Meet The Owners – Le Mas and Le Mazet
Situated between the medieval towns of Monpazier and Beaumont du Périgord and only 40 minutes from Bergerac Airport is Le Mas, a gorgeous 16th century farmhouse, and its pretty neighbouring cottage, Le Mazet. Owners Rupert and Franck told us all about the houses, the area and how they came to live in this beautiful corner of France.
FA: Have you always lived and worked where you’re based now?
We moved to the Dordogne from Amsterdam just over two years ago, swapping careers in the bustling city for being our own bosses in this tranquil rural setting.
Franck was a theatre producer, firstly for Cirque de Soleil in Europe and then for musicals and concerts in the Netherlands; I had had my own antique shop on the Prinsengracht for five years, after which I became the head of fundraising for a Dutch breast cancer charity. Running a holiday home might seem quite different to our previous work, but it still incorporates what we did before – creating a product/event, marketing, client liaison, budgeting etc.
FA: How did you end up running your business?
We were on holiday in the Dordogne and were surprised to discover that if we sold up in Amsterdam and emptied our bank accounts, we would be able to buy a property that could be a home and generate income from renting out part of it. It seemed like the obvious choice for us to sell up and move here.
We spent two years trying to find the right property, eight months renovating and converting it and have now been open for two years. It’s been enormous fun doing it – we’ve been helped by great people along the way and really enjoy sharing this place with our guests.
FA: Tell us a bit about the country pursuits that are on offer either through you or through providers in the immediate area.
The Dordogne has stunning countryside, which can be experienced in myriad ways: you can canoe down the Dordogne river between walls of rock with chateaus towering above you and villages dotted along the banks; see it all from the air in a hot air balloon, or on the ground by horse. There’s great rock climbing nearby and caves to explore, adorned with prehistoric paintings or crystals and stalagmites.
The countryside also provides culinary delights that have made the region famous: truffles, cèpe and girolle mushrooms, foie gras and delicious wines from Bergerac. You can go truffle hunting and mushroom foraging, wine tasting, or to markets where local producers sell our wonderful produce.
FA: What’s your favourite walk and are you a dog friendly place to stay?
There is a brilliant 4km circular walk from our property, first stopping at the church of St. Christoph. Its 12th century murals were whitewashed during the Revolution and only rediscovered last century. On the ceiling, a huge sun and moon are depicted with human faces and on one wall there is a lady sitting on a lion (depicting lust!) next to sinners entering hell through the mouth of a monster (his red tongue being the original red carpet). You then go on through a wood to the Château de Montferrand, which has beautiful views over the valley, down through the pretty village with its honey-coloured stone and old marketplace, back through the woods and on home.
We don’t accommodate pets but our own black lab, Plum, is always happy to show guests where to walk or to go swimming in the river!
FA: Do you have a favourite pub / bar or restaurant nearby?
Monpazier, built by Edward I of England, has a beautiful market square where you can sit and enjoy a coffee or smoothie at Ecureuil Café or some local wine at one of the bars.
We love eating on one of two village squares with UNESCO Abbeys, both a short drive away. Cadouin offers the best pizza at Cathy & Paolo and at St. Avit Senieur, wonderful French cuisine at the Table de Lèo.
FA: If you’re looking for a bit of culture, where do you head to?
There are pockets of culture around here but to be honest the Dordogne is more about embracing nature, tranquility, history, its cuisine and its wine. If we want to to immerse ourselves in a busy city again, we jump in the car and go for the day to Bordeaux or Toulouse.
FA: What’s the best thing about running your business?
Having complete freedom to channel our time, passion, creativity and hospitality into a product which people love. We’ve been awarded 5 stars and have been featured in national newspapers and magazines, but nothing beats guests telling us with a straight face that they’re not going to recommend us to anyone as they’re worried we’ll get too booked up! Even though we’ve only been open for two years, 35% of our guests this year are returning for a second or third time. That’s the very best thing about running Le Mas & Le Mazet.