We stayed at Ben and Gill’s vineyard gite for a week in late July 2017 as a party of five with three older teenage girls. We have holidayed in a fair few gites in France over the years and we would say without hesitation that Ben and Gill’s wins over all of the others both in terms of the facilities offered and how comfortable we were made to feel.
The house itself has a real country farmhouse feel and the renovations have been thoughtfully completed so that the place feels warm, clean, nicely lit and is tastefully decorated and furnished. The result is a property that feels very spacious (even if you are a bit untidy, as we are) and offers many different places to relax. With five occupants, it’s possible to find your own space in the living room (whose doors open for a cool breeze onto the garden), the large kitchen, shady garden, sunny lawn and pool area. Equally, there is enough room in each of these spaces for everyone comfortably to eat, drink, play catch or swim. I think there is quite a lot of bats-and-ball stuff that we didn’t use, as we were happy with our tennis ball. Gill and Ben gave us four bikes and offered to rustle up a fifth if we all wanted to take a trip out together.
Specifically, the pool is pristine and offers a shaded area as well as lots of recliners around the pool. The ping-pong table was a hit as was the lawn for improving our ball skills. The plums from the garden made a lovely pie. The barbeque is spotless and Ben took the trouble to coach our girls in the use of the gas burner.
We do a lot of cooking and one usually expects to have to improvise when you go away, as most places have a few things missing that you would have at home, but here there is just about anything you would find at home and in abundance.
Gill and Ben are the most natural of hosts. Everything feels personal. Gill knew that we would be going to the supermarket en route, so decided to complement our shopping with some fresh bread and cheese and some of the Garagiste wine from their own vineyard – the perfect choice. (Ben also later gave us a freshly bottled rosé – quite delicious.) Wherever you look in the house there are signs of thoughtfulness: there is a whole rack of spices and ingredients to make dressings with; there is shampoo, shower gel and loo roll in every bathroom in case you forget to buy any or take something with you; there are dishwasher tablets and washing powder by the machine; and milk and tea till you can get to the shops; loads of books, videos and box sets of all different kinds (and I’m really picky about books) if it rains. Gill even offered our girls robes to keep warm round the pool one time when they’d left their towels in the house!
We asked Ben to show us round the vineyard, which was a real pleasure. We asked lots of daft questions and got lots of sensible answers, as you might expect. We recommend you do the same.
Although you need a car to make the most of the area, we like walking and very much enjoyed wandering the lanes nearby, popping into Berson for odd provisions (though do check the opening times) and chatting to the neighbours. We had planned to do quite a lot in the surrounding area, but mostly we just relaxed around the house and garden, as it was a nice place to be. One evening we joined Ben and Gill in the Bar du Sport in Blaye for a very pleasant hour, during which Ben and some friends play songs and we soaked up the atmosphere and that was in fact the only evening we went out at all!
Before booking our holiday, like most people, we read the reviews and couldn’t find a single negative comment among them – having now stayed, that does not surprise us, as I cannot think of a single thing Ben and Gill might have done differently and improved our experience.