|Le Logis At La Pépinière||Self Catering||Flexible||2||4||1||Double sofabed (2 people), portable cot (1 baby)|
La Pépinière is an 18th century, former farmstead nestled in the secluded, green valley of the little river Baize, whose wooded banks border the property. Set amid the abundant nature, picturesque villages and dramatic landscapes of the Orne valley, this is a perfect base to explore the beautiful Suisse Normande area of Normandy while enjoying the many benefits and comforts of `Le Logis', the oak-beamed original farmhouse of `La Pep'. These include: a private walled garden with chemical-free eco-pool, a patio for dining with pergola and barbeque, a large living room with wood-burning glazed hearth (plus gas-fired central heating and kitchen range), two good-sized double bedrooms and a cozy mezzanine with double sofa-bed, DVDs and TV.
The many outdoor activities of the Suisse Normande begin on your doorstep where kids will love paddling in the Baize and exploring its banks and mini-islands. Nearby, you can kayak down the much larger Orne -- which also passes 200 m from La Pep -- or enjoy the walks, activities and stunning views at the local beauty spot of La Roche d'Oëtre. The nearby historic town of Falaise with its castle of William the Conqueror, WWII museum, aquatic centre and Saturday market provides further activities. The towns of Caen and Bayeux, and the lovely Côte de Nacre (with its Normandy landing beaches) are all around an hour's drive away.
OVERVIEW OF THE PROPERTY: at the end of a short driveway, off a little-used country lane, two houses make one corner of a gravelled courtyard. You will be staying in the left-hand house `Le Logis', at least 250 years old and built on two levels in dark stone with oak beams. (The owners may be using the other house during your stay.)
INSIDE LE LOGIS: the entrance is either by the small conservatory at one end or by a glazed door leading leading directly into the main living-room (salon). From the conservatory, a door leads to the bathroom (shower, toilet) and also, via a short corridor, to the salon. The double, downstairs bedroom also leads off this corridor and connects directly to the bathroom. The open-plan `salon' leads via a doorway to a small but fully equipped kitchen and, via an open oak staircase, to the `mezzanine' area with double sofa-bed, games TV etc. The double, first floor bedroom is reached from the mezzanine by a low doorway (please mind your head!)
OUTSIDE LE LOGIS (overview): Private area: a gated and walled garden, with lawns and an eco-pool (see below) plus a patio with vine-covered pergola and barbeque for open-air dining. Shared area: a large barn (not normally accessible) surrounded on three sides by more lawn with play area and equipment including a 12' trampoline. On the other side of the courtyard you have access to a long, partly wooded riverbank following the Baize. The total land area of La Pep is just under 1.4 hectares.
The small kitchen is equipped with a large, range-style gas cooker with extractor hood, and a fridge with freezing compartment, as well as the sink, tiled work-surfaces and ample shelves and cupboards. For hot drinks, there are a small coffee machine and an electric kettle.
Indoor dining is in the salon at a traditional farmhouse table with straw-bottomed chairs. The table seats 6 persons but can be easily extended by sliding leaves to seat up to 10.
In fine weather, you can also dine outside on a slate-floored patio between the glazed salon-door and the gravelled courtyard (garden-type table and chairs are available.) A wooden pergola with a fruiting grape-vine shades the patio on hot summer days. At the edge of the patio is a freestanding, `stone' barbeque plus preparation table.
The light and airy, open-plan salon has a fully glazed door to the patio and windows on two sides. As well as the dining table, it is furnished with a white leather sofa, armchairs and oak coffee-table and attractively decorated with prints and local artifacts. Lighting is by halogen spots and uplighters. At one end, a stone and brick fireplace houses a large and efficient enclosed hearth (glazed) to keep you warm in winter (firewood available). Thick stone walls, large ceramic tiles underfoot and an electric ceiling-fan keep the salon cool in summer but don't forget your slippers if you don't like the feel of cool tiles underfoot!
Upstairs, the cozy mezzanine is decorated with old photographs of the area and furnished with a comfortable double sofa-bed and more chairs as well as a television with dvd player and a large collection of dvds and (mostly French) novels
The double bedroom downstairs is furnished and decorated in `cottage' style, with a ceramic-tiled floor, a double bed with oak bedstead, a chest of drawers, chairs and large, built-in oak cupboards. On the corridor side of the room is a recessed hand-basin with lighted mirror. On the far side is a curtained window overlooking our lovely meadow with fruit trees, and a doorway with two steps providing a private entrance to the bathroom.
The upstairs bedroom has a charming `old-fashioned' look with magnolia walls and dark oak beams. It has two, comfortable wooden-framed single beds, a wardrobe and chest of drawers. Plenty of natural light comes from a shuttered velux window in the sloping ceiling and a glazed door (with curtain) which opens to a `Juliette' balcony overlooking the river Baize and back lawn.
The bathroom has hand-basin with mirror, a glass-doored shower unit and a wc. There is an electric fan heater for cold mornings. It is lit by halogen spots and a window that looks over the meadow. As explained above, the ground floor bedroom has its own entrance to the bathroom. Other occupants access the bathroom via the conservatory (both doors have internal bolts).
Le Logis is quick to warm up, even on cold winter days. As well as the large hearth in the salon mentioned above, it has full gas-fired central heating and hot water, with modern radiators in every room except the conservatory.
Wireless internet is available throughout Le Logis.
On the mezzanine are some board games, books, tv, dvd player etc (see above).
The salon has a `reading corner' with books on Normandy, art-books etc
In the corridor is a table with more guidebooks, maps and plenty of leaflets and information on the local area.
The walled former vegetable garden is ideal for lazing around in spring or summer, with shrubs, flowers espaliered pear-trees etc. Lawns surround an oval, unheated `ecological' swimming pool, approximately 3m x 5m. (Water quality is maintained without chemicals by UV sterilisation and passage through a planted upper lagoon and cascade.) This garden, pool, patio and pergola are for your exclusive use during your stay.
Shared use: The lawns around the barn have flowerbeds and play equipment (small swing and slide for kids, plus a 12-foot trampoline). The garden area by the (unfenced) Baize has a small lawn with apple trees. On the right, a gate provides access to a long strip of private riverbank with grassy areas, which you are welcome to use for paddling, play and wildlife watching.
Uncovered parking space is available in the courtyard and by the barn. Further vehicles can be parked off the property in a large lay-by about 30m along the road.
La Pépinière is generally child- and pet-friendly. (The owners have three kids and a cat.) It is suitable for family holidays or as a getaway for 1 or 2 couples in all seasons.
Accessibility: the downstairs bedroom, kitchen and salon/dining room can be reached from the courtyard without steps. There are a few steps at the entrances to the conservatory and the bathroom. The main staircase turns and there is a low doorway to the upstairs bedroom.
All tap water at La Pépinière comes from a borehole and is fine for washing and preparing food. However it is not certified drinking water and you are advised to drink only bottled water, available very cheaply at local supermarkets.
Please enjoy the pool, rivers and the play equipment including trampoline at your own risk. If you do have concerns about the safety of young children, you may wish to use the existing gates to restrict their access to the pool or river Baize (which is less than 0.5 metres deep near the house and easily fordable).
There is currently no washing machine or dryer in Le Logis, although there is an outside clothes line. If interested, please enquire about use of the washing machine in the other house at La Pépinière.
We're a family of 5 living in Crouch End in N. London. Sue is a teacher and David is a researcher. Joe, Laura and Daniel are in secondary school. We love to walk, cook, garden, cycle and watch nature. La Pépinière is our family holiday home but with two houses and over 1.3 hectares of land, there's plenty to share with our guests. We'd like you to enjoy your holiday, and if we're in residence in the other house at the time, we'll be very glad to help you make the most of it in any way we can.
|Year property purchased||2016|
|Why this location?||The Suisse Normande area is unlike the rest of Normandy which is mostly flat. An offshoot of Brittany's volcanic formations, the bedrock is carved into hillsides, cliffs and gorges by its many rivers. These picturesque landscapes are perfect for outdoor pursuits such as cycling, fishing, horse-riding and walking. There's rock-climbing and paragliding at nearby Clécy and watersports at the Lac de Rabodanges. La Pépinière is close to the historic town of Falaise (castle of William the Conqueror, Falaise `pocket' etc). For more serious walkers, the GR 36 long-distance footpath passes 200m from our door on the protected, "Natura 2000" land of the Orne valley with red squirrels, otters and pine-martens. All this plus the typical delights of the Norman plains: verdant meadows with horses and dairy herds, orchards and several excellent local bakeries, restaurants and farmers' markets. The lovely beaches of the Côte de Nacre, Caen, Bayeux and the WWII landing beaches are around an hour's drive|
|Unique benefits of property||`Le Logis', is one of two houses at La Pepiniere, a former farmstead dating back to the 18c. Nestled in its own secluded, green valley where the little river Baize runs into the Orne, `La Pep' is our haven of utter tranquility. In Autumn and Winter you can relax in front of the closed-hearth log fire under the oak beams of the salon, read or watch a DVD on the cozy mezzanine. In Spring and Summer, you can dine on your private patio under the vine-covered pergola with barbeque, sunbathe on the lawns of the former vegetable garden while buzzards wheel overhead, and then cool off with a dip in the clear waters of our 3m x 5m eco-pool, shared with the swallows. (Water purified with UV lamps + pumped filtration through planted lagoon.) The wooded banks of the trout-stocked river Baize border the property for 350 metres. You can fish (with permit) or birdwatch (kingfishers, etc) while the kids paddle nearby, make camps and dams, explore miniature islands and generally shake off H+S culture.|
You can have a very busy, fun day out in the closest town of Falaise (15-20 minutes by car) which was famously the site of the "Falaise Pocket" and some ferocious battles following the Normandy landings. Near the Hotel de Ville is an excellent new and large museum about civilian life during WW2. Almost next door is another of Falaise's claims to fame: the huge and impressive castle of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, in gleaming white stone. Also worth visiting are the little houses of the old town in the valley below William's castle, near where his father (known variously as "Robert le Diable" or "Robert the Magnificent") seduced Arlette, the innocent laundrymaid who was to become William's mother. The patisseries of the eponymous bakery `Les Ducs' in the centre, are superb. Falaise also has a great Saturday market with local produce, fish etc. on the main square and in adjacent covered halls, a fantastic aquatic centre (called Formeo, with indoor and outdoor pools, slides etc) and a good tourist office, as well as nice walks in the picturesque countryside and villages around the town. (It's also a good place to get your shopping done, with two large supermarkets and a good mix of smaller shops.)
A walk or cycle ride of 5 km, or a 10 minute car ride, takes you through the pretty village of St Philbert to the Roche d'Oëtre. This famous clifftop beauty spot has a stunning panoramic view over the forested gorge of the river Rouvre and the Normandy countryside for miles around. Dine in its pleasant restaurant and explore the visitors' centre and several nature trails which lead along the cliffs and down into the gorge. Nearby is Orne Aventure's Accrobranches (a family-friendly "Go Ape" type of tree climbing adventure. Several more touristy attractions of a similar type are also available at Clécy to the north as well as rock-climbing and paragliding ). Not far from La Roche d'Oëtre, a delightful signed footpath takes you for a stroll around the peaceful "Méandre du Rouvre" and through the picturesque village of La Vallée.
The outdoor centre "Pont d'Ouilly Loisirs" hires out canoes and kayaks of many types and sizes for you to paddle down the Orne to Clécy for a day (or half-day if pushed). Take a picnic to eat on a river beach, or the woods and meadows, as the river glides past. Pd'O Loisirs will pick up and bring you back by van. Back in Pd'O you can relax on the banks of the river at a couple of snack bars or dine at the recommended family restaurant "l'Oceane" (with pedalos, very near Pd'O Loisirs).
Head south 13 km or 16 minutes by car to the Lac de Rabodanges, created by a hydro-electric dam on the Orne. (The latter drowned the old village of Sainte Croix whose inhabitants were relocated.)
As well as activities like boating, waterskiing etc, the lake, also known as the `retenue de Rabodanges', has small beaches and cafes, lake "cruisers", a network of footpaths by the lake and below the dam, and a really nice restaurant `La Rotonde' on the east bank (restricted opening, so please book). Alternatively, if you haven't brought a picnic and don't fancy one of the lakeside cafes/snack-bars, the hotel `Le Lion Vert' in the nearby village of Rabodanges also has a good restaurant. For horse-riding, child-friendly stables "La Rotourelle" are just south-west of the new vilage of Sainte Croix (on the west shore of the lake).
Walk or cycle along quiet country lanes to nearby hamlets such as Les Isles-Bardel and La Bourganiere or, further afield, the villages of Menil Hermei and La Foret Auvray (which has great views, old wooden market `halles' and quite a posh restaurant run by some Brits).
Alternatively, explore waymarked local footpaths, for example, the two that pass within 200 m of the house: Head right out of the house and, just before the road goes over the little bridge over the river Baize, climb up left on the GR 36 (red-and-white waymarks) for a fantastic view from the cliff over the Orne. Shortly after the bridge, you can instead head off right along a footpath into the woods for a longer ramble along the footpath "Circuit de la Vallee de la Baize", following clear yellow waymarks. There are various side-paths or you can loop back to La Pépinière by quiet country roads once you reach the village of Les Isles-Bardel on your right.
You can buy croissants, superb bread and pastries for your breakfast (as well as cakes and tarts for tea) at the bakery just west of the bridge in Pont D'Ouilly (10 mins by car). Alternatively, just walk or cycle out of the house, past the Moulin de Dannet, along the river, under the old viaduct and left to the Auberge du Roc in Menil Villement (5/20 mins by bike/foot). The Auberge is a depot du pain for good bread and pastries brought every morning by van from another local bakery in Menil Hubert (You should pre-order from the Auberge).
1. Visit Caen, a lively city on the Orne with good shopping. plenty of history and interesting architecture (45 mins by car). The theme-park of Festyland lies on the western ring-road around Caen, and has rides etc for all ages, petting animals and go-karts.
2. Head for the channel beaches to the north (under 1 hr). You can visit pleasure beaches like Rivabella close to Ouistreham, or less busy ones west of Caen including the Normandy landing beaches and the great D-Day museum at Arromanches (just over 1hr by car). For those interested in WWII history there is plenty more to see in the area, including many war cemeteries on the road to Caen and elsewhere.
3. Visit Bayeux (just under 1hr by car) with its old churches and extraordinary, nearly 1000 year-old but beautifully preserved, long tapestry. This depicts in fascinating detail the events surrounding the Battle of Hastings and the invasion of Britain by William the Conqueror.
4. Walk in Foret d'Ecouves, a beautiful big forest in the Regional Park of Normandy-Maine, 50 minutes to the South of La Pepiniere. There's plenty more places to visit in the Park, including ancient villages like Domfront and the modern-day spas of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne.
5. Visit the very pretty port of Honfleur, painted by Monet, lying on the coast east of Caen and the estuary of the river Seine (1hr 30 minutes)
We stayed at Le Logis with our two-year-old daughter and had a wonderful time. The cottage is lovely, with a beautiful garden and pool, as well as a trampoline and swings for kids. David, Sue and the family were extremely welcoming and helpful.
The town of Falaise (about 20 mins drive) has a fantastic swimming-pool, including baby pool, slides, and an outdoor pool, as well a good market and several supermarkets for stocking up on supplies. We also liked La Roche d'Oetre, which is about 10 minutes drive and has a play area, restaurant and great views. But most of all this is just a beautiful area, and it was a pleasure to drive around the countryside and go on walks and bike rides. Highly recommended.
We're so glad you enjoyed the garden and pool - and even got out further afield on your bike, exploring the peaceful countryside. It won't be too long before you're doing that with Ella in tow!
We spent five lovely days at La Pep with our two teenage children in August and had one of the most peaceful, relaxing holidays we have ever had as a family. David, Sue and their family were delightful hosts and always happy to help if we needed them. They had kindly left a few things for us on our arrival so we were set up to enjoy ourselves and relax immediately. Le Logis is a charming old farmhouse in a perfect location if you are looking for peace and quiet and a perfect setting for exploring the countryside. There is Wi-Fi if needs be and that worked perfectly well but we found that we wanted to spend our time exploring the area (there is something interesting at every turn). On a few occasions we travelled further afield (visits to Bayeux and the Normandy Beaches were highlights and not too far away). The local town of Pont D'Ouilly is delightful and has enough boulangeries and little local restaurants to keep everyone happy.
Best of all was the opportunity to enjoy the simple things in life (something few of us get the chance to do these days) - paddling up and down the stream, trampolining and swimming in the eco pool were all an absolute joy.
Thank you David and Sue, we had such a lovely time. We'd highly recommend La Pep!
Thanks John and family - you were perfect guests! Come back any time.
Beautiful and very inviting ecopool, friendly and helpful hosts. Very clean and well maintained.Great fun for our kids age 7 and 10 - trampoline, ecopool. Great local kayaking. Will go back. Excellent value for money. Only tip - bring slippers as floor cold on feet.
Many thanks Alona and family. We really enjoyed having you here too!
David and Sue