We’d never been to Arles before, a city on the Rhône River in the Provence region of southern France. It’s famed for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh, and was once a provincial capital of ancient Rome, known for many remains from that era, including Arles Amphitheatre. On our recent road trip, to south eastern France, we decided to stop off in the city and have a night’s stay. But, as so often happens when you’re booking on the go, and having to make quick decisions, what we booked was a little further out, than we had wanted. However, we were captivated by the photos online of B&B Maison d’Hôte Mas d’Emyard and the reviews, so even though it was about 5kms outside of the city, we booked it.
The road to the Chambre d’Hôte runs through very pretty countryside, with a little village just before the turn off for the B&B, with a couple of boulangeries and bars, with balconied and shuttered rustic houses. We found out that the B&B does not currently offer evening meals, so we had taken snacks enough to see us through an evening, but this village might present an option or two, if you didn’t fancy going into Arles in the evening. The B&B itself, is part of a working farm estate and so feels quite deep in the countryside. A very narrow bridge takes you over a small culvert and onto the estate – something to be aware of if you’re travelling in a wide vehicle, as our Honda CRV just about got through.
There are lots of outbuildings, which are in differing states of repair and renovation, with tractors and farm machinery. This could look awful, but because the rest of the estate is so well maintained and pretty, it just adds to its French charm. A large car-park is available, at no charge, and judging by its size, I guess this place an get quite busy in high season, but as we were there early mid-September, it was pretty much empty. In fact, even though the weather was still lovely and warm, there was definitely an end-of-season feel. However, we weren’t the only guests, the grounds are lovely to walk around, we had wine and we had a beautiful sunset.
Our room was exactly what you’d expect from a French B&B – rustic, vintage style furniture, chalk paint, and lots of prettiness. The en-suite bathroom was small but perfectly equipped with a powerful walk-in shower and a stone basin. Perhaps the highlight of this room, was the arched windows with views across the terrace to the fields beyond.
Breakfast was a very French affair, which could be taken outdoors on the terrace or indoors, in the large dining/living room with an open kitchen, French doors, very squishy looking sofas and an elegant wood burner. Even though we stayed in September, it was definitely warm enough to eat outdoors, but it was that time of year when the wasps were on thir last look out for sweet treats on a table, so we did retreat indoors. A small buffet selection was available – French bread, croissants, jams and coffee, but also by request, you could have ham, scrambled eggs and cheese, at no additional cost.
Before we left, we investigated the grounds a little more. Away from the B&B, and the main house (where the owners live), is a fenced off swimming pool and sun loungers, set in the middle of a lawn, surrounded by weeping willow trees. Again, we were there right at the end of the season, and although the pool was still open the morning air was just a bit too chilly to even think about taking a dip. However, in the summer, this would be the perfect place for a dip.
With lots of greenery, including very tall. bamboos and weeping willows, the gardens very private. The actual B&B is a renovated stone property, set away from the main house, with a large sun terrace, and with only five or six rooms, it has a very private feel – even when fully booked I can’t imagine you’d feel you were sharing the space with lots of people. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, and although it’s unlikely we’ll ever revisit, it’s somewhere, in the French countryside, that we will remember.