La Pierre Mitoyenne is La Grange (the barn conversion) and La Pierre Creusoise (the old farmhouse). Both houses can be combined as one via a through door, which is locked when each is rented separately. They are set amidst stunningly unspoilt countryside, and are very quiet at night. Some years ago, the barn was entirely converted to modern standards, and is today sparklingly clean, smooth-plastered accommodation.
The farmhouse is much more traditional. It has oak everywhere, on the floors, the ceilings, the wardrobes and the stairs. In summer, it is very dark and very cool. The kitchen has been modernised, and gives out directly on the garden whilst three bedrooms are intimate and old-fashioned.
The double bed in the master bedroom is a traditional French design, featuring oak headboards at each end, whilst the beds in all the other rooms are divans.
One bedroom is the master, and it is spacious light and airy. Another is in the attic, roomy and comfortable. Next to the shower room is a small twin bedroom, ideal for children or older travellers.
Modern shower rooms upstairs serve the three comfortable low-ceilinged bedrooms of the barn, and the attic, twin and double bedroom of the farmhouse, again successfully combining the old with the new.
Two kitchens are fully equipped with fridges, cookers, dishwashers, and all the pots, pans, knives, forks etc. you could possibly need, as well as a variety of kitchen equipment including coffee makers, and even an electric oyster opener. Cooking is by gas, and there is always at least one spare full bottle to ensure your holiday is not interrupted. In the barn between the two houses, you find a table tennis, bats and balls and bicycles. Here too is the washing machine and the electric drier
The enormous walled garden features fruit trees, barbeque, shaded terrace and a big outdoor swiming pool. There are ample chairs and two tables, meaning you can cater with ease for the largest parties of 12.
To sit outside the house contemplating the pool and the garden is a special pleasure... As the evening grows dark, switch on the lights around the pool to see the garden lit in silhouette. On a peaceful summer evening, what could be more relaxing than to sip a glass of locally-bought wine whilst listening to the lapping of the water in the swimming pool and the call of the birds soaring in the sky above? (That's after the children are in bed of course.)
Set high up amongst the peaceful forests, fields and lakes of the Creuse river valley, this spacious and comfortable property enjoys a lovely outlook over the falling valley sides behind. The property's garden is spacious enough to mean there is no need ever to leave it for swimming, relaxation, conversation and games.
But if you want to travel, throughout the year, roads are traffic-free, people are friendly and welcoming. In summer, the sun is hot but not oppressive. Good-value local restaurants and aubergines feature both country and French cuisine. They complement the many local markets' produce.
The garden features a large swimming pool, 10x8 metres. There's a brick built barbecue, table tennis, outdoor tables chairs in teak, deck chairs and plenty of space. The garage features a washing machine and another fridge if needed (total three for both houses).
The barn has been converted to a very high standard. It includes modern oak flooring, double insulated walls, exposed beams and a huge kitchen/diner area, well-equipped with single cooker, wood-burning fire, large fridge/freezer, dishwasher and comfortable sofa round the fire. Upstairs, the accommodation includes two spacious double bedrooms, a twin bedroom and a lounge for relaxing. Huge antique wardrobes to each bedroom, and a beautiful oak staircase to access them. Electric radiators in all upper rooms, wood heating downstairs.
The surrounding countryside is perfect for walking, cycling or driving. There is hardly any traffic, and the general impression is of a country where there are fewer cars than Britain in 1950. You don't have to go out, for you can stay all day in the garden, but if you do, there are many sights, tourist attractions, country markets in the local area.
We live in north west London, but have taken virtually all our holidays in France for the last 30 years. We've often used France as a jumping off point for Italy, Spain and Switzerland tours. And as frequently as possible, we've used my trusty old tourer, a 1954 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine, to take us there.
Though we, like it, are getting a bit long in the tooth these days, we've no intention of slowing down. When we stay in the house, we will walk to the village for shopping, and go cycling - but it has to be said, not nearly enough to please the medicos. But we enjoy it.
Our family and friends love the house, and we are jammed with visitors every summer. Despite this, the joy of being able to eat al fresco without fear of the Bill (n either sense, restaurant or the police for drink driving) is just great.
I'm a retired lecturer but I still do a great deal of private tuition in the human sciences, Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology; as much work as anyone will give me in fact.
We have family in Australia, and we're going there in February. a great place to visit, but a hard 24 hour flight.
But both in Aus and France, I miss English pleasures. These, I am afraid are entirely predictable in someone my age - real ale, steam trains and classic cars. Though in nearby St Martial, they do hold old car rallies...
When I was teaching in Further Education, the French house kept me sane. It was a bolt hole, somewhere I could just unwind after the increasingly intolerable pressures teachers now face. I'm not asking special treatment, however, for I know many of my colleagues faced far rougher lives than I had.
So I'm really glad we bought the house. And it's now looking increasingly as if three generations of our family will be able to enjoy its wonderful atmosphere and location, as our granddaughters turn (terrifyingly) into young women
We originally bought a small on up one down in a lovely village in the Midi called Collobrieres. As the popularity of the village grew, it was obvious the house was too small for us. As well, the summers at that time were intensely hot, as hot in mid-France as the south (almost) and we suffered in the heat, especially as the beaches were packed liked sardines.
One day, driving south on 'les petites routes' in my tourer, we stopped overnight with friends in the Limousin. I have to admit, the first thing that attracted me was the possibility of driving at high speed in an ancient vehicle around the empty roads, a possibility that remains today. (Though naturally, I have cooled down a little). But the verdant countryside sparkled in the heat.... the clean freshwater lakes beckoned, and we were hooked. The dry, almost desert-like foliage of the south, with its umbrella pines, appeared dead and hostile in comparison.
We phone an estate agent who showed us a series of houses. The first was utterly magnificent, a big confident country mansion with a tiny price tag. But the reason for this was its location; and its condition. It would have needed a full renovation, and it was on a main road, so on we looked.
Another house was a near-complete renovation...by a Parisian. This meant all the oak floors and partition walls had been ripped out, and replaced by concrete (the French do this at the drop of a hat). Utterly shorn of its character and interest, nonetheless it had one point of enormous interest - a massive wine cellar included in the price. But we still refused....
Eventually, the estate agent's hairy driving led us to La Feyte, then only the old farmhouse. And we bought it, hook, line and sinker, in every sense of the word. Its walled garden spoke peace and tranquillity, and its ancient trees a sense of history. It has never let us down, even when we added the barn and pool some ten years ago. We lost the fine orchard but we gained pleasure and comfort
Two kitchens mean you need never worry about utensils, catering for visitors
What are your tastes? In the Creuse, you won't be short of things to do. If you like good food, there are too many restaurants to name. Despite what you may have heard, the Limousin remains an area in which the solid values of French country cooking are still upheld. Like everywhere else these days, there are pizza restaurants and McDonalds; but the majority by far adhere to one maxim: freshly cooked food at cheap prices. And they are still to be found in small villages, like The Alchemist in St Sulpice itself.
There are so many lakes and rivers as well that it is difficult to know where to begin. You can take the small canoes to nearby Aubusson on the River Creuse, and/or hire from the local club (you will need to bring a rack. Please replace carefully.).
There are many beautiful churches, walks in the countryside etc. Concerts and recitals etc often performed in the churches. Many town fairs, markets during the summer, including the festival of world music in early August in nearby Felletin. And don't miss the Friday market here too.
The local town of Aubusson was once an ancient tapestry manufacturing town which supplied Henry VIII's palaces such as Hampton Court. It still makes and sells hand- and machine-made original tapestries to modern and traditional designs, but finding genuine locally made examples these days is rare. But the town is well worth a visit for its small local shops, and restaurants.
Visits the château in Chenerailles, or go cycling around the peaceful narrow roads.
Further afield, the Lac de Vassiviere is an inland resort, with ferry/restaurants and beaches etc. About an hour's drive due south from St Sulpice.
The tourist office in Ahun gives full details of all local activities throughout the year