The lovely, stone, mainly 18thC, white-shuttered Château d'Ayres stands on the site of a 12thC Benedictine monastery in the heart of the Cévennes National Park near Meyrueis in its own beautiful wooded grounds, with mature sequoias and oaks. Inside it is handsome, with walnut and chestnut panelling in some rooms, vaulted ceilings and a profusion of good antiques and pictures.
Bedrooms are well appointed, with elegant, traditional furniture and carved mouldings. Some of the larger rooms have interesting bathrooms extended into round towers or elevated on a mezzanine. Staff are friendly and helpful.
The food is excellent. The chef, Hélène de Montjou, specializes in Languedoc cooking using plenty of local produce. M. de Montjou is a knowledgeable sommelier. The house has a relaxed, convivial atmosphere and is extremely quiet. The garden is superb, with a lake, tennis court, swimming pool made out of local stone, and a small whirlpool bath. There are plenty of alluring, shady places to which you can retreat with a chair and a book on long, hot afternoons. At 750 metres, the air is fresh and pure.