Although the delightfully expansive gardens give an impression of a grand country chateau, this is altogether a more modest and intimate hotel with a warm and relaxed ambiance. Perched above two valleys on the former pilgrimage route of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, the hotel is a perfect example of a 17th century Périgordine chartreuse, a country house built originally by Catholic nuns from Bergerac as a retreat from the city and to be close to the nearby Hôtel-Dieu (hospital for the poor).
Now, beautifully restored over the last 10 years by M. and Mme. Viargues, the cluster of golden stoned buildings offers guests a chance to enjoy relaxed accommodation, a swimming pool with spectacular views, a converted mill with its lake as well as picturesque gardens, orchards and shaded tree-lined avenues in which to roam.
Together with the main bedrooms and suites in the manor house, there is also an apartment for two in the converted mill and a self-contained gîte in the old bake house. A maximum of 14 people at any time share all these facilities so there is no danger of over-crowding; in fact you are more likely to feel you have rented your own private domain. The owners are keen to create a relaxed country house vibe, so although excellent friendly service is always available and furnishings are elegant, the atmosphere remains homely and warm.
The newly converted barn offers a pleasant and airy space for breakfast and summer dining, with its terrace and open views, while the main house also has cosier rooms for winter breakfasts or dinners, with a fireplace in the lounge.
The hotel is about a 15 minute drive south of Bergerac and is also close to the charming bastide town of Issigeac and the chateaux and wine dégustations of Monbazillac.
La Chartreuse du Bignac, 24520 Saint-Nexans. Tel: +33 (0)5-53-22-12-80. This four-star hotel is a member of the Châteaux & Hôtels Collection. Rooms priced from 158 Euros per night in the off season (Classic room) to 240 Euros for a Deluxe room in peak season.