Maison Thyarre is an attractive old rural house with features which have maintained its character - the stone floor in the kitchen, for example, and the polished wood of the staircase, corridors and bedrooms. It is set in large enough grounds to enable our family - my wife and me, our two adult sons, daughter-in-law and four grandsons to have plenty of space. Seats to sit in the shade of the trees, room to play badminton, and to kick a ball around and above all the really well maintained swimming pool. The weather was superb. We all enjoyed the pool and the boys - 16, 13, 11 and 8 were in and out all the time. The lady, Danielle, who looks after the property for the owners made herself available for anything we needed to know and kept the pool clean. She spoke English as well as French. The coast was about forty minutes away. The mountains were about an hour away. There were a number of interesting small towns within easy reach. The views in the mountains were stunning with excellent walking. We tended to do a trip out every other day and to stay locally in between. Everyone has taken away good memories.
The ambience of the house was its best feature - its interior is like the interior film set of a French family drama in a big old family house. Wooden staircases, higgledy piggledy rooms with scrabble sets in alcoves, kitchen with Maman's rectangular wooden table - it might be Nanny McPhee's French getaway.
If you're just wealthy with no class, you'll think you're slumming it but, if you don't need to sit on a Prada couch to relax, you'll feel properly away from it all. The bedrooms have the same feel as those fantastic pensiones you stayed the night in in Spain, Italy, etc, before you had kids: sash windows, severe stand-alone wardrobes, disused fireplaces.
Outside, a massive garden for the kids to play in (they spent endless hours in the pool) and an al fresco dining area where we did all our eating.
You might need a mosquito repellent plug for the nights, and you'll definitely need flypaper for the kitchen (and the surrounding countryside's smells very occasionally remind you cattle aren't far away) but these small irritants won't matter unless you're a member of the Sex in the City cast.
We were a grandmother, two brothers, our wives and children, nine in all, and there was plenty of room for all of us to have our space, and to come together too. A great week.
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