Chose Raffet as the place to celebrate my 50th birthday with a group of friends. I'm a true believer in the theory that you can tell what a place is going to be like within the first few minutes of arriving and this was no exception. As soon as we arrived late on Saturday evening after a long drive down from the UK, we felt at ease. It was like walking into your own home, with comfy sofas and a few bottles of local wine left thoughtfully for us on the kitchen table. Everything you could wish for during your stay is there, from the binoculars for spotting the local wildlife to the boardgames in the cupboard and the books on the shelf. It's as if the owner had invited you to stay at his house as a guest and told you to make yourself at home.
With lazy days spent around the pool in the glorious sunshine to chilled out evenings on the patio enjoying a barbecue and watching the lizards scurrying around, you can't help but relax. Seeing the deer roaming around in the rear garden was truly magical!
The place itself is enormous with plenty of space to spread out and find your own corner away from others, even with a big crowd. We would often lose a member of the party and have to wander around to discover them sitting reading in a quiet spot somewhere. The kitchen in the main house is plenty big enough to cater for the entire group (we never even used the facilities in the barn save for making morning tea). Every conceivable kitchen gadget you can possibly think of was on hand, from the olive forks to the lemon zester. I challenge anyone to come up with an item they need which isn't available! And there are so many outdoor spaces with the covered terrace, rear patio overlooking the woods, poolside area, plus seating at the front of the house and the lawned areas too.
All the bedrooms/bathrooms in both the main house and the barn were great. The bed in the main bedroom in the house was one of the most comfortable I've ever slept in and so big that when lying on each side, my partner & I could barely touch each other in the middle! The antique French armoires and other furniture just added to the luxury homely feel.
Please be aware that mobile phone signal at the property is sporadic to say the least and the free wi-fi only really extends to the main house and can be a little slow if everyone is trying to access it at once. But with such beautiful surroundings, who wasn't to be checking e-mails anyway?
Louise the property manager was always available. to help out with any queries but not so close that you felt under watch. If you need any advice regarding restaurants or excursions, she'll certainly help you out. And thanks very much for advising us of the French air traffic controllers strike too. Unfortunately it didn't impact us and we couldn't extend our stay as we had hoped!
Being the beginning of June, we had not quite hit full season so the little town of Miramont about 2.5kms away was quiet with most of the bars and restaurants closing early or only open at weekends. The weekly market however was good and the patisserie in town was delicious. Eymet, slightly further away and more of a drive than a walk was beautiful and much busier, if a little "English ex-pat" for my tastes. A great selection of bars and restaurants to suit all palates.
Note that if arriving late on a Saturday, only a couple of the local supermarkets are open to stock up on provisions on Sunday - Netto in Miramont is fine and has an extensive selection at very reasonable prices.
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