Quintessential English Dream of France

The Quintessential English Dream of France


Maison de luxeBy Michael Edwards

Somewhat ironic that le Domaine de Perches, a chambre d’hôte located forty miles north-east of Toulouse airport, in a dreamy golden-wheat-sunflowers-vineyard landscape may be the quintessential English Dream of France. Ironic too, that most of us could articulate the rags-to-riches go-getting American Dream, but struggle to define an English Dream. For, post Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, almost every Waitrose-shopping Brit dreams of a “project” in Provence or Tuscany – or France’s  enlarged and re-named South West region, Occitanie. “In fact,” says Howard, “there are rather a lot of people round here from somewhere else. We may be the new Provence.”

In an alternative life, it might have been you, rather than Alain and Howard, hosting guests in this epic restoration. It could have been you serving a chilled gazpacho or a seared tuna steak to your fortunate guests who’ve decided to park the car for the night and indulge in some of Gaillac’s fine wines.


Chamber d'hote de luxeThe oatmeal-coloured, south-facing rambling house is the ultimate property porn: a crumbling wine chateau reinvented as a modern design classic. Morning sunlight flooding into the library – reflected off the light wooden floor, over the sisal matting and gleaming back from a wall of solidly bound books – which is just one of the four reception rooms that demonstrates Alain’s flair for interior design. Cushions are always plumped, vases always tastefully filled.

Domaine de Perches is a soothing sanctuary, where wage-slaves can live The Grand Designs dream for a few tranquil days –  you can almost hear Kevin McCloud purring his appreciation – with views over the valley vineyards to the Montaigne Noire. For Alain and Howard are indefatigable restoration heroes: cultured interior design visionaries with impeccable taste.Maison d'hôte de charme

“We were looking for something smaller,” says Howard, Perches was their second project in this region, “but we fell in love with this place.” He was unable to resist an understated wave that took in a four-hectare panorama of house, swimming pool, tennis court, lily pond and a vineyard that is now harvested by a neighbour. It is a vista waiting for a contemporary Monet.


Reproduced with thanks from ‘Trip Reporter’

Michael Edwards, travel writer, visited Perches in late September 2017