You might be in the middle of the chic spa town of Bagnoles, but it's hard to believe it here, surrounded as you are by lush gardens of sequoia and oak trees leading right into the Andaines forest. The house is an Anglo-Norman villa, and upright late-19thC building, partly timbered and cheerful looking with window boxes of flowers. And there are no unpleasant surprises in store. Appropriately chosen antiques and period furniture complement the woodwork and traditional decoration. Overlooking the grounds, the bedrooms are pretty, airy and furnished with upholstered Empire-style pieces and toile-de-jouy or floral fabrics.
  Yvette and Daniel Mariette are just as concerned for their guests' peace of mind as their comfort. The gardens, a haven for wildlife, are dotted with daybeds so you can relax in the sun or shade. Thermal baths and other sybaritic health treatments are also available. For the more energetic, there's horse riding, golf and mountain biking locally, and the Mariettes run mushroom hunting weekends between late September and late October (phone for details).
  Dishes from the well-regarded kitchen, such as cervelat sausages of scorpion fish and sea bass with saffron, combine flavours of the region with exotic spices. After dinner you could try your luck at the casino.