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.

The Best Wine Tasting Vineyards in SW France: Stay at Bijou Barn near Cahors


You cannot come to the Cahors region of France without enjoying the amazing wines on offer. It’s like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower or New York and missing out on the Statue of Liberty.


We love wine, know which grape varieties we prefer and what we like about them. Sometimes, our understanding of the whole process and what is really involved in the day to day tending of the vines, can be a bit more sketchy.

I remember the first time I visited a vineyard, where I really learned more about the whole process of wine making, the amount of work required and the risks involved. I couldn’t actually believe that this wonderful drink didn’t cost so much more.

Here is what some local wine producers say when they are asked why Cahors wines are so good.

This year there have been many problems with an early frost damaging the vines when they were at their most vulnerable, resulting in the loss of the bulk of the grapes this year. Although this doesn’t happen that often, it’s incredible to think that the grapes of a whole region can be affected in such a catastrophic way.

Which Vineyards Should You Visit?

In an ideal world, you would be able to visit them all, but if you are on holiday, you may not be able to fit them all in, so here are some suggestions about which ones to choose to get the most out of the experience.

“When you say Cahors, you say Malbec and when you say Malbec you say Cahors.”

Here is a great video to introduce Cahors Wine. 

  • Mix visits to the larger well known vineyards with those of the much smaller producers in order to get a real feel of the styles of wines on offer in the region.
  • The larger vineyards have informative tours and it’s definitely worth doing at least one where you will learn much more about the history and the many processes in the art of wine-making.
  • Visit smaller lesser known wine producers for a much more intimate experience.
  • The Cahors region is known predominantly for powerful red wine, but there are some wine producers who offer different wines such as whites, rosés, sparkling and dessert varieties.
  • Try and buy a range of wines. It is really worth splashing out on one or two more expensive bottles if you can, that way you will be able to really compare the tastes and complexities that this historical drink can offer.
  • Make a day of it and combine your tastings with lunch. Some of the larger vineyards have their own eateries but you can also visit the many restaurants nearby or why not pack a picnic ?

Cahors Vineyards: Let’s Go Big and Bold

Chateau Chambert  (approx 8kms from Bijou Barn)

When you approach this vineyard, you can’t help but be impressed by the fairytale appearance of Chateau Chambert – it is truly stunning. You’d expect to see Rapunzel looking out from one of the turrets with her long cascading hair.


Enjoy free tastings, guided tours and a wine bar or a bistro to relax in, with an outdoor terrace overlooking the vines. The bistro serves local delicacies, olives, bread, duck sausage, salads and vegetarian options, so there is plenty to choose from.

Chambert make red, white and rosé wines and there is also a dark dessert wine called Rogomme, using a 300 year old Quercy recipe.

What makes Chateau Chambert Special

Much thought has gone into the tours offered in the summer.

The Winery Tour offers a real insight into the life of a vineyard and all that happens during the year. The tour delves deeper into the winemaking process culminating in a tasting of these well known wines.

The Planet Chambert Tour involves a walk around the vineyard where you learn about everything that happens in a biodynamic vineyard and the importance of all the animals, flora and fauna.  You meet the Scottish highland cattle and learn about their importance in the vineyard. Then you pass through Beehive Village before finishing the 1.5 hour tour in the bistro.


Taste Rogomme, the dark dessert wine which compliments dark chocolate, fresh strawberries, and even Christmas pudding. For those with a savoury tooth, it is also great with powerful cheeses such as Roquefort.

Clos Triguedina ( approx 15kms from Bijou Barn)

A wonderful vineyard with a great reputation and why wouldn’t they have ? They are in their 7th generation!

There are 4 types of visit.

  • Classique: 30 mins. 5 euros
    Visit the vines and taste 3 wines
  • Prestige: 1 hour. 8 euros
    Visit the vines, cellar and taste 5 wines
  • Exception: 1 hour 30 mins. 15 euros
    Visit the vines, cellar and taste 7 wines
  • Magical Thursdays: 2 hours. 15 euros
    Learn more about wine tasting, with a vintage tasting workshop, every Thursday 10:30 – 12:30 in July and August.

What makes Clos Triguedina Special?

It’s all about innovation here, developing new ideas based on historic recipes but with a contemporary twist. Here are two examples of new wines created with unusual techniques:-

New Black Wine
The malbec grape is hand-picked, laid on trays and gently heated overnight to concentrate the unique flavours. The wine is then aged in oak casks for 12 months to provide a long finish with a pure intense pallet.

Sparkling Rosé
Taste the first sparkling malbec ever produced. Perfect for celebrations !


Cahors Vineyards: Something for Everyone

Chateau Nozieres (approx 15 kms from Bijou Barn)

Chateau Nozieres is a real family affair, whose mission is to develop their knowledge of the soils, so they can tend their vines and allow the malbec to fully express its potential.

Tastings are offered 09:00-12:00 and 14:00 – 19:00 Monday to Saturday and Sunday by appointment.

chateau nozieres

What Makes Chateau Nozieres Special?

They are completely independent and very friendly and informative about their vineyard and wines.

They offer dry and sweet whites and rosés as well as their more powerful reds.

They are close to a wonderful quaint restaurant in the village of Grezels called La Terrasse where you can go before or after your tastings.

Chateau de Gaudou (approx 15kms from Bijou Barn)


The Durou family have been making wine since 1733, so they are pretty good at it now! At Chateau de Gaudou, they pride themselves on their ability to re-invent their wines and are quoted as saying “ The vintages pass but not the style”

Here is a video showing the harvesting process

They open Monday – Saturday 14:00 – 18:00

What makes Chateau de Gaudou special

Taste the Exeption Blanc – a dry white wine made from red malbec grapes.

Try the beautiful Gaudou sparkling wine and you will realise that no celebration is necessary to pop the cork on this wine. It is a dry white but with a depth of fruitiness – refreshing and perfect for a summery day.

They are very close to a lovely restaurant called Le Caillau where you can go for lunch before you visit the vineyard for an afternoon tasting.

Domain d’ Homs (approx 5 kms from Bijou Barn)

A lovely vineyard who remain true to the authentic production of wine. Domain d’Homs offer a selection of reds, rosés and a white.


They are open for tastings from mid June to mid September. Monday to Saturday from 10:00 – 19:00.

What Makes Domaine d’Homs special?

They have a choice of three rosés:-
Tradition – a dry flavour to accompany a meal
Rosé Perlé – a slightly sparkling wine perfect as an aperitif
Fruité – as the name suggests, a fruity taste to enjoy at the end of a meal.

There is a marché gourmande at Chateau d’Aix at nearby Saux every Wednesday evening from 19:00. Have a tasting at Domaine d’Homs, then go on to the marché gourmands for dinner.


Cahors Vineyards: Small is Beautiful

Domaine de Garinet (approx 5kms from Bijou Barn)

If you have ever wanted to leave everything in the UK behind and buy a vineyard in France, then you should visit Domaine de Garinet as Mike and Sue Spring did exactly that and lived to tell the tale. They are a mine of information about wine production and are living the dream and over-coming the difficulties that running a vineyard brings.


From 1 June to 30 September they are open Monday- Saturday 11:00 – 18:30 where you can chat with them, see the vines and taste their reds, rosé and whites.

What Makes Domaines de Garinet Special

They have great knowledge and an inspiring story of how they came to France and bought a vineyard.

They also have walnuts and prunes and a wonderful mix of great products that they make themselves. The sweet pickled prunes are delicious with cheese and Sue’s walnut brownies are legendary.

They have a stand in Montcuq market every Sunday morning so you can catch up with them there as well.

There is a new restaurant and small shop in Serignac which is open for lunches and evening meals so why not visit here after your wine tasting to relax and have a bite to eat.

Domaines des Boulbènes ( approx 6kms from Bijou Barn)

When you meet Francis, you really feel you are meeting a local down to earth wine producer. Domaines des Boulbènes has been producing red, white and rosé for 4 generations.

domains boulbenes

Free tastings are available from Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 12:00 and 15:00 – 19:00. Some red and rosé can also be purchased in a vacuum box (BIB) which is great for transportation.

What Makes Domaines des Boulbènes Special

You get the opportunity to taste a selection of wines from a small scale producer.

There is a lovely traditional restaurant called Bessieres Lalore Nadine (we just call it Nadine’s) by this vineyard in St Matre where you can enjoy a set lunch and feel like a local. It’s really worth a visit and compliments the local vineyard perfectly.

Go and Explore the Wines of Cahors

These are by no means the only vineyards in the area – to be fair, I have only scratched the surface of the vast number of vineyards. I think that’s what makes the area so special – you are always on a voyage of wine discovery.

Get ready to explore the vineyards around Cahors. Take a look at this video for some inspiration.

Let me know which are your favourite vineyards around Cahors. Maybe you live here and can tell me about your favourite wine producers. Perhaps you have been on holiday and can let me know about a great wine you found in the area. Or you could be visiting the region for the first time and have more questions about the Cahors wines.

Get in touch if you want to know more about the area.


Driving to South West France? Easy Tips For a Perfect Road Trip


So you’ve booked your holiday and are planning how to get there. For many people it’s the age old juggling act of getting to your destination as soon as possible without it feeling like some kind of endurance test.

What would be your perfect road trip?

Although we are working on our transporter, it’s not quite ready.


So until you can utter those immortal words “Beam us up Scotty” then we will just have to choose more traditional methods to make your road trip more interesting.

It needs to :-

  • Be quick but pleasant
  • Keep tedium to a minimum
  • Have elements of fun for everyone
  • Provide unique memories

Can it be done? Well here are a few suggestions to consider for your next road trip to South West France.

Crossing the water

Euro Tunnel: Folkestone to Calais (35 mins crossing then 9 hour drive to Bijou Barn)
This is by far the quickest way to cross the Channel but being cooped up in the car can be restrictive so we try to make it different by taking a picnic in the car to have whilst on the train and watch an episode of our favourite sitcom for 30 minutes. It’s quite relaxing and we arrive feeling revived and ready for the next part of the journey.

Ferry: Dover to Calais (90 mins crossing time then 9 hours drive to Bijou Barn)
I have always enjoyed the ferry as it gives you time to stretch your legs, wander about on deck and have a bite to eat. These ferries have come a long way from when I used to travel on them, as a child. They are more luxurious for a start, with much better facilities to make the journey more pleasurable.

Why not upgrade to Club Lounge where you can enjoy a free glass of champagne, soft or hot drink? You can also order a light bite from the special Club Lounge menu, then sit back, relax, take in the view or read a free newspaper.


You can also enjoy a meal on board in a lovely restaurant with table service by friendly staff.

Ferry: Newhaven to Dieppe (fasted crossing time of 4 hours then 7 hours drive to Bijou Barn)
Although the crossing is longer, the driving time is reduced. The onboard facilities include a lounge with magnificent panoramic windows with sea views, a bar, restaurant, shop and a children’s play-area. There are also quiet lounges where you can relax and sleep, plus spacious outdoor decks and 50 en suite cabins.

Cruise: Portsmouth to Bilbao ( 24 hour crossing then 5 hour drive )
If you really want to reduce your driving time, then take the crossing to Bilbao in Spain. The ship provides much more of a cruise experience with several accommodation choices,
fine dining and restaurant options and children’s entertainment. Not to mention a movie lounge, wifi, heated outdoor pool, shops lounges ad sun decks.

For more information about times, prices and availability, look at direct or to compare fares on different routes.

There is also a great article in the telegraph giving an overview of ferry options.

Breaking up the journey

I think that for most people, breaking up the journey makes for a much more harmonious experience, especially when you are on holiday. So have a think about what is best for you and your fellow travellers.

Hotel Les Trois Mousquetaires – Aire sur la Lys
Situated just of the motorway about an hour south of Calais. I used to visit this hotel, now called Les Saveurs du Parc, with my parents, nearly forty years ago and it always signified the start and the end to our summer holiday. It offers a great place to stay with wonderful food and wines.

les trois mousquetaires

Chateau de Cocove near Ardres
There is something very french about staying in a Chateau. The setting is wonderful and its very relaxing to have a refreshing drink in the garden and unwind before dinner. Again just a short distance from the motorway and 40 minutes from Calais.

chateau cocove

Hotel Jehan de Beauce a bit further south in Chartres
If you want t break the journey a bit further south, then Chartres is a good point. Just south of Paris, the Hotel Jehan de Beauce is located in the centre of Chartres, so ideal for dong a bit of exploring. The hotel’s art deco style is impressive and offers a certain element of luxury, a very fitting start to your holiday.

hotel jehan de beauce

Samsaget Hobbit House Dordogne Aux Fontaines d’Eyvigues
Who wouldn’t want to stay in a hobbit house? There are some truly inspired and very unusual accommodation options these days, all over France. This is a great stopover as you are near to Sarlat and Rocamadour for a visit the following day, then you can drive the last 90 minutes to your accommodation.


Chateau de la Villette
With a central location just south of France and near Chateauroux and Issoudun so not far from the motorway. There are many friendly and welcoming bed and breakfasts in France and this option is no different but it is in a lovely setting with an option of dinner as well, so you can relax and enjoy your surroundings – perfect after a day of driving.

chateau de la Villette
Budget Accommodation in a Town or Village
In recent years, the budget chains of accommodation such as Ibis and Kyriad have really got their act together and provide a clean and comfortable place to stay, often with free parking, in some great central locations. I have stayed many times at the Ibis in the centre of Saint Omer, from where I could explore the town and eat in a lovely local restaurant such as Le Cigne. I have always enjoyed wonderful meals here and the many reviews on Trip Advisor echo my thoughts. Then in the morning I go to one of the four local patisseries around the town square, for pain au chocolat or a lovely savoury quiche.

Take a break and do something

There are so many options to choose from depending on your interests but here are a few to get you thinking.

Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25 year anniversary – amazing! They also have a new ride called Hyperspace Mountain.


Situated just off the motorway very close to Poitiers, this theme park is celebrating its 30 year anniversary. It’s a really cool theme park with simulated rides for a glimpse of life in the future.
There are also shows in the evening which include a performance from Cirque du Soleil – check out the video.


La Coupole and the Planetarium 5kms from St Omer
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this massive dome shaped building was built by the Nazis during WWII as the launching base for their V2 rockets. An impressive museum has been created where you can learn about the rocket and Hitler’s plans to use it to destroy London.

On a lighter note, there is also a 3D planetarium which uses modern technology to take you on an unforgettable journey into space inside the massive 360-degree room wearing your active 3D glasses. Follow Yuri Gagarin during his first space flight, step onto Mars with the Curiosity Rover and discover all sorts of other celestial happenings.


Situated near Boulogne sur Mer which is less than 45 mins from Euro tunnel, is an underwater world to be discovered. They boast that all the seas of the world are there to be explored. Here is some footage to “wet” your appetite.


The Benefits of Driving

  • There is a freedom to driving to your destination as you aren’t restricted so much by set departure times.
  • You can plan your journey to fit in with your needs
  • Fuel costs are pretty good right now.
  • You have your own transport when you are on holiday so don’t have to make other arrangements.
  • You can carry more with you and take more home too! So if you want to buy those lovely bottles of wine or that heavy souvenir – it won’t be a problem.

I hope this blog post has given you some ideas for your road trip. If you need any other information then please contact me as I am happy to help.

The early bird gets cheep cheep flights



Yes, I know you have barely got your Christmas decorations packed away and your New Year resolutions are still intact…..well hopefully.

It’s a fact that those who book their summer holidays early get more choice and better all round value. In addition, there is the peace of mind factor, knowing that it’s booked and all you need to do is look forward to it.

If you book early then you can enjoy flights that are much cheaper. All the airlines are offering deals at the moment so if you want to have more to spend on your summer holiday then save money by booking your flights now.

Bijou Barn is situated in the south west of France and is surrounded by the following airports, so there is plenty of choice.

Airports near Bijou Barn

  • Toulouse:  80km south-east
  • Bergerac:  85km north-west
  • Brive:  120km north-east
  • Bordeaux:  190km west
  • Limoges:  221km north
  • La Rochelle : 362km north east

Low Cost Airlines flying from the UK




Jet 2 

Here is a breakdown of who flies where

Please note that not all Flybe flights are direct. Please check for more details on their website.

Toulouse Airport

Edinburgh   Birmingham   Glasgow   Guernsey   Jersey   Manchester   Southampton

London Gatwick   London Luton

London Stansted


Bergerac Airport

Bristol   East Midlands   Liverpool   London Stansted

Jet 2
Leeds Bradford

Brive Airport

Liverpool   London Stansted

Bordeaux Airport

Belfast   Bristol   Glasgow   Liverpool   London Gatwick   London Stansted

Edinburgh   London Stansted

Limoges Airport

Belfast City   Dublin   Edinburgh   Glasgow   Guernsey   Jersey   Leeds Bradford   Manchester  Newcastle   Southampton

Bristol   East Midlands   Leeds Bradford   London Stansted   Manchester

La Rochelle Airport

Aberdeen   Belfast   Birmingham   Edinburgh   Glasgow   Leeds Bradford   Manchester Newcastle   Southampton

London Gatwick

London Stansted

The Next Blog Post

If you are planning to drive to Bijou Barn, then my next post is just for you – it’s all about making the drive part of your holiday and ensuring your trip is stress free by suggesting routes, stop overs and interesting places to see on your journey.

Special Celebrations in Sleepy French Villages


How many times have you driven through a French village and seen no one? How many times have you asked yourself what do these people do? Where are they?

Sometimes we assume that because a place is quiet for the short time we are passing through, it must be like that all the time…..well guess again!

Under that sleepy exterior lies the beating heart of a lively village.

Our First French Fete

My husband and I were invited by some friends to a Village Fete. We were excited as this was the first “local” fete we were to experience, and one to which you need to be invited to by someone from the village hosting the event. We arrived at the location and couldn’t believe our eyes.

A freshly cut field had been transformed into an extremely large outdoor dining area, ready to accommodate about 400 people on long tables with bench seating and long strings of lights above, which lit up the whole area as the sun started to set. The dining area was surrounded by a bar, a covered area with a stage for the band and a dance floor, plus an outdoor kitchen where the lamb, or should I say flock was being slowly spit roasted.


Local Food and Wines

We sipped ice cold slightly sparkling rose as we savoured the atmosphere. Then we were all asked to take a seat and within a short time we were chatting to people beside us, as Sangria was poured into our glasses.

Having been in the restaurant trade, we know only too well how tough it can be to feed large numbers of people, but to do it for around 400, in a field and serve everyone at the table – well that was really impressive.

Our banquet began with soup and French bread, of course, followed by cured ham and the sweetest, juiciest, locally produced melon. The wine flowed, as wine does in France, with empty bottles on the tables being quickly replaced with full ones, by the very efficient waiting staff. Then came the main course, spit roasted lamb and sausages served with a tasty bean cassoulet – it was delicious.


Brilliant Live Music

As everyone finished, the tables were cleared and the musical entertainment began. This band were very good – drummer, trumpet player, guitarist, accordion player and singer – all in fancy dress and their instruments and mikes all Bluetoothed, allowing them to mingle with everyone seated at the tables.

Within minutes the band had progressed to dancing and singing on top of the tables with many of the guests already standing on their chairs and joining in. The trumpeter played a particularly catchy 7 note riff, which was the signal for the crowd to lift their arms in the style of a Mexican wave whilst shouting ‘Olé!’

We were mesmerised by the pied piper qualities of the drummer and trumpet player – they had everyone eating out of their very musical hands, within 10 minutes! It was a shame when they played their last number but they had certainly warmed up the crowd.


There was a short break for us all to enjoy cheese followed by ice cream and then coffee to finish. Then the wandering musicians returned, having been transformed from their funny fancy dress costumes into glamorous white outfits, as the main stage was lit and their performance continued. It took only seconds for everyone to be lured towards the stage and dance the night away, with the dance floor still as full when we decided to call it a night at around 1:30 a.m.

The Morning After

I woke up the following morning and began to smile as I remembered the Fete as if it had been some kind of surreal dream, although my mildly sore throat did bring me back to reality – did I really shout Olé that many times?

The whole evening was really special as it combined a simple yet tasty meal, in a wonderful setting, amongst lovely people, who made us very welcome.

So the next time you are driving through a sleepy French village don’t let that tranquility fool you – they are probably just recovering from a celebration the night before!

French Holiday Rental: life’s a beach near Bijou Barn


It’s a bit wierd having our holiday rental, Bijou Barn in central South West France, yet only being 6 km from a beach. Yes, that’s right, only 6 kms from golden sands beside a turquoise lake where you can swim over the watchful eye of a life guard, during the months of July and August.

There are BBQs so you can cook your own food then enjoy it at a picnic table near the lake. If you prefer, there is also a small restaurant and bar with a terrace overlooking the water where you can relax and enjoy the view.


Aquazone – new this year!

We are very excited to let you know that this year on the water there is a ‘Total Wipeout’ style floating inflatable fun zone, which looks amazing!

Jump, climb, slide and splash in this fantastic area of trampolines, climbing staircases, slides and tricky balancing beams. See if you can beat the obstacles.


Opening Hours:

Every day between 27.06.16 and 31.08.16 from 1000 ’til 1900.

On offer to anyone over 7 years. Life vests/ buoyancy aids are available.


6 euros from 1000 – 1200
8 euros from 1200 – 1900

For more information telephone 06 21 08 07 25

Click here to learn more about what there is to see and do in the Lot region


Le Caillau – wonderful restaurant offering local produce with a global feel

Le Caillau, situated near Vire sur Lot, nestles serenely in a picturesque valley amongst a collection of vineyards, exactly what you would expect from a 300 year old winery. The selection of buildings radiate around a beautiful courtyard with its central fountain covered in flowers as the focal point.

As you wander through the distinctive and characterful metal gates at the entrance, you are met with an air of tranquility as the various eating areas come into view. The indoor restaurant, the open barn filled with a mix of different tables and chairs, lit by large ornate chandeliers and then the courtyard itself, where the tables sit beneath the summery parasols for that all important shade on a warm sunny day.

We were shown to our table, given menus and offered an aperitif – I chose the local sparkling wine which was recommended, and was not disappointed, as it was a delight. Also, it was great to know that it was made a mere kilometre away from where I was sitting – now that’s what I call local produce!

The menu read beautifully, offering the perfect combination of contemporary dishes using local ingredients. I had already earmarked dishes I could try on my next visit

A La Carte dishes

The starters included chilli garlic vegetables and goats cheese fritters, tomato chutney, rocket and toasted seed salad or seared scallops, asian herb sauce, crunchy vegetables with lime dressing and roasted crushed chilli peanuts.

Then for main course slow cooked roulade of pork, gratin dauphinois, smoked bacon, beans, peas and a cherry cider sauce or seared tuna steak, potatoes with tomatoes and herbs, samphire, roasted vegetables and a chorizo sauce.

Of course you had to make room for desserts such as baked kirsch chocolate tart with cherry sorbet or what about mint and lemon catalana with raspberry compote.

Click here to see their full menu


Menu du Jour

Choosing a dish was always going to be difficult and then became even more problematic when we were told of their menu du jour. A main course, dessert, glass of wine and coffee for 13.50 euros.

When I then learned that the main course was a duo of home smoked salmon and haddock on a bed of summer green vegetables with a cream sauce and aubergine caviar – my decision was made. Backed up by the nods of approval from the people on a neighbouring table who had already sampled this beautifully created dish.

The house red wine – a Malbec of course in these parts – was lovely as well, and the option of an organic variety is well worth a try with its powerful yet smooth flavour, and was again, very locally produced.

Wine Tasting and Food Pairing

Every Wednesday during July, August and September from 5.30 -7pm for 30 euros per person you can enjoy a wonderful eating, drinking and learning experience – what could be better?

  • Learn about local independent wines
  • How to match food and wine
  • Taste 6 local wines accompanied by produce of the region
  • Gain advice about where to buy wines in the Lot


Why does Le Caillau stand out?

What I loved about Le Caillau was the balance they have achieved between seasonal elements, decor, ambience and location, in order to create something really special. That recipe of local produce meeting with more unusual ingredients to offer the unique, whilst still retaining the classic methods that epitomise French cuisine.

This restaurant is forward thinking, not only in the design of new dishes, but through constantly evolving and by adding its own stamp, such as home smoked produce. For Le Caillau, their passion for new ideas, combined with their use of very local produce, creates the perfect recipe for their success.

Click here to see the Le Caillau website for more information.

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

Velo Plus: bike hire solution for your French holiday

With the Tour de Yorkshire last month, followed by the Tour de France in July, cycling is very much in the spotlight, inspiring many of us to dust down our own two wheeled transport and get out and about using pedal power.


I am never sure why watching people struggling uphill on a TV screen makes us want to do the same but whatever the reason, it’s great to cycle as it is fun, a brilliant way to explore and really good for you. No wonder people want to cycle whilst on holiday.

Best part of cycling whilst on holiday in France

  • Rekindle your love of cycling at your own pace
  • A leisurely way to explore the region
  • Many quiet country roads to cycle along through unspoilt countryside
  • Lots of sunny days – it’s much nicer to cycle when it isn’t raining
  • Great way to burn off all the lovely French food and wine

Bike hire brought to your door

Of course if you are an avid cyclist, then perhaps you would want to bring your own bicycle but sometimes it isn’t possible or just not worth the hassle. Don’t worry as you are visiting a country which takes cycling very seriously. One such place near our Bijou Barn holiday rental, is Velo Plus who offer bike hire and also bike maintenance. They are experienced cyclists, offering a wealth of information to make your cycling experience in south west France the most fun.


Why choose Velo Plus for your holiday bike hire?

  • Their knowledge and experience of cycling is vast
  • Excellent standard of bikes to choose from
  • Well maintained equipment by a qualified mechanic
  • They offer great advice about cycle routes dependant on your experience
  • They can deliver the bikes to Bijou Barn
  • Option to hire for the day (8.00am – 6.00pm)


Our ideas for days out on bikes in the region

Sometimes it’s just nice to set off on your bike and see where you end up, but if you only have one day then a bit of planning will mean that you get the most out of the day and your bike. Here are a few ideas of what can be done.

  • Visit a vineyard for wine tasting
  • Cycle along the riverside paths
  • Ride to a restaurant for lunch and pottery painting
  • Cycle to a mini lake with its own beach and restaurant

There is something very therapeutic about cycling. The motion, the ability to travel quite long distances at a pace where all the special details of the area can be viewed, not to mention the feeling of satisfaction and achievement when it’s all over.

If you take anything back from your holiday in France,
make sure it is the love of cycling.

If you are staying at Bijou Barn and would like to arrange bike hire then please contact us.

Images: Craven District Council and Velo Plus

French Holiday Rental for Cahors Blues Festival


What better way to spend your Summer holiday this year than to enjoy some fantastic live blues music in the warmth of South West France. Imagine chilling by the pool all day then travelling a short distance to savour the atmosphere of the open air Blues Festival in Cahors.



Well all this is possible as Bijou Barn is available at the moment from 02 -16 July 2016. Click here to find out more about renting our sophisticated barn with stylish charm and private pool.

Where is the Blues Festival?


Right in the centre of the beautiful city of Cahors.
Espace Clément Marot
Rue Mendes-France
Cahors 46000

When is it?

The festival kicks off on 12th July, taking in the Bastille Day celebrations and goes through to 16th July.

Who is playing at Cahors Blues Festival?

As usual with the longest running Blues Festival in France, there is always a mixture of talented musicians waiting to entertain you in the warm summers evenings that this area of France enjoys.

Here is the line-up

Tuesday 12 July
21.00 Shakura S’Aida
Born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Switzerland and now calls Toronto in Canada her home, Shakura is truly an international blues artist. Her soulful voice, enthusiasm and outgoing personality will launch the Blues Festival in 2016.


23.00 Vintage Trouble
LA based band who create live-wired, straight talking, pelvis pushing juke music. They have opened for the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park London, toured North America and Europe with The Who and appeared on Later with Jools Holland.

Thursday 14 July
21.00 Taj Mahal
Born in Harlem, New York to a musical family, Taj Mahal is a Grammy award winner who celebrates over 40 years in the music business. His experience provides an emotional presence on stage, incorporating the sounds of the Pacific Isles, South Asia and West and East Africa amongst others.

Friday 15 July
21.00 Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau
JJ Milteau, a French blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter from Paris and Eric Bibb a fiery singer with true soul, gospel and folk roots team up for a wonderful on stage performance.


23.00 Sugaray Rayford
Texas born Sugaray with a gravely soulful voice that hints at his experience of hardship. A big man with an even bigger voice effortlessly conveys emotion and excitement in his entertaining performance.

Saturday 16 July
21.00 Gaelle Buswel
Singer, songwriter and guitarist from Paris. Her smoky blues voice is exceptional and will never cease to impress and she delivers great live performances with a smile.


23.00 The JBs Original James Brown Band
Twelve of the legendary supporting cast of musicians behind James Brown have reunited for a series of concerts in Europe, to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the “Godfather of Soul”. Two of the members of this group were founder members of the JB’s a and will help to revive the true music of James Brown by those very same artists who experienced the musical journey first time around. This unique event will help to highlight the defining moments of James Brown’s career which spanned six decades as one of the most influential figures of 20th century pop music.

Ticket Prices

4 day pass 112.5 euros
Evening pass 37.50 euros
Free for children under 12 years
Click here to buy tickets online

Bastille Day Celebrations

As if the list of musicians isn’t enough, this festival coincides with Bastille Day and a most impressive firework display with the stunning backdrop of the historic Pont Valentre in Cahors.

Don’t miss out on this Blues Festival with French style whilst enjoying all that South West France has to offer as a summer holiday destination.


Find out more about the Cahors Blues Festival
Find out more about Bijou Barn for your Holiday Rental