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Review 4115: Dordogne Vacations, La Maison

www.francestonehouse.com

Recommended
Review by Roz from MA who is a SlowTrav Contributor

2bed/1bath house near St. Cyprien, Aquitaine


Entrance to La Maison, La Borie des Combes, photo by

When

May 2009, one week

Location

The website lists the location as Sarlat, which is actually about 15 km away. Bezenac is the postal address; it has nothing except a mairie and you may not even be able to find it on a map. (Google Maps couldn't find it, but Via Michelin had no problem.) The closest town of any size is St. Cyprien.

The house is in a beautiful location, up a steep hill from the main road. It is a quiet and private area, but within easy driving distance of most of the things you come to the Dordogne to visit.

Nearby Amenities

There is a pretty good patisserie down the hill, maybe 1 km away. Although you could walk there, it would be a steep climb back to the house, and we never had the motivation to do it.

There is a shopping center with a Champion supermarket a few kilometers away, on the road to St. Cyprien, which is the nearest town. St Cyprien has a great Sunday morning market, banks, and plenty of small shops and cafes.

Lots of great restaurants are within easy driving distance.

The House/Apartment

There are actually a total of four units in the complex. We stayed in the two-bedroom La Maison, but larger parties could rent one or more of the additional units. The "Artist's Loft," which the owners are still renovating, is on the floor above La Maison. The owners were living there while we were staying in La Maison. Then there is the Studio, with minimal kitchen facilities, and La Chambre Gold, which is basically a bedroom suite.

The original stone house dates back to medieval times, but it has all modern conveniences in the kitchen and bathroom, and has been beautifully decorated. The owners actually live there when they don't have renters, so it is very nicely fitted out. Everything was very clean and in good condition.

La Maison, which we rented, has two bedrooms, a sitting room, a good-sized kitchen with dining table, and a nice bathroom.

The washer/dryer are in a separate shed and shared with the owner and any other renters. They are new and worked very well.

Garden

There is a private yard, with table and chairs, right outside the front door. It's shared with the owners, but that's no problem as they are very nice and we enjoyed getting to know them.

There is no pool and no long-distance views from the property itself, but there are wonderful opportunities for walks with stunning views in every direction just outside the gate.

Furnishings/Cleanliness/Living Areas

The house is full of French design magazines, which have been put to good use! It's very nicely and comfortably furnished. Everything was in good shape and very clean.

There is no TV, which didn't bother us, as we never watch it, and we would much rather have Internet (which was available).

Bedrooms/Bathrooms

La Maison has two bedrooms, but we only used the larger one with the king-sized bed, which was very comfortable. There was plenty of room in the wardrobe for our clothes, and the bedroom was a good size, so we could put our suitcases out of the way. There is also a small desk in the bedroom, although we usually sat at the kitchen table to use our laptops.

The bathroom is quite modern. The website mentions only a tub, but the tub does have a shower (and a shower curtain!), and works well. It is a bit slippery because French tubs were really not designed to stand up in, and all have rounded bottoms. There were plenty of towels.

The bathroom is some distance away from the main bedroom (through the living room and kitchen), and as is usual in these old houses, there are steps up and down between the rooms. So it takes some care (and the use of a flashlight!) for those of us who need to visit the bathroom at night. That was a minor issue, which fortunately didn't cause us any trouble, but it's something I always watch out for.

Kitchen

The kitchen was large and well equipped. There was a gas stove, a microwave, toaster oven, large fridge, and an electric teakettle, as well as plenty of dishes, pans, and utensils. I admit that we don't do much serious cooking when traveling, so we didn't really test the limits of the kitchen, but it seemed to have everything that a real cook would need.

The only complaint we had about the kitchen is that there is no dishwasher, and the sink is a bit on the small side for washing a lot of dishes.

Problems or Bonuses

When we arrived the WiFi was not working, although the Ethernet connection was fine. Since we usually travel with our Airport Express, we were able to use it to set up a wireless network for our own use.

The owners would have been happy to let us use their computer, or connect ours to the Ethernet upstairs in their living space if we hadn't been able to get the WiFi working. But if WiFi is important to you, I'd suggest checking with the owner to make sure he's got his setup fixed.

As is common in old houses like this, electrical outlets are few and far between. We're used to this, so we always travel with a European power strip so we can charge all the electronic paraphernalia we bring along.

The main bonus for me was getting to know Paul and Jeri, the owners. They are such nice people, and we had a lot of fun chatting, sharing the occasional glass of wine, and accompanying them on a "get-to-know-the-neighborhood" walk. They have a very well-behaved and beautiful collie. For us, that was a bonus as we love dogs, and Hula was one of the sweetest we've met.

Agency and Representatives (and price)

We rented directly from the owners, who are wonderful and very easy going people. Since they are Americans, we were able to pay them by check in dollars, which made the transactions very easy. They were also very responsive to our questions by email, and it was a plus to have them living on site in case of any questions or problems. The rates vary by season and are listed on the website. I thought the house was good value for the price.

Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?

This is one of the nicest European rentals we have ever stayed in, and the Dordogne is a wonderful area. I give La Maison high marks, and recommend it to anyone looking to visit this part of France.

For anyone who wants to see more photos, I posted an album with photos of the property on my website.

Things to do in this area

The owners' website has a long list. There are lots of markets, great restaurants, and an abundance of castles and prehistoric caves. We especially enjoyed renting a canoe and paddling down the Dordogne past magnificent medieval castles high on the cliffs. Our activities while staying at La Maison are documented with photos here.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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