L'Etoile Guesthouse in Lozere (France)

Our visit to Philippe's Guesthouse

Notre visite à la Maison d'hôtes de Philippe我们参观菲利普宾馆Наш визит в гостевой дом Филиппа
Philippe's Guesthouse

Guests tablePhilippe came out to the parking lot to welcome us and helped carry our luggage to the guest house. He settled us into our rooms and then insisted on treating us to a delicious dinner.

We had been told that Philippe was “very tall,” and they were not exaggerating! The good news is that he has charm and a graceful manner that matches his imposing stature.

Bouchet Saint Nicolas LakePhilippe is an interesting man, very witty and always in a good mood. As innkeepers ourselves, Judy and I were amazed to see how he managed to stay cheerful all the time. When we finally realized that he was serious in his organization at L’Etoile.

He bustles about the five-level guest house, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets, washing laundry, hanging it on the clothesline to dry, and ironing pillowcases!

And all the while, he sings, whistles, smiles, and seems delighted to see the next wave of guests arriving in the afternoon. Somehow, he even manages to bake fresh bread every day, prepare a delicious homemade soup for each evening’s dinner, and plan and prepare an incredible multi-course evening meal designed for the hungry hikers and cyclists who frequent his guest house.

Our stay with Philippe was just as warm and welcoming. He is unpretentious, gracious, and gentle, and above all, concerned that each guest is treated as his only guest. We were about 15 at the table throughout our stay. Naturally, we lent a hand to clear and finish the dishes in his beautiful kitchen overlooking the garden.

In the garden of L'Etoile Guest-houseLanguage is not a barrier once the food starts to arrive. We were among Belgians and French, speaking Flemish, French, and a few words of English, but we managed to laugh, converse, and enjoy an uncommon camaraderie in American culture. At least we were able to learn the names of our table companions each evening, and with those who were willing to try a conversation in English, we were able to learn a lot about their families, jobs, and lives.

I have always been ashamed of not speaking a foreign language, and never more so than when I learned that these Belgians had learned English by watching Sesame Street on television!

Jack and Lisette were an interesting couple who spoke a little English but were very shy and quiet. They come to Philippe’s every year and spend a week in the tranquility of L’Etoile. One day, Philippe suggested we go to Puy en Velay with him to buy provisions. We enthusiastically accepted his offer, and he then told us that Jack and Lisette would also come. We were thrilled at the opportunity to get to know them better.

Pradelles in Haute-LoireSo, the morning arrived, and we all rushed to help Philippe clean and prepare the evening meal so that we could be gone until late in the day. Around 10 o’clock, we all got into the van and started our shopping trip to the city. After what seemed like a short while, Philippe stopped in a medieval village called Pradelles. We stepped out onto cobblestones amidst perfectly maintained ancient stone houses arranged along impeccably clean streets.

It always struck us that there must be no litter in France because the villages were so tidy and clean. We never saw any trash, graffiti, or signs of disrespect or economic hardship.

At Loubaresse, sitting on the outdoor veranda overlooking the valley, we felt like we could see the other end of the world. Birds sang and flitted from tree to tree, cows grazed peacefully on the hill across from us, a cat basked in the sun on a back patio just below our view, and the food was too delicious to be adequately described.

Lunch on the terrasse of the restaurant in Loubaresse (Ardeche)Philippe refrained from drinking wine so that he could safely drive us back home on those narrow roads, allowing us to enjoy the afternoon eating and drinking as we pleased. We met a German couple at the neighboring table. They had retired to a small village down the Loubaresse valley and felt fully integrated into their French surroundings. It’s a 12th-century village that has been restored and is well-maintained.

We headed to the Monastère Notre Dame des Neiges, which is 3 km from La Bastide Puylaurent, and visited the impressive wine cellars with their massive barrels. It was the last stop of our tour for that day.

“Grandma, I just want to go back to Philippe’s, wake up in the morning, and eat bread!” These words were spoken by my 12-year-old grandson shortly after our return from a perfect vacation in France. We spent all our time at L’Etoile with our dear friend Philippe Papadimitriou. Naturally, I was a bit apprehensive about embarking on a journey to an unfamiliar place in the rural depths of France with my good friend and fellow innkeeper, Judy Jacobs, and my 12-year-old grandson, Tyler.

I had planned to spend the entire two weeks in one place. I didn’t personally know Philippe, although we had exchanged emails for over a year and a half. My friends and family thought I was taking a big risk by organizing an innkeeper exchange with this man I didn’t know at all. Originally, I had planned to fly from Oregon to Paris and take the train to La Bastide, but others persuaded me to rent a car for an escape route if needed. In the end, it wouldn’t have been necessary.

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L'Etoile Guest-House between Cevennes, Ardeche and Lozere in the South of France

Old romantic Hotel, L'Etoile Guest-House is a mountain retreat in the South of France. With a beautiful park along the Allier River, L'Etoile Guesthouse is located in La Bastide-Puylaurent between Lozere, Ardeche and Cevennes. Many hiking trails like GR®7, GR®70 Stevenson trail, GR®72, GR®700 Regordane way, Cevenol, GR®470 Allier river, Margeride. Many hiking loops. The right place to relax.