As a travel writer, I’m always falling in love with beautiful places to stay and visit – quite often, unfortunately, being there in person doesn’t quite live up to the anticipation and idea of a place, but at others the actual experience blows all of my expectations out of the water and leaves me hankering to go back as soon as possible. Back in May, while I was in the Dordogne researching the new edition of the Rough Guide to France, I was fortunate enough to be put up by HomeAway.co.uk for two weeks in a fabulous house called Le Plassial.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this was hands-down the nicest self-catering property I have ever stayed in (and as a big fan of self-catering on holiday, I’ve stayed in a lot of different places). The house is in a fabulous location, just outside of the small village of Coux-et-Bigaroque (handy for picking up bread and wine), and close to many of the most beautiful towns and villages along the Dordogne, including Limeuil, Beynac-et-Cazenac, La Roque Gageac and Sarlat, making it a perfect base from which to explore this glorious region.
The traditional stone house, with wisteria climbing around the front door, is just everything you could want in a French country house. It has been beautifully renovated by its owner, and is decorated by what I would call a French country chic – but without seeming fussy or too traditional or old-fashioned. My favourite room was undoubtedly the lounge, with its stone fireplace making a great centrepiece, and a very cosy sofa that was perfect for curling up on at the end of a tiring day. That said, the whole house was a delight – there was a large dining room (perfect for more formal meals or planning what to do the next day) and a great-sized kitchen which had everything you could need to cook with (which I did, regularly), plus a small table by the window that overlooked the garden. The real treat was being able to sit out in the garden – while I was there, the roses and lavender were in full bloom, and blue tits were nesting in the letter box by the front door – especially at the end of the day with a cold glass of local wine and some fresh produce from one of the fabulous local markets. My only complaint as that I couldn’t spend as much time here as I wanted to – what with having to actually go out and work – but the garden was just such a pleasure, with ample space to soak up the beautiful sunshine, to the sound of swallows swooping overhead.
The master bedroom is on the first floor and is very spacious and comfortable – and, if you keep the shutters closed during the day, remains blissfully cool even in the summer sun. From the en-suite bathroom there’s wonderful views over the neighbouring fields, a sight that I especially loved just as the sun was dipping out of sight in the evenings. Despite the beautiful traditional-style furnishings, the bathroom boasts a fabulous, modern rainshower – always a bonus in my book. There’s actually two bedrooms here – the second is also a great size and tucked up in the old attic, also with its own bathroom – but it really is the perfect-sized house for two.
Though it would be a shame to come to this part of France and not explore further – it’s great walking and biking country for a start – this is such a beautiful place to stay that it would undeniably make a great spot just to absolutely chill out and wind down after your wedding. You do really need a car to do it justice – the lively town of Le Bugue is just a short drive away and has everything you need including a decent supermarket, a fabulous bread shop (with cakes to die for) and a great wine shop (also worth a stop at for a bit of stocking up before you head home) – and the roads are blissfully quiet (though will be a little less so in certain more touristy areas during the height of summer), and just such a pleasure to explore.
It’s rare that I can be so unequivocally positive about somewhere I’ve stayed, which is all the more indicative of how much I loved Le Plassial. When I came to leave on my last morning I felt ridiculously sad – the house had really become my home over the two weeks and saying goodbye to it all was a real wrench. (Unsurprisingly, I’m already planning a proper holiday there next year.) This is a glorious part of France, and if you’re looking for somewhere really special to stay on honeymoon then I really don’t think you could do any better than this gorgeous house.
Need to know
Le Plassial, France
£685 per week (available May to September only)
Nearest airport: Bergerac (25 miles away)
Car hire: I hired my car through Rhinocarhire.com
I was a guest of HomeAway.co.uk, but all opinions are my own – if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t hesitate to say.You might also like: