Inspiration

Ten large gîtes in France with pools, for the ultimate celebration

Jem Brownlee

5 min read

From the Swiss border to the shimmering west coast, to where la République ends on the warm shores of the Mediterranean Sea – France, from coast to coast, heartland to mountain top, is an unforgettable sight. There’s an allure impossible to ignore, for even the least of Francophiles.

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Gather together with your family and friends for all-afternoon games of water polo in the pool, leisurely lunches under the shade of cypress trees, and long games of boules, with longer pastis, in the garden. We’ve asked our community about the large gîtes they would recommend booking for special celebration. Read on for ten of our favourite gîtes with the space, and the pools, to entertain your tribe.

La Valade, Saint-Saud-Lacoussière, Dordogne

In the heart of Périgord Vert is a space with a breezy modern interior that’s perfect for guests. The kitchens, yes plural, are a chef’s dream come true. The gîte itself is secluded, lying in a landscape of fields, forests and lakes, but the Dordogne’s fabulous markets are close by and full of delicious local produce to create masterpieces to serve in the incredible open plan dining area or on the terrace.

The perfect rural escape for a large group – the wonders of the Dordogne are not far, if you can get your family off the deep sofas, out of the kitchen or away from the glorious pool. Heavenly!’

Nicky, Sawday’s inspector

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Bastide Oleander, Lorgues, Var

Imagine a French gîte – and chances are, you’ve already pictured Bastide Oleander. This space has a panoramic view sweeping south towards the Mediterranean. It’s spacious, secluded and its 18th century walls are oblivious to the summer heat. Spend your days lavishing in the pool’s respite from Mediterranean sun, dining under a pergola entwined with the shade of climbing trees, or enjoying a peaceful walk through the pine-scented gardens.

We have just returned from the most glorious two-week family holiday with our families coming from all over Europe, aged from 4 – 80, to enjoy the Provençale way of life. We filled the house but there is a space for everyone whether swimming, reading quietly or having a raucous laugh round the table!

Matthew, Sawday’s guest

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Les Charmes de Carlucet, St Crépin & Carlucet, Dordogne

Winding down the streets, you’ll see the gîte erupt from the ground as a sandy coloured work of architectural art amongst its verdant surroundings. What you won’t immediately see, is the large pool, lined with deck chairs, parasols, and before you know it – everyone you brought with you. Visit weekly markets to stock up on excellent regional food and wine, explore fascinating châteaux and ancient caves, go canoeing, before returning to  much comfort and a cooling splash in the pool.

Bring friends and family to this elegant house with bags of space inside and out. In the manicured garden you’ll find the huge heated pool, the sauna, football goals, badminton and table tennis. And much can be added: a chef, a personal trainer, massage, tai chi and yoga instructors, bike hire, whatever you need.

Nicky, Sawday’s inspector  

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Les Planas, Monoblet, Gard

Les Planas is a dream to pad around barefoot in, stepping from the calming white walled interior to the covered veranda outside – cup of coffee in hand to join your loved ones for breakfast. The master bedroom has its own balcony, and waking up, you’ll be able to take in the morning overlooking the garden. If you’re not spending your day splashing in the pool, take the 20-minute drive to Anduze to see the bamboo forest sparkle in the sun.

We had such a wonderful week at Les Planas. We were a group of three families and the house fitted us perfectly; so much space, extremely comfortable and beautifully decorated too. The views from the pool are fabulous! Bliss to lie by the pool but there are also lots of great things to do in the area.  

The Fishbournes, Sawday’s guests 

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Shoto, Aubignan, Vaucluse

Lined with olive groves and apricot orchards, the patio finds shelter under fig trees and even the courtyard is enveloped in wisteria. This idyllic gîte has a cosy feel despite its size. Spend an afternoon grilling the local produce on the barbeque, or taking naps in the hammock – and when the post lunch lethargy has subsided, drive to Carpentras for restaurants or Aubignan for shops, markets and wine trails.

This large, family-friendly mas is ideal for groups of cyclists wanting Mt Ventoux challenges, or for large families wanting a large garden, magic pool and space to relax between site seeing trips. And Marie-Laure is available to cook or babysit.

Rosie, Sawday’s inspector 

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La Chartreuse, Saint-Jean-de-Marsacq, Landes

In a quiet backwater, La Chartreuse is a grand 1800s farmhouse surrounded by manicured lawns, cypress and pine trees and an enviable pool to cool off in the summer sun. Near the pool, you’ll also find the two very fancy barbeques, which you’ll have the choice to use with the fantastic local produce you can pick up in the many nearby towns; or choose to dine on your hosts’ unimaginably delicious cooking, as Ben and Kate are both Leith-trained  chefs. The coast is a very short drive away, so dinner can be seafood overlooking the golden sands and sky-blue waves crashing at the shore, or haute cuisine in one of the Michelin starred restaurants.

The perfect big house for a group to get together to experience this fabulous corner of France, kept secret by Parisians for decades. The surfing beaches are so close and even a night out in San Sebastian is possible. Heaven for everyone, even teenagers!

Nicky, Sawday’s inspector  

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Fleuret, Curemonte, Corrèze

This seventeenth-century farmhouse is set in a landscape of castles, woodland and hills to explore. At your gîte you can spend the afternoon ambling from kitchen to terrace, terrace to poolside, wine glass in hand, or join your tribe jumping in and out of the pool. Inside you’ll find the kitchen, to cook up feasts with local produce  picked up at the weekly market in Curemonte, and the large dining table to gather around with your loved ones.

We booked to stay at Fleuret to celebrate my 60th birthday. All was fantastic with the house, pool and games room. Over a three-week period we were joined by 16 family and friends, dropping in and staying a few days with us. Gilly arranged for us to have in house caterers for three evenings and they were fantastic.

Steve, Sawday’s guest

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Le Mas, Sainte Croix, Dordogne

It’s going to be extremely difficult to decide between cooking in this kitchen, and hiring in the private chef. Whilst you could easily imagine being sat in the airy stunning space, waiting to be served some culinary delights, sharing in raucous laughter around the table – cooking in this space is a  real pleasure. The ingredients, though you could pop down the road to Montferrand-du-Périgord to grab them at market, could also be found in the garden – rich with vegetables, herbs and fruit trees. You’ve also the option to dine outside on the covered terrace, and excuse over-eager kids to enjoy the pool just metres away.

Le Mas is a truly exceptional property and the ideal place for a family vacation with friends. The house itself is beautifully decorated and the surrounding countryside and the views from the property are stunning. It’s a haven of tranquillity from which we enjoyed runs on trails, lounging in the pool, and meals in the summer kitchen as we watched the sunset. 

Brian, Sawday’s guest

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The French Farmhouse in Quercy, Montaigu-de-Quercy, Tarn-et-Garonne

Wake up, whip up a French press, and go out to ‘The Bolet’ – the old covered veranda on the first floor – and plan the day ahead with your family and friends. Despite feeling wonderfully secluded on its own land, it’s just a six-minute drive to medieval Montaigu and its Saturday market. At night, you’ll sip glasses of fine wine to the sight of Monflanquin’s lights twinkling on the hill. Play badminton or rounders to work up an appetite, or enjoy cooking fine local produce in the indoor, or the outdoor, kitchen by the pool.

We were three families and we loved it! The pace of life was very relaxed, perfect clear skies, lots of wildlife. The bakery in the village is superb, and there are so many delicious things to eat from the markets.

Claire, Sawday’s guest

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La Badoussie, Sarlat, Dordogne

This 18th-century gîte with magnificent views is a heavenly spot for a special family holiday. Outside, as well as the spectacular pool, there’s the climbing frame, badminton, and, beyond the gardens, acres of private woodland. Inside there’s the rustic-elegant kitchen for preparing meals with ingredients gathered at nearby Daglan’s Sunday market and a cosy sitting room for long evenings playing cards.

For a special family gathering to celebrate our 60th birthdays, and 35th wedding anniversary, my husband and I were looking for a pretty special property and location. La Badoussie delivered on every level. A stunning farmhouse, beautifully furnished and equipped with absolutely everything we could have needed.

Kate, Sawday’s guest 

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