It started with the water lilies. They are a favourite flower in our family. Then the dragonflies and their blue gossamer wings. Breathtaking. And that was before we even entered the front door of L’Ancienne Ecole.
Once inside, we knew we were in a home, not a house. A place that someone – in this case, Isabelle, Paul and Amelia – had invested with skill and sensibility, charm and love. Their personal touch was evident in every room, in every corner. They wove their respect for the environment throughout – the washing machine bio-ball, the salt-water pool, the micro-fibre pool towels.
Over the next 10 days, our family explored every part of L’Anciene Ecole. We enjoyed morning coffee by the goldfish ponds, played board games in the dining room’s midday coolness, had our aperitif on the shady side patio and laid our evening feast in the outdoor dining area. We perfected our tans by poolside and counted the different varieties of fruit trees in the back garden. We slept with windows open to enjoy the freshness of night. At times, we would stroke the wood of the ancient staircase, its smoothness divulging years of use. Paul even shared with us a bit of the school’s history, opening the under-house garage to reveal the mammoth beams and wall paint of the original four-room edifice.
L’Ancienne Ecole’s location in Beaumont-du-Perigord could not have been handier for a family whose ages span 11 to 84 years. With only a five minute walk to the main square, we visited every market day, all the shops and each night-time event, knowing that it was easy if one or another wanted to retire early while the rest stayed to celebrate. A particular favourite was the quincaillerie, which seems to stock everything in the world (apart from espadrilles).
Being in such a central bastide town made trips further afield so simple. Between canoeing, chateau hopping, wine tasting or simply walking the surrounding countryside’s well-signposted paths, we had as little or as much activity as we wished.
All of this was made possible thanks to the hospitality and warmth of Isabelle, Paul and Amelia, the latter who arranged bouquets of garden flowers throughout the house for our arrival. They made us feel very welcome, so much so that we have booked a longer stay at L’Ancienne Ecole for next year. It cannot come soon enough for us.