Our top French hideaways
Published 16/04/2011 | 05:00
From Provence to the Pyrenees, we track down budget-friendly boltholes for family trips
Château Fromental, Haute-Vienne
This traditional château dates back to 1450 and is filled with historic quirks, most notably the higgledy-piggledy façade, the beautiful banqueting hall and a library stuffed with antiques and artefacts.
It sleeps 16 guests in seven bedrooms -- all kitted out with the finest French linens, towels and bathrobes.
It has its own sauna, 88 acres of rambling gardens and a private pool.
The nearest large town is Limoges, home to two fascinating cathedrals and several French porcelain museums, and homey restaurants are just minutes away.
Details: From €3,425 per week or €214pp based on 16 sharing. Two hours of daily cleaning are included in the price.
Nearest airport: Tours.
La Bastide, Côte d’Azur
The perfect shared family holiday home, La Bastide can sleep up to 16 in six en suite bedrooms and two children’s bedrooms.
Along with extensive grounds and a private pool, the house has a games room with table tennis, darts, a pool table and a boules court. More adventurous types can try gliding, horse riding, sailing and a 36-hole golf course, while Cannes is just 30 minutes away.
Details: From €5,000 per week or €312.50pp based on 16 sharing.
Nearest airport: Nice.
Domaine de Nérige, Languedoc-Roussillon
This former wine domaine has been completely renovated. With the feel of a traditional French manor house, it has stunning contemporary interiors and sleeps up to 12 guests.
Each of the six bedrooms (four of which are en suite) is uniquely decorated, giving them an entirely individual character.
The property is surrounded by 18 acres of woodland and vineyards, and has stunning views down the valley to the Pyrenees.
Carcassonne is just a 20-minute drive away, where there are regular concerts and festivals in the castle throughout the summer.
Details: From €2,195 per week or €183pp based on 12 sharing.
Nearest airport: Carcassonne.
Domaine de Cyrano, Provence
Brad and Angelina are rumoured to be moving full-time to their 17th-century, $45 million chateau in Provence.
If you fancy living like a star but can't afford the price tag, Le Domaine de Cyrano is the perfect solution, just 20 minutes away from Brignoles, where the Pitt family do their shopping.
This seven-bedroom pad sleeps up to 14 and sits elegantly on a 1,000-acre vineyard estate. It has its own private cinema, two swimming pools and is fully connected with Sky TV, Wi-Fi and air-conditioning in every room.
Take a pew in Place Caramy or head to St Tropez or Cannes for a spot of people watching.
Details: From €7,790 per week or €556pp based on 14 sharing.
Nearest airport: Marseille.
Château de la Bourlie, Dordogne
This 14th-century château, complete with turrets, a chapel and period furniture, oozes character and charm. The five bedrooms, which sleep nine in total, are decorated in neutral tones to match the traditional feel. Set in the heart of the Dordogne region, the house is set on 1,000 acres of lawns, meadows and woodland, so there is plenty of room for little people to explore while grown-ups can sample the local wines and play French boules on the 'petanque' pitch.
Details: From €3,800 per week or €422pp based on 10 sharing.
Nearest airport: Toulouse.
Le Pressoir, Dordogne
Super-chic and contemporary meets classic architecture at this charming converted watermill.
Set on a 600-acre estate, home to the larger Château de la Bourlie, the watermill has expansive views of the countryside and a large outdoor swimming pool.
Five en suite bedrooms sleep up to 10 and interiors are minimalist and elegant, with original stone floors and exposed stone walls. Interior designer and artist Cyril de Commarque, who lives on the estate, is responsible for creating this quirky style.
Details: From €4,000 per week or €400pp based on 10 sharing.
Nearest airport: Bordeaux.
Château Capelan, Provence-Côte d'Azur
This renovated Provençal château sits on vast private grounds and a wine-making domaine.
A seven-bedroom home, it sleeps 14 people and is packed with character.
Spacious rooms combine a mix of contemporary and traditional furnishings with large outdoor terraces and a swimming pool that overlooks the vineyard.
Daily tastings are available at the nearby wine cave and guests seeking to venture out of this secluded retreat should head to St Tropez and Cannes, both within close reach.
Details: From €3,900 per week or €279 based on 14 sharing.
Nearest airport: Nice.
Maison Donnadieu, Languedoc-Roussillon
A stunning country home enveloped by private woods and vineyards, Maison Donnadieu is a perfect place for a family gathering. It sleeps up to 10 guests, and has a large, bright kitchen.
Beamed ceilings, an open fireplace and exposed stone walls give a feel of rustic French chic, and the two separate living rooms allow for private reading and relaxation.
The house sits on the banks of a small river, just five minutes from the enchanting village of St Chinian.
Details: From €1,995 per week or €199pp based on 10 sharing.
Nearest airport: Carcassonne.
For more details on these properties, visit Pure France (purefrance.com). Specialists in holiday home rental, they portfolio of 400 properties, all with private swimming pools, the Loire Valley, the Dordogne, Provence, the Côte d’Azur Languedoc-Roussillon available throughout the year.