Lou Messugo is the name of our home. We built our house in an area with limited street names and no street numbers at all so we wanted it to have a name, an identity. We built knowing we were going to run a gîte, all the more important to have a name.
We wanted to be different, to be unique. Around here there are plenty of houses called “Mas…”, “Bastide…” and “Villa…” None of these suited our house. Both Mas and Bastide mean country house/provencal farmhouse and imply large properties. Our house is somewhat in the bastide style but we felt it wasn’t a real bastide nor was it a villa. Again the connotations didn’t fit what we had in mind. We briefly toyed with “Maison” as in “La Maison Orange” but this lacked imagination. Then we hit upon the idea of using the local language Provençal.
“Lou” means “the”, it’s the Provençal for “le”. There are plenty of examples of this in local house or business names: Lou Fassum (a delicious local Michelin starred restaurant), Lou Cigalou (a common restaurant and gîte name meaning cicada), and most common of all Lou Paradou meaning Paradise. We liked the “ou” sound of these names and decided we needed an original word that had some relevance to our home with a little bit of “ooo”, so we started looking for a noun we could add to “lou”. When doing some research into the local area, I came across a description of the forest around our land where a type of Cistus flowered wild. We had noticed this plant growing on our plot and loved it. It is most abundant in pink but also more rarely in white. The article referred to the “Messugues” and then used the Provençal word “Messugo”. This was our “eureka” moment! We loved the sound of the word, the flowers grew naturally on our land and we’d found a unique name.
However, all my research suggested it should actually be “lei Messugo” not “lou”. This would not do at all as “lou” was an integral and desired part of the name. So we may have cheated a little and created a truly original name, our very own bastardised version of the local word for a beautiful flower, but hey, I’m paying for it in a very small way. What I hadn’t counted on was being addressed as “Dear Lou” in email enquiries! I think it just makes a better story.