On the occasion of the cinema release of the film "Belle et Sébastien", we met the writer-adventurer Nicolas Vanier. He opened the doors of his family farm in Sologne ...
Between the promotion of his film "Belle et Sébastien" (theatrical release December 18, 2013) and his new expedition "The Wild Odyssey" (departure December 21, 2013), Nicolas Vanier agreed to open the doors of his farm solognote.
This lover of nature, likes to find himself surrounded by his family, in the huge living room heated by a wood stove he designed. He carries it even in his expeditions! However, at the slightest ray of sunshine, the call from outside is stronger and he loves to build tree houses with his sons.
When you are not on an expedition, where do you live?
Nicolas Vanier: I come from Le Havre, but my heart is in Sologne, on my grandfather's farm. That's where I grew up, in the middle of wastelands and woods. I built lots of cabins, and small platforms in the trees to observe the deer, hares and wild boar leaving after dark.
I know every square meter of this forest whose wild life feeds me and allows me to relax, especially when I have to spend several consecutive days in cities that I do not like very much ... I am happy to have communicated this passion for nature to my children and it is here, between picking mushrooms, long walks in the woods and fishing parties, that we take advantage of each other.
What is the history of your house in Sologne?
Nicolas Vanier: When I was in my twenties, when my grandparents were living in the main house, they offered me to build a part of the building where the farmer used to live: a small typical farmhouse surrounded by barns that served as stables, sheepfolds and pigsty. I have enlarged and converted over time (and births of my children!), While respecting the original materials of the region, old plaster and bricks, and keeping the roof in small country tiles.
Your favorite room where you like to be and spend time?
Nicolas Vanier: I love to receive my friends, I like friendly atmospheres and it is in a room called "the bar", replica of Canadian lodge and log cabin ambiances that I spend the best moments, around a good draft beer, to remake the world or to play a game of foosball or billiard.
Your furniture: rather modern, ultra design, family, pitcher?
Nicolas Vanier: I like wood first and foremost and are not attached to any particular style. The house is simply furnished, the whole is composed of a few pieces picked in jugs and the rest is rather functional and rustic. There is no furniture of value at home, I am more attached to the history of things: for example my office, the work plan of the kitchen and the slats of floor of the bar were made with wood of oaks cut at home.
The most unusual or unexpected that can be discovered at home?
Nicolas Vanier: I brought back a lot of travel memories and recreated here a little of my universe in the countries from above. In the midst of furs, caribou skin clothing, braided leather racquets made by Montagnais Indians, my canoe brought from Canada and the reindeer sleigh offered by my friends in Siberia, both hanging from the ceiling of my bar, always surprise the newcomers a little when they discover the places!
An object or piece of furniture that you could not separate?
NOTicolas Vanier: My wood stove, I always warmed with wood. And if reading at the corner of a fire is more comfortable and pleasant, only the stove can really heat the house. I love and use this object so much, whether in expedition under the tent or at home in Sologne, that I imagined and designed the perfect model for me: aesthetic, functional and powerful.
More about the wood stove by Nicolas Vanier
Your favorite color in your home?
Nicolas Vanier : Does it surprise you if I tell you that I do not like colors? I prefer natural tones, shades beige, sand, greige. These soft shades, neutral but at the same time warm, agree with everything and especially do not tire. And we can wake them with splashes of color thanks to table linens, cushions and objects.
Your last favorite purchase for the house?
Nicolas Vanier: I found for the kitchen a beautiful chopping block to cut the meat. It is an imposing plank of light wood, thick at least fifteen centimeters and measuring more than one meter. I can not wait for use (and with stains!), It takes the patina of time!
The kitchen, rather open or closed?
Nicolas Vanier: The entrance opens directly into the kitchen which is extended by a large farmhouse table that faces the fireplace surrounded by sofas ... so to speak that everything happens there! Without a door and all in a draft! ... This is the main room where, from time immemorial, everyone goes about their business: children's homework, reading, games, cooking, meals. A living room, noisy, fragrant from one end to the other, between the smell of pots and the fire crackling in the fireplace.
A dish unexpectedly on the go for your friends?
Nicolas Vanier: In fact, I am persona non grata on the few meters that separate the piano from the wide kitchen worktop. This is the reserved area of my wife, it is passionate about cooking and no one complains, quite the contrary.
On the other hand, she willingly lets me grill meats and fish in the fireplace or in the summer barbecue. I eat little meat but I appreciate from time to time to share a good rib of beef, braised with sea salt of Guérande, simply delicious ...
And the TV, which room?
Nicolas Vanier: No TV in the main room. There is nothing more ugly, I think. It is installed in the room, where I appreciate being able to isolate myself to listen to the news or to watch a good movie.
Do you live with music or rather in silence?
Nicolas Vanier: To work, I need calm and concentration and when I wear my boots to walk the forest, I appreciate the silence. It's a never-ending silence, punctuated by multiple sounds. These notes of nature that are the light wind in the leaves, the breath of the air flapping wings of a flight of pigeons, the beak of a woodpecker hammering the trunk of a tree ... But j also like festive atmospheres, where music, hubbub and laughter warm the atmosphere.
What is on your bedside table?
Nicolas Vanier: A book in progress, a pair of glasses and I confess some squares of chocolate ...
Do you dream of one more room? If so, for what purpose?
Nicolas Vanier: I am far more often than in the house. Can not keep me locked in a house if the sun shines outside. I take much more pleasure to build tree houses with my sons, than to tinker inside. We are very proud of our latest achievement: a beautiful cabin, perched twelve meters high in a large oak with bedroom, terrace ...
And to write your novels or travel stories, usually it's in your office?
Nicolas Vanier: The huge wooden tray that serves as my office is placed in front of a large window. In the distance, the forest dominates the plain, which I look at through the window. A living show that is renewed through the seasons: the dark colors of the bare earth in winter, give way to the soft green of the spring young shoots, then summer is the apotheosis with the profusion of bright colors and pastels of a beautiful flowery fallow.
I do not get tired of observing this animated landscape, in turn, of the whirling passage of a rabbit, in front of "Boy", the dog of Como, followed by my son whose bicycle wheels jingle on the pebbles of the path that goes to the "big house", the one where my grandparents lived and now my mom ... It's an ideal observation and workstation because I am connected to what is happening outside my bubble without be disturbed by the external environment.
Rather orderly or messy?
Nicolas Vanier: This is called an organized brothel, I believe. My piece is the "débotté", my stuff that brings pell-mle boots, jackets, a tent in big canvases, sleeping bags that I carry on an expedition, my fishing rods, my tools ... Regularly I try to re-put a little order but there are more and more to tidy up, and I despair of finding the time to do it, one day ..., once and for all! I'm happy with the minimum when it overflows and I find myself more ...
What do you like most about finding your home after several months of shipping?
Nicolas Vanier: When I am on an expedition in the Far North, I sometimes escape in thought towards the Sologne. Alone on my sled, on the snowshoe track or wrapped up in my sleeping bag, I imagine my loved ones, warm by the fire, or seated around a good stew.
I have plenty of time to think about the good times and anticipate those to come. I look forward to a reunion in this place that is so dear to me. It's a little painful and at the same time it comforts me, gives me courage ...
Conversely, when I'm in the woods, I can not wait to find the magical atmosphere of the great icy areas ... I need both and I found my balance with both "home". I am also happy to pack my bags to go back to the countries above that I have to undo them on my way home after long months of absence!
Your addresses or favorite brands for the home?
Nicolas Vanier: I'm not loyal to a particular brand, I rather work at the crush for objects atypical or offbeat. I like the tools a little outdated, old tools that are often models of common sense peasant. These are the stands that attract me immediately among dozens of others who offer furniture, dishes and other vintage items in the garage sales and flea markets.
For the useful furniture, I favor the quality of the material and the solidity. Many of our furniture under the roof had to be made to measure and I always had at heart to make work the craftsmen of the area. We have good carpenters around us and I prefer to address them first, we rarely have bad surprises and we know who we are dealing with.
Nicolas Vanier's news:
- Release on December 18th of his film "Belle et Sébastien"
- Publication of the book Belle et Sébastien (XO and Oak)
- Share with his ten dogs from 21 December 2013 until March 2014 for a new expedition: "The Wild Odyssey" (6000 km in Russia, China and Mongolia)