La Cressonnière

Would you like to know about the house we are renting in France? It’s a house with a name instead of an address — which makes me smile every time I think of it. I’ve never lived in a house with a name! It’s called La Cressonnière and it means “watercress”. (Incidentally, to honor the name of the house, I have been looking up watercress recipes — if you have a good one, please let me know.)

The house is in the Normandy region, about 1/2 hour from Caen. (In Caen, you can catch a ferry to the UK.) It’s big enough to fit our family, it has an artist’s studio and a beautiful garden. There’s even a piano — so my kids can continue their music studies while we’re there. There’s an older part and a newer part of the house. The older part is 17th century. The newer part is 18th century. : )

Ben Blair visited the home a few weeks ago to check it out in person, see what the countryside is like and how easy it is to access Paris. He loved the house and brought us lots of video so we could get to know it too.

Everything about the house is beautiful and interesting. The home owners have excellent taste. The husband is an artist, and he’s taken great care with every detail in the house. In one room, he uses salvaged wood paneling from a 17th century church on the walls. On the doors, he scouted authentic period locks. And his wonderful artwork makes appearances in every room.

Finding this home felt like a gift. It was the right size in the right price range. It was close enough to Paris — so I could see my sister. And it’s beautiful. Moving to France is a treat, and getting to live in such a special residence is equally a treat.

Some practical notes:

1) One of the reasons we took this daydream-of-moving-abroad seriously was our difficulty finding a house we wanted to buy here in Denver. There are lots of amazing neighborhoods here, but after looking fairly intensely for almost a year, we hadn’t found the right one to purchase. So we decided to consider that circumstance a blessing, and make the most of our flexible housing situation. We still hope to return to Denver after our time abroad and find a place to call home.

2) We looked into several different countries before ultimately deciding on France. When my sister, Jordan, made plans to spend a year in Paris with her family, that definitely influenced our decision. We think it will be fun for both of us to be in France at the same time. She can play city mouse and I’ll play country mouse.

3) Another factor that assured us La Cressonniére was the right place, is that the wife is Australian. So, while we’re working on our meager French, communication is still easy — hooray!

4) We found La Cressonniére on — my favorite source if you’re looking for a long-term, furnished rental. But there are other great sites as well.

If you’re considering your own adventure abroad, I hope these notes about our thinking and sources will help you.

90 thoughts on “La Cressonnière”

  1. Just love it!! I am just so thrilled for you all!! Once again, you are inspirational in the way that you and Ben Blair use your creativity and mindfulness to achieve such fabulous goals for your family. So glad you’ll have such a beautiful setting on your adventure!

  2. Gabby – This looks absolutely dreamy. I am just so excited for you and your family. And to get to read about all of your adventures. I’m proud to say I practiced French with you back in the day. Bon Chance!!

  3. Slice canned brown bread with raisins (near the baked beans section at the grocery), spread the slices with goat cheese and top with watercress leaves. Sandwich two slices together and roll in crushed toasted hazelnuts.

  4. It looks so perfectly French. I am so happy for you guys – I can’t wait to hear all about your adventures abroad and live a little vicariously through you!

  5. This looks amazing. On a practical note, I am curious about how you were able to obtain visas to live in France for this long?

  6. You continue to be an inspiration to me! These days I hardly get past work and Trader Joe’s. To dream of living somewhere magical is almost too hard to imagine. Good for you!!!!

  7. How lovely! I am curious, how did you all decide on Normandy as your region of choice? What an enriching experience this will be for your family.

  8. Hi! Fabulous rental you found! I was referred to your blog by a newcomer to mine whom advised we should link up as I’m moving to Paris also! I’ll actually be in Paris and Normandy. Congrats to you for deciding to live abroad. I’m excited and look forward to the experience! I hope to connect with you.

    Best and Happy New Year!
    B So Chic! (fashion)

    Flanboyant Eats (culinary)

  9. I am way behind on your posts, but I had to tell you: Normany is fantastic! In addition to all the castles, The Peace Museum in Caen is amazing. Go! (also, as I’m sure you already know, you aren’t that far away from the D-Day beaches and memorials. Those are also amazing).
    But my absolute, absolute favorite is Mont St-Michel. Might be my favorite place on earth:

  10. I have to ask, how expensive is that? My Daughter’s school principal is having a sabbatical in France for a year in Nantes. Not as grand of a house but still a very nice modern house with a pool and I wonder how they can afford it…sorry if it’s a crass question, but since you are a stranger, I guess I can ask. My husband is Swiss but we can’t afford to ever live there, not in a house, maybe an apartment LOL

  11. More and more I’m thinking our family needs the adventure of living abroad, even though it would probably be easier if they were younger. But you only live once, and LIVE we need to do!

  12. I just stumbled upon your page from a link at Not Martha. I have LOVED reading through your entries about relocating your family to France – thanks for all the detailed info!! We are in a similar situation…living in the Boulder area, searching for a home to buy without much luck finding something we love, etc. We have a one year old and my husband works from home as a software developer so we are seriously considering a year abroad if we don’t find a house we love by July (when our rental lease is up). I can’t wait to follow along on your adventure in France!!

  13. Hi Everyone, I am delighted that Gabrielle found La Cressonniere, it is indeed perfect for her large family. As the founder of, I want to tell Sarah, that we have other beautiful homes posted at Not just in France but also in Italy, Spain, Australia and, in 48 other countries. If you have any questions, please email me. Cheers, Nadege (a mom who loves homes and travels)

  14. I lived in Deauville for five years so if you would like some insider tips about things to see or do in the region, give me a shout. I’d be happy to share! Belle journée à vous, La Franglaise xx

  15. Breathtaking!!! The home and its grounds are gorgeous! What an wonderful experience for your family. My family and I were in a position to move abroad to Chile for 6 months, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. I would so love to live abroad for some time. What a great gift you are giving your children!
    ps: I simply adore the treehouse and its details!

  16. I happened to flip on the tv to the hgtv channel last night and saw you guys on the International house hunters show. It was so fun to see you and your home there in video form. I’ve now spent the morning going through all your past france posts. So fun! I wondered how the house hunters show came about and when it was filmed?

  17. Bonjour Gabrielle,
    I just got finished watching the House Hunters International episode for the second time, and couldn’t wait to race to Google and find you! I have a big crush on your whole family , and of course on that incredible house! I just loved seeing you and the children making art in the atelier! I’m going to follow your blog from now on. We leave for our Normandy vacation next week, and although we won’t have time to look for property on this trip, we do so want to spend a year living there in the very near future.
    Now I’m off to catch up on your blog and your Flickr!

  18. Just saw you on House Hunters!!! What an amazing experience for you and your family!!! My husband and I only traveled to Paris once before our little ones….but I am dreaming to go back! Cannot wait to follow you and your family and all of your french adventures!!!

  19. I saw you and your adorable family on House Hunters International! Every time I watched that show I catch the “living abroad bug” and this episode was no exception. I just died over all the houses you toured loving every minute of it (especially that converted convent!). I saved it and made my husband watch it with me later telling him that you guys were living my dream. My second thought (after complete envy) was I totally bet they’re LDS! Haha…low and behold I believe you are. One of my friends, Nicole Gerulat, writes for babble also. Reading one of her posts today I stumbled upon your blog. What a random little world we live in. Anyway, you’re family is beautiful and I can’t wait to live vicariously through you until I can have adventures of my own! Good luck in France! -Sarah

  20. Hi Gabrielle! I just saw House Hunters too and it was so nice to see you and your family! I loved the farm house you chose, beautiful! Great choice!

  21. Hi Gabrielle! My wife and I have seen your HHI show a couple of times, and are totally fascinated with all three of the houses you toured. We’re wondering what your feelings are about the whole House Hunters experience. How did you happen to get involved with HGTV… does HGTV pay the families that participate in those shows… do you tour numerous homes and then settle on the three to be filmed… was that experience something you’d do again or not… etc., etc.

  22. Hi Gabrielle,

    I just found your blog because I watched you guys on HH. What a fantastic place! It must be dreamy living in a place with such character and soul. You can feel the passion of art in every room.

    I hope you guys are being happy and feeling blessed in your home.


    Luciane at

  23. Bonjour Gabrielle,
    My wife & I are watching this episode on House Hunter’s International right now. When you mentioned you were a blogger, I looked you up. I appreciate the spolier and enjoyed your story of finding a house in France. Wonderful and enjoy your stay!!!


  24. Not even sure how I stumbled onto your site, but am thrilled to be able to enjoy it! I happened to watch that episode of House Hunters International and was nearly jumping up and down to see that you chose this very, very special home. Now that I’ve learned more about you through your blog, I’m pleased at what a truly perfect match it is for you and your family. I have a little dream lurking in the back of my own mind that I, too could have an adventure in a little place in France or England… someday. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  25. Excellent post with beautiful pics. I wish i could own a similar house… it looks so frechish…. Any Vacation REntals for this house?

    (caribbean-villa-rentals . org )

  26. Hi, I am enjoying your blog. May I ask how you support yourself financially as you say you no longer do your graphic art – do you work using blogs? is it the advertising? Apologies if this question is too blunt but I ask as I am living in France too but need to find a way of bringing in an income. I am not in a part of the country I like and want to move to the countryside as well. My boyfriend is in Montpellier but I really dislike it and am very unhappy in this industrial city, you see.

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