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Southwest France lodging

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We just returned from France, and I thought I'd share some observations on our lodging.

As context, my wife and I are DIY travelers who look for places to stay that have comfort and character, with a target of averaging about 100 euro per night.

We stayed at the listed places from October 12 to 21, 2012.

All of the places we stayed were completely satisfactory in terms of cleanliness and safety.

Feel free to e-mail me if you want more details about any of these places.


-- Paul

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Domaine des Prés de Joussac
Port de Richard
45 route de Valeyrac

Overall: Highly recommended!

Charming old stone building in a rural area off the left bank of the Gironde River, a few minutes north of the northernmost "great growth" appellation. The setting is very pastoral, with horses in the fields around the domaine and chickens next door. There are some small villages nearby with restaurants.

We had booked a room, but were treated to a stay in the separate stone building, which is a HUGE, well-appointed apartment with a full kitchen. There was simply no noise at all other than a rooster crow in the morning.

Our hostess, Sophie, was wonderfully gracious and helpful. She speaks fluent English and can help with planning daytime activities, such as our visit with a charming older couple who own and run a small Bordeaux winery.

Firm, comfortable bed and large appealing bathroom.

Breakfast included homemade yogurt and jams, as well as pastries.

The main consideration to be aware of is the small amount of additional drive time required if you're going to make repeated visits to chateau in the Medoc.

= = = = =
Hôtel des Pins

Overall: Recommended for value and location

An "classic" old hotel that is very attractive from the outside. Absolutely a perfect location for Cap-Ferret. To do better would cost significantly more. Set on a residential street, a block from the low-key commercial street that borders the Arcachon Basin. Be careful when you select a location in Cap-Ferret. Being on the ocean-side, for example, could be a very different experience (depending on what you're looking for).

We stayed in room 101. Quite small. The bathroom is very small and the shower is tiny. A bit "frayed", but clean and serviceable. A large window that opened onto some shrubs and a small adjacent structure. No view, but pleasant enough.

There's not much soundproofing, which could be a problem. There were few guests, and they were generally quiet, so we had no problems.

There have been some travel site reviews that knocked the host, but we found him pleasant and had no issues. He spoke little English with us, but we had no problem figuring out the logistics.

The large, glass-enclosed breakfast room is gorgeous in the sunlight. However, we chose to have coffee and pastries at a wonderful patisserie around the corner.

= = = = = = =
Hotel-Restaurant Henri IV (Room 12, "aloe vera")
1 Place St Taurin 32800 Éauze, France

Overall: Acceptable. Likely a good choice if you want to stay right in the center of Éauze.

Éauze is the center of Bas Armagnac, which we visited because of our interest in Armagnac (brandy). Éauze itself didn't present any great interest us, but we hadn't made any connections with Armagnac producers, and thought being in the city would be helpful.

If I were doing this again, I'd look for something outside the city and make prior arrangements for visiting by using the Internet.

The bedroom was large and beautiful, with small windows that looked onto a neighboring small residence's courtyard and to an oblique view of the church. Very comfortable bed. Large bathroom.

There were few guests and they were quiet, so noise was not a problem. However, you can here when someone walks up or down the ancient wooden stairs, so this could be an issue under other circumstances.

The restaurant and bar were closed, so the downstairs area was dim and uninteresting during our one-night stay. Some reviews give the restaurant high marks. Breakfast was poor quality coffee and pastries.

The host was friendly and spoke little English.

= = = = = =
Mas De Garrigue (Room St. Sulpice)
La Garrigue, Calvignac 46160

Overall: Highly recommended!

This is a phenomenally beautiful building and location. The location is rural above the Lot River between Cahors and Figeac, with attractive small villages in the surrounding area. We liked this area better than around Sarlat because it seemed less impacted by tourists.

Our room was in the lower floor and opened directly to the outside. The bedroom was huge and the bathroom very large with a phenomenal walk-in shower. Everything about the bedroom, bathroom and rest of the house is "top-drawer" and beautifully designed. We were really, really sorry we'd only booked for a night.

All rooms were booked when we were there, yet our room was absolutely quiet at all times.

The dinner, including wine, was superior and very reasonably priced. Highly recommended, if available.

The hosts are wonderfully gracious and English-speaking.

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Le Jardin (Room Castelnaud)
Sarlat Dordogne 24200
Tel: +33 (0)5 53 29 22 67

Overall: Highly recommended!

A large house in the residential are just outside the old village center. Sits in a large, lush lot, with trees, birds and a pair of resident red squirrels.

Two things make this a great choice for Sarlat: The wonderfully warm and helpful hosts (Wendy and David) and the convenience of the location, especially if you have a car and will being going out and back visiting nearby sites. You can walk to the other side of the old village in about 15 minutes. It's also only a 20-minute walk, mostly on quiet streets, to a huge shopping center in the opposite direction.

Our bedroom and bathroom on the second floor were large, both with double windows that looked out over the patio and garden. The tub with shower functioned well

There were two or three other parties during the three nights we were there. They were quiet so we had no problem with noise. We could occasionally hear sounds from the stairway and from the adjacent room.

Wendy and David really make you feel like you're staying with friends or family. The whole setting has a "cozy" feel to it. One evening we all sat out on the large, covered porch with glasses of wine and it felt like a second "home."

= = = = = = =
Chateau Carbonneau (Room Rivoine)
33890 Pessac-sur-Dordogne

Overall: Highly recommended!

In a rolling, rural area about 40 minutes southeast of St. Emilion. Several small villages in the area. A working chateau that makes an excellent Bordeaux blend.

A beautiful old chateau, superbly appointed. Our bedroom and the one we saw across the hall were HUGE. Very comfortable bed and high-quality linens. The bathroom was large and functioned well. (Tub with shower.)

Two other rooms were occupied at the time, and our room was dead quiet. Nice views across the vineyards.

The dinner was excellent and very reasonably priced. Wine from the chateau is extra, but the reds are especially good and reasonable. Highly recommended, if available.

Hosts are warm and interesting and English-speaking.

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