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“Photography heaven”
Review of Maison du Couvent

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Maison du Couvent
Reviewed June 19, 2014

I spent 4 nights at Maison du Couvent in the context of a 4 day residential photography course run by our host, Don McCrae, in his excellent and very well-equipped Studio Lavalette. The course was an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience but this was easily matched by the wonderful food prepared at all hours of the day by our hostess,Trisha McCrae, and the accommodation which provided course members with all modern comforts. The 3 bedrooms situated above the studio are all finished to a very high standard and each has its own individual shower room and lovely views. The beautiful town of Villebois-Lavalette is a very short walk away from Maison du Couvent and the surrounding area is full of lovely photographic opportunities that make this an ideal base from which to run a photographic course. Both Don and Trish were excellent hosts throughout, providing great conversation during mealtimes and additional comforts when requested (eg a French adaptor for my UK 3-pin plugs and even an electric fan for the bedroom when the weather turned hot). This was one of the best B&Bs I have ever stayed in and I was quite sad when my 4 night stay came to an end!

Room Tip: The bedroom at the top of the stairs (the Red Room) has twin beds and windows on two sides, one over...
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  • Stayed: June 2014, traveled solo
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1  Thank Shawn G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3 - 9 of 9 reviews

Reviewed May 28, 2014

I recently stayed at Maison du Couvent for four nights, and can recommend it extremely highly. The surrounding area is idyllically rural, but the house itself is also a pleasure to experience.

The owners are lovely, and it quickly felt very homely. The facilities are excellent, the bed was extremely comfortable and the bathroom had a great shower.

It would be impossible not to rave about the incredible breakfasts, lunches and dinners - Trisha is a wonderful cook and produced an array of imaginative vegetarian dishes for me (with tea/coffee/wine practically on tap) in a country which is certainly not known for its enthusiastic acceptance (shall we say) of vegetarianism. Meanwhile, Don is a very well-respected professional photographer, teaching excellent workshops across a range of photographic genres as a side business (perhaps worth mentioning if you want to learn to make the most of the very picturesque surroundings!!).

A warm, welcoming and peaceful stay all round!

  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled solo
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1  Thank VonEllaRose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 23, 2014

Gary and I travelled to Paris for a week and then rented a car to drive in the French countryside. We saw castles, beautiful rivers and countryside vineyards. My favorite stop this time was in the little village of Villebois-Lavalette. Gary found through airbnb.com this wonderful b n b. I'll be the first admit we were farther into the countryside than I realized and expected that the owner would be this nice French couple. Turns out the gentleman was an English ex-pat as was his Irish wife. Must say this really enriched the experience for me. We were able to get great information on the sites to see. The fact that the wife was an excellent chef and that we could also have our dinner meal there was a bonus! For me great conversation, meals, and accommodations were the best. I enjoyed the walks after dinner to the hilltop castle; watching the sun go down. We plan to revisit this lovely place and these lovely people sometime in the future. It was definitely a 5 star experience!!

At this time Trip Advisor has no rate info so airbnb.com for rates and bookings. (Also MaisonduCouvent.com) Also Don the owner teaches a photo class there that looked awesome.

  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled as a couple
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Thank texasdebb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 4, 2014

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.

  • Stayed: May 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank falconfling1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2015
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  • Stayed: February 2015, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Mu B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2014
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  • Stayed: August 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank SDeHerdt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2014
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  • Stayed: August 2014, traveled with friends
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1  Thank SophiePoiret
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Maison du Couvent

Address: 4 Venelle des Ursulines, 16320 Villebois-Lavalette, France
Location: France > Nouvelle-Aquitaine > Charente > Villebois-Lavalette
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Villebois-Lavalette
Price Range: $78 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 3
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 

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