|Quercy Villa||Self Catering||Flexible||5||10||2||One cot, and single bed|
Our house is set in charming mature gardens on the edge of a rural hamlet, surrounded by unspoilt countryside and woods. It is very well-equipped for a family party or group of friends of up to ten people plus a baby.
The spacious open-plan lounge/dining/kitchen room provides a comfortable living space. A downstairs bedroom wing makes it ideal for a guest with limited mobility. From the living area, there are two sets of French windows opening on to a lovely covered terrace, with beautiful views. The garden is a good size, ideal for children. The pool is popular with everyone.
This is excellent walking country. A circular walk from the house into the gorge takes about an hour. Books of local walks are kept in the house.
The nearby medieval villages of Caylus and St-Antonin-Noble-Val have restaurants, bars, shops and banks, as well as popular weekly markets. St Antonin is a centre for kayaking, rock-climbing, mountain-biking and other outdoor activities. Films 'Charlotte Gray' and 'The Hundred-Foot Journey' were both located here.
There are many other lovely places to visit, including some of the 'most beautiful villages in France', such as Najac, Penne, Bruniquel, Lauzerte and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
The kitchen area is fully equipped, with kettle, cooker, hob, microwave, toaster, large larder fridge, dishwasher, as well as plenty of crockery, cutlery, glasses and cookware. We've been complimented on being 'very well equipped for the keen cook'.
The kitchen leads to the large utility room housing washing machine, fridge-freezer, ironing facilities, and plenty of storage.
The open-plan dining area opens on to a glorious terrace with table and chairs for al fresco eating, overlooking the wild common in one direction and towards the local gorge in the other. And inside, there is a good-sized dining table for up to ten guests to eat at. The barbecue area is a few steps from the house and terrace.
The lounge area comfortably seats 10 guests. French windows lead on to the spacious terrace. A ceiling fan cools the room in the summer, and there is a log-burner to warm it in the cooler months.
In the bedroom wing downstairs there are two double bedrooms, one of which can be two singles. Upstairs there is a further double bedroom and two twin-bedded rooms. All bedrooms have plenty of storage space, and cooling fans for the hot days of summer.
Downstairs there is a bathroom with bath, wc, washbasin and separate shower, ideal for someone with limited mobility.
Upstairs there is another bathroom with bath with shower attachment for hair-washing, wc and washbasin.
The house is heated when necessary by gas central heating. There is also an enclosed log fire in the living area for cooler days.
For indoor days, you can watch English (satellite) or French tv, or watch dvds or videos (your own or ours). Or listen to cds(your own or ours) or our range of rock, blues and jazz tapes which have proved very popular with guests. There's also an iPod docking station for you to use. Brush up your French by listening to French radio.
There's a selection of board and card games to play, and plenty of books to read.
Some toys for the younger members of your group too.
Free wifi is available throughout the house and on the terrace.
The large garden offers plenty of sun and shade, a table-tennis table, boules piste and space for other garden games, as well as parking for several cars.
The 10 by 5 metre pool and patio are secluded and newly-renovated, with sunbeds, table, chairs and sunshades. The pool has a cover, required by French law for the safety of young children.
Abundant flora and fauna are on display in the garden, including spectacular butterflies like the scarce swallowtail, and birds such as the unusual-looking hoopoe with its crested head. One bird-spotter guest identified over 50 species here. Beyond the garden is the 'pâtis' (common land) where wild orchids grow.
There is plenty of parking space, both within the grounds and outside on the common.
The house is ideally suited to two-family holidays, or three-generation family holidays. It is also perfect at any time of year for groups of friends, or those who share hobbies such as walking, bird-watching or painting.
I've been retired for a few years, and my partner and I divide our time between Suffolk and rural France. All my life I've had a special affinity with France and the French language. It's particularly good to be able to share this now with my children and grandchildren. It brings me great pleasure to know that other people enjoy their own holidays here too.
|Year property purchased||2003|
|Why this location?||I've always loved rural France, and my holiday home is perfect for its peaceful setting. The nearby medieval villages are just beautiful and the scenery is stunning. It also is is easy to reach by road or air from the UK. It's only twenty minutes from the A20 motorway, which is a straightforward drive from Calais, and in addition has very few tolls! Toulouse Airport is just over an hour's drive away. Brive and Rodez Airports are a similar distance.|
|Unique benefits of property||Everybody loves the large secluded pool (newly refurbished, with child-friendly steps), the walks into the gorge near the house, the peace and quiet, and the amazing wildlife. Over 50 species of birds were identified by a bird-spotter one week in June, mostly from the terrace. The amazing hoopoe has to be seen to be believed. Deer often wander through the neighbouring common, and even the garden occasionally. And sitting on the terrace in the evening with a glass of wine, enjoying the views over the gorge and across the common, can't be beaten.
It's wonderful having parties of family and/or friends here. There's plenty of room for everyone, with the option of the open-plan lounge/kitchen/diner, or the spacious covered terrace for eating and drinking. Lots of corners in the garden or by the pool for relaxing, and plenty of space for children to play. Previous guests have called the house a comfortable and well-equipped 'home from home'.
Every Sunday, people come from far and wide to this popular market, ten minutes' drive away. It's held in the narrow streets of the mediaeval village, which is home to the oldest civic building in France. As well as all kinds of food, there are stalls with clothes, linen, jewellery - you name it! St Antonin has much to recommend it - films 'Charlotte Gray' and 'The Hundred-Foot Journey' were filmed there. I even have a photo of Helen Mirren's back view when she was filming the latter!
The Caussade market, twenty minutes' drive away, is a typical French market, different from the St Antonin market, which is more 'touristy'. It's a large market, selling just about everything. Whereas many French towns are closed on Mondays, in Caussade the pavement cafes bustle with shoppers stopping for a coffee between purchases, and lunch is a perfect opportunity to sample the regional fare. The other shops are open on Mondays too.
Another market worth visiting is on Thursday mornings at Villefranche-de-Rouergue, twenty minutes' drive beyond Caylus. The local villages have small markets too. Caylus on Tuesday morning in the market square, and Saturday morning by the 'lavoir'.
Lovely restaurant with a pretty vine-covered terrace and excellent food.
There is a good selection of restaurants in St Antonin, to suit all pockets.
Delightful and inexpensive restaurant with outside terrace. It specialises in pizzas, but does other food too. You'll find it on the right as you descend the hill into the village of Caylus. There are other restaurants in Caylus but this is our favourite.
A bit further away, thirty or so minutes' drive, but worth it, and great if you go as a group. Turn left at the crossroads in Caylus, then drive straight, past St Projet until you come to the hamlet of Le Cros, where La Grange is on the left.
A converted barn and a limited menu, different every time, but always good. Special dietary requirements will be dealt with if you let them know in advance.
One of the 'plus beaux villages de France', this is an hour's drive away, but well worth it. The ancient village overhangs the river Lot, which is also stunning. As well as historic buildings, there are plenty of little shops and restaurants in the narrow streets. During the high season, try to arrive either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon, to avoid tourist coaches. Out of season, there's not such a problem.
These two amazing villages are relatively close to each other. They both have ancient chateaux that you can walk round, reached by climbing up narrow streets. Bruniquel was recently in the news for the discovery of early Neanderthal constructions: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature18291
To get to these stunning villages, you need to drive to St Antonin and follow the signs. About thirty or forty minutes' drive from the house.
Cahors, about thirty to forty minutes' drive, is the centre of many things. Cahors, situated within a bend on the river Lot, has its renowned 'black' wine, the Pont Valentre, a famous mediaeval bridge, as well as being one of the stops on the pilgrims' route (camino) to Compostela in north-western Spain. There is a Saturday market there, and plenty of shops. Driving west along the Lot, you'll pass acres of Cahors vines.
There are a couple of small supermarkets in Caylus and St Antonin, and larger ones in Caussade and Villefranche. Villefranche has a range of clothes shops, and Montauban, the 'capital' of the Tarn-et-Garonne department, has hypermarkets on the outskirts, and plenty of smaller boutiques in the centre of town, near the impressive square.
Souvenirs and gifts are easy to find at the markets.
Najac, with its ruined chateau and very steep streets. The chateau is a landmark, and very impressive when viewed from afar.
Cordes-sur-Ciel, so-named as it appears to rise above the clouds ('ciel' is French for 'sky'), a stunning hill-top village with shops and art galleries.
Lauzerte, a hill-top village to the west, the other side of the A20 motorway.
There are many more! All of them stunning. The hill-top villages have amazing views too.
There is the Ingres museum in Montauban, and the Toulouse-Lautrec museum in Albi, an hour's drive away. There are smaller art galleries in Caylus and St Antonin, as both villages are very popular with artists.