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Our little black book of enchanting places


Alistair Sawday’s extra special places to stay by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O'Sullivan

Every week, I hear about yet another B&B or small hotel opening in France, usually with English owners escaping the rat race in the UK. But as Alistair Sawday, of Sawdays Guides, says, “If half the houses in France are riding the B&B bandwagon, then perspective is needed: they can’t all be wonderful.” That’s why the new Sawday’s Special Places to Stay: French Bed & Breakfast is invaluable. Published on April 4, it includes 830 of France’s loveliest B&Bs, with more than 250 new additions. Here are 5 of Sawday’s personal favourites.

Balcon en Forêt, Beynac-et-Cazenac, Dordogne

Best for: the little details

Balcon en Forêt (above) is a slice of heaven perched among fig and walnut trees above Beynac, surrounded by gardens and meadows. Remarkable suites, one inspired by 17th-century Dutch paintings, another with its own wood-burner, and each with wine stocked honesty bar. From €145 per night.La Forge, St Quentin de Baron, Gironde 

Best for: a homely and heartfelt welcome

Carol and Bruno have opened their home overlooking the vines and their hearts to family and guests. They serve home-grown breakfasts under the cherry trees, organise cookery classes and brocante tours. Down the road at the farm there are hens, a pool, and a wildflower meadow. From €65 per night.Château de la Bourlie - Les Bories, Urval, Dordogne

Best for: stylish seclusion

Hilltop heaven meets urban design in an old tobacco barn at Château de la Bourlie. A private space flooded with light, with polished concrete floors throughout, an Italian 1950s sofa, a vast bedroom with high ceiling (above) and a pallet mattress for extra guests. From €200 per night (sleeps 4)Moulin Renaudiots, Autun, Saône-et-Loire

Best for: trees and tranquillity

Bordering the ancient Forest of Planoise, this former water mill (above) is a tranquil retreat. Classic mid-century Danish furniture features throughout the five beautifully renovated rooms, and there’s a sparking pool. Breakfast comprises home-made pastries and fruit from the gardens; convivial dinners with your hosts twice a week. From €135 per night. L'Observance, Avignon, Vaucluse

Best for: city sightseeing

Lovely Dutch hosts welcome guests to their blissfully calm B&B rooms and a cosy apartment just a stone’s throw from Avignon’s historic sights. Cool off in the pool after a busy day's sightseeing. Winner of Sawday’s Favourite Newcomer Award. From €95 per night.

Sawday’s Special Places to Stay French Bed & Breakfast (£15.99) is available from all good bookshops or online from Sawday's  


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