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Nicholas Visit


Mr Nicolas was born in what is now Chez Russell in 1932. At that time there were no bedrooms upstairs (there were no stairs!), the space was just a grenier (attic) and the roof was lower than it is now. The kitchen was a small bedroom. The dining area was a workshop used for repairing and selling bicycles. The lounge area was the main living area and included a bed. The window in the shower room was originally a door which led to the outside. The kitchen area was where the shower room is now (the dividing wall was not there), the chimney remnant was above the cooking fire. The blue room was a store room and in the pool pump room there was a bread oven.

Their living room was also an unofficial bistro/bar. In 1942 when M Nicolas was 10 years old, after a rowdy evening in the bistro/bar, probably alcohol fuelled, his father pulled out a gun and fired it in the air. At the time the area was German-occupied and the French were not allowed to own guns. Unfortunately someone sneaked to the local French police who arrested Mr Nicholas' father, they were then obliged to report the incident to the Germans who took his father away and Mr Nicolas never saw his father again. (We have since discovered that his father died in Auschwitz in 1944). His mother brought up a family of 3 (2 elder daughters Raymonde-deceased and Yolande). Mr Nicholas left home in the 1950s and got a job as a mechanic in Poitiers where he met his wife.

It is believed the house originally dates back to the 1800s. Mr Nicholas' grandfather rented the property during the Great War, but the house also accommodated some German prisoners-of-war who had to work in the bicycle workshop. At the end of the war he purchased the house from a well-to-do family Guiboreau.

During this time Bran had a school where the Mairie is now, this was closed in 1973 with the retirement of the school teacher, who was also of the family Guiboreau. There was also a boulangerie where Mr De la Voie now lives, and an epicerie which was opposite the mairie.

Next door to Chez Russell lived the Texier family of carpenters. The sons expanded the business by buying the house at the end of our garden, at the front of this house can still be seen a workshop which was used as a wainwright/carriage repair business. The sons emigrated to New Caledonia but lost all their money. One of the sons returned to the house and lived there until he died in 2013.