The French Experience

Happening Issue 115 May, 2011
Text by Pat Kauba / Photo: Pat Kauba

Feel like escaping to France? Want exotic French cuisine and soak in some French countryside style hospitality? Find your way to Pauline’s.

Excitement hung in the morning air, as sunshine warmed the farmstead. A cow had just given birth and its calf now hobbeled into the world. The two Paulines, both from Paris, smiled, as another joined their flock, and continued with their tasks. Not much time for stopping with gardens and vegetables to tend, animals to check and works to supervise. And that’s just the farm, secondary to their main lives. Paulines Guesthouse, outside Tokha, after the Chandeshwori Temple, is Nepal’s only Mason d’Hotes—a country home, offering more than just Bed & Breakfast.

The guesthouse, built from cut stone, is a fusion of European and Nepali country construction. It could easily be the French countryside, sitting at the foot of Shivapuri National Park. Ricefields perch ahead of one’s view, with Kathmandu’s skyline filling the middle—silence greets the ears. At dinner the night before, rusty memories were stirred at the dinning table as the merlot (of the french variety) wet my pallet. A vegetable pie with fresh rosemary pastry for the vegitarians and a tasty porkchop with creamy mushroom sauce for the carnivore were being prepared. Served with green leaves and balsamic dressing, it was perfect for the year’s first warm evening.

The red terracotta floor tiles and a woodburning stove next to me made me feel like I was holidaying in Europe, visiting a friend with warm banter and simple luxuries. The ladies explain it’s the country feel of home that they are trying to recreate. Working over a decade in mass communiction in Paris, they had dreams of opening their Mason d’Hotes in the Alps. Until Pauline Driard, came to visit her brother Francoise, who was making Himalayan French Cheese, from the farm in Tokha. It was many years since Pauline had left Nepal, after her father was the French ambassador here during her childhood.

Pauline was impressed by the lifestyle on Francoise’s farm, and the wonderful home he’d built. Pauline Bryard arrived soon after and together they considered taking over the farmhouse after Francoise moved his farm to Kakani. They thought it over back in Paris, where the ladies were also running a Bed & Breakfast, from their Paris home and finally decided—Nepal!

Maybe I am a foreigner who hasn’t been home for quite a while and I definetly am not French, but the experience made me feel like I was home. French and Nepali antiques, curios and books adorne the guesthouse’s walls, intriguing my eye. The cosy livingroom has a couch and wood stove, for lounging away winter. Excess heat from the stove warms upstairs, where there is a big shower shared by two bedrooms, with grand beds, cotton sheets, warm duvets and massive views. The guesthouse was empty, so I choose sleeping downstairs. A big open room, with raised bed, pure white cotton sheets, a desk for working and shelves filled with literature from around the world. Three big windows pour in light by day, with amazing views accompanying the warmth—still offering privacy. The adjacent stone walled bathroom comes with a huge bathtub.

The next day, I felt sad to leave the warmth of their guesthouse; I also didn’t have time to explore the forests for their wonders. For the two Paulines, it was another busy day, getting ready for the three donkeys coming from Godawari sanctuary, feeding cows, rabbits, dogs and cat, as well as preparing the bathing pool for the warm season. All done while keeping an eye on the newest member, struggling confidently, into his new world.

Pat Kauba is a freelance writer and photographer with a love for things European, contact him at You can contact Pauline at 9808873096.