity (a donkey farm) with tourism (walks around Vassivière). Quickly, a campsite appeared on the holding, then an encampment of Mongol yurts and more recently, a gypsy caravan. The accommodation has become more and more important, but the donkey remains the heart of our activities: roaming walks, commentated treks, educational farm…
What you love most in your profession?
I've always wanted away from Paris to have space and live in the grand outside. And now I'm spoilt! Here, nature isn't an empty word, something that we merely watch. We're in it, we're part of it and contribute to it in some small measure as the days pass. It's precious. Another privilege: to live with our animals. We learn about ourselves through contact with the beasts: for the most part humility, respect, curiosity and grow every day with each encounter.
How is your profession specific, particular, unusual or original?
Today, we live connected or we must hurry. It's no easy feat to travel at a donkey's pace along little used paths that means you see no one during the day. No smart phone, no GPS: using a map means taking one's time. Sometimes you get lost, but that's not important (unless it's done on purpose!). For some people that would be horrible. For many, it's a "detox" and a source of healing.
Which is your favourite village? And why?
Quenouille, without doubt. On the side of the hill, it's beautiful, cream granite houses are literally interlaced into the slopes. Water flows at the foot of the village: wash house, drinking trough, fountain… Above the houses, the moors start, on the peak are legendary rocks and further away, volcanoes. Around the hamlet, a real labyrinth of sunken paths, bordered by low walls. I always feel a small amount of piety when faced with remains of a time long past and the country people who built these walls, for their know-how and their patient hard work.
Where is your lake, pond, river or corner of nature that you like best?
It's true that Vassivière is the closest to us. But we fell in love with Lavaud-Gelade, wilder and less well-known. I must admit to being a bit selfish: I have no intention of sharing my favourite spots along the banks of this large lake…
What sports, leisure activities or relaxation activity do you prefer? Where? Solo, with family or friends?
Walking, of course. And in any weather because "one doesn't melt in the rain"! It must be said that here, there isn't a lack of itineraries and I have a secret ambition to know every trail in Vassivière Country.
You love local food; which is the recipe that you know well all of sharing with those close to you?
No meat in our kitchen… Sorry Limousin cows! However, we have nothing against a frying pan of Chanterelles that we found when out walking. A little bit of butter, salt, pepper: nothing too much. And also, this fry up has the flavours of autumn "my spiritual season" as Apollinaire wrote. It's then that the light is the softest, the air freshest, the perfumes sweetest…
With regard to new technology are you rather: switched off, equipped (smartphone, tablet computer, computer) or a geek?
Switched off, of course, as much as professional imperatives allow. With the Internet and online reservations it's out of the question to cut yourself off from clients that for them the Net is vital. However, no mobile phone, it's sheer pleasure, now and then, to be unavailable…
Mr Christophe PLATEAU
Information and booking: www.anes-de-vassiviere.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/anesdevassiviere
Christophe Plateau also offers family holidays on the farm in a gîte, yurt and gypsy caravan...