Cross the courtyard from the Furnesses’ grand 18th-century townhouse and there is La Petite Écurie, ‘1758’ inscribed over its door. John and Lee-Anne have done much of this little stables conversion themselves, and made a great job of it: the overall effect is assured and pleasing. Cheerful bedrooms have chestnut wood floors and exposed stone walls to show off the tapestries that hang richly behind the beds; the shiny bathroom has a proper bathtub; the beamed living room is stylish and cosy; the kitchen has every appliance you can think of. This is a quiet corner of town and the garden, with its hammock and saltwater pool, is a lovely surprise. Australians John and Lee-Anne came to live here in 1999: she is an accomplished chef and you can book a meal with them in their fine big house where they do B&B. They love living here and know all about the area and its scattering of Cathar castles. Take a picnic hamper (Lee-Anne will provide) and set off and explore, or spend the day basking on the sunny shores of Lac Montbel.