Set in the tiny hamlet of Bentefarine in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Ariège, south west France, the 2-bedroom Barn provides the ultimate escape-from-it-all but with the convenience of the lovely town of Mirepoix and the city of Carcassonne within easy reach.
A sensitive renovation has given it a fabulous combination of contemporary style and fittings with abundant 'barn charm' and a upside down design that maximises the truly breathtaking and uninterrupted mountain and valley views. The beautiful and calm environment has a wonderfully relaxing effect on guests young and old, and within hours of arriving guests usually find themselves lounging by the lovely swimming pool or settled on the wide balcony, soaking in the views with a glass of the local wine, whilst little ones splash happily or find amusement in the handy stash of toys and books. And if that sounds idyllic, a wander into the woods where there are streams and secluded natural swimming pools is magical!
To ensure full advantage of the beautiful views the accommodation is arranged upside down, with the two south facing bedrooms; one double and one twin set on the ground floor with the family bathroom (shower and bath) and separate W.C. The wide beech staircase ( stairgates provided) lead to a light and airy 45sqm loft style living space with exposed stone walls and original A-frame beams. The dining space has a traditional farmhouse table and chairs with seating for 4, whilst the modern kitchen is well equipped for families with a fan assisted oven, dishwasher, washing machine, fridge freezer, toaster, kettle and microwave. The comfortable lounge area has a television and DVD player perfect for entertaining tots or for cosy nights in during the winter months with help from the antique, enamel log burner.
During the summer, apart from lounging by the swimming pool (shared with the owners), guests are bound to spend the majority of their time on the extensive decked balcony which leads out from three French doors in the living area. The balcony offers fantastic views over the rolling countryside and, thanks to the sun chairs provided, it’s ideal for taking in the summer sun. There is also a stylish bistro table set under an arbour, which is sure to be used as the main dining area and, come evening, a romantic spot for a glass of wine and a view of the sunset.
In terms of outside space, there's the wide balcony but no 'garden' as such but a section of the spacious grounds beneath the barn has been mowed and set aside for guests to enjoy. Of course, guests are free to roam the grounds, woodland and stream too.
See 'Fast Facts' for breakdown of baby and toddler gear provided.
The Barn is in the tiny hamlet of Bentefarine, set amid rolling hills with breathtaking views of the Pyrenees. The British owners have three of their own children and have lived in the area for a number of years so are well equipped to help guests with ideas of what to do and provide folders within the barn that are packed full of flyers and leaflets for local attractions.
Guests can enjoy the tranquility of feeling as though they are in the wilds but civiisation is actually only a short drive away. The nearest grocery shop is in Camon (4kms) as is the closest and perhaps most atmospheric restaurant in the region at the Abbaye Château de Camon (sophisticated but run by parents who understand little ones!).
The charming and picturesque medieval bastide town of Mirepoix is just 12kms away and has handy supermarkets, along with a lovely selection of shops and bistros, plus an excellent market every Monday, which is full of delicious locally grown produce and a must for any visitor.
For keen walkers and mini explorers there are scenic walks literally on the doorstep, the river is a 10 minute trip on foot and, a further ten minutes, finds natural, secluded pools which are magical for swimming and paddling in Summer.
For beach days, here are two family-friendly swimming lakes nearby, Lac Montbel is a 5km drive and has a sandy beach with lifeguard in the summer along with a handy restaurant and pedalos for hire. Whilst, Puivert lake is a lovely spot a little further away, (20 mins in the car) with a large sandy beach, beach bar and playground.
A brilliant guest folder has been compiled by the owners with tonnes of ideas for things to do and places to visit in the area, much of which they have tested out with their own brood of little ones. Ideas include visiting the butterfly farm, to seeing the wolves in the 'wolf park', or an eagle-flying display amongst the ruins of a hilltop castle.
A visit to this part of France would not be complete without a day spent in nearby Carcassonne (40mins drive). Its amazing Cite will be adores by aspiring princesses and would-be brave knights, whilst grown-ups will enjoy the history and the modern's city's brilliant clothes and interiors shops, plus some really good restaurants and bistros.
During the winter months skiing is available just 45 mins from the hamlet.
Nearest Medical Services: 2 English speaking doctors in Mirepoix (5mins) & emergency department at Foix hospital ( 35- 40 mins)
Getting There: Flights - Carcassonne’s 'Salvaza' Airport is within 40-mins (served by Ryanair), Toulouse 'Blagnac' Airport is 1 hour away ( British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2.com & Flybe). By Rail: Take the Eurostar to either Paris or Lille and take the TGV to Toulouse. There is also a sleeper train from Paris to Carcassonne.