Brave the swing over the lake or stroll the lawns and admire the herd: Mike is the proud owner of 40 Belted Galloways. This 12th-century stronghold in old Poitou sits in 105 hectares of woods and fields – that’s what you see when you open your shutters in the morning.
Medieval doors and carved archways remain but the feel is fairly minimalist. A vast awning over the courtyard extends outdoor eating hours, three separate sitting rooms mean you can spread out and there’s a sunken (small) pool for cooling off if you don’t fancy the lake.
Breakfast is a gourmet affair including ham, cheese, eggs, fruits and pastries. Resident chef, Joss, creates exceptional dinners too using seasonal local ingredients, home-grown veg and sometimes home beef; he runs cookery classes as well. Explore the rolling countryside on vespas or bikes. Pop into Montmoreau St Cybard (8km) for its weekly market; sample Napoleon’s favourite cognac in Jarnac (40km).