We had a wonderfully relaxing week in August in the light and spacious stone and wood-built chalet adjacent to the renovated farmhouse on this lovely estate of olives, vines and woodland (mostly oaks), only five minutes down a track from the sleepy village of St Pons la Calm. At Hollyoaks you feel like you have the valley to yourself.
The pool and decking area (with barbecue and kitchen area are a real treat. The swimming pool is lovely. The water is uniquely refreshing, without salt or chlorine, naturally cleaned and aerated, as owner Terry was proud to show us. It is a delight to relax and swim in, further enhanced by the landscaped borders of lavender and numerous other flowers, and a small waterfall tumbling fresh water into the large pool.
Most evenings, after a few games of boules on the terrain by our chalet, we enjoyed aperitifs on the wide expanse of decking by the pool, barbecued there and ate under the stars. Totally peaceful except for the song of cicadas and the occasional (warm) breeze. Our lunch or supper often included freshly picked plums or blackberries from the estate.
Locally we shopped in the nearby pretty village of Connaux or the market town of Bagnols-sur-Cèze, but bought good local wine from the winery bin the centre of St Pons. We enjoyed walks in the vicinity, one taking us to a fabulous viewpoint of the region and an abandoned Roman hilltop fort. Further afield but still very accessible we visited the Pont du Gard (an incredible, "must-see" sight – take your swimming costumes and a picnic), the well-preserved medieval walled town of Uzès (a gem) and of course the historic cities Avignon and Nȋmes.
Beds are really comfortable (and I'm fussy), the master bedroom being a gloriously light room rising high into the gabled roof, and with its own balcony. Bathrooms and kitchen are well-appointed without being luxurious, and there is a large dining and living areas with TV, and an outside private terrace where we breakfasted on the morning sun.
Though English, Terry has lived and worked in France for most of his adult life – more than 25 years. He is a sociable host without being intrusive. He dropped by the pool area several times a day to ensure all was okay – which it always was - and is a fount (or font) of knowledge about the area.
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