TO KNOW | LA RAMONETA OF THE MONTH
© Ken Payton
Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why they are living in this beautiful region, what they do for a living and some of their Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet Yvonne Tenninge as Ramoneta of the Month.
I am originally from Stockholm, Sweden, where I ran an interior design store. After selling the shop, I started a career in marketing for the Swedish scouting and guiding organisation. However, it felt like something was missing and I needed a break. This is how my husband Mike and I started to talk about living in France.
First time in the region
As my ex-husband and our three children have travelled to France quite a bit, I already knew the beautiful region of Languedoc. So, this is where Mike and I started to go house-hunting. I knew I wanted to live near Pézenas (1), which is a lovely village full of antique stores. Mike and I bought a map, and every time we visited a surrounding village we would mark it with yellow, orange and green pins. The green pins stood for the places we really liked, and we always ended up saying to each other that the village we chose should be like Neffiès. Finally, we concluded that Neffiès was the place for us. It is such a friendly, open village with a good mix of people.
Settling in Languedoc
After renting a house in Neffiès for a while, we spotted our dream house. But, it wasn’t for sale… so we knocked on the door and asked the English lady who lived there if she would sell her house to us. After a bit of negotiating, the house was ours! I moved over by the end of November 2014, initially just to take a look. However, I ended up not returning to Stockholm until September 2015. All that time, I had been renovating our house into a Bed & Breakfast. The first three years were a challenge in so many ways. With Mike staying in Stockholm, I did the renovation and interior decoration mostly by myself. Thanks to my lovely neighbours, who supported me all the way through this tough period.
© Yvonne Tenninge
Living in Languedoc
It has always been a dream of mine to live in France and now I am living it. Although, it wasn’t easy at the beginning. I had left Sweden with my car packed full of tools and my sewing machine. Only to find our house completely left empty, I really had to start from scratch. Of course, I missed my children and Mike awfully. On top of that, I had aches everywhere, as my body wasn’t used to all this physically hard work. But in the end, it was worth it. The Languedoc is such a great region to live in. If you are looking for a warm climate, sun and beaches, without the outrageous prices, this is the place to go!
By the Summer of 2015, our house was partly transformed into a Bed and Breakfast. We started with three bedrooms, and now we can host guests in six bedrooms, including a wonderful swimming pool. The terrace that leads off the living room gives a magnificent view of the region. Hence the name of our B&B: La Belle Vue (2), which means ‘the Beautiful View’. We also offer the French experience to our guests. This means that they enjoy a great breakfast to start their day with energy, but we can also make reservations for restaurants, beach beds, bikes and know a few good places for a delicious wine tasting. We even organise yoga retreats. We have created our French dream, with lots of love. Guests that have stayed at our place give us so much love back. They feel like they are at home here and say that they have found their paradise.
As I did all the interior design by myself, I know how to find the best treasures. I absolutely love second-hand furniture and building materials. There are three levels to finding the best stuff. First of all, the antique stores. There are many in Pézenas, but they are quite expensive. Secondly, I find a lot on the website ‘Le Bon Coin’, where people sell whatever they have to sell. And finally, it’s worth going to a “trocante” now and then. This is a place where people get a commission on what the trocante sells for you. The things you will find here are generally of a better quality than, let’s say, Emmaüs. A golden rule for treasure hunting is always to follow your heart. And don’t worry about the price too much, pay what it’s worth to you.
© Yvonne Tenninge
Best Languedoc wine
My favourite local wine is the red Sonatina from Domaine Sainte Cécile du Parc. I love all of their wines, but this one is my favourite. In fact, we buy a lot of wine from this domaine, as our guests also love it. Another plus is that I know Christine Bertoli. And, in my opinion, you can see the winemaker in the wine they make. This definitely goes for the Sonatina, which is an elegant, intelligent red wine with depth, just like Christine.
Neffiès hosts two of my favourite restaurants. We like to have dinner at L’Escampette, which is a bistro style restaurant run by a strong and colourful French woman, Nilda Cobral. My other favourite restaurant is Le Very’table, which is more of a fine dining restaurant with great local food. Since last year, we also have a Michelin-star restaurant around the corner. In Vailhan you will find the fantastic Äponem (3), situated in a former rectory with a stunning view over the lake of Vailhan. The food is amazing and beautifully presented.
Perfect day out in the Languedoc
If I have a day for myself, I love to go to Marché du Lez (4) in Montpellier. It’s such a creative spot, with several good restaurants and food trucks, an original brocante, a great interior store called La Maison Pernoise and much more to get you inspired. I also like to go to the beach, especially the long sand strip between Sète and Cap d’Agde. Normally we pack up a picnic and, if we’re in a festive mood, a bottle of champagne. Although, we sometimes don’t make it to drinking the champagne, as we fall asleep after 2.5 minutes on our comfortable beach beds…