Lounge on the elevated sundeck with a glass of vin de l’Ariège and you’ll think you’ve landed in heaven. You have! Surrounding you is a garden a-tumble with cherry trees and apple trees. Seats and benches are dotted around, there’s a tree-slung hammock to nod off in, and all you hear are the birds… oh, and the occasional bray from Maiya and Fudge, the resident donkeys. Ann and Ian – Ann a scuba diving whizz – are welcoming, helpful, and live on site in their own separate house. Yours, the gite, has three levels. On the newly tiled ground floor are a hall, kitchen-diner, sitting room, and French windows opening to the terrace and the views. Above are four bedrooms and bathrooms, one of which holds a sauna under the roof. The style is comfortably rustic and the bedrooms are particularly pleasing, with their sturdy new iron bedsteads and wide old wooden doors. Bathrooms are light, airy and pristine. You can ski in Ax les Thermes, and drive to the ‘grottes’ of Niaux and Mas d’Azil. The birdwatching is spectacular.