Desley Truscott’s incurable love affair with Provence has survived a divorce, moving house 19 times, lots of travel back and forth, and a lot of agonising about where she truly belonged. The blonde, determined woman from Queensland’s Gold Coast eventually settled for a bit of both, but not without a long tug of war.
Desley first went to Provence – the famous southern French region adored for its vineyards, architecture, climate and culture – a decade ago on holiday with her then husband. They immediately fell in love with the place, bought a farmhouse and set up home.
“For the next six years I lived a life that others only dream about – renovating and decorating the farmhouse, cycling to the markets for daily produce and dividing our time between Australia and living in Provence,” she remembers. “When I wasn’t in France, it wasn’t far from my thoughts and when my marriage failed and our wonderful “Mas” (name for a French farmhouse) got sold, it felt like a huge chunk me died too.”
Desley had always had a peripatetic lifestyle. In 28 years this restless soul with a passion for interior decorating has renovated 19 homes “much to the horror of my now adult children when they recall being woken at midnight with the sound of me hammering”.
When she started to pick up the pieces post divorce, she vowed to find a way to continue a French life in some form or other.
“I didn’t know how. Or when. But what I did know was that I needed my French fix and so for the next five years I continued to return to Provence for a two-week holiday alone sometimes wandering the tiny cobbled streets aimlessly in a daze questioning my sanity.”
She also wondered if she had the courage to buy another French property on her own, armed with first-hand knowledge of the frustrations and pitfalls that come with renovating a property in Provence.
“The stories we’ve all read are all true! Then last year I decided to take small steps to reach my goal and so I started by renting a very sweet village house.”
In May of that year Desley was introduced to Jean Francois, an ex-Parisian but now a retired antique dealer living in Provence, and with an equal passion for interior design. Their first date included drinking chilled champagne and reading his decorator scrap books.
“We’ve laughed at this many times – but at the time, it was very romantic – reading torn-out decorating pages together til 5am.”
Desley has since brought her new partner home to meet Australia.
“Although we have different language and cultures, it has shown me that love goes way beyond that and it’s absolutely possible to have a love that’s truly complete.”
The couple have an enviable lifestyle – enjoying the best of Provence and Australia. That means the cherries of spring and lavender fields of July, the flaming colours of autumn and then packing up to return to the relaxed beach lifestyle of the Gold Coast. Some people have all the luck!
Brilliant photography courtesy of Martine Aubin.