Sit down to a welcoming cup of tea with Francoise; she is one of a French silk family that has lived here for generations. She speaks good English and delights in meeting her guests, as does her daughter, also charming, who visits at weekends. They share a passion for the region, the Cévennes: its gorges, valleys and steep pathways, and the historic villages of Bez and Esparon that lie on the other side of the river.This 19th-century château flanks the road, as its terraced gardens ramble behind. Inside: an elegant dining table for breakfasts, and, up a spiral stone stair, light-filled bedrooms with a château feel. One has a bathroom in the tower, another has an old grand piano too large to move!After an adventurous day out – riding horses in Causses (16km), braving rapids in St Bauzille de Putois (31km) – you can recover in La Merlanson up the hill, where the chef specialises in ‘cuisine du terroir’.