Meet the Thomas Mousseaus. If we all lived like him and his family, the world would be a much better place.
My mind continues to return to Croisy, a small village in the central region of France. Three hours south of Paris, the village itself is more like a small cluster of five or six stone homes surrounded by rolling farmlands rich in grass, colza, and corn as far as the eye can see.
Let me introduce you to Thomas and Marielle Mousseau. Thomas and Marielle live in a 100+ year old home with their three adorable, well-mannered children.
In an effort to live a simpler life and a reduced footprint, the Mousseaus live an idealistic lifestyle in the French countryside. They have a large garden filled with fruits and vegetables; they trade with local farmers for goats’ milk, cheese, wine, and meat; and live modest lives with limited excess.
I found Thomas and Marielle through an organization called WWOOF, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The organization sets vagabonds, nomads, and travelers up with local producers all over the world. The system is flawless. The producers supply room and board in exchange for a welcoming and volunteer hand on their organic operation. The helping hand becomes well-versed in organic methods and is filled with cultural experiences that no tour guide in the world can offer. Unsure of what to expect on my first WWOOF experience, I left France with a lifelong friendship, an unforgettable experience and a passion for organic beer craft.
Oh yeah, that’s right. Did I mention Thomas is an organic micro brewmaster? Jackpot! Thomas produces 500L of organic craft beer every week in a historic barn that dates back 150 years. Built of old stone and reclaimed terra cotta roof tiles, the barn is a hipster haven; they just haven’t found it yet. The brewery itself sits on an old orchard site where the brewery gets its name, Ouche Nanon.
For five weeks, I lived with this remarkable family of five. They welcomed me on weekend getaways, bike rides, and dinners with friends. Afternoons were spent sampling Thomas’ beers, neighbours’ cheeses, and several local wines. Evenings were spent skipping rope with the kids and running around the garden until the sun went down.
Ouche Nanon was expanding. As more and more locals of the Berry Region were discovering Thomas’ artisan beer, he could barely keep it on the shelf. To answer the demand, Thomas was building a small addition to his brewery. We spent afternoons forming the cedar frame, chucking tiles up to the roof, and building traditional stone walls.
In addition to the brewery, Thomas owned a parcel of land in Les Borderlains, a village ten minutes away. The parcel consists of an abandoned tractor machine shop walled with vintage brick and large wooden supports, as well as two old homes dating back to the 19th century. Oh, it gets better. He plans on creating guest rooms in the old houses and crafting a whiskey distillery and tasting room in the preserved mechanic shop.
I am absolutely inspired by Thomas’ passion. Creating a profitable (financially and emotionally) business is not limited to marketing, large investments and repulsive sales tactics; it’s a simple recipe of passion for your product, hard work, and seeing a use in every piece.
Thomas and his family are perfect examples of living simple lives filled with happiness. They make more and consume less, they prefer quality over quantity, they limit levels of communication and media, they are present in conversations, and they spend time with each other. The kids spend their days outside satisfied by their imagination and the beautiful space that surrounds them.
I have learned so much from Thomas and his family. However, the indisputable lesson here was you don’t need anything other than each other to be completely and honestly happy. The Mousseaus are without a doubt, members of thegoodpeople.
To learn more about Thomas and Ouche Nanon, I really suggest taking a look at his website.