Sleeps up to 18 (12/14 adults + 4 children/teenagers)
Just across the Channel, Le Verger is a lovingly restored old house, wonderfully Gallic in atmosphere yet incredibly easy to get to. It is located in the Seven Valleys region of the Nord Pas de Calais, an hour from the ferry port and 40 minutes inland from the chic shops of Le Touquet.
The house is an old, white stone, former chapel and presbytery, dating from the 14th century, with a newer, 19th century stable block attached, which has been converted into an enormous farmhouse kitchen and covered terrace. Just as well, as the amount of fabulous poissoneries, boulangeries, fromageries and vegetable markets in the area will inspire you to cook throughout your stay!
In parts, the walls of the house are over a metre thick, which means it’s beautifully cool in summer, warm in winter. Light a fire in the large cheminee fireplace – it’s the perfect place for everyone to congregate for afternoon tea and cakes or pre-dinner drinks. And on hot summer days, a large field behind the house is excellent for outdoor games, sunbathing, reading and picnic lunches. There are several terraces with tables and chairts, and hammocks can be slung between the trees.
One of the nicest things about Le Verger is its complete tranquillity and sense of privacy, even though there are lots of local activities. The coast is close (36 miles of sandy beaches), and you can go sand-yachting, windsurfing, sailing, golfing, fishing, riding, kayaking and cycling.
A rural setting on the edge of the small village of Wambercourt with a one-acre garden. The village is a safe, friendly place, and great for children. 10 minutes from the town of Hesdin, 25 minutes from Montreuil.
Airports: Etaples; Paris Charles de Gaulle
Stations: Hesdin; Arras
The house sleeps 14 in double/twin rooms, but there are various single beds and futons available, and dormitory-style arrangements as well as small double rooms tucked away in a peaceful corner of the house.
The master bedroom has a king-sized bed (plus a single bed if needed), with an ensuite shower/bathroom. Then there is another double (super king-sized) bedroom, and five twins.
There are two further bathrooms, a shower room and two loos with sinks.
The kitchen is very spacious, with a stainless steel range cooker, an enormous fridge, solid beech units and worktops, two dishwashers and a huge farmhouse table which seats 18. It opens onto a garden room, and from there onto the covered terrace.
These include linen and towels, a library of books, a ping-pong table and several bikes.
The village of Wambercourt has a bar with a pool table and Babyfoot and is not far from an “estaminet” with medieval board games, specialist beers and ciders and live folk music.
You’ll be spoilt for food shopping choice in Hesdin, Fressin, Etaples, Montreuil and Hesdin. Le Touquet is full of fashionable shops and chic little boutiques for men and women’s clothing. The factory outlet of St Killien, near Etaples, specialises in moderately-priced, stylish but casual clothes, particularly knitwear.
The owners have tried and tested contacts for imaginative local caterers (including a portable hog-roast service), musicians and efficient service staff who can help make your party a really happy and memorable occasion.
The relative isolation and peace make this a good environment for focus and concentration, helpful for business “away days” and corporate think tanks. There are plenty of opportunities for fun and team-building activities nearby.
There is no landline available but you can get a mobile phone signal in most parts of the house and wireless broadband access.
Near Montreuil, Nord-Pas de Calais and the surrounding area The Seven Valleys is one of France’s best-kept secrets. Its rolling contours and soft valleys are as attractive as parts of the Dordogne. The landscape is tailor-made for walkers and cyclists, and is becoming increasingly popular with the British.
The activities available in the area include golf, watersports, walking, cycling, fishing, horse riding and orienteering. Besides the beach and waterslide facility at Le Touquet there is also a waterslide and amusement park at Dennebroeucq, 20 minutes away. The Canche river that runs through the neighbouring valley has several centres for kayaking. For a touch of luxury, book a day at the thalassic spa in Le Touquet.
More cultural atttractions include the historic sites of Agincourt, Crecy and St Omer, gardens at The Abbe de Valloires, and visits to local “caves” which all house extensive collections of good quality regional and vintage wines.
The owners can recommend various restaurants, ranging from Aux Pecheurs d’Etaples in Etaples, an excellent and atmospheric fish restaurant run by the local fishermen’s co-operative; to Auberge d’Inxent in Inxent, reasonably priced with a great wine list, and delicious vegetables from the garden. The closest to the house is L’Auberge du Chateau in Fressin, very friendly and offering adventurous takes on French classics. There are obviously also lots of bustling cafes offering tasty cooking for smaller budgets. A steaming galette and a cup of cider in Aux Mignardises in Le Touquet, for example, after a bracing autumnal walk along the beach, is perfect!
For a special occasion, consider booking the famous Chateau de Montreuil, pricey but memorable (and with a Michelin star).