Lot Sous Toile
Europe France Midi-pyrénées Lot
Backed into a blanket of native woodland at the top of a long, gently sloping meadow, the trio of safari tents at Lot Sous Toile have quite the view. Sweeping fields with green-blonde grass give way to the forested valley beyond. It’s at nighttime, however, that the view really comes into its own. Here, in the truly rural, single-lane-road reaches of France, the stars dazzle. With no street lighting for miles and no glowing metropolis on the horizon, this part of the Lot department has some of the purest dark skies in western Europe. The neighbouring village of Escalmels even has its own observatory.
It’s these wild views and the slow, rural pace of life, that attracted British owners Amy and Garry to move here permanently in 2016 - having had the property in the family for 18 years previously, crafting not only their own smallholding and home but also opening the place up to glampers. The three, well spread out, safari tents can each accommodate up to six people, with a four-poster master bedroom, bunk beds and a quirky ‘cabin bed’ tucked away inside the wall, while the land around the glampsite is also home to a small flock of sheep and chickens. It all makes up a pleasant picture of rural, easy-going France. Garry, who had a high-pressure, corporate job in England, now cuts the grass on a little, red, Yanmar tractor.
Facilities-wise, the safari tents are kitted out with everything you need. Bedding and linen is all provided (beds are dressed and ready for your arrival), while the kitchen and living space has a gas hob, a fridge, a sink and dining furniture for up to six people. Each tent has its own ensuite bathroom with a glorious rainfall shower and it’s just a short walk across the meadow to the farm’s heated swimming pool. The mix of pearly new tiles and local natural stone slabs around the water are juxtaposed against the ancient stone walls of the farm courtyard, where moss blotches the roof tiles. It’s a beautiful place to relax, with a ping-pong table, swing ball, table football, badminton net and rackets and a pétanque space you can use.
While swings in the trees and hammocks in the woods facilitate relaxing in the grounds of the old stone farm house for hours, there is plenty to do nearby. The best way to enjoy the countryside (and practically car-free roads) is to bring or rent bikes and cycle around the old local villages or to the tiny town of Gourdon, about 30 minutes away, Gigouzac is only 4km away and is a very small pretty stone village. It’s an hours cycle or 15 minute drive to Catus, too, where a lake – Le Lac Vert – is great for a refreshing swim. Not that every attraction need be rural though: Cahors, entrapped within a huge meander in the River Lot, is a fabulous medieval town to explore, with narrow streets of half-timbered buildings and a famously large number of municipal gardens. The old, turreted bridge there – the Pont Valentré – is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are stretches of the river with swimming access. It takes almost two hours to cycle there but it’s 25 minutes by car.
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