Described in 1886 as “well-proportioned and elegant in its simplicity,” Vaulx is as lovely now as then, and in the most beautiful position, in deep country, high on a hill with views that stretch to distant purple mountains. Marty, your charming, amusing host, and the animals (Nema the Jack Russell, Urga the filly, Otto the donkey… plus hens, sheep and beehives) welcome you to this generous estate. There’s a panelled drawing room with chandeliers, a huge dining room with fresh flowers, curiosities, fashionable strong, exciting colours in big bedrooms. Sleep peacefully: not a hint of road rumble. The gardens are beautifully maintained: lawns manicured, box balls tightly topiaried, romantic avenues in dappled sunlight. The wonderful vegetable garden grows food for delicious table d’hôtes and Marty’s peerless sense of hospitality will always go the extra mile. There’s countryside all around and plenty of places to visit, including a 13th-century bell tower in the village. And moreover… Bernard Dufoux, one of the best chocolate makers in France, is in La Clayette and Saint Christophe has a weekly cattle market.