Our first tours this year will be in the Dordogne, and in Devon, both starting on June 11th.
The Dordogne is where we started, and is probably still my favourite. Ironically our first hotel, probably my favourite hotel of any of our tours and our strongest relationship, arose entirely by accident.
My first experience of Les Eyzies had put me off a bit, it seemed a bit of a prehistory theme park, a tourist trap, which seems strange now that it feels like home. So I’d chosen a small hotel about 3 miles out of the village. I booked 6 rooms for our first tour (May 10th, 1997) and got a faxed confirmation. Three months later, about 3 weeks before the tour was due to start, I thought I’d speak to the owner, Maxine, to make double sure. “Non, Monsieur, nous sommes complet. Desolé”.
I wasn’t too worried because my French was even worse back then and I thought she just hadn’t understood that I was the bloke who had booked 6 rooms. The reason she was full was us. So I called Stéphane, our first guide, and asked him to call Maxine and clear it up for me.
Half an hour later Steph called back to tell me they were indeed full, she denied all knowledge of her written confirmation, and we had nowhere to stay!
I went over to France the very next day to find a hotel, desperately worried that with such short notice they’d all be full. The Moulin de la Beune is hidden from a casual glance, and as soon as they said they had the rooms I just said ‘Yes’, desperate to have rooms confirmed for the first night of our first tour. What a stroke of luck.
Hundreds of you, almost thousands, have stayed at the Moulin de la Beune with us, and eaten next door at Le Vieux Moulin. I don’t know how we’d have survived those first two years without Annick Soulié and her team. For me, it’s a 2nd home, my home in France, and it’s always a special pleasure to return there. And we’ll be there again on Saturday June 11th.
Our Devon tour that week is full, but you can still join us in the Dordogne!