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

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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

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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.

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  • 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Walks

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.

Cycling

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

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.

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Need Help Snapping Up Your Next Holiday Rental?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)
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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 !

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.