Tucked away up a dirt-track, hidden by miles of vineyards, l’Arbre-Rouge is one of those B&Bs I dream of happening upon and so rarely do.
Arriving hot and sticky from a long day’s wine tasting around the delightful hilltop wine-town of St Emilion, we were greeted by Victor, an enthusiastic Jack Russell, and his human, Geoffroy Simon, who has created the guest house with both love and an eye for luxurious detail.
Each of the five rooms in the 18th century farm house seemed larger and more exquisite than the last, decorated in individual, quirky styles. One might have a gigantic Thai-style canopy over the bed, topped by a fabulous multi-coloured chandelier; another boasted a bean-bag the size of a small republic. In a central courtyard an Arabian-style fountain played; along the wrought-iron staircase a vine spiralled. In a room with an inviting glass panel, a swimming pool beckoned. Rather more worryingly, in the sky thunder rumbled.
The storm was, like so many Bordelaise downfalls, torrential. I made myself a coffee – each room has its own espresso machine – then lay beneath crisp cotton sheets, cool and cosy, listening to the rain, imagining the squalls outside. Tomorrow would be a washout…
And yet not. Geoffroy Simon must have been up during the entire deluge to have created our breakfast, including a selection of breads, cheeses and meats, freshly-squeezed juices, even a variety of unusual home-made jams. Victor, unbothered by the night’s disturbance, was desperate to accompany me on a stroll (in his case, scamper) around the expansive gardens, fresh, bright and green in the sunshine.
L’Arbre Rouge backs onto the river Dordogne and I was sorely tempted by a lounge-deck with fabulously rusting gazebo, nestled in bulrushes lapping the waters. A secluded terrace round the side covered in creepers and complete with glass candelabra would have made an excellent retreat from the midday heat. But sadly, we were off again, ready for another hard day’s wine tasting. We shook a warm hand with Geoffroy, said a fond farewell to the ever-present Victor, and vowed to return. Only next time, I’m arriving by boat…
L’Arbre Rouge is at Génissac, close to Liborne, around 25 minutes from Bordeaux