Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 4601: La Barauderie, Le Havre
studio cottage on a farm near Montrichard, Loire Valley
May 31st to June 3rd 2010, 3 nights
Located in the Loire Valley a short drive from Montrichard, the property itself is surrounded by fields. The cottage has a private sitting area bordered by trees and vines and feels very secluded.
This part of France offers excellent opportunities for exploring the many Chateaux in the area, tasting local wines produced here, surprising opportunities for shopping in Blois and Amboise and of course is a foodies delight with exceptional mushrooms, cheeses, pates, chocolates, baked goods, etc. Any weight you lose walking around Paris may be recouped here.
Groceries were readily available in Montrichard, Blois and Amboise. There was none in walking distance really, but the cottage provides a coffee maker and coffee as well as tea and some other essentials. The tap water is entirely potable and quite delicious and upon our arrival, our hosts had provided pain au chocolate, croissants, escargot shaped pastries and fresh jam to go with.
Originally constructed from indigenous tuffa stones (the unique rock in the area used for constructing the chateaus and out of which the many mushroom and vin caves are hewn out of), the cottage has been lovingly resurrected by Karen and Craig. Well suited to a couple (be it a couple of friends or lovers) with a second single bed for either a child (or menage partner), the cottage is by far the most thoughtfully equipped place I have ever had the pleasure of staying in. Whatever one needs to sleep, cook, eat, relax, etc. has been thought of. The owners are close enough to ask for anything you may have forgotten and were very accommodating when I needed a transformer to recharge my camera.
There were opportunities to lounge by the pool, sit at a table in the grassy courtyard at the cottage's rear and the owner's provide two delectable lounge chairs which we set up on the grass to make the most of the day's sinking sunlight. The hosts are attentive gardeners and I appreciated the potted impatiens on the doorstep and little potted flowers on the window ledges. There are also some very interesting perennials on the grounds that Karen was quite happy to tell me about when asked.
Not only exceedingly clean and unique, this cottage gets points for its interior design and decor. The beds were comfortable, the chair in the large bathroom was a nice touch and the kitchen table and chairs were perfect. It is redolent with little touches and everywhere your eye rests it will find harmony.
The bathroom gets a 10 out of 10 and was one of the best showers I have had in Europe. Ever. A great mix of the stone and tile, I loved getting ready to head out in here and also wind down for the day.
The kitchen is well equipped with important details such as a citrus juicer, measuring spoons, variety of herbs and spices, reasonable knives, a lovely matched set of dishes, cutlery and cups, wine glasses, champagne flutes, cutting boards, etc. For large cuts of meats or for grilled vegetables, there is a Weber charcoal grill in the yard for guests. All other meals are best suited to lighter fare such as pastas, salads, sandwiches, etc. as there are two stove elements and a microwave by which to prepare hot food.
Problems or Bonuses
The largest surprise was the perfection of the place. Bravo, Karen and Craig! As hosts they are helpful without ever being intrusive. These are two people who through their travels have discerned what sets a good stay apart from a great stay and have created an absolute haven. I regret not getting to spend more time at the cottage and also not getting to spend more time with our hosts! As my traveling companion said, we were welcomed like family. Karen and Craig's knowledge of local restaurants and vintners was priceless and on their recommendation we enjoyed one of the nicest meals of our vacation.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly through the owners. They are American (Canadian-at-heart) ex-pats and spoke perfect English as well as fluent French and probably a few other languages from their travels. We stayed for the three night minimum and the pleasure was well worth the €100 per night we parted with.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would stay here again. And again. And again. I would definitely recommend it to my best friend although my friends appreciate the same sensibilities I do. I would not recommend this to the sort of person who goes on a vacation and expects everything in a foreign country to be as it as 'at home', not because they wouldn't love the cottage, but because I would not do that to Karen and Craig.
Things to do in this area
Blois was a delightful surprise for shopping and had great women's clothing stores, candy shops, delis, restaurants, etc. Amboise was also good for wandering around narrow streets with unique stores and fresh produce and over in Vouvray are some of the nicest wines in France.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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