Welcome to Les Paroules, our delightful home-away-from-home in the hamlet of Esparoutis, located in the heart of the Perigord Noir in the Dordogne Department, one of France’s most beautiful regions.
Dating from the 1700s, Les Paroules at Esparoutis is an ensemble of three self-contained buildings around a secluded, sunny courtyard garden with a small swimming pool, comprising the main house (La Maison, an old farmhouse and attached stone barn, constructed 1729 and 1797), a separate stone house (Le Gîte, constructed 1861) and a wooden walnut drying shed (Le Sechoir, early 20th C.). Extensive renovations were carried out between 2008–2012. We have transformed Les Paroules into a work/holiday retreat—for us, for friends and family, and for those seeking a quiet spot to hold a workshop or for a holiday surrounded by stunning scenery and interesting sites, great food and a wide variety of holiday and cultural activities.
Each of the three dwellings (with a total of 9 bedrooms) has its own character, and each comprises a living room, well-equipped kitchen and patio area. La Maison is at the centre of the property and has four large double bedrooms (each with ensuite) and a huge lounge with exposed beams and stone walls, which can act as the central hub for a group of 14+ (although we feel very comfortable on our own in this space). The Sechoir and the Gîte are both more rustic and cosy, each comfortably accommodating an individual, a couple or a small family. The dwellings can be rented separately or together (for example, for an extended family get-together or a group of friends).
Accommodates: 8, Bathrooms: 4, Bedrooms: 4, Beds: 6
La Maison (Main House and Barn) comprises four generous double bedrooms with ensuite bathroom, spacious living room, and large kitchen. The huge renovated stone barn provides the living area with stone floor, oak beams and a 6 metre cathedral ceiling. The extremely well-equipped, open-plan kitchen with fireside corner, provides an American fridge (with cold water and ice dispenser), oversize stove with rotisserie, and cooking pots and utensils. With the large oak dining table you can cater comfortably for 14+ people. Looking out over the living room is the mezzanine reading area. From the living room three large oak French doors open onto the secluded garden with the swimming pool on one side, and the gravel patio and outer garden on the other. From the gravel patio – which looks out to the field with walnut trees – you can reach the raised traditional covered balcony (called a ‘bolet’). Underfloor central heating, an open fireplace and a wood stove provide year-round comfort.
Accommodates: 7, Bathrooms: 3, Bedrooms: 3, Beds: 5
This renovated 1860’s stone house sleeps up to 7, but is very comfortable for one or two. The property is cool in summer thanks to the 70cm stone walls, with a grand fireplace and heaters in all bedrooms for colder months. It has a small tiled patio at the front and direct access to the peaceful, sunny enclosed garden and swimming pool with deck. There are 3 bedrooms (1 master bedroom, 1 triple, and 1 double room). On the ground floor there is a lounge (35sq.m.) with fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, sunny dining room, master bedroom with ensuite. Upstairs there is a triple bedroom and ensuite bathroom with full length bath. The garden level provides a double bedroom, with ensuite bathroom and toilet.
Accommodates: 4, Bathrooms: 1, Bedrooms: 2, Beds: 2
The Sechoir provides a spacious, light-filled space for an individual, couple or small family. The downstairs open-plan area provides a comfortable seating area, a dining/study area, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom with walk-in shower and toilet. French doors open onto a patio courtyard for alfresco dining or sitting out, with easy access to the main garden area and pool. There is air conditioning for summer and heating for winter. Upstairs (~40 sq.m) there are two bedrooms (or one plus study) and a landing. Both bedrooms open through French doors onto the covered balcony which runs the length of the building. Here are a small breakfast table and two hanging chairs, with views up along the Céou Valley.
If you can’t leave work behind (like us …), Les Paroules is equipped with excellent IT and audio-visual technology—wireless broadband throughout (including the garden), computer with dual 24″ and 21″ LCD screens, printer/scanner/copier, and a full HD 51″ 3D plasma TV with Apple TV, satellite, internet and recording functions in the main house. We are happy to negotiate special out of season ‘retreat’ rates for individuals or couples who need a quiet, well-equipped environment to write, paint etc. There’s quite an active cultural life in the area throughout the year (although mostly in French). We are also the venue for a small tour company specialising in art and walking tours: here.
Les Paroules is also a good place to hold small meetings and workshops for up to 16-20 people (additional accommodation is available within a five minute walk), or to work on a book or research project. The huge living room in the main house is equipped for internet and group viewing, a large work table, and plenty of chairs, while the generous well-equipped kitchen can cater comfortably for a group. There is a caterer (traiteur) and organic supermarket in the adjacent village (St Cybranet), and for a first class mechoui (spit roast lamb) cooked on your doorstep, we know where to point you. We can also recommend you a local chef for in-house catering or a local archaeologist for a personalised pre-history tour around the region. There are herbs in the garden and all the walnuts you can eat (and more) from our own walnut trees!
The three dwellings of Les Paroules at Esparoutis are built around a sunny garden surrounded by a limestone wall topped with a box hedge. Each of the dwellings has their own outdoor seating area, where you can relax reading a book, have lunch or have an aperitif at sunset (we get the last rays of sun in the valley). The property sits on an acre of land with walnut trees (good shade in summer, walnut harvest in November) and a few fruit trees. There is ample parking space for numerous cars.
There is a shared swimming pool, with umbrellas and lounge chairs, located in a secluded corner in the garden near the Gîte.
Esparoutis is a tiny hamlet of traditional stone houses—7 properties, mostly built in the 18th century—nestling in the Céou valley (the Céou river being one of the least polluted streams in the area). It’s up a lane from a minor road and easily accessible, a short walk or flat bike ride to shops (St Cybranet 1km or Castelnaud 2.5km) and 4km (not flat!) from the busy village of Cenac (wide range of services).
This section of the Dordogne River (2.5 km away) is called the Vallée des Cinq Chateaux and is probably the most beautiful part, with the postcard-perfect villages of Domme (8km), Beynac and La Roque Gageac (6km) and the castles of Castelnaud, Fayrac, Les Milandes, Lacoste and the gardens of Marqueyssac and L’Albarede all within 5km. Sarlat is 15–20 minutes away, Gourdon 25 minutes, and many major sites—Les Eyzies, Vezere Valley, cave paintings, and many more chateaux—within a half-an-hour.
We bought in the Perigord (Dordogne) for the wonderful peasant architecture, the warmth of the stone and tile roofs, the richness of the region’s culture (10% of France’s chateaux, the characteristic villages, and the birthplace of French prehistory in Les Eyzies) and food (the truffle and cepe markets of Sarlat, duck and goose products, walnuts in our backyard …), and the variety of activities (in order of altitude) from caving to canoeing and cycling to rock climbing and ballooning. Even wine is making a resurgence with the Cotes de Domme climbing back from oblivion.
It’s official! The Dordogne and the Aveyron come equal tops in Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (10 each), and four of those are between 2.5–7 Km of Esparoutis! The closest by is Castelnaud-la-Chapelle with its imposing chateau: See here (the others are Domme, Beynac and La Roque Gageac).
For those with gastronomic interests, there is an abundance of excellent restaurants to choose from within 10-20 minutes’ drive from Esparoutis.