It is rare indeed to visit an empty house in midwinter and experience an instant warmth that brings the place to life. Your French/German hosts – Valérie and Frank – come from the world of performing arts (she a dance choreographer, he a set designer) and have now turned their attention to viticulture and making your stay special; they have the gift of hospitality tenfold, leave you cherries and walnuts (in season!) and love to share their passion for producing organic wine. Your space? A beautifully renovated, 400-year-old ochre-washed ‘pigeonnier’ with a sun-drenched terrace on an idyllic old farm among vines, a five-minute walk from the village. Step through a glazed door to a stylish yet cosy vaulted and beamed living room with a cool stone floor, minimal high-quality furniture and old walls. The kitchen is simple, the bedroom is fresh and light, and there are single beds on the mezzanine. There’s a pool to dunk in, Saint Émilion is close, the beaches of Arcachon and the boulevards of Bordeaux are an easy drive, and in summer Castillon gives a re-enactment of the last battle of the Hundred Years War.