It took me a long time to start using B&Bs in France. I had horrible memories of my arrival in Dublin when I first left Australia many long years ago. I went there with friends who were staying with friends and I had thought, in my innocence, that I would be staying with them too. Not so. It was back in the days without mobiles of course and I must have knocked on twenty doors between the airport and the city (I don’t really think I’m exaggerating) before I finally found a room. I must say I felt very much like Joseph and Mary. No room in the inn. I had a bedroom to myself but I shared the bathroom and toilet with the rest of the family and the other guests. It was very eerie staying in a house with people I didn’t know.
I tried out some more B&Bs in Ireland a couple of years later, but I always felt the guests were displacing the family. We would be having breakfast around the table while the kids would be talking in hushed voices in the kitchen, obviously on their best behaviour. Then a few years ago, a friend told me about a wonderful B&B she stayed in on her way to Italy each year that had a private bathroom for each of the guests which sounded much more to my liking. But I was still reticent because I didn’t want to have to interact with other people I didn’t know first thing in the morning.
But in the end, we decided to give it a try five years ago on a spur-of-the-moment cycling trip to the Cotentin which is that little peninsula that sticks out into the English Channel where the D-Day boats landed. We headed for the western side which is much prettier, not far from Granville. The B&B, Le Clos Postel, was just perfect. We were in a separate building (the dove cote) from our hosts who have renovated a lovely old stone presbytery. Tastefully furnished with our own bathroom and separate toilet and a lovely view of the surrounding countryside. Our hosts, Lydie and Robert Friaux were charming, the breakfast table full of lovely surprises such as a different type of cake each day and unusual home-made jams, and the other guests were interesting and not invasive. There was even a log fire to take the chill of the morning. Guests can also use the lovely grounds with their trellised roses and herb garden. We have been back several times and tried many other B&Bs since, but Le Clos Postel remains our favourite, especially now that the bed has added comfort. We usually sleep in Angelus, but next time we’re going to try the little split-level appartment called Prélude which has a small kitchen as well.
However, we may have discovered a rival! We went down to the Loire Valley last week and stayed at Le Moulin du Mesnil, a renovated mill-house near Montrichard, recommended by an American friend living in the area. Yvonne, the English hostess, came out to greet us in the cold and took us to our lovely warm room with its separate entrance from the rest of the house. Perfect, once again, with a little entrance containing a cupboard, a table with a jug to make coffee and tea and hooks to hang up our coats (often a missing feature). Then came the bedroom, with its visible timbers and white walls and furniture. Like Le Clos Postel, the bed is very comfortable and the shower is attached to the wall! At breakfast next morning in Yvonne and Jean François’ beautiful open-plan kitchen/dining room/living room, we had a wonderful view of the extensive grounds. Fresh scones and pancakes. Need I say more? They have a log fire too. Next time we’re taking the suite across the way which has a little patio.
Now I have two favourite B&Bs!!!Lydie and Robert Friaux Le Clos Postel 5, 7 route d’Urville Village d’Urville 50590 Regnéville sur Mer 02 33 07 12 38 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.clospostel.com Yvonne and Jean-François David Le Moulin du Mesnil 31 Chemin du Moulin du Mesnil 41400 St Georges sur Cher
France T +33 2 54 32 22 51
M +33 6 62 57 91 75 http://www.moulindumesnil.com/en/