Down a small track a few kilometres from St-Remy is Greou, a classic blue-shuttered mas owned by the Berges family (Luc-Marie and Cathy, their three children and a dog named Lola). The setting is pastoral-perfect with irises, oleander bushes and overreaching plane trees, a large stone well, teak tables and chairs, and zingy
striped deckchairs for lazing in the afternoon sun. The swimming pool, with its new summer kitchen/dining/lounge area, is hidden behind a thick hedge, beyond which is a paddock for the Berges’ muchloved horses (guests are invited to bring their own).
Greou is part maison d’hates, part family house: the self-contained guest suites are of hotel standard, both in terms of mod cons (air conditioning, telephones, satellite TV and DVD) and decor. My room, El Cid, was immaculate, with tiled-stone floors, scarlet-and-cream bed hangings and white linen sheets, a walk-in shower with a ˜monsoon’ shower-head, a roll-top bath and Annick Goutal toiletries. The other options are the Colonial room (which has a four-poster), the Blue room (a twin) or the two-storey family suite in the converted pigeon house.
Luc-Marie, an enthusiastic cook and master of ceremonies, is friendly and informative (just make sure he pours your drink before you start asking questions) with an impressive eye for detail. The meals are simple and fresh, using local organic produce where possible; dinner many include courgette soup, foie gras and mesclun salad, followed by cheese and creme brulee.
Although the hotel standards do not always extend to the service (one evening I didn’t eat until after 10pm), there can be no doubting the warmth of the Berges welcome: some former guests have become good friends, and the ground floor of the family home is open to everyone. The Berges’ comfortable, book-lined living room is perfect for an apero in front of the fire and the dining room is filled with drawings by French artist Guy Buffet, who is Cathy’s uncle. There are plans to extend the mas this winter, converting an outbuilding into another two-bedroom suite and public spaces: perhaps by next summer, the Berges family will finally be able to reclaim their dining room.
Chemin du Loup, Eyragues (00 33 4 90 24 94 46; fax: 90 24 94 45; www.greou.com). Doubles ‚125-‚220; Pigeonnier suite (sleeps two to four) ‚150-‚300. Breakfast ‚10, lunch ‚I5-‚25, dinner ‚25-‚35. Dogs ‚20 per day. Closed three weeks in February
Dl GREOl This page, from top: owners Luc-Marie and Cathy with daughter Clara; the living room; Luc-Marie with one of his horses LIIOTKL PUiTICl L1ER Opposite, clockwise from top left: the Zuber suite which is almost entirely white; the raised bassin d’eau: the deep-red dining room; summer strawberries