Spotting the potential of a picturesque farm cottage and barn in the Dordogne, the owners of Sol du Mazel have
created two lovely gites and then gone the extra mile to make them really baby
and family friendly. With three children of their own, the Tanswell’s knew just
what to do, inside and out, so the whole place is geared up for having stress
free holidays and making happy memories.
Hope Cottage and Rose Barn are set in 4 acres of fields,
meadow and walnut orchard where children can roam free and find a host of fun
things to do including a super big and bouncy netted trampoline, sandpit,
swings, climbing frame fort, playhouse and football nets. The cottages also
share a lovely 12x5m heated pool which is safely fenced and has Roman steps
into the shallow end, floats and pool toys for children to play with while parents
laze on the poolside loungers, deck chairs and hammocks. Shell paddling pools can
be brought out for tiny toddlers to have a splash and the poolside pergola provides
welcome shade from the midday rays.
When renovating the cottage and barn, the Tanswells have rejuvenated
original features like the oak beamed ceilings, rendered walls and stone tiled
floors, then finished and furnished them both to the highest standards of style
and comfort. Both have roomy open plan living areas which are flooded with
sunlight, well equipped kitchens with black granite worktops and luxuriously
cosy bedrooms tucked under the eaves. Both cottages also come with a long list
of baby and toddler equipment, from highchairs and crockery to cots, cot
bedding and a carrier rucksack so parents don’t have to panic too much when it
comes to the packing.
The gites overlook the play area, pool and meadow, so grown-ups
can keep a watchful eye on the children while enjoying some Dordogne delicacies
al fresco in the timber ‘abri’ or stoking up the barbecue in the sunset glow. The
views of the countryside beyond are also a sight for sore eyes and early risers
might spy deer or wild boar in the woods across the valley. The village of St Pampon is easy walking
distance and there’s simply no better way to start the day than with croissants
and baguettes, fresh from the boulangerie.
The whole of the 10mx 5m ground floor of Rose Barn is an
open plan living/dining area and kitchen with all mod cons including
dishwasher, microwave, induction hob , electric oven, fridge and freezer,
coffee maker and food blender. French doors
open onto the patio and timber ‘abri’ where there’s a large outdoor dining
table and chairs. Rose Barn (sleeps 6 plus a baby in a cot) has three elegant
bedrooms which are like a breath of fresh air
– the master double bedroom and twin room have wrought iron beds and a cute little bunk room features a
magically ‘floating’ bed. The bathroom, with chunky exposed rafters has a full
size bath and separate shower, as well as a loo and basin. For a larger family
group, (10 plus babies in cots) Rose Barn and Hope Cottage can be rented
together and there is an interconnecting door at ground level. See Hope Cottage here http://www.babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk/hope_cottage-child-friendly-accommodation-81016.htm.
The two gites at Sol du Mazel enjoy
an idyllic setting at the heart of the Dordogne which Francophiles simply can’t
resist for its gastronomic delights, stunning scenery, hilltop castles and
medieval towns. The sleepy village of St Pompon is only half a mile away, with
the all important boulangerie plus a butchers, a bar and an excellent restaurant,
which is highly recommended. From the end of June to the end of August, the
village is transformed every Saturday evening into a fantastic street party as
the ‘Marché Gourmand Nocturne’ fills the main square with food, drink and general
joie de vivre!
Markets in the Dordogne are not
to be missed, with stalls piled high with all kinds of local produce, from
giant wild cepes, walnuts and cherries to big jars of confit du canard and pate
foie gras. There’s pretty much a market in one town or another ever day of the
week, including one in medieval Domme (10km) every Thursday and perhaps the
best of them all in Sarlat (19 kms),
every Wednesday and Saturday. Even without the market, Sarlat is a
magical medieval town that’s like something out of a film set and crammed with
enticing restaurants, creperies, and shops.
Besides enjoying the famous food
and perhaps visiting an excellent vineyard or two, like Cahors, there’s plenty
of things for families to see and do throughout the Dordogne. Wannabe knights
and princesses will have fun exploring fairytale castles like Castelnaud or
kids can clamber around high rope walkways and zoom down zip wires at Indian
Forest, La Foret des Ecureuils and Parc aux
Dinosaures. Hot air
balloon rides and ‘gabarre’ boat tips are a serene way to admire the scenery,
or families can book a kayak adventure on the Dordogne, not forgetting to pack
a picnic to enjoy on one of the many river beaches. Even underground, the
Dordogne has amazing attractions like the ‘crystal cathedral’ at Proumeyssac,
prehistoric cave paintings and magical ‘son et lumiere’ displays.
The nearest airports are Bergerac (42 miles)
and Bordeaux (118 miles).