With regular trips to France to stock up on beautiful antique pieces for the Boule-In, we not only get to experience incredible landscapes, wonderful people and delicious food - we also get to try out some delightful - and some not so delightful - B&B's, or Chambre Hôtes.
With a portfolio steadily accumulating of where best to rest our antique-fair weary heads, we have decided to share our picks with our friends so that they might be inspired - or warned - when travelling through France. To begin our B&B blog we want to wax lyrical about our favourite place nestled in the heart of our former home town of Cotignac, Provence.
Although we didn't get to stay here on our most recent trip, we frequently use La Licorne as a chic, clean and welcoming base for time spent in Provence. A boutique retreat in the centre of an incredible village, the owners, Eric and Bernadette, could not be more hospitable with the thoughtful extras and out-of -this-world breakfast spreads they provide. Enjoy tous les pains, les fromages, tarte du jour, juices, fruits, yogurts and more around a stunning sheltered pool that you are welcome to enjoy all day long, towels provided.
After a day exploring the region, purchasing goodies at the local market, or nurturing a carafe or two at one of the many bars or restaurants, there is nothing better than returning to your exceptionally clean Provençal room, filled with tasteful antique furniture, and bathe in the luxe freestanding bath or slip under the crisp white bed linens for a wonderful snooze.
Future Boule-In B&B blogs will review one property in detail, but for now, here is an overview of the places we stayed on our recent trip earlier this month.....
La Maison Tupinier - Cluny (£80)
Utterly eccentric and charming. Brimming with antiques! Climbed up a spiral stone staircase to get to huge bedroom and wonderfully chic bathroom - modern and spare with stone floors and walls. Breakfast, which was included in price, was served from antique porcelain cups and plates with silver fruit knives offered to cut the fresh peaches plucked from the tree. Think Mme Bovery's batchelor cousin's pad!
Auberge de la Fontaine - Villeiers-sur-Suize (£54)
The French equivalent to Darling Buds of May!! Booked because it looked good value and a charming traditional flower filled Auberge was offered in photo...the reality was that we slept in the annex up the road (I'd pointed it out earlier, relieved that we weren't staying in it!!) and had to eat the cold platter (all that was on offer) in the Auberge which was filled with 80's Jack Daniels mirrors and stuffed wild boar heads!!. The ensuite bath room was a plastic tardis in the corner. However, they were completely delightful and charming in their service and served a delicious breakfast the next day !
La Bocca - Sommières (£85)
The most wonderful chambre d'hôtes - a charming mix of elegant old and new French styles and huge spacey bedroom and enormous bathroom. Delicious fresh breakfast every day laid out in the garden on Boule-In style tables!