Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 1334: Owner, L'Auditoire
3 bedroom/2 bath house inTurenne, near Brive, Limousin
September 2004, 2 weeks
As part of our 14 month trip to Europe, we planned to visit the Dordogne. I started researching possible rentals in the Dordogne region and came across a website for a unique cottage in the fairytale village of Turenne. I was captivated by the photos of the cottage and the village and decided instantly that I wanted to stay there — in fact, I adjusted our trip plan to stay there two weeks.
The owners are Penny and Kevin, a British couple who now live in a nearby village. Penny was great to deal with prior to our arrival, and she and Kevin gave us a complete tour when we arrived. She left fresh flowers and also a bottle of champagne for my birthday. Penny and Kevin have done an outstanding job in restoring this cottage.
Before I came across the house on the internet, I’d never heard of Turenne ... and didn’t really even know where it was relative to the most famous sights of the Dordogne. Turenne is in the region of the Limousin, about an hour south of the city of Limoges in the southern end of the département of Corrèze. The Lot département is a few miles to the south, and the Dordogne département is a few miles to the west. This general area is also known as the Périgord, particularly when referring to its gastronomic specialties. In the 15th century Turenne was the center of a separate and very powerful viscounty that controlled 1200 other villages. Today it has about 750 residents.
Our cottage — and the village of Turenne — were even better than we had expected based on the website. The cottage (called L’Auditoire) is almost at the top of the perched village, just below the castle. We were able to drive up the narrow little streets to the top of the hill and park just beneath the castle fortifications, a short walk to the cottage. The cottage used to be part of a courthouse building and is hundreds of years old. We thought it was absolutely enchanting. It made me think of the little nursery rhyme "There was a crooked man and he had a crooked wife ... and they all lived together in a little crooked house." This is indeed the crooked cottage!
The entrance to the cottage is through a little courtyard, enclosed by a wooden fence. Three different doors lead from the courtyard into the house — one to the kitchen, one to the living room, and one to the master bedroom. The courtyard has a table, chairs and a bench built into the fence — the fence is quite high by the sitting area, which provides privacy from the street and the handful of tourists that troop up and down. There was plenty of sun when we visited in mid/late September, and we enjoyed having lunch or evening drinks in the garden, which is nicely landscaped with flowers and herbs. On the other side of the fence, the little steep little street heads down the hill, passing underneath an archway that’s actually part of the building where the cottage is located. The archway — and the back of the cottage’s building — are part of the old village ramparts. This is an extremely unique place to stay.
Every room in the cottage is literally on a different level, and there are lots of steps all through the house. The main entrance is into the kitchen — a wonderful room and obviously recently redone - stone walls, big wooden beams, red-stained paneling and beautiful cherry wood cabinets. All the necessary appliances are provided — a full-size refrigerator and freezer, a clothes washer, dishwasher, microwave, stove and convection oven. There’s a generous supply of cooking equipment. The glassware is attractively displayed in a cabinet with glass doors. Drying racks are provided for drying clothes outside on the terrace.
The cooking area is separated from the eating area by an open counter, making a big pleasant room. The big wooden table seats six and there’s a cupboard full of dishes. We enjoyed spending time in this pretty room.
A few steps lead up from the kitchen to the big living room — rather dark because of the stone walls. (These old houses often have few windows in order to conserve heat.) The living room has a wood-burning stove, a couch and two comfortable chairs, and a pretty blue table where Penny has provided travel guides, maps and tourist literature. There’s also a CD player and a very good, small library.
Steep stairs lead upstairs to the second level. On the main landing there’s a bathroom behind a sliding mirrored door - with an absolutely wonderful shower. A nice-sized bedroom with a double bed looks out over the street. A few steps lead down off the landing to an enormous master bedroom that sits over the kitchen. This bedroom has stone walls, wooden beams and a massive fireplace. There’s an antique wooden bed, a wooden armoire, and a couple of chairs in front of the fireplace. A second bathroom is off this room… this one with a tub and shower attachment.
Steep twisty stairs lead from the second floor landing up to the third floor—an attic room. There are two skylights, so this room is brighter than any other room in the house. There are two twin beds up under the eaves, a big wardrobe, a daybed, and a table with some children’s games. One of the skylights looks out over the edge of the village - if you stand on your tiptoes (or very gingerly on the little daybed), you can see the countryside below and a lone medieval tower standing in the yard of the house next door.
We really enjoyed settling into the village of Turenne — we toured the castle, walked the tiny streets, and even got to know several of the permanent-resident neighbors. We did our grocery shopping at a large Carrefour in Brive (about 30 minutes away) where there are several other large supermarkets. We also used an internet café in Brive several times. There are also small grocery stores in two neighboring villages, maybe 15 minutes away. When you arrive at the cottage on Saturday afternoon, we strongly recommend an immediate trip to buy groceries. The major grocery stores in Brive are not open on Sunday, and the two smaller groceries in other villages close at noon on Sunday. (We learned this the hard way when we procrastinated buying groceries, absolutely convinced that the big supermarket would be open on Sunday!) We really enjoyed the Saturday morning market in Brive, which is considered one of the top food markets in France.
The only minor downside to staying in Turenne was that there was not a local boulangerie so we could buy fresh bread each morning. In fact, other than a small alimentation store with hours we never understood and a café at the bottom of the village, there aren’t any shops in Turenne at all. There are two or three restaurants, though we didn’t visit them. A bread truck does visit the top of the village late each morning at a defined time, but we normally were out at that time of day.
We were extremely happy with the house and definitely recommend it for others—it has so much unique old charm, but also all the modern comforts. Turenne was a very good base for visiting the many famous sites of the departéments of Corrèze, Dordogne, and Lot. Since we were there for two weeks, we also had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the village and our cottage. For more information our two weeks in this area, see my blog at: www.slowtrav.com/blog/kaydee/archives/000677.html and http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/kaydee/archives/000677.html.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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