French Holidays: What Kind Of Holiday Rental Guest Are You?


A holiday is so important – it’s something we look forward to from the moment we book and it’s over in the blink of an eye. For most of us, life is a fast paced juggling act, so a holiday is a time when we choose what we really want to do. We call the shots, even if they are just to say pass me another book to read or what t-shirt shall I wear today?

Of course, holidays mean different things to different people, especially when it comes to finding the right holiday rental for your needs. It’s always good to work out what kind of holiday rental guest you are, as it can make the process of finding the perfect place much easier.

Have a look at the following 4 categories to see which one best describes what you want from your holiday rental property:-

Chilled Out and Laid Back

laid back and chilled

Even if your favourite saying about your perfect holiday is “I want to do absolutely nothing”, you will rarely mean it. If you want to do very little, then your close surroundings will be so much more important to you.

  • Choose a gite with plenty of indoor space, which is light, airy and comfortable, so you can have time to just relax.
  • Outdoor space is also important, so you can lie on a sun lounger or float around in the pool. I would recommend buying an inflatable chair from a local supermarket for about 15 euros so you can bob around on top of the water.
  • If the pool is important to you then make sure you have confirmed with the owners that you have sole use of the pool.


  • Choose a tranquil location so you can enjoy the peace and quiet, but be close to places with some hustle and bustle that you can dip into when you want.
  • Pick an area with great food to buy and prepare, so you can eat and cook when you want but still have good restaurants to visit when the mood suits you.
  • Although I would never encourage the availability of the internet during a holiday, it can be a useful aid if you want to enrol on that online yoga class you’ve always wanted to do. Check out what technology is available in the rental such as free wifi, dvd player and TV.

Live Like a Local

live like a local

Choose a traditional house to give that authentic feel of what it is like to live in the area. Don’t think you have to compromise on luxury and comfort just because you have chosen an older property. Shop around as you will find that you can have both, but book early to get the best choice.

Pick a location where you can mix with the local people and do what they do. There are many Marché Gourmands, Fetes and general get togethers in most French villages during the summer months, where you can eat, drink and dance the night away.


Enjoy shopping in the local markets where you can buy what’s in season and use the fresh ingredients to cook local recipes.

Seek out the little restaurants tucked away, where the locals eat – they are an absolute joy to experience.

Curious about Culture

culture and music

If you are into music, then choose a holiday rental that has a good sound system, or space to play your own musical instruments, some may even leave instruments for you to play.

We leave a set of conguitas in our home and I would defy anyone to pass them without tapping out some kind of rhythm.


Choose a location with music, dance or theatrical events and find out if there are special events that you would enjoy, as this could be the deciding factor in choosing when you want to visit.

We have the Cahors Blues Festival near us which is a great event.


Visit vineyards and learn about the wine culture – no visit to France would be complete without taking time to learn more about winemaking and wine tasting. (link to wine tasting blog)

Search for Chateaux and other places of interest where you can learn about the history of a location.

Visit the Local Tourist Office to find out about local crafts people and designers of ceramics, jewellery and metalwork or carpentry.

Visit the many museums and seek out the museums which celebrate more unusual subjects. Our region of the Lot has several places where you can learn about truffles, fois gras and lavender.

Explore and Experience


If your motto is “I haven’t done everything, but it’s on my list”, then you definitely fall into the Explore and Experience category. Everyone has a different threshold where enjoyment of adrenalin filled activities is concerned, so choose an area where there is a varied mix of levels.


Choose an area where you can enjoy wonderful scenery, tranquility and perhaps a bit of history. In our region, we have many books about various local walks available from the Tourist Information office or many rentals will have created their own information packs. We have a lovely walk where you can leave our house using quiet, seldom used trails through forests, arriving at a local village just in time for lunch. You can then walk back home at your leisure without ever setting foot on a pavement or public highway.


If you enjoy cycling then search for cycle companies where you can rent bikes and they will advise you on the best routes which suite your ability. Again the local tourist information offices are a good place to start your research or the home owner should be more than happy to advise you.


Canoeing is a great experience as you don’t have to do it alone if you don’t want to. You can learn the basics very quickly and find rivers with calmer water so you can practise in a safe environment.

Boat trips

For those who want to take to the water in something bigger, then choose places where there are larger boats offering organised tours. Some have lovely restaurants on board where you can enjoy a wonderful meal as you travel serenely on the river.

Vintage Cars

There are some places which offer the hire of a vintage car to discover the area. You can just hire for a day or even half a day and feel like you have stepped back in time, as you explore the quiet roads and sleepy villages.

Great Restaurants

There is nothing better after a busy day, than to have dinner in a lovely restaurant. Foodie’s need their fix of good places to eat and although they enjoy cooking, there is no substitute for the excitement of visiting a really good restaurant for the first time.

So, if food floats your boat, then make sure that there are places locally that you can visit for those gastronomic experiences that all foodies crave.


Need Help Snapping Up Your Next Holiday Rental?

snap up your next holiday

It would be very rare if you were 100% of one of the types I have suggested. In reality you will be a mixture and if you are going as a family, then there will be even more of a combination.

However, if you know what you think is important, then you have a much better chance of getting exactly what you want from your holiday rental and its location, so that your holiday is memorable for all the right reasons.

I would love to know which kind of holiday rental guest you are, so please let me know in the comments box below.

Also, what do you find most challenging when you are searching for a holiday rental?

Perhaps I can help, so please get in touch.

Jump On the Gin Wagon and Blaze a Trail to South West France


Gin is making an amazing comeback in the UK. Our love affair with this sultry spirit is enjoying a wonderful revival by people of all ages. The birth of small batch boutique gins means that there is now a gin for each and everyone of us and we are enjoying the fun of finding our perfect tipple.


Gin Bars, Gin Festivals and Gin Clubs are where we are flocking to find the latest tastes to savour. But what happens when we go on holiday?  Wouldn’t it be great to have some time for some gin appreciation as we relax?

Gin Appreciation at Bijou Barn

Situated in South West France, Bijou Barn is a spacious barn with sophisticated charm just waiting to become your home from home for your summer holiday.

We love gin and have spent much time sipping and savouring this very special spirit. We are always on the hunt for new flavours and decided to offer a gin appreciation experience for our guests who come to visit our holiday rental in the scenic and unspoilt Lot region.

Any guests who are interested will learn about the history of gin, the different ways of making gin – your London Drys, Old Tom and that Bathtub gin is not where you have to sit to drink it – although we do have a place for that too!


We also try to answer that all-important question of how to find your favourite gin with 3 tastings……and all this from the comfort of our holiday rental – gintastic!

It doesn’t matter whether you have booked Bijou Barn as a holiday rental or you have opted for a more tailor-made trip with Bijou Bespoke, this gin appreciation can be scheduled into your stay with us.

Our Special FREE Offer at Bijou Barn

Book a 7 day stay at Bijou Barn anytime during September and anyone over 18 can enjoy the Gin Appreciation including 3 tastings for FREE.

Here’s what’s included:-

  • 3 unusual gin tastings by the private pool
  • Canapés using local produce
  • Learn about how gin is made
  • Find out why you like certain gins


Please contact us for further information and availability or go straight to our booking page.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Bijou Barn

The pool at Bijou Barn

Getting into the festive spirit!

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the festive spirit when it’s warm and sunny……. but rest assured, we are giving it our best shot!

We hope your Christmas is filled with fun and merriment with family and friends and that 2017 brings you all the happiness you can handle.

With our very best wishes

Graham and Jane
Click here to find out more about your summer holiday at Bijou Barn

French holiday rental reviews – all 5 star – just like our guests – thank you so much!


It’s always quite daunting as we await reviews from our guests. We hope that they have enjoyed their stay and that Bijou Barn has helped to make their holiday special.

Whether they’ve enjoyed being in the pool, cooking alfresco on the BBQ, watching the sunset on the back terrace with a chilled glass of wine, picking figs from the garden for pudding or stretching out on a sun lounger with a good book, we would like to think that everyone of our guests takes a collection of Bijou Barn memories home with them as a souvenir of their holiday.

What did our guests say about their stay?

“We all had a truly wonderful time and left feeling truly refreshed.”

“Bijou Barn was gorgeous – it had everything we needed and more!”

“We can thoroughly recommend Bijou Barn and hope to return.”

“Luxury, family friendly holiday property”

“Weather was perfect, pool was glorious and countryside beautiful.”

“The owners Jane and Graham are very friendly, nothing being too much trouble.”

It’s always lovely to meet our guests and find out a bit about them – and you know what, they are a great bunch. If we had to rate our guests, they too would be 5 star! They are all individual, but all with the same hope, that they can chill out, relax and enjoy their holiday.

We are thrilled that our guests have rated us with such glowing reviews and this just makes us more determined to work on new plans to make Bijou Barn even better next year. We want our guests to feel at home whilst experiencing something completely different.

Plans for next year?

I am sure we will be discussing the plans over one or two glasses of lovely Malbec wine during the coming months and if you watch this space, you’ll be the first to know about what is new at Bijou for next year and all the great events and experiences to try locally.

Thanks again for your wonderful reviews – it really means a lot to us.

Home Away French Holiday Rental: getting poolside summer ready


When my husband said we needed to get poolside summer ready, I was very excited at the prospect of exfoliating, buffing, bronzing, moisturising and nail painting ………and that was just the to do list for Graham – only joking! Graham was referring to the pool being summer ready and its transformation from winter hibernation to luxurious summer oasis.

Secluded pool area at Bijou Barn

When you winterise your pool, you basically put it to sleep for the cooler months by preparing the water, covering the pool and draining the pump. The vibrant poolside area becomes a much more somber place during the winter months, so when the day arrives to wake up the pool for the summer, it really is exciting. The dark green cover, grubby from the winter weather and rotten leaves is removed to reveal the water, which after a few days of ‘jiggery pokery’ looks crystal clear and inviting (the duck is optional!)


Of course, that’s just the beginning as the whole pool area is then painstakingly pressure washed to brighten up the paving and decking. You can’t have a pool area without sun loungers so these are washed and positioned under the tree so there is somewhere comfortable to chill out between dips in the pool.

French holiday rental

Then it’s time to cut back and cultivate the poolside plants – I am never sure if I cut back the right plants and cultivate the others but so far so good. The vines over the terrace, the jasmine hedge, the mint, the lavender, the poppies and other wild flowers – the list is endless but hopefully the ensemble of colours and perfumes does work.


The pool area is as important an area for us, as it is for our guests and we make it our business to ensure that it offers everything that you would want:-

  • Turquoise water that sparkles in the sunlight
  • Sun on the terrace for most of the day
  • Comfortable sun loungers to relax on
  • Secluded poolside area you just don’t want to leave

Read our blog about the joys of having a pool

At Bijou Barn, we hope that we manage to create a summer oasis that exceeds the wants and needs of our guests. The pool area is often viewed by many as a holiday ‘must have’ when searching for the perfect place to rent in France, so we always put in the effort to create a poolside retreat that our guests will love.

Click here to view availability and book.

Book a French Holiday Rental at the beginning of July


Due to a cancellation, we have two weeks free at the beginning of July and there is so much to do in the area. Are you going to be the lucky person to book our beautiful barn with sophisticated charm for your summer holiday this July?


What are the dates?

From Saturday 2nd – Saturday 16th July – pick one week or spoil yourself and go for two weeks.

What’s on?

This area has lots of different activities and experiences throughout the summer so click here to find out more about the region. But during the first two weeks of July, there are some really great events that you would be crazy to miss out on.

1-3 July: Lot of Saveurs (

This three day event celebrates the taste and beauty of the local produce of the region. Here is a selection of what is in store:-

  • Food Producer Market
  • Cookery Competition
  • Cookery Book Sale
  • Banquet celebrating the specialities of the area
  • Cookery Demonstrations
  • Concert
  • Repas des Chefs – a special evening meal created by the top chefs of the area.

12-16 July: Cahors Blues Festival (

The 35th edition of this blues and soul festival will not disappoint. A great atmosphere is guaranteed with a wonderful selection of international artists to entertain you.

Click here to read a recent blog with more details.

14 July: Bastille Day

The biggest celebration of the year. Whether you want to visit a small village or town to take part or head for the larger towns and cities for a not to be missed firework extravaganza.

Book your French holiday rental with private pool


If you book for two weeks in July, we will offer you a £100 discount. Do these sun loungers have your name on them?

Click here to book or click here to send an email

Holidays in France: new website to make your decision easier

We are very excited to introduce our new website  which will help us to showcase Bijou Barn, our holiday rental in the South of France.



It has much of the original information on our blog but we have added more about the house and the region, which will show the beauty of the area and highlight the variety of things to do.

This gives more information about the house with lots of pictures of the interior as well as the garden and pool.

IMG_1115 (2)

About Us
A teeny taster about us and more importantly why we chose the area to settle and hopefully why it is a great holiday destination for you.

Lots to do
This section sets out places to visit with pictures to tempt you. There is also more information about the activities you can enjoy nearby and finally the experiences you can try to make your holiday perfect. We see this section evolving as the summer approaches with more information about specific events taking place in the area such as the Cahors Blues Festival.

Pricing and booking
We give details of prices and a link to our availability calendar. There is also a section explaining the benefits of booking a holiday at Bijou Barn.

Where we are
This section gives details of our location in France and our proximity to various airports and train stations to help you plan your route to us.

We have been very fortunate to receive the most lovely reviews from people who have stayed with us so we want to share what others have said about their holidays at Bijou Barn.

Read our Blog
We have transferred the posts from our old blog so everything is in one place. This is where we write about the Barn, the garden, life in France, upcoming events in the area and generally give you a taste of what to expect if you choose Bijou Barn for your next holiday.


The blog posts can be viewed by historical order, most popular or divided into the following three separate categories:-

Eat, drink and be merry
Home sweet home
Out and about

You can also sign up to receive the blogs via email as well so that you don’t miss out on a single post.

Contact us
There is a form to email so you can be in contact with us and ask any questions about Bijou Barn and the surrounding area.

We really hope you like the website and it will help you to learn much more about the house, the area and why it is a perfect holiday location.

French Holidays: what do you really want?

Yes we all think about the country, the area, the accommodation and the facilities which, of course,  are all extremely important; but we often forget about what we are going to get out of the holiday in France.  By that, I mean that when its all over, when you get back home and you have the chance to reflect on your trip, what will you have gained from the experience to keep you going until the next holiday getaway?

A comfortable place to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

We all need to recharge our batteries and where better to do this than somewhere completely different, where the major decision of the day is which pair of shorts you are going to wear. Getting a good nights sleep, helped by a tranquil setting and comfy beds in cool and spacious bedrooms, is a great beginning to the chilling out process.  Whether you want to read a book, listen to music, learn something new, take stock of your life or seek inspiration to make changes, it is always easier to achieve in a calm and new environment.


Enjoy the good weather and embrace the outdoor life 

The sun puts a smile on your face and a spring in your step – it stimulates, rejuvenates and for many people it is a vital part of their summer holiday.  Cooking and eating alfresco not one day, but almost every day is a welcome treat. Relaxing on a sun lounger in the shade of a vine covered terrace whilst reading your favourite magazine is perfect and enjoying a swim in your own private pool anytime you like, is heaven. Then what about having sundowners on the terrace overlooking open fields and forest where you can catch a glimpse of the deer as they venture out at dusk.


Plenty of places to explore

Everyone likes to learn something about their surroundings whilst on holiday and the fun of being somewhere new awakens the curiosity in all of us.  So you might want to explore a beautiful hilltop village steeped in history or go back much further in time to view the geological wonders of the underground caves of Padirac.  If water floats your boat, then you can take a leisurely trip on the local rivers or even paddle your own canoe.  Driving and cycling are relaxing and stress free, as the roads are so quiet, even during the summer months.  Of course there are chateaux and museums galore close by and it’s s a mere 90 minute drive to the beautiful city of Toulouse for a cultural fix with a cosmopolitan feel.


Enjoy the local food and drink

There will be a blog dedicated solely to this subject in the coming weeks, but let’s just say for the moment, that the Lot region of France has more than its fair share of gastronomic delights, of which the local people are fiercely proud.  I would defy anyone not to find something that they absolutely adore on the diverse menu of delicacies. The dark powerful tones of the Malbec red wines, the refreshingly crisp yet fruity rosés, the sweeter whites that pair equally well with desserts or the velvety rich foie gras of the area.  Add to this, truffle, saffron, duck, a plethora of cheeses including a smooth and light tasting goats cheese that would convert even the most sceptical into a ‘friend of fromage’. Whether you want to savour the food and drink in the many local restaurants or visit local markets to create your own masterpieces, your culinary journey will be easy and exciting in the South of France.


Holidays are precious – they are often looked forward to for months – but are over very quickly, and what keeps us going are the memories that have been created. Those thoughts that can be recalled months or even years later, on a rainy day, in a traffic jam, during a boring meeting, which still make us smile.
What is often forgotten is how much we benefit from the experiences encountered whilst on holiday.  How rejuvenated you can feel in such a short space of time.  How much closer you can feel to those you have been on holiday with and how inspired you can be after time away, somewhere new and different.
                                             Happy Holiday Hunting in France


If you like the sound of the area and would like to learn more about Bijou Barn then click here for more details about booking

Holiday Rental in France: Top 5 tips about what to look for


Usually, the summer holiday is the longest amount of time we take off from the stresses and strains of our day to day lives, so that break is very important.  
There are so many holiday rentals online that you could spend the whole year searching for your perfect retreat.  If you refine your criteria from the outset, you will be able to search less to find the right place for you. Then all you need to do is start to look forward to your summer holiday in 2016.
Here are a few things to think about which might help you decide on what is important for you, as you embark on the search for your holiday rental in the South of France.


Decide on your location

The South of France is a big place so think about where you would like to be.  It may not be a specific place but you might want to be near a quaint hilltop town or close to a good local market.  Perhaps being close to a river or lake is important to you, or links to airports and train stations.



Many people like to have their own pool in which to cool off or relax beside on those warm summer days, so find out as much about it as possible.  How big is it? How deep? What safety measures are in place?  Sometimes a pool is advertised as private, but in reality that can just mean that it is not open to the public.  You might end up sharing it with other families in the same area or the owners of the holiday rental.  Always ask the question and get confirmation that the pool is for your sole use.


Experience something different from the property

When you go on holiday, it is often important to experience something unique and different about the holiday home you are going to rent.  Perhaps you want something that is old with some history, a place that is quintessentially French, or maybe you are looking for a modern retreat ? What if you could have a mix of all those things, would that be the perfect solution ?  Think about what you want to experience from your holiday in France, so that you can keep this in mind when you are conducting your search.


Don’t miss out on the mod cons 

Find out what modern appliances will be available to make your stay more comfortable.  Is there wifi, tv and music available.  What about the cooker, BBQ, dishwasher and yes the washing machine.  What is the fridge like?  Remember your food will last longer if it is kept refrigerated and of course your drinks will be all the more refreshing if they can be served chilled.

What is included in the price

Make sure that you know exactly what is included in the price as the little add-ons such as cleaning, linen, towels, wifi all add up.  Don’t forget that there can be other charges such as electricity for the use of a heated pool.  Establish these details from the start so your price comparisons are accurate and there are no surprises when you receive your invoice
So hopefully this information has given you some food for thought and it won’t take long for you to find your perfect holiday in France.

Holiday in France: 2016-the year ahead!

Happy New Year!  We wish you as much happiness as you can handle for 2016 and look forward to meeting you at Bijou Barn, your holiday rental in France.
Everyone makes New Year plans and resolutions for the coming 12 months and we have also been doing our own planning for what we will be introducing at Bijou Barn for our guests this year, as we feel it is important to constantly evolve and look for new ideas to make everyone’s stay as special as possible.


So what’s in store for 2016?  Well we don’t want to tell you everything, as it would spoil the surprises, but here is a bit more information about what we have in store.

New things at the House.

We want to add more things to keep you occupied at the house, including a new table tennis table and badminton set.  There will also be more board games and DVDs.  We are creating a mini cookery book taking advantage of the local produce which can be cooked either on the BBQ or prepared in the kitchen.


Out and About

There will be lots more information about what to do in the area, including specific events taking place during your stay so you can be very well informed about what to do and where to go to get the most from your holiday in France.

Off Peak Weekend Escapes

We know that not everyone can get away for long periods of time so we are creating Weekend Escapes of 3 or 4 nights where you can relax at the house or enjoy other experiences, such as wine tasting, music events, vintage cars, learning a language or exploring the area on bicycles.


Corporate Retreats

Bijou Barn benefits from a spacious interior and wonderful outdoor spaces in a tranquil setting, perfect for meetings, brainstorming and creativity.  The corporate retreat can be tailor made to your needs and fully catered so you can focus on your business.


Property Searching Trips

We spent much time, effort and energy searching for our French property and know only too well how tiring house hunting overseas can be, so let us help you make your search more effective and productive whilst maximising your chances of finding the perfect home. Use Bijou Barn as a base while you explore the area, arrange viewings and learn about what you really want from your property in France.


As you can see, we have lots of ideas for your trip to South West France as the more time we are here, the more inspiration we gain.  We hope you will enjoy reading our blog throughout the year and come and stay with us, so you too can enjoy all the elements that make this area so wonderful. Click here for more information about our holiday rental.