If, first of all, you've had the wisdom to explore more of France and travel in Charente and Dordogne, you should look for a base to travel from. After five days at this centuries old, but wonderfully remodeled, B and B, I believe I've found the perfect base.
The hosts are a British couple who share their B and B, and their wonderful personalities with you. Madam is a superb chef and tasty and tasteful breakfasts, lunches and dinners are available at very reasonable prices.
The town of Villebois-Lavalette is both a tiny typical French village with a 11th century castle, but has all the things to add to your travels. A supermarché (market), gas pumps, cafe's and boulangeries (bakeries), plus a weekly market will greatly simplify your travels.
As a base, the village is almost on the border of the Charente and Dordogne regions. You may take short trips to neighboring villages or one to two hour trips. For example the castles of the Loire Valley are about two and one half hours away, but you may also stop and see them on your way to Villebois-Lavalette, from Paris. I highly recommend Chenonceau castle. Besides gorgeous and well presented, it was the home for a time of Catherine de Medici.
The coast is two hours away, but a trip to Cognac just one hour, and then you might continue on
for a seafood dinner. By the way, DO take a tour of the cognac distilleries. I recommend the Hennessy tour. The town of Ribérac is only 35 minutes and has a wonderful weekly market. It is truly mostly a local market, and you may feel you've stepped back in time.
Angoulême is a 30 minute drive and is filled with wonderful chocolatiers (chocolate shops).
It is about one and three quarter hours to both Limoges for china, or Lascaux for cave paintings and prehistory. Bordeaux and Saint Emillion are both about one and a half hours of travel.
Since the drives are through some of the most scenic areas of France, it is a virtual win-win proposition. As I write this, at the Maison du Couvent, on a cool spring morning, I know I'll be coming back. Time for coffee, and then a walk past the cherry and walnut trees, up to the castle.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We're Don & Trisha McCrae. In 2000 we bought and restored Maison du Couvent (convent house) a 17th century four-storey house, that's described by local historians as being the oldest house in Villebois-Lavalette.We then acquired an adjoining piece of land complete with an old barn, which we have elegantly renovated into a modern chambres d'hotes/B&B, with an authentic rural French charm. ... more less