In deep countryside, the Domaine de Rennebourg is a mother-and-daughter enterprise born, like so many others, out of a desire to escape the extinction by a thousand divisions that Napoleonic inheritance laws visit on family estates. And what a success it has been. The long stone house forms one side of the classic large grassed courtyard so characteristic of the yeoman farms of the region, and beyond it is a garden big enough to lose yourself in. The rooms inside are freshly painted and are welcoming as Michèle and Florence Frappier themselves. Utterly in keeping with the architecture, they are lifted way above the ordinary innumerable little flashes of inspiration.

Inside one of the outbuildings that form a second side of the yard, like a cross between a waxworks and a section of the Victoria & Albert Museum, is Florence's astonishing collection of dresses, accessories and assorted fripperies from the nineteenth century. Another houses a wet weather games centre for children. You'd think there would have to be a catch somewhere, But Michèle's kitchen effortlessly produces food that is inventive, plentiful and very good value. 

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