Entering the estate past the beautiful Château du Gué-Péan and the Equestrian Centre, which marks the beginning of the private driveway that leads firstly to the residence of David and Stephanie, along with their other rental property and eventually, after approximately a further kilometre, onto Le Gîte des Orfueilles.
Set in an extremely picturesque and completely undisturbed pocket of forest-lined countryside in the Loire Valley, Le Gîte des Orfueilles is the perfect retreat for a family looking for proper quality time together. Split across 2 tastefully renovated builings, complete with masses of original timberwork and connected by a gravel driveway. The properties benefit from a paved pool area with a decent-sized and very clean Swimming Pool, which is lined and covered to retain the heat. The pool is protected by an electronic alarm system, to ensure the safety of kids who may slip from your view. A good number of strong hardwood Sun Loungers fringe the pool, along with a couple of larger beds. Removable cushions provide additional comfort and pool towels are supplied to protect these cushions in daily use. There is also a large pagoda, which has a mesh top, providing some shade from the intense sun that pounds the area during the Summer months. Beyond this, there is an extremely large area of grass, which eventually leads into the Woods, where it is possible to go off in any one of several directions either on foot or by Bike if you fancy an adventure.
Though not really a negative, the grass cannot really be described as 'lawn', however, because it is quite coarse and deep, even though it is well kempt. It did provide a good 'arena' upon which we enjoyed playing Frisbee and sometimes the water fights extended this far! We brought Kites with us, but there was no hope of flying these. Despite the vast space, the surrounding tree's meant that there was no wind at all.
The main house is entered via a very large and well-appointed Kitchen. Massive structural timbers span the large ceiling and there are many units filled with almost every cooking utensil you'd ever need. Pots and pans of various sizes, an abundance of cutlery, glasses and crockery. though there are no large glasses or tumblers capable of holding a decent sized soft-drink, something we consider important in the high heat. There is an Oven, Induction Hob, Freezer, a large Fridge and, significantly, a decent Dishwasher. There may be some items such as sugar/oils etc. left in the cupboards, which accumulate from previous guests. We were happy to use the things that we considered hygienic on the basis that we left behind some stuff for the next inhabitants when our stay was over.
There is a large dining table capable of seating at least a dozen people very comfortably and a large sideboard containing a few books/games etc. The only downstairs toilet is located just off the Kitchen but, oddly, doesn't have a basin!
A doorway leads to the Lounge, which is comfortable with various seats/sofas, a large coffee table and a massive open fire, of course this wouldn't be used during our stay, in fact we only sat in the living room once. There are a good few leaflets about the various local attractions, so if you're stuck for ideas, you'll get some inspiration from these. You'll need to be ready for some proper 'family time', the availability of useful TV is minimal, there isn't really any connectivity (other than SCART) and there is certainly no phone line, meaning no Internet or Wi-Fi. We found that mobile service was possible, but minimal. You'll be able to find a way to get a text message out, but that's about it. A couple of us had made provision within our UK mobile plans for some data allowance to keep an eye on emails etc., but even that was next-to-useless as the coverage simply wasn't there.
From a large staircase accessed via the Kitchen, the upstairs bedrooms can be found. The first is a large double bedroom with it's own bathroom. A 'Juliet' balcony provides a refreshing coolness overnight, we left the large window open all the time we were there. Walking along the landing, you find the 2nd of the double bedrooms, which is similar to the first though without the large window, instead a pair of large 'Velux' windows offer a similar benefit. A door leads to a large bathroom, though this one is shared by the 3rd bedroom, which is a twin configuration. Both of these rooms have individual access to the shared bathroom, that can be locked from both sides enabling privacy in all directions. The 3rd bedroom and the bathroom both benefit from Juliet balconies All 3 rooms have storage in the form of simple wardrobes and drawers.
Across the way, you'll find the Barn, a large, single-story high-ceiling building packed with character. Massive timbers weave across the room above your head and are decorated with skulls/antlers gathered from successful hunting trips. The living area is large and open-plan with a very industrial looking Wood Burner, various sofa's and, of all things, a Table-tennis table. There is a Utility Room, equipped with a Washing Machine, Tumble Drier an Iron/Board and a few garden toys.
Doorways lead to the two bedrooms, one of which was a double, the other a 'kids' bedroom, equipped with twin beds and a bunk bed. Similarly to the bedrooms in the main house, these 2 rooms shared a bathroom, again with independant and private access. In our family, it was nice for the kids to be able to stay in the barn with their parents, meaning that the rest of us could enjoy a lay-in in the morning!
My Wife and I stayed in the first bedroom in the main house and greatly enjoyed our time at Le Gîte des Orfueilles with our family. We felt safe and secure, though quite detached from the outside world. This had it advantages, though it's wise to be prepared for it. At night the exposed timbers move around as they expand and contract with the changing temperature, the creaking/noises can be a little un-nerving, but I guess this is to be expected in a place like this. Despite a couple of members of our family being a little concerned about the 'bumps in the night', we never encountered anything that alarmed us. However, there is one particular floorboard at the top of the stairs that makes it virtually impossible to move around in the night without waking everyone.
Being able to all do our own thing made for an extremely relaxing time, various walks/cycle rides were possible, whether you simply wanted a change from sitting by the pool, or if you wanted to keep yourself fit. We would often cycle down into the village, greeting the horses in the surrounding fields as we passed. There is a beautiful park with a fishing lake, several little bridges and a kids play area. There is also a lovely little 'Pub' on the far side. The round trip amounted to about 4 miles, so not too challenging, though the hills on the way back certainly raised pulses.
For us, this was our first time staying in a Gîte. There were parts of the experience that could be improved upon, but generally we greatly enjoyed our time and would highly recommend Gite des Orfeuilles to anyone.
As a side-note, Stephanie recommended a restaurant called L'Adagio in neighbouring Mont Richard, about 15 minutes drive away. We visited this one evening towards the end of our stay and had an exceptional meal. Look out for a review of this when I get the time to write it.
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We stayed in the gite for a week this September. The gite and associated building will accommodate 12 people, comfortably. It is very secluded with ample space to hike and explore the 1400+ acres. There is a private swimming pool as well as ping pong table and fooz ball. The kitchen is quite large and well appointed. There is a nice fire place and you have access to satellite TV but no internet.
The hosts are delightful and very helpful. They had us over for apertifs one day and are genuinely interested in their guests and want to make the stay memorable.
The gite is located very close to Gue Pean chateau and is within an hours drive from all the main towns and chateaus of the area. There are a couple of bigger villages with supermarkets/ gas stations within 15-20 min drive and towns within an hour or so.
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