Maison Lavaud is a quiet, cozy place, big enough for a couple or perhaps a family with one or two kids. Younger couples will want to note that the upstairs bedroom is outfitted with twin beds that are rather small to share, and can’t be comfortably pushed together. However, the downstairs couch converts into a double bed and the hosts Joanne, Ian, Susan, and Norman will provide appropriate bed linens.
The setting is gorgeous and peaceful. Although swimming and other recreation are nearby, this is really the place for folks who want to get away and relax. The back yard (garden) has a private sitting area for outdoor dining. You're in farm country here, and now and then you’ll hear a tractor go by. Cars stop at the spring house across the road to fill water jugs, but they're never obtrusive.
The kitchen has a useful assortment of dishes, silverware, and cookware, even a cutting board. Mixing bowls and the like may be stashed in unexpected places. Be sure to check the cabinets over the stove and look on top of the microwave oven. You'll need to supply all your own spices, though, even salt and pepper.
The hosts will stock the larder with the basics on request, but I recommend checking out the Saturday morning open air market in Saint-Junien for your grocery shopping. Saint-Junien and Bellac also offer your choice of several boulangeries and patisseries for bread and pastries (these are quite a bit more limited in nearer Cieux and Blond). If supermarkets are more your speed, you’ll find a Hyper-U in Saint-Junien and a Carrefour in Bellac. For these your sat-nav is your friend, or get directions from one of the hosts.
The “user manual" supplied says the hot water is sufficient for 3 showers and household use. As USians, we’re probably more wasteful than Europeans, but we found we could use it up with 2 showers and some careless dishwashing. Just be prudent and don’t let the water run while you soap up, and you should be fine. Be warned that if you do use up the hot water, there won’t be any more until the next morning, as the water seems to be heated only overnight.
The thick stone walls moderate day and night temperatures. For comfort we did as the French do - opened the windows to the cool night air, then closed the windows and shutters against the hot sun. Note that as with most European homes, the windows have no screens. We had a bit of trouble with this toward the end of our stay thanks to some persistent hornets (don’t they sleep?). We mentioned this to the hosts, and by the time you read this, they will probably have dispatched the troublemakers to hornet heaven.
Those hosts live in the renovated ex-barn which is attached to the gite, and have mastered the waiter’s fine art of being there when you need them and scarce when you want privacy. We arrived much later than we’d expected and Joanne graciously waited up for us. She also kindly came to our rescue when our car nearly ran out of fuel in Javerdat on a Sunday, and we discovered that US credit cards don’t work in Europe’s 24 hour automated filling stations. They even brought over a couple of homemade treats for us. They're from the UK, so of course communication was never an issue.
Cleanliness of the gite was very good to excellent. Guests are asked to do their own cleaning upon leaving, or pay a modest extra fee for the owners to do it for them. Cleaning supplies are provided.
This gite is not wheelchair accessible, but folks with mild disabilities may be able to handle it. Note that the only bathroom is upstairs off the bedroom.
Some pets are welcome, but you should probably check with the owners before assuming anything.
Other sundry details: We were not able to book through Holiday Lettings, apparently because of a browser incompatibility, and had to book directly with the owners. Norman fixed a minor problem with the toilet promptly and efficiently. The front door lock was a bit fiddly, but with patience we were always able to lock up when we left (not that we really thought it very necessary in this quiet rural location). Careful, the wifi key given in the documentation is a WPA key, not WEP as stated, and it's thus case sensitive.
Everybody's favorite don't-be-evil street view has the gite, but if you type in the address, what it shows you is actually a hundred or two meters away. To see it, first look up 9 Lavaud, Cieux, France. Then navigate forward on the road to the left of the image (not the one right in front of you). Keep the stone wall with the cross-hatched fence on top of it to your left.. Click the forward arrows on the road 15-16 times, and the spring house with the blue door and a trough should appear on your left. One or two more forward arrow clicks, and the gite should be there on your right. You’ll park on the grass behind the white picket gate.
We really enjoyed our stay at Maison Lavaud and appreciated its owners. We hope to visit again. We recommend it highly.
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