Episode from the podcastThe Big Travel Podcast

98. Boutique Hotelier, Francesca Eyre; Parisian Au Pairing, Irish Stately Homes and the Accident That Wiped Her Memory

Released Wednesday, 17th June 2020
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Growing up with two terminally ill siblings Francesca Eyre, chef and co-owner of Chilly Powder holidays in the Alps, learned independence and adventure at a young age. After losing her sister aged 16 and mother aged 21 a chance encounter when chasing her mother’s lost pearls led her to the mountains. As a part-time endurance athlete a terrifying accident led to memory loss and a challenging recovery but together with her husband Paul she’s now opening a second Chilly Powder in a beautiful village in Provence. She sees participating in incredible endurance events as a means to, as she says, "breathe for those who no longer can".

On this episode we cover:

Holmlands Stories; Searching for Pearls (video clip)
Losing her mother to cancer age 21
The lost pearls that lead to her new life in the Alps
Growing up with two terminally ill siblings
Naively moving to Paris age 16
Being too sensible out on the museums, bars and concert
Going to cooking school in Dublin
Lisa moving from Spain to England age 16  
The death of Francesca’s sister when she was only 16
Coming from a family with Cystic Fibrosis
Growing up always knowing her two siblings will die at a young age
Half of the siblings not having Cystic Fibrosis
1 in 20 people being carriers of the CF gene
Deciding not to have the CF tests when having her own children
The decisions her children can make about tests when they’re older
Being in Paris when her sister was dying
The grandmother in Paris who noticed her talent for cooking
Moving to Dublin to train as a chef 
Dubliners being passionate, gorgeous and generous
Cooking in beautiful Irish stately homes with chef Mary O’Sullivan
The trauma of a boiling a kicking lobster whilst crying
Her mum’s diagnosis of cancer
Giving up worth to look after her mum
Moving to London
Feeling her mother’s cancer was down to the stress of having two terminally ill children
Considering the food, nutrition and health connection as a chef
Being hyperthyroid (and Lisa being hypo thyroid) 
Taking her brother with Cystic Fibrosis to the Alps to help his lungs
Falling in love with Morzine
Knowing her date, Paul, would be the one
Setting up Chilly Powder a ski company together
Raising money to build a chalet for their hotel
How the Alps are most beautiful in the summer
Lisa finding skiing rather scary, but loving the après ski
Francesca singing going down the mountain
The joys of afternoon tea
The busyness of living on site in your own hotel
Becoming an endurance runner and cyclist
Taking on a 300km cycle race over two days
Tackling big races like the L’Etape du Tour De France
The accident that wiped her memory
Fracturing her spine, damaging her shoulder and her face
The severe concussion causing unexpected mental health issues; fear and suicidal thoughts
Taking nine months to recover
But still finding it hard to memorise things
How the loss of her siblings and her mother helped shape her adventurous spirit
The accident being on her mother’s birthday
Opening the Chilly Powder B&B in Provence
Finding full time motherhood the hardest job
The rare half Protestant half Catholic village
Tears and music at her brother Nick’s funeral

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