The idyllic blend of a beautiful setting, stylish accommodation, great facilities for mini guests and the warm hospitality of English ex-pat owners Abbi and Danny, with their two young daughters, has firmly planted Mas de Jouas at the top end of our 'Best Rated by Past Guests' list each year.
This friendly mini boutique hotel is the kind of place that strips off the baggage of everyday life and lets families focus on enjoying each other and the, more than likely, great company around them. Days here tend to slip into an easy routine beginning with wandering downstairs - kids often still in PJs - to be greeted by freshly baked croissants, cereals and fruits; then taking turns watching the kids explore the safe grounds and play areas, followed by heading out to potter around a local attraction or town and then returning for an afternoon by the lovely pool. Mini guests gather together for their supper(6 meals a week) - cooked up by Abbi whose experience as a parent shows in the menus - on the terrace at about 5.30pm whilst parents grab a chilled beer or wine (from the unlimited drinks fridge) and share tips on what they've done that day. A little later, they tuck their little ones up in bed and head back to the dining room or terrace beneath the bedrooms to enjoy their own sociable supper (included 5 meals a week) accompanied by laid back tunes, flickering candles and, if he's in the mood to mix, one of Danny's famous Mojitos to round off the night.
There's plenty of opportunity for romance (remember that?) too with one babysitting night a week included in the price and the option to add another at reasonable rates. Alternatively, order a picnic from Abbi, buy a bottle of champagne from the house fridge, a baby monitor and dine 'out' under the stars at one of the pretty tables for two scattered throughout the grounds. It’s easy to see why the 'Mas de Jouas Magic' is a formula that has been known to bring grownups, let alone their offspring, to tears when their last day rolls around!
Mas de Jouas accommodates three or four families at a time in a choice of multi-room suites. All are set within a tasteful 3-storey barn conversion adjacent to the home of friendly owners and social supper hosts, Abbi and Danny and their two young daughters. The ground level is home to the communal areas including the guest kitchen with help yourself fridge and the lounge/dining room. By day, this area is often used as a shady play room by mini guests taking a break from the pool or the sun to enjoy colouring, puzzles or watch DVDs. On cooler evenings, it is transformed, with candles and a soundtrack of chilled out tunes, into a laid back dining room for grown ups where Abbi delivers mouth watering meals and Danny pours the wine whilst guests mingle. Baby monitors (not provided) work well through out the house offering parents a further peace of mind. Although Abbi and Danny don't provide baby monitors they can offer a spare should guests' break.
Loft Family Rooms for 3
The 'Loft Family Rooms for 3' is new for 2015 and offers smaller families the chance to enjoy the full 'Jouas' experience on a budget. With all the same style and character of the larger, two bedroom suites, this comfortable room has a high quality 140 double bed and space for a cot or an extendable toddler bed. The room has a maximum capacity of three including infants. The room has a lovely Villeroy Boch bathroom with bath and large, moonson shower over. The room comes with LCD TV with UK tv channels, docking station, hairdryer, bathrobes and high grade towels. For families there's a potty, trainer seat, step and changing mat. Rates are based on two adults and a child under 12. Click 'prices' tab above to check availability and rates.
Prices include: 5 dinners (one being Sunday lunch) a week with wine, one night of babysitting, daily breakfasts, access to a well-stocked unlimited drinks fridge with beer, wine, juice, sugar free squash and milk for mini guests, a load of laundry, 6 kiddies suppers (one being Sunday lunch), a weekly cookery lesson (pizza making etc) and treasure hunt. Please note: Baby food is not provided but the owners are very happy to either whiz up or chop up what the other children are having, or offer guests can prepare baby foods and store in pot provided, if a mini guest is weaning. Cot and linen is included in the price. Prices do not include: A select wine list for special occasions, additional laundry, pre-arrival shopping service for nappies, wipes, formula etc and local taxes at €0.50 per person (incl. children/infants) per day.
Prices do not include: A select wine list for special occasions, additional laundry, pre-arrival shopping service for nappies, wipes, formula etc and local taxes at €0.50 per person (incl. children/infants) per day.
The Aveyron is home to "Roquefort" cheese, "Marciac" wine, "Laguiole" cutlery and cheese, Cantal cheese, rocamadour fabulous local delicacies such as "farcous", plenty of foie gras, cured meats and sausage and the most wonderful cepes and vegetables, and the famous Aveyronais cheesy mash "Aligot!" and lots more. There are some wonderful short nature walks right on the doorstep.
For the kids there are a couple of excellent insect worlds, lots of different animal parks; one with a fabulous chateaux with giant wooden games and a medieval garden with a “guess the herbs game” and a fabulous glass tunnel through the middle of a lion pen. A steam train at Martel boasts incredible views and other interactive water and nature parks offer fabulous days out. There is canoeing in Najac and Saint Antonin Noble Val andthe option to view the Millau viaduct by Kayak too. There are plenty of lakes for watersports and many wonderful picnic spots.
Abbi and Danny's recommendations of 'plus jolie' places to visi tinclude Belcastel 25 min drive away for picture perfect riverside picnics and the 1909 restaurant for fresh foie gras, then a leisurely stroll to the stunning chateau and view the exhibition of Disney/WB artwork and wonder at the spectacular views from the top. For a glorious day out, some wonderful walks and gourmet restaurants, they thoroughly recommend San Cirq Lapopie, only 35 mins away, there is a wine museum and fabulous bijoux art and craft shops and exhibitions, a river with safe swimming area and a picnic spot. At Najac there are some lovely riverside picnic spots and canoe centres. The castle is well worth a visit and there are some lovely shops and restaurants. The small bastide village of Villeneuve is only 5 minutes drive, it hosts 3 restaurants, a cafe under the arches, and hosts a medieval fete during the last weekend in July each year with spit roast pigs, dancing and fireworks for the dinner in the evening and Abbi and Danny would be happy to book tickets for you.
Villefranche is the closest large town only 10 minutes away with a plethera of eateries, lots of shops and lovely alleys to explore. It also holds an enormous market every Thursday morning. Other markets the owners recommend for are at Limogne and St Antonin Noble Val on a Sunday morning, plus the beautiful town of Figeac on a Saturday morning. Peak season boasts a road train tour round the town, perfect for young families not so keen on walking!
Winter sports/skiing - The region boasts three ski resorts Aubrac, Brameloup and Laguiole. Aubrac is suitable for children and Brameloup includes a creche and snowgarden. Higher up there is also Aurillac that boasts better snow.
Getting There: Nearby airports include Rodez (40mins) or Toulouse (1.5hrs).