‘We simply could not fault it; the atmosphere, welcome and service could not have been better and the food was excellent. Even though we had one of the more expensive rooms at the front, we felt it was very good value.’ So begins one of many eulogies on this lovely old bastide, a sentiment strongly echoed by our most recent inspector. For those of us who can’t or won’t pay the prices (or don’t like the style) of Relais & Chateaux places, a gracious country house like this is quite a find. Last year, though, we did have just one discordant letter, questioning the price, and faulting the decoration, of a room. It is a family affair. Daniel Marignane’s mother opened the hotel in 1932, and he and his wife ran it with great dedication, charm and good humour for many years. Though recently widowed, Mme Marignane has remained in charge, together with her three sons: Philippe is the (excellent) chef, whilst Vincent and Christophe are managers. Improvements are being made all the time. Most of the bedrooms have been (charmingly) redecorated in elegant country taste, with delightful fabrics (often on the walls, too) and antiques and pictures collected by the family. On the airy, spacious ground floor, one of the three dining rooms has been sandblasted to expose vaultings and beams in a lovely, light honey-coloured wood. In summer you eat on the romantic gravelled terrace. There’s a pool – and a donkey – in the garden, and children will enjoy the giant chessboard.