The gîte is in the small hamlet of Peche Mezel about 9km north of Borrèze. A narrow road follows the valley bottom with wooded hillsides through flat and very fertile agricultural land with two old mills and a fish farm. At the end of May, the verges were covered with cow parsley, and deep purple aquilegia. A very narrow road branches off to Peche Mezel by the recycling bins. There are few places to pass and several blind bends. It seemed a long 4.5km drive. We never met anything on this road and Michael was a lot happier driving once the council had cut back the verges.
Peche Mezel is a delightful hamlet surrounded by walnut trees, immediately recognisable by the deep bronze colour of the newly opened leaves. The owners of the gîte live in the big house next to an older and now empty house with a tower and barns. Their children live in the hamlet and they also have another gite to let. There are hens, muscovy ducks, a friendly cat and noisy mule.
Ours was a small stone built cottage with a steep hipped stone roof. There were two small windows with shutters on either side of the door, two tiny windows above and another small window on the opposite wall. It still uses the original key. We were given strict instructions not to loose it.
Inside it has an open plan living, dining and kitchen area with rough stone walls and quarry tiles. It still has the original large fireplace and stone sink on the wall. Wooden stairs led up to what would have been a storage area or extra bedrooms which is no longer used and closed off.
The kitchen has a gas cooker, washing machine (which proved to be temperamental and didn’t spin very well) dish washer, small fridge/freezer, microwave, toaster, kettle and teapot. It was well equipped with crockery, cutlery and cooking equipment. The small TV which we didn’t use is on a cupboard under the stairs. There was a dining table with chairs and a settee in a corner by the fireplace and two wicker chairs.
Off this is a toilet with no window or extractor fan. The small shower room has a basin, shower and bidet .
There are two bedrooms, one with double bed and one with twin beds. Furnishing was basic with small bedside tables and a curtained off wall recess for hanging clothes.
When we arrived, there was a large bowl of walnuts on the table from the owners orchard.
Lighting was poor with a double light in the centre of the room and a single standard light. The only wall plug was by this so we needed to move the table to be able to work on the computer.
Heating was by small electric fires, which were not very effective apart from the bedroom which did get warm. When we arrived we were asked if we would be using them as there would be an extra charge. As the previous week had been cold we said yes. Asking how much this would be I was told about €40 euros. Booking information said that heating was metered so I didn’t ask whether this was a fixed charge as in all the other places we have stopped in with Brittany Ferries, the owners have read the meter and calculated the amount of electricity used. I assumed (wrongly as it turned out) that as the case here.
We were careful with the use of heating and I have to admit to feeling rooked when we came to settle up at the end of the holiday and were charged €40 euros and the meter hadn’t been read. Our French wasn’t up to challenging this. The property wasn’t cheap, although I accept that the Dordogne is an expensive area. The end of holiday cleaning charge of €40 also seems expensive for the size of the property compared with elsewhere.
It was the only property in the area on Brittany Ferries books and we would be reluctant to use it again. It seems I am not alone as there were few bookings for the gîte when I checked the Brittany Ferries website when we got home.
Michael didn’t like the drive along the road to it. Lighting in the gîte was poor and heating not very effective. On cold wet days, the open plan area felt unwelcoming when we got in at night. The shower room felt damp and we frequently missed out on our daily shower. The washing machine needs replacing, although we were told we could use the machine in the neighbouring gîte which was empty. There was little space to dry clothes inside so we used to spread them over the backs of the plastic chairs outside once we got in.