Welcome to Le Tramizal

Le Tramizal is a rustic and charming little cottage with a garden overlooking the village of Rignac in southwest France. The kitchen is comfortably equipped with all the modern conveniences: washing machine, dishwasher, and microwave oven yet retains the feel of an old farmhouse kitchen. There is an open hearth downstairs for fires in chilly weather.


Downstairs is one big room with the dining and kitchen areas on one side, and living area and fireplace on the other.


There is a large bedroom upstairs with two double beds, and a new bathroom.


Sometimes if I am not teaching or working there, the barn/studio is available. It has a large painting studio upstairs which can sleep four people, a gallery, a simple kitchen, a bathroom, and a loggia with a summer living area. There is a woodstove upstairs for heat.

Rignac is a working village with small farms. Cows and sheep clog the roads on their way to and from grazing each morning and evening. The landscape of Quercy is green with gently rolling hills- perfect for hiking, bicycling and painting. There is also a large hammock slung up outside under a walnut tree for those in need of a snooze on hot summer days.

In the spring of 2012, Rignac welcomed Pascale who came from the north of France to open Le Rignac Café on the edge of our little pond. As well as the usual drinks like beer pressions, kir and pastis, she makes her own gingerbeer and ice coffee. She offers light snacks, like toasted croque monsieurs, but hers are made with the local goat cheese, cabecou. Every Monday evening, a pizza truck rolls up in front of the café so most of Rignac can be found munching pizzas al fresco in good weather. Pascale also organises musical evenings with American retro rock or jazz.

Spring is the time for wildflowers. In early summer, the nightingales lilting songs fill the valley. Early summer rains also waken the toads: their gentle poop-poop-poop mating calls resonate through the dark hours. Midsummer night in Rignac is celebrated with a bonfire, traditionally one is supposed to toss in one's old straw mattress and replenish it with fresh hay. We celebrate it today by firing up the old village wood oven to bake bread and cakes. Sausages grilled on the coals from the bonfire and wine is passed out freely to all present. In July, round about Bastille Day, the village also celebrates its annual fete- dancing and open air dining on the village green. August brings butterflies and shooting stars and the most important music festivals. In September Rocamadour hosts a magnificent launch of hot air balloons and Rignac has its annual Laurel and Hardy Film Festival. In early October, everyone helps Monsieur Monteil harvest his grapes which is followed by an enormous feast prepared by his sister who returns from her day job as a judge in Bordeaux for the event.


Rocamadour is ten minutes from Rignac by car, or a three hour walk along the old road that descends past four ancient mills in the Alzou valley.Colin and Cheryl Wilkinson got up at six to catch the launch of the balloons and snapped this terrific shot.

For half a century, the marvelous poet, W.S.Merwin, has had a house in the Lot, overlooking the Dordogne valley. His book, The Lost Upland, is a good introduction to the region. Another very good book on the area which has just been issued in paperback is The Generous Earth by Philip Oyler. The author, an English farmer, came to live and farm in this region after the war. There's also Helen Martin's thorough travel guide Lot which has just been reissued in paperback. And of course Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon is a great introduction to comtemporary life in Paris .

Another new must read is Spree in Paree by yours truly. It was inspired by my neighbour, M. Monteil (the owner of the vineyard in the photo below. Read the The New York Times (by Adam Gopnik) and Kirkus reviews on my book page.


View of Rignac from Roumegouse, our swimming spot at Floirac and a canoe trip down the Dordogne.  Belcastel castle rises above the Dordogne river and one of the best restaurants in the area, Le Pont de L'Ouysse. (Two watercolor paintings by Catherine Stock, and photo of Belcastel by JP Ramel)

The two watercolors, above left, were painted by Catherine. To find out more about doing a watercolor workshop in France, click here.
To email Catherine, click here.


The ruins of the Moulin du Saut, and the fortified Moulin du Cougnaguet which milled flour commerically until 1959.

The Dordogne is half an hour away and has lovely picnic and swimming spots. Two bicycles are available, but a car is useful for exploring the area, which has many impressive castles, prehistoric caves and market towns. Rignac is seven kilometers from the medieval pilgrimage site of Rocamadour. The area has many beautiful old castles and market towns dating back many centuries.

There are several excellent music festivals in the Lot. Tickets go very quickly so check out the following website for concerts of interest and book as soon as possible. Here are few of the major ones close by:

In July, jazz abounds:
The Assier Festival

Jazz Festival in Souillac
Cahors Blues Festival
African Music Festival in Carjac

At the end of July, opera, symphonies and recitals begin and run through August:
The Saint Cere Festival

There are many others. Please let me know what kind of music you are after and I will let you know what's on during your stay.


The 20,000 year old paintings at Pech Merle were discovered by schoolboys; St-Cirq Lapopie; the Chateau de Montal near St Cere.

The weekly rate for the cottage on a self-catering basis is 525 euros, except July and August, when it's 600 euros. Rentals generally run from 4 pm on a Saturday to 11 am the following Saturday. Central heating is extra, and rather expensive at about one euro a litre. A nonreturnable 25 % deposit is requested to secure a reservation, the balance to be paid on arrival.


Anyone who helps harvest the grapes in October is invited to a grand dinner that evening by the farmer sister, who returns from her day job as a judge in Bordeaux for the event.The black eyed sheep in the Lot are known as les moutons des lunettes de soleil, the sheep with sunglasses.


Previous occupants of Le Tramizal were Germain and Antoine Raffy, here photographed in 1938. A 1963 photo taken in front of Le Tramizal. Madame Raffy is second from left. An undated view of the village.

In the summer, New York children's book illustrator Catherine Stock lives and works in the neighboring cottage and will be there to assist and advise. Check out her blog about life in the Lot at letramizal.blogspot.com

A series of private lessons can be arranged with the charming, yet exigeante Madame Elizabeth de la Perouse Coleman, for those wanting to polish up their French.


Local friends include Pascale and Ludovic who run Le Rignac Café (left), and Francoise Houette who has a stylish boutique in Gramat (center). 1000 years ago, pilgrims came to Rocamadour to see the Black Madonna. Now they come to shop at Le Jour de Fete (right). This innocent looking little cottage belies an Aladdin's cavern of beautiful objects for the home. Click on the door to have a look inside...

For more tourist information, click the Lot. For more information, including about watercolor classes, please click here.

A direct train from Paris stops in Gramat, a five minutes drive from the village. The train trip is about five and a half hours. Click here for my directions. For a more detailed map and driving instructions, click the Michelin site. The postal code for Rignac is 46500.

Guest opinions

"Your house is wonderful, surrounded by all the beautiful flowers, which you so graciously made into bouquets for us. And it was fun to be in a farm setting, hearing the cows and sheep around us."
--Brooke and John D. - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

"Catherine, the short note that we left does not sum up our true appreciation for how Le Tramizal inspired us. As you may have guessed, we are rather quiet people, and the pure solitude that you allowed us for our short stay was sheer joy." --Gordon and Valery G. - London, UK

"We love the area and your cottage - especially its lovely wood fires in the evening!"--Barbara and Andrew M. - Dorset, UK

"Catherine, thank you for creating Le Tramizal so that we could experience it - and also for your warm hospitality, and your introduction to the secret swimming hole in the Dordogne river, not to mention the Jazz Festival and the great conversation. We will miss the variety of experiences here, including the watercolor class! And we will be back soon!"--Don T. and Diana T. - Washington, DC, USA

"The details of your property on the Net were very enticing, but never prepared us for the warm welcome, your hospitality, and the beautiful surroundings in this area. Wonderful books too! It was a pleasure to spend some time with you and Thabo."--Lorraine T. - Scrignac, Finistère, France

"We talked about Rocamadour becoming a lieu de rencontre. All Mme le Maire needs to do to achieve this is study Le Tramizal, with its wonderful mixture of South Africa, New York, and la France profonde -- a meeting place of cultures and people that exists thanks to your generosity and evident love for people and beautiful experiences. Thanks for the chance to be part of your lieu de rencontre, to meet some wonderful people who are all obviously deeply happy to have you as a friend, for the superb jam, the lovely selection of CDs, and the warmth of your welcome."--Kay and Bill G. - Maryland, USA

"Thanks for opening up your beautiful cottage to us. Thanks for the bicycles, the hammock, the fresh country air, the animal sounds, the friendly neighbours, the outdoor shower, the beautiful plums and raspberries, the lunch at Madame Malet's, the tasty bread in Alvignac, the sweet jam, the lunatic sheep dog who was sorely missing Thabo, the front porch lizards, the skittery barn cats... We look forward to a return visit!"--Vicky P. and Nicky M. - Dublin, Ireland

"Favourite Memories of Le Tramizal:
•jug of wildflowers on the table
•listening to music in the glow of the wood fire
•lying in the hammock under the walnut tree looking up at the stars
•having a lovely picnic on the river and watching you cook sausages while the rest of us talked and drank wine
•drinking milk warm from the cow- à la recherche du temps perdu (did someone else say that?)
•watching a kaleidoscope of butterflies in the meadow
•eating plums,sun warmed, straight from the tree..."--Derek and Jane S. - Bournemouth, England

"Our memories include Thabo turning up within a few seconds of our lifting the door latch, delicious eggs from the madam with the cleanest kitchen in the world, cosy log fires, Jaap's wonderful pumpkin and ginger soup and the great jazz. Thank you for looking after us and being lovely."--Marion and Jonathan C. - Sussex, England"

"We have had a marvelous time, and I will pay Le Tramizal the highest possible compliment by comparing our stay here to cherished vacations at our family cottage in Georgian Bay, my favorite place in the whole world!"--Nancy H. and Joan H. - Orillia, Ontario, Canada

"Le Tramizal" is everything we expected to find and a great deal more. Your handbook of suggestions proved to be invaluable. Without it we would have never experienced Bonaguil or Pech Merle, highlights of our lives." –David and Sue S., Seattle, WA. USA

"A wonderful two weeks in Rignac! You have made this part of our honeymoon extra special, thank you." –Lucy and Matthew T., Cardiff, Wales

Some useful and interesting links to explore:

Sign up here for an amusing way to learn three new French words a week, and sneak a peek at daily life in Provence: French Word-A-Day
For more homes in the area, look at my Accommodation page
For more homes in France, check out gite.com
Check out France Magazine
Americans in France is a useful website for expats
Here is a site to help you learn French
Some other home rentals across the world

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