The long cool pool beneath the trees will convince you that these people have the finest sense of how to treat an old house and its surroundings. A deep wooden deck, rustic stone walls, giant flower baskets, orange trees, candles at night – all create tranquillity and harmony. The young owners (he an architect) fell in love with the place and have cleverly blended 18th-century elegance with contemporary charm. Oak doors, exposed stone walls, cool stone floors… everything glows with loving care, like valued old friends. Bedrooms are light and uncluttered, those facing the main road are double-glazed but get hot in summer (earplugs can come in handy, too), the split-level apartments are a delight. The Gautiers’ passions include the old-fashioned games they have resuscitated for you: croquet and skittles under the trees, two kinds of billiards, backgammon and mahjong. Olivia speaks English and her enthusiasm for house, garden and guests is catching. Award-winning food (Sustainable International Restaurant of the Year) is delicious, local, organic; breakfast, in the garden in summer, is all you’d hope for the price. Exceptional.