Pierrerue, Haute Provence
Idyllic. Two collies frolic on the lawn beneath a bank of sunny flowers whilst Eric and Bruno, owners of La Campagne Berne, welcome us with a tray of liqueurs served underneath dangling vines. There are views across a patchwork of fields broken by low hills topped by small, historic towns. All it needs is for a couple of hot air balloons to drift over to complete the perfect Provence scene… oh, wait a minute, there they are.
Some places you know you’re going to love from the second you arrive. La Campagne Berne is one of them. It sits on a little hillock overlooking the divine Provence countryside. The houses and gardens are pristine and yet at the same time higgledy piggledy and full of rustic knick-knacks. Hammocks hang lazily in the shade of a large tree; a couple of tables and chairs are ‘casually’ placed where they enjoy the best views and the buildings ooze French farmyard charm. In some ways it is the Provence conjured up by the words of Peter Mayle. The small hamlet of Pierrerue is nearby whilst bigger Forcalquier lies about 5 kilometres up the the road. In between is a supermarket where you can stock up on French wine. It is in the heart of ‘get away from it all’ land, but not too remote that you can’t enjoy the trappings of small scale civilization when you want. It’s perfect as a base for exploring the surrounding countryside by car or on foot.
Our room was in La Bergerie, a converted barn consisting of four south facing rooms with views that demand to be enjoyed with a glass of wine in hand. Luckily, there was a large terrace from which to do just that. The rooms are sunnily decorated with individual art and nice little local touches like vases of dried lavender. Beds are big and comfy and rooms have TV and free wifi, although the signal was so poor that the only place we could successfully connect was outside the entrance to the main house. It was a wonderfully relaxing room to return to at the end of a day of exploration. Eric and Bruno leave you to get on with things but are always on hand should you want to pick their brains about the best of what’s about locally (sights, good restaurants etc.).
The beautifully decorated restaurant is located in the lower floor of La Bergerie (animal feeding troughs are still on the walls – appropriate given its current purpose). Olive oils, books, dried flowers, farm implements and even paintings by former guests contribute to creating a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, like everywhere else at La Campagne Berne. It’s a cosy setting in which to gradually come round in the morning, serenaded by the aroma of fresh croissants and coffee. When the weather is good there’s an option to have breakfast served on the sunny lawn. In the evening Bruno puts on his chef’s hat whilst Eric acts as maître d’ to guide guests through four courses of delectable local dishes.
The facilities at La Campagne Berne are really the gardens with their little corners in which to sit simply absorbing the scenery, or to get lost in a book… if the view doesn’t prove too distracting.
For anyone after the sort of Provence you dream about – with beautiful surroundings, rustic lodgings, an excess of charm and two larger than life characters in Bruno and Eric (plus their seriously cute rough collies), La Campagne Berne delivers by the rustic shovel load.
La Campagne Berne; Pierrerue, Haute Provence; tel: +33 492 75 42 59; double rooms from around €78 per night with breakfast included.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+