L'Etoile Guest house

An unforgettable stay at L’Etoile

Un séjour inoubliable à L’Etoile在 L’Etoile 度过难忘的时光Незабываемый отдых в Л’Этуаль
Un séjour inoubliable à L’Etoile

During my TGV journey from Brussels to Nîmes via Lyon, the landscape gradually transforms towards the Mediterranean. Shortly after Valence, I spot the first cypress tree! The journey continues from Nîmes northwards to La Bastide Puylaurent in Lozère, at the crossroads of the GR®70 Stevenson Trail, GR®7, GR®72, GR®700 Voie Régordane or Chemin de Saint Gilles, the Cévenol and the Gorges de l'Allier trail. The journey, made in an ultra-modern train with panoramic windows, offers splendid views of the landscapes of the Cévennes. A documentary could not have better captured these scenes.

Margit, Billy and Philippe at L'Etoile Guesthouse in LozereUpon my arrival at L'Etoile, I am greeted by the owner, Philippe Papadimitriou, and his dog Billy. Philippe, European by his origins and convictions, globetrotter, is a tall man of almost two meters high. With his blue eyes and mischievous look, he immediately gives me the impression of being welcome, as if he had been waiting for me especially. (Truce of illusion: he gives this impression to all those who arrive!)

Billy, le chien de L'EtoileThe guest house, formerly the Parc hotel or Ranc hotel, is spacious and bright. At the front, a large veranda and at the back, a balcony offering a very beautiful view of the garden bordering the Allier. In the large living room, where meals are served at the guest table, there is also a piano. Philippe sits there in the afternoon to play his improvisations. But the centerpiece is the huge fireplace, which I appreciate very much in this season.

And then there is Billy, a mix of Labrador and Golden Retriever, or, as Philippe claims, a new breed of "gîte dog". Billy is an integral part of the guest house concept (always according to his master). Billy welcomes new arrivals according to his own criteria: some cordially, others leave him perfectly indifferent. I think he knows what he's doing.

Billy occupies the strategic points of the guest house: either in front of the desk (with a view of the corridor, the entrance door and the living room), or in the corridor just in front of the kitchen (everyone will understand), or in front of or under the fireplace. In addition, he likes to take his ease in a wicker armchair in front of the fire.

The technique is on point: first, he puts his muzzle on the seat, then his front paws, one last effort and the rear train follows (we're not that young anymore). Once all four paws are in the armchair, he makes a slight rotation to the right, passes his front paws through the side bars and finally delicately places his head on the armrest: phew, that's it! At this stage, you can push and turn Billy in his armchair, photograph him, he won't move anytime soon.

La cheminéeBetween Billy and me, it's love at first sight, reciprocal! As soon as I settle somewhere, and I admit, most of the time near the fireplace, Billy comes to lie down at my feet, his head on his front paws, and with a big sigh of well-being. On this, I scratch him behind the ear telling him that he is a beautiful dog, that he is even the most beautiful dog on earth.

Billy accepts my words without further comment, but I think he agrees. As a reward, so to speak, he lies on his back so that I can stroke his belly, and he ends up lying on his right side, not forgetting to let out another sigh of ease. He also likes to come and say hello to me in the morning in my room by entering through the balcony door. He makes a fuss with strong tail wags, jumps and sneezes. I declare that Billy is "my" dog for the duration of my stay, which Philippe graciously grants me.

La margeride en LozèreBilly is no longer very fond of hikes (he's not that young, as we've already mentioned), but he likes to accompany Philippe to do the shopping in his minibus. However, he still hasn't learned to fasten his seatbelt. Let's not forget that I came to France to hike. We set off for beautiful walks of three to four hours. The possibilities for hikers are immense here.

The landscape is soft and colorful, the passes, hills, valleys and slopes are covered with a carpet of greenery with infinite nuances. This makes my painter's heart vibrate. There are large bright yellow expanses formed by broom and dandelion flowers, large dark green patches in fields of tender green which, on approaching, turn out to be daffodils waiting for the sun to bloom. Along the path, tiny pansies, cuckoos, orchids, snowdrops tremble in the cold wind waiting for better days.

I am fascinated by the hillside slopes that seem to have been carefully shaped by the divine hand. There are fir trees next to pines and beeches, flowering trees and shrubs, broom grows in the rockery, there are high and low forms, slender and round, long and wide, all variants of green, and everything is in great harmony.

Driving on the narrow roads of this still preserved corner of France, you get the impression of being in the kind of landscape that you create for miniature electric trains: valleys, hills, bridges, tunnels, railways, farms, rivers, sheep, goats, the view on offer is constantly changing. And above all, a sky changing between blue and gray, mountains of clouds open up to reveal the sunny blue and reform immediately. I am surrounded by silence, interrupted only by the song of birds and the noise of a river. Paradise...

It is with regret that I leave these places at the end of the week, nourishing the ardent desire to return to these landscapes and to the L'Etoile guest house with Philippe and Billy. From Margit Huy.


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.