Skip up the steps then follow the lavender-lined path to this secluded hillside retreat. Flowering broom and sweet peas vie for attention with evergreen oaks, linear vineyards and, in the distance, history soaked Villemagne l’Argentière. Sun dapples onto decking, a hammock beckons and a canvas sail protects you from summer’s soporific heat. This traditional country home has touchable local stone walls, tiled floors and robust beams; book and music collections live under the stairs. Stoke the open fire, lounge on the stylish leather of the sitting room, or gather in the kitchen around stockpiles of market-bought charcuterie and St Chinian wine. The fresh, sleek, minimalist bedrooms are very private – ideal for two couples travelling together. The walk-in shower is pure indulgence, its expansive mirror and excellent lighting setting off a summer glow gained from lazy river swims and mountain bike adventures. The foodie owners stay often so kitchen kit is correct and top-notch. Even better, you’re 500m from a terrace café and the Michelin-starred Auberge de l’Abbaye… who needs to cook?