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.

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

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

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 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


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.