Once a silkworm factory, tannery and pottery, now a special self-catering spot to which fresh bread and croissants are delivered each morning. Against a pastoral collage of lavender, thyme, river and canal, discover a constellation of sandy stone gîtes around a sturdy bastide. This is the home of lovely Françoise, Belgian-born, who, in high season, does a weekly table d’hôtes at a lively long table. It took her a year to convert the gîtes so beautifully; each is spacious, fresh and uncluttered, naked stone walls contrasting with rich colours. There are open-plan sitting rooms with corner kitchens and coffee machines, terraces, barbecues and snow-white linen. Each has something special: Le Billiard gets three terraces; L’Atelier (over a little stone bridge) is wheelchair-friendly; La Voûte has a vaulted sitting room and a scarlet sofa. Saunter past the old mill wheel to a pale, pale pool framed by lawns and heaps of loungers. How to keep busy? The list is long: hilltop forts, Roman ruins, wine-tasting, tennis, hiking and biking and, come autumn, truffle-hunting with Françoise. A gorgeous hostess, a gem of a place.