This is one of those special little places you don’t tell your friends about. Although Hermance has more art galleries than most cities and one or two touristy shops, it retains the character of a village and has successfully fought off too many trappings of the 21st century. The auberge describes itself as ‘rustic’ and rustic it certainly is: there is not a straight line in the place. In the restaurant, wreaths of wheat and loaves of bread are mixed with wood- en ceilings and country prints in a style that would have made Laura Ashley feel at home. Even in spring, it looks autumnal, thanks to the wood fire that burns all year.
   A suite up in the eaves boasts its own fireplace and some rooms have small windows through which you can look out over chimney pots. Paintings are everywhere.
   Here you eat well (perch fillets meunière style and Kabier beef entrcôte steak are specialities) and since there is space upstairs for only three bedrooms and five small suites, you feel as though you are staying with a friend. Book early, particularly on summer weekends.