Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 4861: Owner, Home in Frayssinet-le-Gelat
2bed/2bath house in Frayssinet-le-Gelat, Aquitaine
October 2010, 1 week
The house is in the village of Frayssinet-le-Gelat, in the Lot region of France. (Note: Do not confuse with another nearby village named Frayssinet.) It is a good location for visiting both the Dordogne and the Lot -- about an hour from Sarlat in one direction, and from St-Cirq-Lapopie in the other, with lovely countryside and many of the most beautiful villages of France in between.
Just a few steps away from the front door is a great little boulangerie for breakfast croissants. Out the back door and across a schoolyard is a handy little mini-mart. For a quick meal, there is a reasonably good pizzeria right up the street. There are supermarkets about a 15-minute drive away.
The house, with three floors of living area, is extremely spacious. It is an old house, connected to other buildings on each side, but quiet and private. It has been completely renovated inside. On the lowest level (where you enter from the parking area) is a big family room with TV. Also downstairs (in the bathroom) are a washer and dryer, which worked quite well. On the main floor (which opens onto the main street of the village) is a large living / dining room and a good kitchen. On the top floor are two bedrooms and a bathroom.
Note that the website includes a floor plan, which we found very helpful to get a good idea of the layout. The front of the house faces the main street, but it's a small village with little traffic. We never had any problem with outside noise.
There is a nice patio area behind the house, with table and chairs, and a grill (although we were there late in the season so the grill wasn't set up and it was too chilly to spend any time outside). The patio is private, with a low wall, but adjoins the very nice neighbors' back yard next door. There's no pool, although there is a big swimming area (plan d'eau) nearby just outside the town. The back of the house looks toward a schoolyard. Apparently the school has very few students and we were told there's no noise problem, although we were there during a vacation week so we couldn't confirm that. There was certainly no activity there while we were in residence.
The house is quite nicely furnished and very clean. You can see photos of the interior on the website. I can't think of anything that was lacking to make it comfortable. There is a large dining table and a nice sitting area on the main floor, as well as an "entertainment" room downstairs with the TV. We didn't use the TV, so I can't comment on how well it worked.
There is an Internet connection in the house, but unfortunately the WiFi password was not supplied (or someone had lost it). Anyway, we solved the problem by plugging our Airport Express directly into the Ethernet connection and it worked perfectly. Our Airport Express always travels with us, because it seems on every trip we stay in at least one place where we can't get on WiFi without it.
We slept in the larger bedroom, at the back of the top floor. The queen-sized bed was comfortable. The wardrobe (no closet) was good-sized, but not very well laid out, since there wasn't any full-length hanging area for clothes. The rod with hangers had shelves underneath, and it was difficult to hang anything longer than a shirt. The front, smaller bedroom has twin beds (which could be made up as a king). There's one bathroom with tub and built-in shower on that floor.
On the lowest level there is a couch which we understand can open up to a double bed although we didn't use it. There is a full bathroom on that level with a nice stand-up shower. My husband thought that was such a great shower that he used it in preference to the one nearer our bedroom. I was perfectly happy with the bathing facilities on the top floor.
We didn't do any serious cooking, but the kitchen was extremely well supplied. There is a full stove, microwave, toaster, and dishwasher, as well as loads of dishes and various utensils and pots and pans. Everything in the kitchen worked fine.
Problems or Bonuses
Unfortunately we did have one huge problem -- the heating system didn't work properly, and we arrived during an unseasonably cold October (temps down to freezing at night). Apparently this situation was completely unexpected, as the heat, we were told, had been working fine the last time anyone used it, several months ago. But it appeared that something had gone wrong with the computer program controlling the furnace, since it would cut off unexpectedly and not restart. Sometimes we could get it working by flipping the on - off switch, but then it would die again after a few hours.
The local property manager tried her best to deal with the situation, but could not find a repair person who knew anything about the equipment. Finally she went out and bought us three very nice space heaters, but we had shivered through three days before even this temporary solution was possible. I will say that the manager and the owner were extremely upset about the situation, and tried their best to deal with it, but the combination of circumstances made it hard for us to enjoy our first few days in the house.
As a bonus, we had very nice next-door neighbors who helped us through the first couple of days by generously loaning us a small space heater. And at least the hot water kept working fine.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The owner of the house lives in Australia. We never met her, but she was very responsive via email to all our questions before we arrived. She seems like a very nice person, but when we had the problem with the heat, it was difficult to communicate with her, given the time difference. The local manager lives several kilometers away, and we had a bit of trouble getting in touch with her at first. So that was one reason it took some time to get the heating situation at least partially resolved. I think this was mainly a case of bad luck for us, since we arrived during the first cold snap, and the owner told us when she had been there the previous winter the heat was working fine.
The manager (Jan) is a delightful person and later in the week we really enjoyed having drinks with her and her husband at their beautiful home. She is, if I recall correctly, also an Aussie (at least English is her first language), and her husband is French.
I thought the house was very reasonably priced at Ä350 a week for so much space, a good location, and excellent facilities (leaving aside the heating problem!). There's also a Ä50 cleaning fee.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I would definitely recommend the house -- but if you come when the weather might be cold, just confirm that the furnace has been repaired!
Things to do in this area
Several of the most beautiful villages of France are within easy driving distance -- including Sarlat, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Monpazier, Domme and Rocamadour. Caves, castles, and canoeing are among the other nearby attractions -- and of course, this is foie gras country!
On the recommendation of our next-door neighbor we had a very good Sunday dinner just up the road at La Petite Auberge in Villefranche sur Perigord. The house is also very near La Recreation in Les Arques, the restaurant from the book "From Here You Canít See Paris". Unfortunately, the owners have sold and are moving, so we had one of the last meals they served there. It has been bought and will reopen under new management, so one can only hope it will stay as good as the original.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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