Welcome to la vieille France and a sleepy southern village. Two steps from the church, opening its arms to the main square, is an 18th-century cottage, beautifully renovated. Step straight into the kitchen, a lovely space to cook in, with new tiled floors and elegant timber-frame walls, fresh in white – and you can tell the owner’s a chef: there are proper chef’s knives. The downstairs bedroom, with its own secret courtyard, is a sweet oasis for two. Upstairs a light, inviting living room has a chic leather sofa, books, games, DVDs, and a sunny terrace with field views so you can toast your good fortune to the sound of cow bells. Two lovely bedrooms on the next floor (a double and a twin) have antique furniture and crisp linen; the pretty bathroom (below) has a super roll top tub; all is light and inviting. On the Languedocian-Pyrenean border, the walking and cycling are wonderful, while Lac Montbel has turquoise waters and sandy beaches. There’s a weekly market in Mirepoix (one of the best) and you can eat out in Chalabre, but Nic and Carolyn do B&B next door with great dinners – don’t miss a four-course treat.