|Minimum Stay||3 nights|
We only have one gite, which can be rented with either 3 or 6 bedrooms, but only ever to one group of holiday makers. Nothing is ever shared.
The entry to the farm is through the grassed courtyard. The large kitchen/dining room (27m sq) has everything you'll need for a comfortable stay (range style gas stove, five burners, big oven, dish washer, fridge/freezer, microwave...) and a big dining table seating 12, extendable to 14. The big sitting room (42m sq) has many original features, beams, a very large fireplace, stone sink and bread oven) There's also a downstairs cloakroom. Double doors lead onto the breakfast terrace, with table, chairs and parasol, and onto the swimming pool in its private garden.
There are six double bedrooms, three with en suite shower/bathrooms, and an extra bathroom.
Maison Florence is a restored traditional mountain farmhouse in its own 50 acres of pasture and woodland, with breathtaking views of the Pyrenees and villages in the valleys below. The farmhouse may be rented with 3 bedrooms for up to 8, or with six bedrooms for up to 17. There is only one gite, so there will be no sharing of grounds or facilities.
Watch the wild boar and rare vultures or migrating geese and cranes, or enjoy the diversity of rare and colourful wild flowers on the property. The farm is peaceful and isolated, very private, yet only ten minutes from Arudy with excellent shopping, markets and all facilities. The owners live in a separate building on the property, discreet but always there should you need any help.
Christmas and New Year.: We are happy to welcome Christmas and New Year parties. Its usually a great time for skiing as well!
Spring Flowers and Birds, Wildlife.: Walking here has been described as the best in Europe. Wild flowers are exceptional (many to be found on our own property) and the area features in several specialist botany books of Europe. Migrating flocks, particularly geese and cranes, pass overhead, while kites and vultures are resident with a wide variety of forest, mountain and heathland birds. Foxes, badgers and herds of wild boars roam our woodlands and doormice, pine martens and red squirrels feast on our walnuts and chestnuts.
Artist friends find our views inspirational. Guides can be hired for half days or longer expeditions, either on foot or on horseback. River sports are popular, such as white water rafting and canoeing.
We would be delighted to help with advice and bookings.
Fishing and Biking, local events.: The rivers in the area abound with trout and salmon, and licences to fish cost only a few pounds.
The Tour de France passes through the area every year, as several of the most well known mountain passes are close by. Keen cyclists bring their bikes by plane to explore the routes, while others enjoy exploring the miles of traffic-free lanes, woodland and mountain tracks.
Pau has a well known racecourse, twinned with Cheltenham, and a major three day event in the Autumn. There are two prestigious antiques fairs each year, in the spring and autumn..
Pau will also host a stage of the World Touring Car Championship for the first time in June 2007, one of three street races in their calender.
Hi, I'm Sarah and my husband is Bill. I grew up in the New Forest, south of England, and Bill, who's Australian, grew up in Sydney. After university he became a full time sailor and has spent his life in the sport. These days he umpires events internationally, which means he spends more time at home between regattas.
I read English at Oxford, and after several years working in London, qualified as a social worker and specialised in intercountry adoption.
We have renovated many houses over the years in the New Forest, the Isle of Wight and in France, and love bringing beautiful old buildings back to life. We have two sons who live on the Isle of Wight, and once they had finished their education, we were free to follow our hearts and find more space, as the new Forest began to get too crowded!
Sarah Edgerton purchased this farmhouse in 2002
We searched for somewhere in the mountains, but uncrowded and without too many tourists. We wanted to enjoy the warm summers but also fertile, green countryside and productive gardens. When we discovered the Bearn region, it combined the magic of a 'secret' area with breathtaking scenery and views, history and traditions with uncrowded outdoor activities, fantastic restaurants and sophisticated shopping!
When we found Maison Florence, a semi derilect farmhouse with beautiful barns and its lovely but neglected land and breathtaking views in every direction, we fell in love, a 'coup de coeur', which set us up for years of hard work! We finally completed our slice of heaven a couple of years later, and now live in our converted bergerie, and let the big farmhouse with its own courtyards and gardens.
Florence is named for the family Florence who lived here for many hundreds of years. Although the history of the house is hard do trace, the big barn has a date stone over the door for 1641. The house still has many of its lovely original features, like the stone sink, huge fireplace and bread oven in the sitting room.
Over the ten years we've been here, we've been able to make gardens, plant trees and create a lovely outdoor dining area in the courtyard under the ancient walnut trees.
We love to walk every day, enjoy the amazing views of the mountains and the villages below from the tops of our two hills as well as search out the wild flowers (we have a grant for the preservation of those) in spring or the wild mushrooms in autumn.
We have also made a flourishing fruit and vegetable garden and are always happy to share the produce with our guests, with the beautiful eggs laid every day by the ducks, which the visiting children love to collect.
'what a lovely setting. Peaceful and very beautiful scenery. Sarah, you are a very good cook. Thank you for the warm welcome and hospitality' Chris,Lynn and Ben. 'P.S. I really love the dog!' (Ben aged ten )
'Great skiing, fantastic fishing. Many thanks for a wonderful holiday.' Mike, Ros, Robbie and Kirsty.
'The watercolours turned out very well, and what a great day watching the Tour de France in the mountains. Next year I'm determined to get the cycle club to come!' Katie, Fremantle, Australia.
Extras such as evening meals may be available by arrangement. There is a charge of 10 Euros a head should you require linen, towels, table linen etc., and for beds to be made up ready for your arrival. There are no other charges.
This was my third visit to Maison Florence. Although May/June is best for the flowers this year we found Monkshood and Autumn lady's tresses and many other treasures flowering in late September .
Maison Florence is perfectly situated about an hours walk (or a short ride in Sarah's landrover) through beautiful woods to the top of a ridge where one can botanise all day with only the sound of the birds and the cattle bells to accompany you. On returning to the farm house we would sit in the garden with a glass of wine (or two) checking our botanical books for what we had seen that day.
Maison Florence is great for large parties as the dining area and kitchen are large and very well equipped and there is the garden for relaxing in and enjoying the beautiful views.
All in all this is the perfect base from which to spend time botanising in the Pyrenees.
I didn't really want to write a review, I'd like to keep this hidden gem for ourselves - but if you are looking for the perfect retreat for a holiday with friends, we can all highly recommend Maison Florence.
Holidaying with a group can be tricky, trying to find somewhere that suits all, but I can guarantee that everyone will fall for the charm, character and cosiness of this beautiful mountain farmhouse, nestling high up in the Pyrenees.
The walkers enjoyed the hikes up and over the mountain tops.
The bird lovers were thrilled by the eagles and vultures that swoop around them.
The readers buried themselves in the peace and quiet, disturbed only by soft munching from Sarah's white cows.
The star gazers were dazzled by the lack of light pollution.
The gourmets feasted on hearty local dishes at the nearby restaurants.
The wine buffs delighted in sampling the region’s lesser known wines.
The cyclists were exhilarated, whizzing around the empty roads.
The animal lovers oohed and aaahed over Sarah's ducks and geese, cows and sheep.
The city dwellers marveled at the big skies, and the greenness of it all.
And we all fell in love with Ursa, a big bear of a dog.
Everyone left feeling they'd had a bloody good holiday.
So "job done", Bill and Sara, thank you for making us feel so welcome and relaxed. We look forward to seeing you again soon, for some skiing next time.
What a delightful surprise when you get to the top of the long drive and arrive at Maison Florence. You will be greeted by Ursa, the dog and several ducks not to mention the owners, Bill and Sarah Edgerton who lay on a special welcome.
The house is fabulous and really well equipped for both Summer and Winter holidays. There are stunning mountain views in all directions.
Bill and Sarah are super hosts and nothing is too much trouble.
You will find plenty to do in the area from walking, hiking, canoeing and even cycling to exploring the area, seeing vultures soaring above the mountains, visiting local towns, spectacular caves and some excellent restaurants. Le Petit Train to the lake at Artouste is a great way to see the mountains.
Maison Florence is the perfect place to get away from it all.
Stayed at Florence over 2010 xmas and 2011 new year with a party of 11. The house is a real gem, big fire loads of space and the location catches the sun all day. Ski resorts within 30 minutes and Pau is sophisticated French at its best! Sarah ans Bill are great hosts, Ursa the dog loved to sort our hooligan bearded collie out and the animals, sheep, cows and ducks finish off a great experience. Thanks sarah Bill.
Just spent a fabulous week at Maison Florence with my extended family, which accommodated all 19 of us with ease. The old farmhouse is tastefully restored and beautifully decorated. Far from any traffic, the only regular sound you hear is the occasional cow bell. We all fell in love with Ursa, the owners' dog, along with the two ducks (names escape me), who are eccentric and funny. The dirt road one uses to access the farm continues another 15 km to above treeline and is passable all the way to the top in all but a sports car. We went up there one evening to watch the sun set and my 10 year old daughter remarked that she'd never seen anything so beautiful--it ranks as one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen as well.
In addition to swimming, playing table tennis, badminton and croquet, and soaking in the peace and quiet around the house, we ventured further afield to hike, kayak, ride horses and bike. Each evening, we enjoyed dinner around the large outdoor table in the garden, cooking dinner on the barbecue on several occasions. The kitchen is well equipped for cooking for large numbers.
Can't recommend this place highly enough. I hope we can return.
Nous avons passé une très bonne semaine de vacances dans la Maison Florence (11 adultes et 5 enfants).
Sarah nous a très bien accueillis, la maison est grande, bien agencée, très bien équipée, et confortable. Le jardin est magnifique, il y a une piscine, un coin BBQ, un très grande table en bois... beaucoup de jeux sont mis à disposition (badminton, ping pong, baby foot).
Et la région est magnifique... Bref, idéal pour passer de bonnes vacances!
Arudy is in the Ossau Valley, in the heart of the beautiful Bearn region of the Pyrenees Atlantique with its unique cultural traditions of music, singing and costume. 35 min from the fashionable city of Pau (international airport, cheap flights from London) and the ski resorts of Gourette and Artouste, and Spanish resorts such as Formigal.
Maison Florence, 5 miles from Arudy, is in the National Park of the Pyrenees, soon to be registered as a World Heritage Site. At 2000ft, in the foothills of the mountains, walking and wildlife, wild flowers and bird life are considered exceptional.
Outdoor activities abound, such as hiking, cycling, river sports and fishing. Or alternatively, explore the cultural heritage of cities such as ancient Oloron with its two cathedrals and the elegant city of Pau with its famous castle, fashionable shops, night-life, famous golf curse and well known racecourses.
Other Activities: Hiking, hunting, bird watching, botanising, painting, rafting, climbing, riding, biking
Ski: Gourette, our local resort, is 35 minutes away and is very good value and rarely crowded. Following a major refurbishment it feature excellent facilities for children and beginners with two ski schools. There is wonderful off-piste skiing, and guides can be hired for the day for expeditions to wonderful mountain locations, both cross country and 'randonnee'.
There are several other resorts in the area, both French and Spanish, and our skiing parties have found enough to challenge the most sophisticated!
Foodies are well catered for with Michelin starred restaurants within easy reach, as well as excellent chefs specialising in regional dishes and local produce.