As you follow the single gravel road towards Hameau d'Albi, the steepled pigeonnier appears before you, like a beacon of pride. Once the privilege of nobility, this tower is now the property's most popular bedroom. At this lovingly restored hamlet, ancient relics like wine presses and elegant arches transport you in time, while modern comforts like exquisite bedding and luxurious fabrics create an elegant atmosphere.
The sun sparkles serenely as the water cascades through the magical landscape. Enjoy numerous water activities like kayaking and canoeing on the Aveyron in St. Antonin, 30 minutes away. Enjoy peaceful hikes in the Forêt de la Grésigne, one of the largest oak forests in Europe. Take time to savour simple pleasures like perusing the open market stalls in Gaillac, famous for its pink garlic; the local wines and vineyards, and the medieval hilltop 'Bastide' towns such as Cordes sur Ciel, Puycelsi, Bruniquel and Castelnau de Montmiral, dating from the Cathar wars. Local history from this time is fascinating and reflected in the grandeur of the cathedral in Albi.
This is a good area for 'antiquing'; the weekly Saturday morning flea market in Albi is legendary and there is a 'vide-grenier' most weekends, a chance to bring home treasures from this unique region.
Entering the main house, probably the oldest part of the hamlet dating back to the 12th century, you'll find a beamed salon with large plush sofas and armchairs, and a large open fireplace and original stove 'evier's' at the window. A family entertainment area consisting of a flat screen TV, DVD, pull down screen and projector are ideal for cozy film nights.
Interiors at this renovated hamlet are beautifully presented and enhanced by the preservation of original features; tiled terracotta flooring, ancient wooden beams, open fireplaces and arches. Unity comes through the calm, unostentatious decoration and a lovely garden planted with rosemary and sage.
Continue into the beamed winter dining room with a fireplace and dining table for up to 10 guests. In the summer, this room is ideal as a cool quiet area for studying or meals. Connecting the dining room with the front hallway is the small kitchen, with a Bosch dishwasher, sink, Nespresso machine and Magimix juicer. There is a large side-by-side refrigerator with icemaker, and double doors leading to the outside terrace.
Continue to the main kitchen, once an open sided barn. Equipped with a Lacanche stove with two ovens, a second dishwasher, microwave, under counter fridge, coffee maker, toaster and kettle and plenty of counter space. A separate larder for food storage also contains a Magimix food processor and blender. A large dining table seats 10-12 guests. Double doors lead onto the terrace where you'll find a gas Weber barbecue, and teak dining table and chairs for up to 10-12 guests shaded by parasols. Sumptuous views onto the fruit trees and fields below as well as stonewalls and archway to the rear courtyard.
Climb a painted oak staircase from the entrance hall to the landing/TV area above. On the right is a large flat screen TV with UK TV connection, DVD player, sofa and cushions. An antique bookcase offers a collection of books, DVDS and games as well as an Xbox games console.
The pool is in a courtyard surrounded on three sides by the main house, pigeonnier, guest house and an open sided barn which houses the table tennis table, table football and pool toys. There is a house guardian that lives next door, on hand to help should you need it, yet out of the way.
- Bedroom 1: Master suite with super King size bed and en suite bathroom with walk-in rainfall shower, double sinks, and bath. Beamed ceilings, marble dresser and two large gilt mirrors.
- Bedroom 2: Double bed (1m40) and en suite bathroom with freestanding bath and sink.
- Bedroom 3: Super King size bed and en suite bathroom with shower over bath. Direct access to the garden.
- Bedroom 4: Children's room: Two pairs of bunk beds and shared bathroom with bath, hand-held shower and sink.
- Bedroom 5: Children's room: Twin beds with mosquito nets and shared bathroom (bedroom 4). Direct access to pool area.
The entrance is in the courtyard by the pool. The house is built on a hillside so the ground floor is partially below ground, remaining cool in the summer.
- Bedroom 6: Large bedroom with super King size bed and en suite bathroom with shower over bath and sinks. A sitting area with convertible sofa and wood burning stove for chillier months. Access a landing with a cushioned day bed.
- Bedroom 7: Twin beds and en suite bathroom with shower and sink.
Across the courtyard from the Guest House, this is one of the most popular bedrooms. On the ground floor is a bathroom with walk in rainfall shower and sink. A marble dresser, benches and hanging pegs so also doubles as a pool shower/changing area. Up a narrow staircase is the bedroom.
- Bedroom 8: King size bed. Garden views.
The gardens: Olive groves, fruit trees and organic gardens. Outside the walled garden is grassland with fruit trees. On the upper edge of the property is the main vegetable garden where you'll find raspberries, strawberries, currants, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, melons, beans, cucumbers and potatoes. On the other side of the park is a wooded area of approximately 2 acres which is lovely for strolls and campfires. At the front of the property, near the kitchen, is another walled kitchen garden used for herbs and salads.
The views: From this collection of stone buildings set into a chalk hillside, enjoy unobstructed views of sprawling farmland and romantic hillsides.
Why we like Hameau d'Albi: A beautifully renovated French farmhouse where up to 16 guests can enjoy the simple pleasures of country life. Intimate for a family, yet spacious enough for a large group.