Here, on the edge of the wild, wooded Cévennes, you can link up with the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail – and you don’t have to hire a donkey! The majestic Pic Saint Loup towers over the vineyards that surround this old, rambling, maze-like hotel. It’s a popular destination for get-up-and-go types, including families, and those who love to eat well.
The lush garden setting feels just wild enough for the magnificent sculptural cedar tree to stand free above it, branches spread. Laze in the deckchairs, splash in the pool, play boules under the chestnut trees. This big, bustling, ethically run house could hardly be more friendly or laid-back.
If you tire of mountain biking, climbing and wild-river swimming, head south for the fountains and dappled squares of Montpellier. You can be there in an hour, and still find time for Roman Provence… Arles, Nimes and the Pont du Gard.