The Watermill

near Sarlat, Dordogne & Lot, France
Book from GBP Book from £205 per night

The Watermill

near Sarlat, Dordogne & Lot, France

Ancient stones, contemporary design and sylvan tranquillity in the Perigord: two glorious barn rentals (for 2-4 and 8-12)

Ancient stones, contemporary design and sylvan tranquillity in the Perigord: two glorious barn rentals (for 2-4 and 8-12)

Hidden away in a wooded valley above the Dordogne, within the estate of a formidable historic Chateau, there can be few such dreamily bucolic settings as this. Arriving by way of the narrowest of lanes to see the low gabled roofs of a former walnut press and a nearby tobacco barn feels like a Proustian rediscovery of Temps Perdu.

Drawing on the combined sensibilities of the Commarque family, who have welcomed guests to their hilltop chateau for many years, the two buildings have been refashioned into rustic, country escapes. There's an inspirational six-bedroom hideaway with a heated pool (The Watermill) and a simpler, off-grid, more remote one-bedroom retreat (Tobacco Barn). Each is set 10 minutes' walk from the main chateau, and 10 minutes' walk from one another. Inside, you'll find a clean-cut decorative mix of antiques with chunky rough-hewn wooden furniture, chalky-grey screed floors, bright kilims, masses of cut flowers and views out to the valley that create a mood that is both understated and uplifting. If you're in search of calme et comfort and prefer self-catering to catered-for, this is about as good as it gets.

Highs

  • These are no ordinary gites: they're unique homes created with oodles of warmth and character
  • The biggest luxury is the setting: as peaceful, private and pastoral as you could hope to find
  • The Watermill has all you need for self-catering in style: a big kitchen, lovely outdoor dining areas and the produce of the Perigord
  • And its high-ceilinged sitting room provides a diaphanous focus for life at the mill house
  • You're at the heart of one the most beautiful regions of France

Lows

  • Bear in mind that The Watermill is minimal and sparse in style - some guests feel too much so, given the prices
  • And that the Tobacco Barn is an off-grid getaway - no TV, heating, drinkable water or hot water in the kitchen, and no private pool (but The Watermill has all of the above)
  • A car is a necessity given the relative isolation
  • Minimum stays (3-7 nights) apply in peak months, but these can be flexible depending on availability

Best time to go

Although the Dordogne fills up from early July through to mid August, if you hunkered down here, it would be as if the world outside had ceased to exist. But you’d see plenty of other folk if you were to head out sightseeing or to eat. Either end of the summer would be an ideal time to come so as to make full use of the pool.

Our top tips

Stock up on food and drink on your way to the barn, as it's quite remote. There is no shortage of indulgent local delicacies - truffles, ceps, foie gras, confit, chestnuts and delicious local wines.

If you plan on eating out, it's advisable to pre-book. Ask staff for restaurant recommendations and for help with bookings.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Barn Rentals
  • 1 barn for 2-4 & 1 barn for 8-12
  • Self-catering (breakfast included)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car essential
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

The Watermill (slps 8-12)

This is a handsome old stone barn, with four bedrooms in the main house and a further two bedrooms in an annexe just 30 metres away.

It's been completely refurbished in a sparse, minimal style which we love - but don't expect traditional rustic French decor. Bedrooms come with ancient beams, subtle lighting and deeply comfortable beds with padded headboards and Egyptian cotton linen. Underfloor heating keeps them toasty warm in the colder months, and thick walls cool in summer, but bear in mind that there are no fans, air-con or mosquito nets.

Room 1 is on the ground floor of the main house with a big double bed (which can be set up as twins), and a separate dressing room. Leading off, there's a large bathroom with a separate bath and shower. Room 4 is another cavernous double, which is similar in size and layout to Room 1 but there's no dressing room and its bathroom is enormous. Being that bit higher you get even better views out across the surrounding fields of lucerne. Rooms 2 and 3 are smaller, and interconnect to share a bathroom - ideal for kids. They have the same twin/double bed arrangement, and low eaves impart a really snug feel.

If you're hiring the place with another family or group of friends, the Annexe Rooms (5 & 6) are really comfortable too, sharing similar base elements to those of the main house, though they have electric radiators rather than underfloor heating.

The kitchen comes with gas hob, electric oven, double fridge, dishwasher, kettle, toaster, blender and De Longhi coffee machine. There are stainless steel pots and pans and plenty of glasses and crockery, though some guests have mentioned a shortage of accessories such as chopping boards, oven dishes and tablecloths. There's also a small laundry room with both washing machine and dryer.

Fresh pastries are delivered each morning, and you'll find other breakfast items like eggs, fresh fruit and homemade jams in the fridge. Aside from this, the basics (oil, salt, cleaning equipment) are provided, but you’d probably want to shop prior to arrival and, being at the heart of the Périgord, you couldn’t be better placed to do so.

Tobacco Barn (slps 2-4)

This is a truly off-grid, one-bedroom retreat for those who seek total seclusion and few creature comforts; it can be rented on its own, or as an add-on to The Watermill. We loved our arrival, sliding open the battered old doors of the barn to reveal a New York loft-style interior, with cathedral-high ceilings and multiple, multi-height windows that flood it with light. The double bedroom is at the far end, with a glorious canopy hung over the bed from the beam.

An open-plan living-kitchen-dining area spans the other end, with huge contemporary artwork on the partition wall, and a pony-skin rug on the floor, plus two single sofabeds for extra guests. The bathroom lies between the bedroom and the sitting room, with a poured concrete walk-in shower. Note that there is no central heating, no TV, and no drinkable water here, and the WiFi is patchy at best. Consider it more like ultra-glamorous glamping. It does not have its own pool either, but you may be able to use the pool up at the main chateau if it's not booked by a party.

Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Canoe or kayak down the Dordogne - the owners can arrange this for you
  • The region has a wealth of historical gems to explore, including the Renaissance town of Sarlat, beautiful medieval churches and lots of quaint villages
  • The 12th Century abbey at Cadouin is an evocative spot with occasional music and organ recitals
  • Check out the cave paintings at Lascaux, which are amongst the most ancient in Europe and have been desginated a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Play golf: there’s an 18-hole course just 5km away (Siorac) and two more within easy driving distance
  • Let the Commarque family guide you towards some of the areas best vineyards and wines: private visits can be arranged
  • Allow some time to visit some of southwest France’s most beautiful gardens. Mme de Commarque knows many of their owners and can guide you towards these unsung horticultural treasures
  • Follow waymarked hiking routes through the surrounding 5,000 hectares of forest. Alternatively you can explore by bicycle or on horseback, or get a bird's eye view from a hot-air balloon - the owners can arrange all of these

Kids

Children would love it here and they are warmly welcomed. There's ample space for them to run around, and The Watermill has a pool for splashing about in (there is no pool at the Tobacco Barn). Parents should bear in mind that an unfenced stream crosses the property. Cots and high chairs are available, given prior notice.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

The Tobacco Barn is well set up for a small family, with two sofabeds in the living room. The Watermill has two rooms that interconnect and share a bathroom: ideal for kids.

Cots Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Location

The Watermill and the Tobacco Barn are set in the estate of a historic Chateau between Sarlat (28km) and Bergerac (40km) in the Dordogne region of southwest France.

By Air:
Fly into Bergerac (40km) or Bordeaux (120km). Toulouse (150km) is also convenient.

From the Airport
We'd say hiring a car is essential, although if you can't drive the hotel can arrange a transfer - please enquire when booking.

By Train:
If you'd prefer to travel overland from the UK, take the Eurostar from London to Paris, then the TGV to Sarlat (28km); there's a minor station at Le Buisson (7km).

By Car:
If you need to hire a car, please see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Bergerac Roumanieres 40.0 km EGC
  • Bordeaux Mérignac 120.0 km BOD

Other:

  • Beach 240.0 km
  • Shops 5.0 km
  • Restaurant 7.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
8/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Overall

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Rates for The Watermill

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