You get the best of both worlds here: Carol’s joie de vivre and vast local knowledge, and glorious independence in your own cottage. The cottage and the house, where Carol does B&B while Bruno works in Bordeaux or on the farm, stand in a fine big garden of lawns, flowers and wild meadow leading to views across vines. Swings in the trees, winding paths – a dream. You have a private garden, too, with stone table and barbecue. Inside, bask in Carol’s exquisite taste. In the large open-plan space, find a mixture of quirky modern art and traditional antiques – admire the big old bed beneath a towering ceiling from which hangs a huge iron chandelier. On the mezzanine, an almost secret single room with a desk for reclusive writing. Beds are made with antique linens; the kitchen has all you’ll need to cook up that storm when you return laden from the luscious market; the bathroom has space and jets galore. Do visit the owner’s farm: hens, meadows, walking paths and cookery courses organised in their 14th-century water mill. They’ll also give you a pass to a private turquoise blue lake for swimming, and lend you a bike to get there.